“And on menu pages 5 through 100 you will find all of the nutritional information for today’s breakfast buffet possibilities”…Something I hope I never hear from a server.
I agree that we can all do more to provide better information on the nutritional content of menu items. Currently, there are over 40 state or local government agencies with plans in hand to legislate menus to provide nutritional content on each item available. Not really a problem for chain restaurants that sell the same 50 items in every location. When all the food you sell is delivered twice a week in one truck, it’s pretty easy to analyze every item. Our restaurants and hotels are different than a fast food restaurant, with hundreds of unique menu items. Buffets, long embraced by guests for value and variety, are even more puzzling when I look at the way these jurisdictions wish to apply mandatory nutritional labeling. Is a serving an arbitrary quantity? Read the labels on many foods and you will find the numbers look great…as long as you eat just 12 of the crackers in the bag of 200. Maybe an exaggeration, but just last week we reviewed a roast chicken labeled to contain less than 400 calories per serving…sounds good until the serving size equaled exactly one quarter of the half chicken. Since when does a half chicken serve four?
Fresh cooking is not the same as the chains' fast food this drive for labeling has targeted. Our hotel restaurants are not a chain of restaurants serving the same food. Each property establishes their own menus and their own sense of place. We buy seasonally. We create unique events with specific foods. Many menus change daily and weekly based on what is best at the moment, freshest off the boat, or most unique from the market. Accurate analysis of every item made in our kitchens would be effectively impossible, when you factor in all the possibilities and combinations available to order. In effect, customers have the true ability to decide what choices are best for them, not a regulation.
The US based National Restaurant Association is supportive of establishing federal guidelines to ensure states and municipalities are all on the same nutritional page. Having one set of rules makes sense to me.
What’s on YOUR plate today?