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February 27, 2007

wait, so what you’re saying is that “colossal” isn’t a synonym for “diet lite?”

If you are like most people, when you look at these two meals you probably think to yourself, “say, that one on the left sure looks like it might possibly pack a calorie or two more than the other one perhaps even by a significant amount.”



But if you are with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), you think “whoa, did you say one of these is a burger? Really? They both look to be of equal nutritional value. And in the absence of mandated caloric information I surely cannot tell which one is the healthier choice.”

And that is why the CSPI thought it essential that they alert the media to the very real possibility that a hamburger made up of a pound of ground meat might just constitute a rather large meal.

This is made necessary says the CSPI only because restaurants refuse to provide nutritional information on their menus resulting in a situation where “their customers don’t have a clue that they might be getting a whole day’s worth of calories in a single dish.”

Yes, one could argue that there are two possible tools that consumers could use to make a rough determination:

  1. Their eyes.
  2. That Internet thing all the kids keep talking about.

But otherwise, you are completely on your own.

And why? Because these restaurants are “keeping you in the dark about what [their meals] contain,” according to Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI.

What nefarious methods do these restaurants use to keep you in the dark? According to the CSPI: 

  • Offering a burger of colossal size on the menu and then calling it a “Colossal Burger.”
  • Surreptitiously selling a venti-sized White Chocolate Mocha and a blueberry scone and then describing it simply as a venti-sized White Chocolate Mocha and a blueberry scone.
  • Listing bacon cheeseburger pizzas on their menu and then adding bacon, cheese, and burger to the pizza when you actually order it. 

To be clear, the CSPI merely wants nutritional information added to menus and smaller portion sizes. "I would never dream of telling someone what to order in a restaurant” says Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for the CSPI.

Tell kids what kind of milk to drink in school? Sure! Tell restaurants what oils to use in cooking? Absolutely! Tell meat processors how much fat they can legally allow in their ground meat? Why not? Tell museums which restaurants to allow? You bet!

But interfere with menu choice? Now you're just being paranoid.

The problem is that when Ruby Tuesday experimented with providing nutritional information on menus all they got were crying children and complaints from their customers who said they didn’t want to know. And reducing portion sizes drew worse complaints and falling sales.

Which means the only person demanding smaller portion sizes and that nutritional information be provided on Ruby Tuesday’s menu is vegetarian Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI.  

Why should the opinion of someone who is not a Ruby Tuesday customer be more important than the opinions of the millions of people who are?  

Because Michael Jacobson is much smarter than you. How do we know?

He and the CSPI are credited with much of the responsibility for the widespread use of trans fatty acids throughout the restaurant industry.

Well, okay, so maybe that one didn’t work out so great. 

Hey, no one is perfect.


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February 27, 2007 at 01:23 PM in Health & Fitness | Permalink


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s you probably know, the CSPI is a joke. Don't let their name fool you; they're PETA-like organization, not a respected scientific group. They should be taken as seriously as PETA (i.e. not very seriously at all).

Posted by: Paul | Mar 11, 2007 7:46:47 PM

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