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The Dark Secrets of Sit-Down Chain Restaurants

The Dark Secrets of Sit-Down Chain Restaurants

"It’s time for the chain restaurant industry to get over its fear of menu labeling. It’s pathetic to watch these companies go to such thuggish lengths to keep their customers in the dark."
-Margo G. Wootan, CSPI Nutrition Policy Director

December 21, 2007 —

Nutritional labels used to be found on packaged food, and nowhere else. Now, labels are found on almost everything we eat. McDonalds even prints them on a lot  of its packaging.  But corporate restaurant chains aren't legally required to disclose nutritional information to the public. In fact, this information isn't even available upon request from most of the nation's largest chains like T.G.I Friday's, IHOP, and Outback Steakhouse.

If a piece of proposed legislation had passed in California, it would have mandated disclosure of nutrition facts to customers.  But it was heavily contested by the California Restaurant Association, and Governor Schwarzenegger refused to sign it into law.

With that in mind, Men's Health Magazine set out to find out what these chains were hiding, uncovering some calorie and fat contents that might cause even the most unflappable eaters to lose their appetites. Among their findings:

  • Outback's "Aussie Cheese Fries"—an appetizer —has 2,900 calories!
  • Only three items on the T.G.I Friday's menu contain less than 500 calories and 10 grams of fat.
  • The IHOP "Omlette Feast" has 1,335 calories and 35 grams of saturated fat, providing you with 300 percent of your daily suggested cholesterol intake.
  • Sit-down chains actually tend to be even more unhealthy than their fast-food counterparts. The average entree at a sit-down has 867 calories, while the average fast-food entree contains only 522.

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