While we agree wholeheartedly that consumers should know about the food they eat (“Information or Indigestion,” Sept. 10, 2012), it’s hard to digest the simplistic assertion that calorie counts on restaurant menus would reduce obesity and boost the health of Canadians.
Many chain restaurants in Canada have long provided their customers with the detailed nutrition information they require to make dietary choices that meet their needs and preferences. In addition to not providing a full nutritional profile, calorie counts alone can be misleading. For example, a container of white milk has more calories than a diet soft drink, yet the former’s nutritional value far outweighs the latter’s. More importantly, Canadians are interested in a veritable slew of nutrition elements depending on their individual needs – fibre, sodium, fat, protein…you name it. This information can’t be summed up in a nice, neat caloric value.
We’ve recently taken our customers’ healthy living needs to a whole new level with the B.C. Government’s Informed Dining program – a program that gives diners the facts they need to make informed choices. CRFA is working with government and our members to roll this program out across the country, so all Canadians will be able to make fully informed menu choices.
The point is, restaurants care. Customer health and satisfaction is our number one priority, and we have been working hard to give Canadians meaningful nutrition information. And because salt matters, our members are working to reduce the sodium content in their menu items.
The answer to reducing obesity and improving health doesn’t lie in a single calorie count. Given that only one in 10 meals or snacks are eaten in a restaurant, it’s clear we need to look at consumer diet and lifestyle as a whole. Everyone needs to work together for a comprehensive approach – one that is driven by research and consumer education. To this end, Canadian restaurants are committed to giving Canadians the information they need and want.
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs
Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association