The Hype of Nutrition Facts
The United Kingdom plans to instate a law that will implement a traffic light labeling system on many supermarket items, to make it easy for consumers to do healthy grocery shopping. In the US, restaurant chains are starting to post nutrition facts on their menus, preparing for the federal law that will require that chains with 20 or more locations post nutrition facts for their products, as of 6 months after the FDA’s final rules have been published. The idea is to promote healthy eating and reduce obesity by making it easy for customers to make healthy choices. Could this hurt businesses? Should menus be changed so they look better based on the nutrition facts?
Why Restaurant Nutrition Information Might and Might Not Hurt
Making restaurant nutrition information available to customers may deter customers from ordering certain dishes and lean towards healthy restaurant eating. Most menus have items, often classic favorites, which hold exorbitant amounts of calories, fat, carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium. Labels on such items may deter dieting customers, but for others, the combination of tastes that come from the products that bump up the numbers on the nutrition label, is the reason it is worth it to each such a dish. A well-constructed menu, by default, will offer some healthy food options that health-conscious customers can order. Soups and salads are the typical go-to foods for dieters. Restaurants that have many healthy dishes available will look more appealing to customers when the healthy food options are shown with nutrition facts. A health-conscious customer who visits the venue for the first time will be more likely to return. Non-health-conscious customers will order the dish they want without factoring in healthy restaurant eating.
The Healthy Balance for Restaurant Nutrition
The healthy balance in this dilemma seems to be to offer healthy food options, and provide restaurant nutrition facts for some of the items. Steaming every dish will provide a menu of minimal calories and some great flavors, but chances are the dishes will not appeal to a large customer base. Of course, some customers may choose to forgo the waffle dish that packs 1500 calories, but others will be dining out specifically for such splurges, so eliminating them from the menu is not necessarily a good business decision. Businesses can find a balanced middle in this situation. Nutrition facts do not have to be printed on the menu, or at all. They can be used to the business’s advantage. Consider placing the information about some of the healthier dishes on a card attached to a menu clip, giving the customer the choice of whether or not to reveal the nutrition facts, and making those menu items more appealing. If the menu has only a few healthy food options, consider expanding a little to make room for healthy restaurant eating in the restaurant. Making restaurant nutrition information available will probably have a small effect on customer orders, but should not influence the orders drastically enough to call for an entirely new and healthy menu. Businesses can use the trend to their advantage by advertising healthier dishes through their nutrition facts.