Food Calories List
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Some Thoughts About Posting Product Calories on Menu Boards What is Menu Board Labeling? You may have heard in the news that various cities and states are considering regulations requiring food calories to be posted on restaurant menu boards. Generally, these regulations would require chain restaurants (of 10 or more units in the U.S.) to post calories on the menu boards in the same size lettering as the product listings (other nutrition information is not required, or must be displayed elsewhere). The regulations do not allow for any variances in the products that are customized by the customer, or in product offerings that include optional side choices (like Combo Meals). These variations would create hundreds of different calorie counts. Wendy’s products are hand-made-to-order, with the customer’s choice of toppings. Wendy’s Position Wendy’s wholeheartedly believes customers should have nutrition and ingredient information for all the products we serve. In fact, we’ve been offering this information voluntarily for nearly 30 years. We’re very proud of the food we serve. We’re also proud of our product ingredients. We list nutritional information for all main products on posters that are prominently displayed in every restaurant in North America. We provide this information – not because it’s required – but because we believe our customers want it. These posters include not only calories, but carbohydrates, fats, sodium cholesterol and other nutrients -- a complete summary for consumers. We designed the posters similar to the nutrition labels on packaged foods that consumers are familiar with. We go one step farther by listing potential allergens, as a service to those customers with restricted diets. Is Wendy’s opposed to mandatory menu board labeling? We support the concept of posting calories for consumers to see before they make their purchase. We’ve done this voluntarily for nearly 30 years using nutrition brochures, in-store posters and on our website. Some Thoughts About Posting Product Calories on Menu Boards Page 2 of 3 However, government regulators should not force restaurant chains to post calories ONLY on the menu boards. Here’s an example: A chicken mandarin salad consists of a bowl of mixed lettuce, grilled chicken and mandarin oranges. The calories are 170. We also give you side packets of dressing, roasted almonds and crispy noodles. You choose how much of the toppings and dressing you want. The total amount of calories ranges from 170 to 520 depending on how you customize the salad. Listing a single number of calories next to each product will be misleading. Even a range of numbers can be confusing, since the range is too broad to have real meaning. We think nutrition posters are a better alternative because they are more comprehensive and useful for consumers. Here’s why: • Many customers customize their order --- some add cheese or extra mayo, while others take off ketchup or mustard. A sandwich with five items (meat, bun, cheese, lettuce and tomato) can be ordered 120 different ways. Our nutrition posters list every product, plus the individual components. Consumers can add and subtract the items they want, and get their total number. • Wendy’s offers Choices for every Combo Meal, meaning you have up to five choices to substitute for French fries, along with three types of drinks. It’s not feasible to list the calories for every food combination. For example, a grilled chicken combo (sandwich, side and drink) could range from 355 calories to 800 calories, depending on the choices. Consumers tell us the range is too broad and in fact, confusing. • Our food is hand prepared; therefore product variations WILL occur and portion sizes WILL vary (French fries for example, are put into a carton by a hand scoop….it’s not an exact measurement). If we add a few more fries to your order, we’re out of compliance with the regulation. • Some customers are interested in calories; others tell us they count carbs; while others say sodium is their main concern. Healthy eating is more than just counting calories. For example, a diet cola has 0 calories; a carton of white milk is about 120 calories. Although milk has more calories, we all know it has better nutrition. • Restaurant menu boards are designed for advertising and marketing. Nutrition information is educational, and therefore should be distinct from advertising. Just as manufactured food packages have a dedicated place for Nutrition Facts; our customers have a dedicated place on the Nutrition Posters displayed in every store. • The nutrition posters in all Wendy’s in North America contain far more information than required by the menu board regulations. In fact, under October 2007 Some Thoughts About Posting Product Calories on Menu Boards Page 3 of 3 the proposed regulations, restaurant chains would actually provide less nutrition information than they currently do. • The proposed regulations apply only to restaurant companies with 10 or more units in the U.S. If government is truly concerned about educating consumers about calories, why not make the regulations apply to ALL restaurants? In Summary We believe our in-store nutrition posters already accomplish far more than the stated goals for these proposed regulations. The regulations do not provide consumers with any more information than they currently have. In fact, by focusing only on calories, regulators are telling restaurant chains to provide less information than they already do. Providing calories, or any other nutrition information, should be an education issue, not a political one. We are asking local and state governments for a fair, common sense approach to public health goals. Thank you for your interest in Wendy’s position on this important issue. October 2007