In 2018, Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants law. This requires chain restaurants with over 20 locations to list calories for menu items and provide additional information if prompted, including calorie counts.
The law is a significant step in the right direction for consumers to make healthier choices while dining out. However, it also begs the question — should other nutrition facts be added to menus for additional nutrition knowledge?
Should Restaurants Provide a Nutrition Facts Label for their Menu Items?
When comparing menu items, calorie counts can help make more informed decisions on what is more nutritious. Additional information, including saturated fats, sugar, and sodium, would be ideal.
1. Saturated Fat
Eating too many foods high in saturated fats can be detrimental to your health. By replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, you may lower your risk of getting heart disease.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from saturated fats to less than 10% of the total calories you eat and drink daily.
That’s about 200 calories for a 2,000-calorie diet.
Eating a diet high in saturated fats can raise bad LDL cholesterol in the blood, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Added Sugar
It’s common (and concerning) knowledge that most Americans consume too much added sugar.
The AHA suggests an added-sugar daily limit of 100 calories per day (about six teaspoons) for adult women.
The recommendation for men is to have no more than 150 calories per day (about nine teaspoons).
Eating a diet high in added sugar can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and obesity.
Foods with added sugars contribute extra calories to your diet without adding any nutritional value.
Reducing your daily added sugar consumption can be done by avoiding things like juice, breakfast cereal, and sugar-filled desserts.
Reducing sodium consumption can drastically reduce your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and encourages adult Americans to an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
Sodium consumption is so high in the United States because it’s used heavily in packaged and processed foods. Sodium helps increase packaged foods’ shelf life and is also commonly used for its food-binding properties.
Many consumers underestimate the fat and calorie content of the meals they consume outside the home. Because of this, it’s understandable why including more nutrition facts would be a pivotal step for Americans’ health and nutrition.
How A Restaurant Benefits from Providing a Menu Item’s Nutrition Fact
Nutrition facts labels provide much more information for consumers than a total calorie count. Calorie counts are helpful information that can guide patrons in the right direction when dining out. However, most experts recommend using calorie counts as a guide, not a guarantee.
The more resourceful and transparent your restaurant is about nutrition, health, and quality recipes, the better off you will be. Customers will hold you in higher regard and will become regular customers because they trust your information and credibility.
Get Accurate Nutritional Facts For Your Restaurant with MenuCalc
Nutrition facts on menu items require a nutrition analysis — including preps, homemade sauces, side dishes, and main courses. These recipes are entered into a recipe database by matching each ingredient to a USDA-backed nutritional database. Once you’ve matched your ingredients, you add your measurement. Our built-in nutrition calculator then calculates the nutritional values of your ingredients so you can provide a comprehensive report on every dish.
An added plus to the MenuCalc platform is that you can still outsource this work to a professional. If you don’t have the time or a dedicated staff member to input all of your recipes for you, you can send them to us. Our Nutrition Team can quickly handle your menu labeling/nutrition analysis.