Nutrition and Labeling - Lab tests "diet" restaurant food, finds discrepancies in nutritional info

05-21-2008, 03:32 PM
I thought this was interesting. Found this article today via The Consumerist (, from a TV station in Detroit. They went in to a couple restaurants and ordered the entrees marked as "healthy" or "diet" or whatever, then sent them off to a lab to get the cals/fat/carbs/protein ratios broken down. They then compared the results with what the menus and/or the restaurant websites state, and some of the results are pretty surprising... While a lot of the time the restaurant info is spot-on with the actual results, sometimes there are huge differences. Just goes to show we can't always trust other people to prepare our food just how we expect it to be prepared....

What's On The Menu? ( at WXYZ Detroit - the complete website

Results of Lab Analysis ( - a PDF file of the results from analysis vs. the company's stated nutritional information.

Just a couple of examples:

Chili's Guiltless Grill Salmon
Stated: cals 480, fat 14g
Lab results: cals 664, fat 35.5g

Applebee's Italian Chicken & Portobello Sandwich
Stated: cals 360, fat 6g
Lab results: cals 395, fat 18.6g

Taco Bell Fresco Bean Burrito
Stated: cals 330, fat 7g
Lab results: cals 449, fat 19.1g

If you want to know what's in your food, cook it yourself I guess! :dizzy:

05-21-2008, 04:01 PM
Hmm, I must not have very high expectations, because most of them were closer than I would have guessed. I wish they had chosen McDonalds. I love their salads, but as I'm eating them, I'm thinking, "I bet that kid put a lot more cheese/sauce/tortilla strips/etc than were calculated for the calorie count."

05-21-2008, 04:35 PM
I was going to say the same thing, I would've thought there was a bigger calorie discrepancy.

05-21-2008, 04:48 PM
Cool Jaime, thanks for posting!

I've always wondered about, er... doubted the accuracy of some of the info these retaurants give. Like at applebees when I order the same entree 2 different times and it comes out completely different (eg one time with gobbs of dressing, another just light, or when the "low fat cheese" looks completely different than it used to.) Still, all in all they weren't off by as much as I would have thought!

05-21-2008, 09:19 PM
Although.. if that's whats in the low fat meals.. what's in the regular food?? When we do fast food, we try to do subway salads or subs.. and when we go out for dinner.. we tend to generally share and we generally head for salads... :D

05-22-2008, 12:18 PM
tdprincess, that's exactly what I wonder! :lol:

When the "light" fare is pushing 700-800 calories, what the heck is in the rest of the stuff.....

Yeah, I agree though - It's actually not as off as you might expect. The original article I read citing the WXYZ article was pretty alarmist about it - they tested one dish from the Macaroni Grill *including* this vat of cheese sauce and bread that comes with it, and it came out to about double the cals and 30ish extra grams of fat. But when the dish is tested without those things it comes pretty close (but the article only mentioned the cheese sauce/bread test, to make it sound like all of the results would be shockingly different, more on that at 11! :lol:).

Still, though... an extra 100 calories here and there can start to add up for someone with a need to eat out frequently. I hadn't seen anything like this done before (though obviously it might have been) so I thought it was interesting. Especially with the recent upheaval over putting calorie info on fast food packaging/menus...

05-22-2008, 12:35 PM
Very interesting. I tend to double check restaurant entrees by looking up the items individually as well. I can generally get a pretty good idea of how close the restaurant or online calculators are that way.

The thing that screws up the calories the most, that I've noticed is when you eat something with sauce or dressing, which is why I always ask for sauce/dressing on the side. That way I can control a little better how much goes onto my food.