Let’s say you’re craving you some of them Montana’s back ribs with a potato salad chaser. Would you still do the deed if you knew it would leave a 1,600-calorie mark? Or would that expensive reality nudge your tastes more in the direction of, say, a bunless nature burger with a side of low-fat lettuce?
Nobody thought to ask the consumers of the stuff whether they actually wanted to have the caloric counts included on restaurant menus. Maybe we don’t care to know, after all, precisely how much that iced concoction with the head of whipped topping is going to cost our backsides.
But Ontario’s NDP health critic would have it otherwise. MPP France Gélinas is gunning to compel chain restaurants with more than five locations and in excess of $5 million in annual revenues to publish at least the calorie counts (and possibly the full complement of eye-opening nutritional information) of every dish on the menu. More than that, the Ottawa Board of Health has elected to write official recommendations to both the federal and provincial health ministers for developing “menu labelling policies for franchises of 10 or more or at least $10 million in revenue.”
It’s not unprecedented. New York City has required that restaurants include nutritional information on their menus and drive-through display boards since 2007. California and parts of Washington State quickly followed suit. And the deal was sealed when the American Congress put a green stamp on legislation requiring restaurant operations with more than 19 locations to post such particulars.
Back home in the province where Premier McGuinty flirted with the idea of outlawing the Double-Down, it’s not like such data points are inaccessible. Lob a request for “nutritional information” across the counter at almost any big-name restaurant chain in Ontario (or just flip the tray liners over), and you’ll be rewarded with the same kind of detail.
Something there is, though, about staring the numbers in the eye. Sure, these efforts have been undertaken, worthily, to encourage healthier eating habits, curb obesity and yada yada. But a visit to a restaurant’s supposed to be a treat. Who really wants to know the damage done? Sheesh. Talk about taking the happy out of a Happy Meal.