As a frequent visitor of New York City, I have become accustomed to seeing a number next to my Café Mocha on the Starbucks menu. There it is, in the same font size as my actual order, “280 calories.” I will be honest; sometimes I treat myself to a venti-sized espresso beverage, but do I really want to see that number next to it?
New York is not the only place you will see calories listed next to menu options. Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut have also approved of calorie labeling in several food establishments. If you have come across this labeling frenzy, are you thinking twice before ordering or do you even care? Are these labels helping or are consumers just not in a lower-calorie mindset when ordering out? Should we even be labeling?
Food is being labeled by its calorie content to help inform consumers about the food choices they make and to hopefully encourage healthier menu options available to customers. Displaying this information is also used by eateries to publicize lower-calorie options on their menus.
Calorie labeling may not completely change eating behaviors, but it is a step in the right direction. It does educate the public on nutrition. Something as simple as noting the 240 calories in a Dunkaccino may be enough to have one consumer realize it might not be the healthiest option, and direct them to a slimmer coffee that contains only 50 calories.
Consider this new labeling frenzy as your daily dose of reality shock. You may not change your order, but at least you are more aware about how much you are taking in calorie-wise. Maybe you thought that grilled chicken Caesar salad option was the healthiest choice on the menu when it was actually the Mediterranean chicken wrap. This one little fact may impact one individual’s eating habits, while doing nothing for the person behind him in line. That person is still going to order the same cheeseburger and fries he gets every week.
Labeling these calories gives consumers a fair warning before placing their orders. Whether you apply this information is completely up to you.
What are your thoughts on labeling the calorie content on menus?