Thursday, June 03, 2010

Writing on the Wall

The health reform act is going to require chain restaurants to post conspicuously the nutritional value of their menus. They have a year to do it, and the specific regulations have not yet been drawn up.

But one chain this week has begun, and it is a shocker. For me, it means no more (or far fewer) visits to the Popeye’s just around the corner from FDA headquarters.

Let it be said that the big chains don’t really oppose the new provision of law, because it smacks of transparency and puts everyone on a theoretically equal footing. The big chains also have the financial strength to compensate for any lost sales and hire clever marketers to come up with new ways of fooling customers. And let it be said that many people will continue eating meals whose posted calorie counts are in the quadruple digits.

How did Popeye’s display the calorie counts? They were posted – like phone numbers, e.g., 970-1250) – right under the item name and its price, right there on the huge menu board above and behind the counter.

The handwriting is on the wall. Are we going to read it? Heed it?

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