by Marion Nestle
Oct 1 2008

Calorie labeling is catching on: Yum! California!

Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut, is going to post calories on the menu boards at all those places.  The company must see the writing on the wall and is just getting a head start on what is sure to come.  Part of the writing comes from California, which has just passed a statewide calorie labeling law.  This particular law is hailed by some advocates as an major step forward and by others as a complete sell-out since it doesn’t really go into effect until 2011 (brochures will be required by July 2009).  This, of course, gives state and national Restaurant Associations, which have fiercely opposed such initiatives, plenty of time to litigate.

And then there is the fraud problem?  According to bloggers, class action suits have been filed accusing restaurant chains of lying about the number of calories.  From what I see in New York City, the calories posted are so high that it’s hard to believe they could be any higher.

  • tmana

    This has been an issue for longer than calorie listings have been mandatory. I recall consumer/medical features on the various NYC local network news channels showing us the infamous 800-calorie muffins marked as 200 calories or less, the 5-ounce bagels advertised at under 250 calories (before the two ounces of full-fat cream cheese that add “50 calories”)… going back at least ten years.

    The big difference is that now the casual dining chains are getting caught doing the same thing the fast-food outlets and local delis have been doing for years.

  • It is curious that Yum brands would choose voluntarily to showcase their high-caloric food stats. This is only a good marketing move for them if, in fact, they have more low-calorie options compared to their competitors. I fear the accuracy of these numbers…