June 26, 2007
Chains Refuse to Put Calories on Menus
By DAVID B. CARUSO
NEW YORK - Don't expect to see the calorie count for Burger King's Double Whopper with cheese on the menu anytime soon. Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's are among the chains planning to defy New York City's new rule that they begin posting calories on menus Sunday.
Other big fast food eateries like Taco Bell and KFC aren't saying whether they will comply, but with just days to go until the deadline, the menu boards in their Big Apple restaurants remain unchanged.
All are hoping a New York Restaurant Association lawsuit in federal court will get the new regulation thrown out. Meanwhile, the city won't fine anyone for violating it until October.
"We are not trying to avoid providing this information to customers," said Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch. He noted that the company has made nutritional information available for 30 years on fliers and posters.
However, New York is the first city in the country to require certain fast food restaurants to list calorie counts next to menu items in type that is at least as large as the price.
Lynch says adding all those numbers will make menus impossible to read.
"You'll either have to have a Times Square-sized menu board, or it could look like a bad day at the eye doctor's office," said Jack Whipple, president of the National Council of Chain Restaurants."
Fast food chains also say they have been unfairly singled because the new rule only applies to restaurants that serve standardized portions and offer nutritional information voluntarily.
Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group, had a different take:
"They are afraid that when people see these eye-popping calorie numbers, they might switch to a smaller size," he said. "They feel it is gong to hurt sales."
For the record, that Double Whopper with Cheese will run you 990 calories, or more than half the recommended daily calories for an adult woman.