Restaurant meals should be labeled, too! The public has a right to know.


For most of us, eating out is a treat, and we want to savour every bite. But would you enjoy your night out on the town as much if you knew that your restaurant meal isn’t just a tasty treat, but also a gigantic helping of fat, calories and, perhaps worst of all, sodium?

While it’s long been a requirement in Canada that all packaged foods list their ingredients, sodium, fat and calorie counts on a nutritional label, restaurants have historically been exempt from that law. In the United States, it’s mandatory for restaurants to provide this information to customers in a brochure at the point of sale, and that’s what some health crusaders want to do here as well, because there’s no denying that the public has a right to know.

Did you know that The Keg’s Honey-Barbecue ribs contain almost 2000 calories – almost as much as four – count ‘em, four – Big Macs?

The Fatabase
During a 2010 project by the Vancouver Sun to build an online database fro all Vancouver-area chain restaurants to provide health information about dishes served in the restaurant, journalist Chris Parry uncovered some shocking data.  Did you know that The Keg’s Honey-Barbecue ribs contain almost 2000 calories – almost as much as four – count ‘em, four – Big Macs?

This and other alarming info is all available online on what they’ve named – accurately – “The Fatabase.”

Ottawa crusades!
As far as the rest of the country goes, we’re on our own – for now. But earlier this year, NDP Ontario Heath Critic France Gelinas re-introduced a bill that would require restaurants to make nutritional information readily available to customers, by listing each item’s stats on the menu and identifying high-sodium items with an asterix.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Gelinas cited a little-known fact, that a bran muffin at a popular Canadian coffee-shop chain has almost twice the calories of a Boston Cream-filled doughnut. Even in items with a high content of fruits and vegetables, a high count of added sodium can be very difficult to detect.

Gelinas was adamant that consumers need this information tomake informed decisions about their health, especially if they are following reduced-fat and/or reduced-sodium diets.

“When it comes to nutrition, knowledge is power,” she said.

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