Next Stop for Calorie Counts: Pizza Parlors

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • We’ve now become accustomed to calorie counts and nutrition information posted for food and beverages offered in fast food chains.  And most of the foods and drinks involved have measured portion sizes, making the nutrition data quite understandable and relatable if you want to use the information.  So why not include one of the singular most popular foods, that is often consumed in gargantuan portions, and can have add ins that add quite a bit of calorie load to the already hefty calorie count?  I’m talking about pizza and according to news reports, Capitol Hill lawmakers are pushing for menu labeling and information that would also include pizza chains.  That means your local Domino’s, Papa John’s, Little Ceasars, Godfather’s Pizza and Pizza Hut would all be required to “frankly display” the nutrition breakdown of your favorite pie choices. 

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    The above mentioned chains recently banded together to protest the application of this mandate to the pizza.  Store owners bear the cost of creating and posting the nutrition information on a readily visible board, and the American Pizza Community (which is what the coalition is calling itself) says the predominant customer is ordering online or by phone, so they won’t even see it.  Then there’s the special order element.  Many people customize their pizza so how will there ever be a way to provide the information for those kinds of orders?  The position of this consortium is that it is simply not fair to include the lowly pizza pie, despite its popularity.  And to those who say you can provide a range of calories for pizzas, thus accounting for some of the personalized ordering differences, the coalition says it would just be too hard because there are too many ways to doctor up a pizza. 

     

    Now you may not be aware, but online there already is a Domino Cal-O-Meter that allows you to plug in what you are eating to get a calorie count.  So for those who really care, you’ve got an online tool so you can pre-plan your calories.  But at the end of the day, despite the naysayers, it does appear that calorie counts posted, with additional nutrition data, is making a difference.  A Stanford School of Business study in 2009 looked at the ordering patterns of patrons in Starbucks (200 locations in New York City) and did see a 6% modification in calories per item ordered, after the postings went live on boards.  Another study in 2008 of customer ordering habits showed that food purchase calorie counts was reduced by up to 100 calories, in one in six patrons of New York City top fast food chains.  Frankly, the same issues pizza makers are complaining about were made on behalf of sandwiches and other “mixed element” food items that could be personalized in the fast food restaurants, when the calorie count mandate started.  It just makes darn good sense that if we are providing nutrition information for commonly ordered fast food, we should be doing it for this popular American food item too.

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Published On: June 23, 2012