Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Special Webinar: How to Monetize Nutrition Information & Gain a Competitive Advantage

Presented by Alyson Mar RD, Director of Nutrition of FoodCALC

June 30th, 11:00AM PDT (2:00PM EST) - 12:00PM PDT (3:00PM EST)

FoodCALC's Director of Nutrition, Alyson Mar RD, will lead you into the world of monetizing a menu’s nutrition information. If you are complying with a menu labeling law, or your diners are requesting nutrition information on your menu items, then this is the webinar for you! Learn how Nutrition Information is the ultimate marketing tool, and how you can broaden your diner audience.

Here’s your chance to get the inside scoop on why providing nutrition information to your diners can actually help drive sales.

This exciting live webinar will cover two important topics:

  • Learn how to calculate your nutrition facts using our nutrition analysis tool MenuCalc, the National Restaurant Association's endorsed nutrition analysis solution.
  • And for those that are affected, FoodCALC will also discuss the national menu labeling law, how this effects 250,000+ dining establishments and the impact on your operation.

If you are complying with a menu labeling law, or your diners are requesting nutrition information on your menu items, then this is the seminar for you!

To sign up, click here

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu Labeling in the News

In case you've missed all the industry buzz around menu labeling, here's a round up of the latest action:

Consumers eager for menu labeling: "More than 60 percent of consumers think nutrition information should be posted on menus."

Consumers become more 'calorie conscious,' survey shows: "Health and weight management are on the minds and plates of consumers nationwide."

Editorial: Menu labeling can have positive health effects: "Making the nutritive value (or lack of) of what we order in restaurants easily understandable to the public can only lead to overall better choices made at mealtime, contributing to a healthier populace."

If Knowledge = Power, then Lack of Knowledge = Obesity: "Studies have shown that nutrition labeling on menus is effective in reducing consumption for individuals who identify themselves as health conscious. They make use of the available information and modify their consumption."

Ontario Pursuing Menu-Labeling Legislation: "The proposal calls for any company with at least five foodservice locations and $5 million (CDN) in gross annual revenue to post calorie counts on their menus."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Will the New Dietary Guidelines Affect Menus?

Every five years the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) releases a new and revised set of dietary guidelines for Americans. Basically what happens is that a group of nutrition and health experts get together to decide how Americans should be eating. Then the USDA publishes these guidelines to the public and evidently (based on obesity statistics) most of us ignore them.

Since the last set of guidelines was published in 2005, we’re due for an update this year, and on Tuesday we caught a glimpse of the new guidelines in a report released by the USDA. There really aren’t many changes to the guidelines; we’re still looking at limiting high fat and high sugar foods and increasing fruits and veggies. But a few recommendations definitely stand out.

There are two suggested steps mentioned in the report that I find to be quite revolutionary. The first deals with salt and sodium intake. I mentioned the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations for limiting salt intake in a previous blog, and now the USDA’s guidelines are reflecting that dramatic cut to sodium levels – 1,500 mg a day to be exact. That’s really low considering that the 2005 recommendations included 2,400 mg of sodium a day, and that the average American generally consumes about 3,400 mg per day.

The other recommended modification that I find pretty novel is the recommendation that Americans switch to a more plant-based diet and limit animal products. I remember reading a discussion in Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food about a similar suggestion made by the USDA years ago. In response the beef industry attacked the government until they changed the wording to limit saturated fats instead of red meats. I don’t think that this recommendation will have the same reaction this time because of the popularity of vegetarian diets and sustainability.

These recommendations weren’t only made to consumers, the report also encourages restaurant and food companies to offer healthier options to help promote a better “health environment”.

Do you think that restaurants will take these suggestions into consideration?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bring it On!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a fair weather dieter. I eat well when it’s convenient (i.e. in the FoodCALC offices). But there are certain situations that call for certain foods: chicken wings on football Sundays, Indian delivery the day after a long night out, fast food onroad trips; some things you just have to do.

No matter how healthy we should be, and how well “good” eaters eat, there will always be a market for those things you’ve just gotta have. There are a lot of restaurants who have made their marks on the industry with their out of control portion sizes and oh so good tasting, but oh so bad for you signature dishes (The Outback’s Awesome Blossom, Everything at the Heart Attack Grill, all of the chicken wing restaurants that are gaining popularity).

Consumer pressure for healthier options in restaurants has gotten a lot of attention lately. Increased awareness from menu labeling laws and Michelle Obama’s fight against childhood obesity has made it practically impossible to ignore the need for change. But change doesn’t have to come at the cost of our favorite splurges. What we’re calorie-laden favorites is the addition of healthier or lighter options.

What are your gotta have foods?