New restaurant regulations that were supposed to require chains with more than 20
locations to list calorie counts on their menus are stalled. But many restaurants have
already started disclosing that information anyway. Consumer Reports wanted to see
whether restaurant-goers are getting a good count.
Consumer Reports chose 17 menu offerings at a dozen casual restaurants and fast-
food chains and compared their nutritional claims with reality. They included restaurants
such as IHOP, Red Lobster, Cheese Cake Factory, and McDonald’s. Consumer
Reports bought food including fettuccine and French fries from three restaurant
Back in the labs, testers ground the food to analyze it for calories and fat. Not all the
offerings tested from Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse measured up.
Outback’s Grilled Chicken on the Barbie claims to have 7 grams of fat but contained as
much as 13 grams in Consumer Reports’ tests. And Olive Garden’s Lasagna Primavera
with Grilled Chicken is supposed to have 20 grams of fat. But it had as much as 32
All the other menus and websites were correct. And Consumer Reports says it’s
important to check because even if you’re ordering grilled chicken, that doesn’t mean
you’re getting a lower-calorie meal.
And when you’re checking a menu, watch out for words such as “battered,” “creamy,”
“crispy,” “crusted,” or “stuffed.” Those all signal “fattening.”
Consumer Reports says there are a number of things you can do to make eating out
healthier. Order sauces on the side, and do the same with salad dressing. Stick to no-
calorie beverages such as water, seltzer, and tea. And, of course, don’t think you have
to finish everything then and there. Take some home and eat it at another meal.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances,
cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.