Do menu calorie counts add-up?

The debate about calorie counts on menus has been gaining prominence in the last few months.

So it’s with interest that I read this morning’s Daily Mail report headlined: Why calorie counts don’t reduce eating. The story revealed research from New York that says taste, price and location are more important than nutritional information in influencing diners’ eating habits.

Last week Caterer & Hotelkeeper (Catersearch.com Foodservice PR eating out) held an online debate about the issue, in conjunction with the Craft Guild of Chefs, after The World Menu Report by Unilever Food Solutions found that almost three quarters (73%) of consumers polled want to know more about what is in their food when eating out. The report also found 61% of respondents said they preferred to eat in places that are transparent about the ingredients they use; and 59% of those surveyed thought that knowing about the nutritional information would influence their choice of establishment – of these 75% said health was the reason.

The debate seems to be getting confused. Customers clearly want information about what they are eating and where it comes from, not just technical calorie counts. Caterers therefore need to provide the information customers want, but more importantly create balanced menus that allow customers to make informed decisions about what they eat – some will want to indulge others may want the lite option.

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