Chain-Restaurant Calorie Count

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 if restaurant-goers are getting a good count.

A commercial for Olive Garden touts its new lower-calorie dishes: "Taste the lighter side of delicious when you to Olive Garden."

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

Kim Kleman, with Consumer Reports says, "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 McDonalds.

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 22.

Kleman 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!"

Consumer Reports says there are a number of things you can do to make eating out healthier. Order sauces on the side-do the same with salad dressing.

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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