The absurdity of fast-food calorie labeling

A study of the usefulness calorie listings on fast-food menus reflects lack of regard for customers, sloppy legal compliance and the futility of corralling the compliance of companies who do not want to be transparent.

Researchers studied calorie counts for 200 food items on menu boards in the Harlem section of New York City, where a menu-labeling ordinance has been enforced since 2006.

For the most part, the labeling was useless. For example, a bucket of chicken was listed as having 3,240 to 12,360 calories. That is quite a range, and the calorie count did not indicate how many pieces were in that count. A submarine sandwich had between 500 and 2,080 calories. It was up to the customer to figure out what that meant and how to get into the lower range. Combination meals had the same problem. The menu assumed you would eat everything you ordered.

Few of us take calculators to fast-food restaurants and attempt to discern exactly what we are eating. Calorie listings should be for individual items and be as specific as possible. The study reflects a poorly written ordinance and businesses that disrespect their clients.