Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FoodCALC® and The California Restaurant Association Team Up to Help Restaurants Understand The National Health Menu Labeling Law

Industry leader in web-based nutrition analysis, FoodCALC, has partnered with The California Restaurant Association to offer a webinar detailing how restaurant operators will be affected by the recently passed menu labeling legislation. The free webinar is scheduled for July 30 at 10:00am PST.

Lead by FoodCALC Director of Nutrition, Alyson Mar RD, webinar attendees can expect to get the inside scoop on how restaurants can comply with the mandate simply and affordably. In the wake of the passage of the Health Care reform, many member restaurants have been scrambling to understand the details and necessary next steps imposed by the national menu-labeling portion of the legislation,” said Alyson. In an effort to adequately serve the needs of our partners and their members, we are working closely with the California Restaurant Association to provide all of the details, education, and support that their membership is seeking.

This informative live webinar will cover these important topics:

  • Details within the new legislation
  • Who will be affected by this legislation
  • How can restaurants comply
  • How current does nutrition information need to be
  • Q&A
The webinar will take place on Friday, July 30, 2010, 10:00AM PST.

Friday, July 23, 2010

FoodCALC Shows Ohio Restaurants How to Monetize Nutrition Information

Industry leader in web-based nutrition analysis, FoodCALC, has partnered with The Ohio Restaurant Association to offer a webinar to teach restaurant operators how to monetize the results of nutrition analysis for their menu items. The free webinar is scheduled for July 27 at 10:00 AM Pacific time.

Lead by FoodCALC Director of Nutrition, Alyson Mar RD, webinar attendees can expect to get the inside scoop on how providing nutrition information to diners can actually help drive sales. “Restaurants trying to comply with menu labeling law are often at a loss about how to best present this information to their diners,” said Alyson. “As industry trends show diners are requesting nutrition information on restaurant menu items, it is imperative for restaurant operators to learn how nutrition information is the ultimate marketing tool, and can broaden their diner audience.”

The Ohio Restaurant Association has sponsored the webinar as an opportunity for their association members to benefit from this specialized knowledge. “Now that Congress has passed the nutrition disclosure law, operators across the US and Ohio are focusing on how to implement cost-effective menu labeling. The ORA is excited to partner with FoodCALC, a nationally known leader in nutrition information, to assist members who want to learn how to manage this new mandate to their advantage,” said Geoff Hetrick, President & CEO of The Ohio Restaurant Association. “I encourage all members large and small to participate in the webinar on July 27th.”
The webinar will take place on Monday, July 27th, 10:00AM PDT (1:00PM EST) - 11:00AM PDT (2:00PM EST)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Provide Nutrition Information?

As most of us know menu labeling laws only affect larger chain restaurants, but I am getting a lot more clients who are smaller chains and even independents. In an industry that vigorously fought menu labeling, why now are so many operators starting to provide nutrition information voluntarily. I thought up and researched a few reasons, and now I’d like to share them with you:

Compliance. The recently passed of the health care reform bill, only affects restaurant chains with 20 or more locations (roughly 250,000 total locations).

Awareness. As more multi-unit and independent restaurants start complying with menu-labeling laws and general concerns about healthy dining increase, consumer demand for nutrition information has also increased. I find that a lot more restaurants are speaking openly about nutrition information. They can see it coming and instead of shying away from it, they are curious about its benefits and impact on their operation. More tradeshows are having whole sessions surrounding nutrition information, healthy eating, and marketing to the health conscious diner. These sessions did not really exist one or two years ago, and now you will most likely find at least one, if not two, speakers on the topic at any given show.

We’ve all read the study completed by the National Restaurant Association’s 2009 Industry Forecast, which says researchers found that three in four adults say they are trying to eat healthier at restaurants than they did two years ago.

Marketability. Providing nutrition information opens a level of marketability that will allow you to reach out to new customers. I’ve seen a lot of restaurants select several healthy menu items from their menus to provide nutrition information for instead of the entire menu. This provides their customers with options for healthy dining and conveys a sense of nutritional responsibility. This is a new era for our industry, a time to broaden our diner audience. I read in the New American Diner survey from Restaurants & Institutions that 82% of diners said calorie disclosure is influencing what they order, and 60% said it determines where they eat. Using social media platforms such as Yelp and Facebook can really help restaurants make the most of their analysis results.

Increase in Sales. A study performed by the University of Missouri found that customers were willing to pay up to $2 more per menu item for healthier menu items when nutrition facts were present. As a Registered Dietitian it’s great to see companies providing this information to diners, but to know that people see true value by paying more is even better!

Why would or why wouldn’t you post nutrition information for your diners?

Monday, July 12, 2010

What is Healthy?

What is healthy? It may seem like a silly and simple question, but can you put a number on it? What about a set of numbers? If so, do those numbers apply to me; a 5’3” female? What about to a 6’5” male athlete? When you think about it, healthy is a very subjective term.

When people go out to eat and look for “healthy” options what do they look for? There are so many nutrition messages circulating around stores, restaurants, and the media, it’s hard to tell which one is right for you. Low fat always sounds like a good option to me, and what’s not to love about with organic foods?

The answer isn’t as simple as we’d all like it to be. The answer that I have for you is really annoying:


I won’t go into an entire lesson about energy balance and nutrition for every state of well being. We all know that different bodies have different nutritional needs, calories in vs calories out, more body mass needs more fuel….etc. So, someone who is simply trying to lose weight may be looking at calories alone, while a diabetic is probably looking at sugar and carbohydrates, and someone with hypertension may be looking for something that’s lower in sodium. Very complicated, I know.

So as a restaurant, how do you determine criteria for marketing “healthy” items? My rule of thumb – DON’T. The word “healthy” is very sticky and its definition, as mentioned before can be very subjective. I try to think of other words like “lighter”, or “smart”, or “fresh”…etc. My theory – stay subjective as well.

If you do deiced to remain subjective it is very important to also provide nutrition information so that diners can make informed decisions about what is indeed “healthy” for them.

What is your definition of healthy?

Friday, July 9, 2010

By Popular Demand: Learn How Nutrition Analysis Can Work for Your Business

Thank you to all those who made our previous webinar a huge success! In response to the demand, FoodCALC has decided to host a series of webinars, together with our partners, to show the industry how providing nutrition information to your customers can boost sales and build customer loyalty.

First up is a webinar brought to you by FoodCALC and The Oregon Restaurant Association. Join us this Monday, July 12, 2010, at 9:30AM PDT - 10:00AM PDT, to learn:


Read more and sign up here.