Consumer Reports: Are Chain Restaurant Calorie Counts Accurate?

7:19 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Are the calorie counts you see on the menus at those big chain restaurants, the real deal?

Consumer Reports wondered that very thing and sent their testers to find out.

Many restaurants now list nutritional info on their menus and websites. Consumer Reports wanted to know how accurate it is.

We chose 17 menu offerings at a dozen casual restaurants and
fast-food chains and compared their nutritional claims with reality.

They included restaurants like IHOP ... Red Lobster ... Cheese Cake Factory, and McDonald's, Consumer Reports bought food ranging from fettuccine to French fries from three restaurant locations.

Back in the labs, testers ground the food to analyze it for calories and fat.

Most of the menus and websites were correct. But not all the offerings tested from Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse measured up.

Outback's Grilled Chicken on the Barbie claims 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 15 grams of fat. But it had as much as 32 grams. Kim Kleman with Consumer Reports says,  "we're glad to see that most of the menu information was correct. It's important to check because even if you're ordering grilled chicken, that doesn't mean you're getting a lower-calorie meal."

Applebee's Fiesta Lime Chicken is a case in point. It lists 12-hundred calories and 66 grams of fat!
And when you're checking a menu, watch out for words like "battered," "creamy," "crispy," "crusted," or "stuffed." Those all signal "fattening."

And there are a number of things you can do to make eating out healthier.
For example, order sauces and salad dressing on the side.
Stick to no-calorie beverages like 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.









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