In the News: Fast Food Giant to Post Calorie Counts


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

Would you think twice about your choice if fast food restaurants put calorie counts on their menus? The parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Food (Yum Brands, Inc.) said recently that it will voluntarily add product calorie information to menu boards in its company-owned restaurants nationwide. They will also encourage their franchises to provide the same calorie information on their menu boards.

Similar initiatives have been popping up recently, but this is the first on a nationwide scale. California will require chains with at least 20 restaurants in the state to provide calorie counts on menus or indoor menu boards beginning in 2011. New York City also requires chains to post calorie counts on the menu.

Yum Brands has also decided to stop all advertising of their products on television programs aimed at children under 12 and will be launching some online exercise programs to help educate their consumers.

When asked if they will be following suit, McDonald's said it will continue using current methods of informing customers by providing nutritional information on its Web site, on select product packaging, in brochures available in its restaurants and on the back of trayliners.

Kudos to this company for taking steps to educate their patrons! One of my biggest pet peeves about eating out is when you can't find any nutritional information about where you're going- online, in the restaurant, etc. People who want to be informed so that they are able to make good choices aren't being given the facts they need. I understand that this can be more difficult for independent restaurants with one or two locations, but there are some big chains (and you know who you are!) who don't provide this information either.

Do you think restaurants should be required to provide this information? Are you less likely to go somewhere if you don't know the nutritional information about what you're eating?

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  • 188
    They've been doing this in Australia for quite some time now and it's GREAT! It helps you to decide what the best option is and lets you make informed choices. That being said, quite often they use kilojoules instead of calories which can be tougher to crunch the numbers on, and many people still don't have a working idea of how to work out what you should eat.
    But for those of us that have made the effort to know their limits and understand the numbers it's absolutely fantastic, and I think every country should do it :) - 10/5/2013   5:07:14 PM
  • 187
    I find it extremely frustrating to not be able to go to a restraunt becuase they do not list their nutrition facts. This has to be extremely hard with individuals who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, renal disease, or cardiac disease and are on limited diets. - 7/12/2012   4:43:36 PM
  • 186
    It is very irritating when I cannot find the nutrition information for a restaurant I am eating at. I understand that the smaller restaurants/independents may not have the information, but it really does make it difficult to have confidence in your ordering decisions. I love that YUM! is doing this voluntarily. I think it would be great if a NFP related to health provided nutrition analysis for independents so they had the information. - 7/11/2012   9:47:15 AM
    While I don't think it should be a LAW for them to have this info posted, I think it a great move. Anything to help the customers be more informed about their choices, especially with our "fat" society, is better. I wonder sometimes if companies are afraid to have this info available because they might scare people away?? I for one would be more inclined to eat somewhere where I KNOW the nutritional value of what I am eating, when I do eat out anway. - 7/10/2012   2:23:36 PM
  • 184
    Very good move. - 7/10/2012   1:52:35 PM
    Bravo! - 7/10/2012   12:53:16 PM
  • 182
    I won't go to eat out unless I look up the nutrition info online first...that way I know what is a better choice before I step foot inside. Also, our local Wendy's all have the nutritional info posted inside the door so you can always make the best choice with no hassle! So kudos to them! - 7/9/2012   1:55:14 PM
  • 181
    I would love for all restaurants to provide this info. Even if they don't have it listed on their menu's, it should be available upon request. I normally will try checking their menu's online when I know ahead of time that I will be eating there. It definately affects what I order and I think more people are getting more health conscious and would be more apt to eat where this info is readily available. - 7/7/2012   4:16:03 PM
  • 180
    I wish all commercial food entities would post their nutritional data. Even if it isn't on the menu at the store, I think they should post it on their website.

    I'm not speaking of just the standard nutrition label (although that would be a start), but also the other ingredients you don't usually get the opportunity to assess, such as grains, dairy, soy, etc. Some people are sensitive to different things, and it would be nice to be able to at least check them out before you're in front of the offerings, and to have to learn "the hard way" that it wasn't the right choice! - 3/31/2012   3:16:15 PM
    One of the main "commandments" of retail stores, which fast food restaurants consider themselves to be, is to make it easy for the customer to buy. It's just good business! So, if there's a restaurant that you would like to see post ingredients or calorie information, be sure to ask for the manager or owner (or email the parent company) and NICELY tell them that you really like their food, and that you and your family and friends would eat there MUCH MORE OFTEN if they would be nice enough to post nutritional info.

    I did that at a quickie Chinese restaurant where I used to live. A bunch of the ladies I exercise with all showed up for lunch (still wearing exercise clothes), and made an appeal. There was a hand-lettered poster telling calorie and carb counts the next time we went there. Plus, the owner said he had so much positive feedback that he added a "healthy" section of the menu with the workout girls' recommendations. Outstanding! - 3/21/2012   11:31:36 AM
    I'm all about less government intervention and more personal responsibility. Having it available is wonderful and helpful - mandating it - no thanks - 3/20/2012   9:39:01 AM
  • 177
    Do I love it when restaurants post their info? YES!!!
    Do I think it should be required by the government? NO! The government needs to GET OUT of our personal lives. This is one reason why there is little personal responsibility in our nation right now.

    If we start frequenting the restaurants that post the nutritional info and quit frequenting those that don't post it, more restaurants will be posting it! It won't be 'out of the goodness of their hearts', but it WILL be because it affects their bottom line (the whole reason they are in business is to make money). - 12/17/2011   3:25:36 PM
  • 176
    I find it is rather easy to find nutrition information at fast food places.. The challenge I have is getting this info for sit down restaurants. Large chains will frequently have info on websites, but it is very difficult to get at restaurants. - 11/2/2011   1:33:40 PM
  • 175
    I like the idea of restaurants posting the nutritional information of their menu. I don't think that it should be required, encouraged yes but not required. Ultimately it is your decision what you put in your mouth. If a person really wants to know the nutritional information about the restaurant there are several resources that can provide them with that information. There are several phone apps, websites and books that provide restaurant information. - 7/5/2011   5:46:09 PM
  • 174
    I try to avoid places that don't post calorie counts, but it's not always easy! I like to try and plan what I want in advance of going on vacation (since I am often outvoted on where to go) so it would be nice to be able to have three or four options ready for these places so you are ready no matter where you stop. - 7/4/2011   11:10:45 PM
  • 173
    I appreciate any nutritional info that is available at restaurants as I am following Weight Watchers, and it makes it so much easier to stick with the program.

    Try checking on
    for Applebee's info. There are lots of other restaurants listed as well. - 5/20/2011   7:36:32 PM
    Fantastic. Today, I lunched at Pizza Hut with a co-worker. The buffet has a salad bar so that's what I chose but out of curiosity I looked for a Nutrition Info on the wall. I finally saw a brochure posted behind the register and asked to see it. I can't really say I was shocked, afterall - it's pizza and pasta - but I was SHOCKED at the caloric and carbohydrate content of the selections available on the buffet! It made me sad to watch countless people making trip after trip to get only pizza, all the while skipping the available salad bar. I hope the nutritional analysis will open everyone's eyes to what they're eating but at the same time, right now I feel discouraged seeing so many people willingly skip over the options that WE ALL KNOW are better for our health. - 5/17/2011   4:08:54 PM
    I haven't eaten at a restaurant in a few months now, fast food or sit down. I just got so fed up with it all. Olive garden only gave selective information on it's menu's, like we only want to know the calorie content of your healthy stuff! Applebee's is the same. I don't exactly carry around the internet when I go places, so even if their information is posted online, it doesn't do me any good by the time I get to the restaurant. - 5/17/2011   2:44:03 PM
  • JULIA1154
    I rarely eat fast food but do eat out for business purposes and would LOVE to have nutrition information available for the independent restaurants in this very food-oriented city. I'm with those who suspect that restaurants might start lightening up if they were to see the calorie, sodium and fat content of their dishes in black and white. - 5/17/2011   2:36:38 PM
  • 169
    I noticed this at Panera recently. I think it is wonderful to have that information right in front of you so you can make more informed decisions. - 3/21/2011   9:53:58 AM
  • 168
    While waiting for a smog check last week my boys and I went inside a Taco Bell to stay warm and grab a quick lunch. When I noticed the calorie counts on the menu it DID influence me to buy something different. It is amazing how many calories are in those little tiny packages! So good for Yum Brands. - 1/5/2011   1:12:28 PM
  • 167
    i personally think it would be awesomeif restaruants and fast food outlets had calorie counts for their least then we could have a better chance of eating healthy if we should decide to partake of their services.... - 6/28/2010   1:03:08 AM
    I think this is a wonderful idea. - 6/22/2010   8:24:00 AM
  • 165
    Glad they are making it easier for us!

    Normally when I go out I ask for the information before ordering if it isn't posted. I think we have a right to make informed choices. If I know that we are going out a head of time I'll check on the web, almost everywhere has nutritional information on the web now. - 1/21/2010   1:57:20 PM
  • 164
    This is a fantastic idea! I try to avoid eating out but face it, sometimes it is a necessary evil! It would be nice to have readily accessible nutrition information so that I can make a well informed, healthy decision about what I'm putting in my body.

    If I know ahead of time that I'll be eating out, I always try to go online and get the information from a particular place I'm interested in. If I can't find any information then I choose to go to a different place (if I have that decision) that does post their information in some form or another.

    Consumers have enough power to alter the way these places are treating us. We have the dollar and the dollar is the power! Choose to eat out at places with plenty of healthy choices and that aren't afraid of putting the nutritional information on ALL of their products; both good or bad! - 1/20/2010   2:08:25 PM
  • 163
    what a great idea! it's no wonder that there are so many people struggling with weight today...people don't know enough and often don't research enough before they eat. if it's posted somewhere they don't have a choice! more importantly...we need to help our kiddos of today who don't understand and don't know what to do! - 11/16/2009   6:19:23 PM
  • 162
    It's about time, I like that they are doing it voluntarily. I always like to plan what I am going to eat if I am going out, that would make it so much easier to stay out of trouble in the first place! - 11/14/2009   11:49:05 AM
  • 161
    I think it is great! I have avoided some places just because there was no information. But like a previous poster said it all depends on the cook as well. I think it should be posted for everyone to see. If people don't worry about it then they don't have to pay an mind to it. I would love to be able to go out to eat with my family and find the value for each meal and the correct portion size for the value with out having to sit there forever and getting upset because I am worring about the calories something has. These places may think they are going to lose money but in the long run, they will have more customers because of the information they are putting out there. We are living in a time where people are starting to be concerned with what they are eating and how much they exercising. At least I'd like to think so. But that is just my opinion. - 11/11/2009   10:39:52 AM
  • 160
    Don't think they are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts! They are doing this because states are requiring it so they are making it sound like they are some sort of do-gooders and "we care." If you really cared, you would be offering better choices! ha! - 11/9/2009   9:20:19 AM
  • 159
    If I was unable to get nutrition info, I would go somewhere else. - 6/6/2009   3:44:40 PM
  • 158
    Okay, if we are all so truly dedicated to a lifestyle change for better habits and a healthier life, we would not frequent such restaurants. (so you might have a friend or love one say to you) Truth is that the real world doesn't work that way. Let's say that you are out with friends who do not have obstacles do deal with, due in part to their tiny frames or higher metabolism. So they always like to eat at fast food places. If given the choice to pick a place to eat so I don't look like a whiner (ie; no I can't eat there because I haven't got a clue as to calories, points, grams etc. etc.) then I would most certainly pick the place that gives me the information that will help me make the right choices for my lifestyle. Do I have the time to go on line and prepare for an outing? Maybe, but having the info in the restaurant makes it so much easier and It should be required. - 4/11/2009   1:08:29 PM
  • 157
    I don't avoid places when I don't know the nutritional info, but it does help immensely! - 4/9/2009   7:25:50 AM
  • 156
    I had read awhile ago that Applebees does not provide nutrition information, and because of that, I will not eat there! I do eat fast food sometimes, but at least all the places I eat at have the nutrition info on their website (and SP folks are very good about having the info on here). I think nutrition info should be required of all restaurants. - 4/7/2009   2:19:01 AM
  • 155
    I saw the calories posted at a local Taco Bell a couple months ago in Seattle (at the time they were one of 2 in the state piloting the program) and as soon as I saw it I called the customer comment line to thank them for this change! I was able to look at the menu and within 3 minutes select a meal that would keep me under 500 calories!!

    Earlier this week, I walked out of Quiznos because they REMOVED their calorie information from their menu board... Originally, that was only posted for the Sammies...not any more!! - 4/7/2009   1:13:07 AM
  • 154
    I've actually stopped eating the food we sometimes get for reward lunches at work unless they have a website with nutritional info or have it on their containers. I think it should be required on all foods. I only eat meals out 2 or 3 times a month anyway. - 4/6/2009   7:45:33 PM
  • 153
    I think this is a great idea! Sometimes I'm overwhelmed when I "have" to eat fast food because you cant just order the grilled chicken all the times bc sometimes those have more calories than just getting a cheeseburger lol. I've been really avoiding fast food restaurants altogether so when I have to go I don't know what to get. - 4/6/2009   4:54:00 PM
  • 152
    What is nice is that YUM Brands is doing this on its own. Way to go! Now, whether or not people will pay attention is a different story. I am definitely one of those people who looks for the nutritional information. I can usually figure out the healthier choices, but sometimes I'm surprised. Of course, it's not as though I eat at fast food establishments very often. - 4/6/2009   4:38:06 PM
    I wish every place would provide nutritional info in some form. I think that online is the best/easiest way. That way you can access that info before going out to eat and it would save paper. - 4/6/2009   3:56:56 PM
    I've eaten at two or three "popular, chain restaurants" since being on spark people and when I went home to log my food, I couldn't find any nutritional data on their websites, so I had to estimate. It sort of ticked me off and I figured I'd rather avoid those places then try to estimate the value of the dishes. Two were Outback Steakhouse and Applebee's. Applebee's I'll probably avoid altogether and Outback I'll save for special occasions and just load up on veggies.

    So point is, having nutritional data available really makes a difference for me. I want to be healthy and they are worrying about their bottom line istead of catering to the increasing number of people who want to be healthy and informed.

    BTW- I'd NEVER eat at Long John Silvers, no matt how healthy they claimed to be. I was there once about 6 months ago and can still smell the grease, thinking about the grease right now makes my stomach turn! I use the mental/emotional imaging to avoid temptation on other foods.

    So this is long, just my opinion. - 4/5/2009   11:23:22 PM
  • 149
    I am definitely more likely to eat at a place that has the nutritional information, especially online. I often calculate the information and put it in my tracker before I even go, it helps me eat exactly what I allowed myself. - 4/5/2009   9:21:27 PM
  • 148
    This is wonderful news ! Of course, the fast food giants will all see their profits decrease. I really think that people will think twice when ordering once they find out how many calories they are eating. Most people don't realize how many calories they are eating. So, posting a true calorie count may get people to skip eating at fast food places.

    Either that or the fast food places will have to start offering healthier choices.

    - 4/5/2009   2:15:34 PM
    In regards to Applebees, I know that at least the locations I've been to in California and the one my fiance works at, have the nutrition information available in the restaurant, but you need to ask your server for it. It might be different in other locations, but its worth a shot. And if your server seems just unsure, ask for a manager to double check! A lot of little bits of information like that can easily not be passed on to new employees. - 2/10/2009   3:19:51 AM
  • 146
    I think it should be a requirement of all restruants--not just "fast food". Restruants are just a guilty if not worse for overfeeding people. It should be required to put the calorie, etc content right beside the item of the menu. That way people can make wiser, healthier choices. - 2/9/2009   1:42:55 PM
  • 145
    Sounds great to me! - 2/9/2009   12:46:05 PM
  • 144
    Even as a California with our new law in effect I still wish that nutrition information were more available. I love to see that big chains are starting to post it right there on the menu so that consumers can really think about what they're getting themselves into. I feel like many places "make the information available" by hiding it somewhere awkward just to meet legal standards. I don't want to have to make a scene to see how many calories are in my lunch! I understand that it may be difficult, but I think that all restaurants, regardless of chain size, should have to post nutrition information. - 2/2/2009   7:53:03 PM
  • 143
    Wow, some people in corporate America are waking up, smelling the coffee, and responding to consumers! Good nutrition and lifelong fitness are two major ways that individuals can avoid or reduce visits to the doctor. How about that for reducing healthcare costs? - 2/2/2009   10:49:56 AM
    I'm glad that Yum Foods will be posting the calorie count for their foods. I have been eating at Chick Fil A if I have to eat out because they have a calorie chart- it makes it easy to stay in my calorie allowance. - 1/30/2009   7:16:12 PM
  • 141
    I think every establishment should be required to post the nutritional content of all food on their menu. There are some chains that I won't dine out at because they won't list the nutritional values of their entrees. One in particular is Outback. You can't even find the information at some of the sites like calorie king don't even have the information. - 1/30/2009   4:55:29 PM
  • 140
    I think that all restaurants should be required to post calorie, fat, and carb counts on the MENU, not a brochure, not the interenet - but right there where it can be seen prior to ordering. That would not only help consumers make informed choices, but would also encourge restaurants to offer lighter fare. One other point is that some restaurants substitute ingredients when they run out of something, so if the information is listed on the menu, then the chefs have to make all the dishes the same way and with the same amounts. Not all of them do.
    For example, my step son used to be a cook at Cracker Barrel. How the food was made and what quantities of butter or salt were used depended on who cooked it. They did have basic recipes, but some employees 'did their own thing" to make it taste better. If it happens there, you know it happens other places too.

    Bottom line - you can depend on what you make at home, because YOU made it. - 1/29/2009   2:52:32 PM
  • 139
    this is an amazing idea, wonderful...if people knew exactly how many calories they were consuming...staring them right there in the face, maybe they'd think twice! - 1/23/2009   9:41:20 PM

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