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Pizza Hut, Pizza Nova, Pizza Pizza and Little Caesar among Group to Provide Nutritional Information


Canada’s largest restaurant chains
launched a new program in February that will make it easier for
consumers to obtain detailed nutrition information about various menu
items.

Canada’s largest restaurant chains launched a new program in February that will make it easier for consumers to obtain detailed nutrition information about various menu items.
This voluntary program, developed by leading restaurant companies and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), will provide consumers with the calorie, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate and protein content of standard menu items. It also identifies ingredients that are common causes of food allergies or intolerances, such as nuts, milk, eggs and fish.

“Different consumers are looking for different things,” says CRFA’s senior vice-president of government affairs, Joyce Reynolds. “ Some are interested in fat, others sugar, others carbs and so on.”

By the end of 2005, participating restaurants across Canada will provide the nutrition information in brochures at each of their locations, and place a notice on menu boards or menus to let consumers know the information is available on the premises. Nutrition and allergen information will also be posted on restaurant web sites.

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“Many restaurant chains already provide a detailed nutrition and allergen profile for their products. With the growing interest in fitness and nutrition among Canadians, this new program is aimed at making consumers aware that this information exists, and providing the information in a consistent manner,” says Reynolds.

Under the nutrition information program, participating restaurant chains with standardized concepts, menu items and portion controls will provide nutrient values for core menu items. The nutrient values are consistent with those on the Nutrition Facts table on packaged food, which consumers are familiar with – the amount of calories, fat (saturated and trans fat), cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates (fibre and sugar), protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. In addition, participants are encouraged to note the presence of the top 10 allergens: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat and other gluten, sesame seeds and sulphite. Allergens may be listed in the nutrition brochure or on the restaurant web site.

A total of 24 restaurant chains have so far signed on to the voluntary program. The founding companies, which are at various stages of complying with the guidelines, are:
A&W Food Services of Canada Inc., Burger King Restaurants of Canada Inc., Casey’s Bar & Grill, De Dutch Pannekoek House Restaurants Inc., East Side Mario’s Restaurants, Fionn MacCool’s, Harvey’s, IKEA Canada, Jack Astor’s Bar & Grill, Kelsey’s Restaurants, KFC, Little Caesar of Canada Inc., Les Rotisseries St-Hubert Ltee., McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, Pizza Hut, Pizza Nova, Pizza Pizza Limited, Shoeless Joe’s Restaurants, Swiss Chalet Rotisserie & Grill, Taco Bell, Tim Hortons, Van Houtte Inc., Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada Inc., and White Spot Restaurants.

“Restaurants offer a wide variety of menu choices that meet the individual needs and preferences of their customers. Consistent and complete nutrition information will help consumers make the choice that is right for them, whether their concern is calories, carbs or cholesterol,” says Reynolds.

The nutrition information program recognizes the challenges of providing nutrition information in a restaurant setting, and takes into account the ‘made-to-order’ nature of the industry, where meals are customized to individual tastes, ingredients may be substituted by a supplier, and daily or seasonal specials are commonplace – all of which can change the nutrient profile of menu items. The program applies to core or standard menu items that are less likely to be affected by these factors and the information
is presented in a flexible and easy-to-update brochure format.

CRFA provides more information about the nutrition information program and related initiatives by the restaurant industry in the Food and Fitness Facts section of its web site at www.crfa.ca.