Chain-restaurant calorie count - WRBL

Chain-restaurant calorie count

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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 locations.

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 grams. 

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.

As you know, Consumer Reports found up to 32 gram of fat in Olive Garden's Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken. Olive Garden's website had said the dish contained 15 grams of fat. Olive Garden told Consumer Reports that 15 grams was a mistake, that the dish actually has 20 grams of fat and their website information has been updated.

However, the three samples Consumer Reports tested from three different Olive Garden restaurants had between 25 and 32 grams of fat. Olive Garden says the differences are due to variability in serving sizes.

Sarah Panko

Sarah is the anchor/ producer for News Three First Edition at 5/4 central time. She also brings you the latest Consumer Reports on the Nightwatch at 11/10 central. More>>

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