top of page

A Cautionary Take on Calorie Counting on Menus

As someone who has worked in and works with restaurateurs and chefs on a daily basis my view is this is doomed before it starts. Granted a large-chain-fast-food outlet could not only finance such a venture but as their menus are semi permanent there would be little change. The same cannot be said for the vast majority of independent restaurants and cafés.

On a practical level:

· The calorie counts are highly unlikely to be accurate however worthy the intention and who checks them?

· The system is only as good as the software and there will always be the need for substitutions and adaptations when an ingredient is not on the list. I have first hand experience of this when undertaking such calculations.

· Menus constantly change depending on season, deliveries, chefs on duty and the proposition of a daily analysis is unconscionable.

· Time – i.e. money – needs set aside for this task in a world where hospitality is already critically short-staffed.

· Identifying allergens is far more important and life-threatening than calorie labels.

· Back to the inaccuracies: at best software will calculate chicken and beef for example but not differentiate between the nutritional values of battery chicken v native breed outdoor-reared, nor grain fed beef v grass fed beef – both different in minerals and fatty acids, health benefits and probably calories.

· One size fits all will never work for restaurant menus.

Last but not least, each of us use calories in different ways depending on our genetics.

On a behavioural level:

· It means very little to your average consumer, and for those who are concerned , the meal may be a treat or an investment on what was an empty calorie day up until then.

· We do not know consumers’ activity levels or health status, or where they need to get their energy from (vegetarian or keto diets for example).

· Your average consumer has a limited knowledge of nutrition from a range of sources and news reports that may not add up to a clear balanced view of what should be in their diet and a calorie counter is of no value if there is a lack of knowledge in what constitutes a healthy diet.

· One only has to pay for fuel at a petrol station to see every type of sweet and salt snack on the market – a calorie count on a restaurant meal will make no difference to the consumption of junk food where the problem really lies.

· Those with mental health and dietary issues can be severely harmed by such calorie counts – and the suggestion that you can ask for a menu minus calorie annotations is humiliating and draws attention to the issue. Those with low self esteem, anorexia or bulimia will find this whole exercise highly damaging.

· It can also spoil the eating out experience for ‘happy eaters’ who have come out to share food with friends and bring business to a restaurant – not to be lectured on an evening out.

In short, this benefits no one and just adds to the stress, financial burden and time in a restaurateur’s day. It will be inaccurate and unworkable and will do little to deter or influence the consumer. There is a real danger here: be careful what you wish for. This could be very damaging and every action has consequences.


Featured Posts
Check back soon
Once posts are published, you’ll see them here.
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page