100 lb. Club - Class Action Suit against Applebee's

01-28-2009, 11:37 AM
I heard this on the news a day or two ago but haven't seen anything posted on these boards, so I thought I'd share. The story is here: http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS196380+04-Jun-2008+PRN20080604

Here's a snippet of the article:

"The complaint alleges that Applebee's engages in unfair and deceptive
business practices by misrepresenting the nutritional information on its
Weight Watchers menu. Applebee's customers are encouraged to order menu items based upon an advertised calorie, fat and fiber content for each item. The actual nutritional information advertised by Applebee's is unreliable and
inaccurate. For example, the Tortilla Chicken Appetizer, advertised as
containing 13 grams of fat, was found to contain 21.4 grams of fat. The Garlic
Herb Chicken was advertised to contain 6 grams of fat, and was found to
contain 18."

Thighs Be Gone
01-28-2009, 11:39 AM
Thank you for posting this. I don't trust any restaurants beyond dry salad and grilled chicken breast. I even take my own dressing. In fact, there was just a post about Applebees yesterday.

01-28-2009, 12:20 PM
I don't trust restaurants either....usually if I do go I make it worth my while and try to make at least the healthiest choice I think I could make. I don't go out that often to eat, about once a month & only because I have a meeting I head up. I'm also not the type to freak out over it ;)

I also bring my salad dressing....my husband thinks I'm weird to do that lol

01-28-2009, 12:21 PM
I think this is probably less about a decision by Applebees to lie on their menus, than it is about individual chefs in individual restaurants who dish out portions larger than what was originally tested. More training would suffice, although I'm sure that the plaintiff is just looking for money.

WW shouldn't be selling their name and good will without making sure that it is used appropriately.

01-28-2009, 12:25 PM
I think I read this somewhere else and when I searched, I found someone posted this article a couple months ago:

Calorie counts from restaurants are just estimates. Can you expect a restaurant to put the same amount of each ingredient each time? Or to serve the exact same portion size each time?

Even if you are at home, unless you weigh your food (which is why I love my scale), then calories are only just estimates as well. I'm good with estimates sometimes but I don't rely on calorie estimation completely.

01-28-2009, 12:50 PM
Calorie counts from restaurants are just estimates. Can you expect a restaurant to put the same amount of each ingredient each time? Or to serve the exact same portion size each time?

Ditto. And it's worse than that...in a busy kitchen, can you picture the cook cleaning the grill off so you don't get any oil leftover from the last hamburger he grilled up? Clearing a space for your meal with a 6 inch barrier on all sides so that drippings from the bacon cooking up above don't drift down? Stopping to break out the food scale and weighing out exact amounts of chicken and broccoli? It would be NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE in a restaurant situation to cook anything OTHER than a microwave, entirely pre-packaged meal and know the calories on it exactly. No kitchen can shut down to cook the "special" entrees in a different area, or break the rhythm of the kitchen to check and see if that piece of chicken (Applebees gets theirs in frozen, in approx 5 ounce pieces for use in both the WW and standard entrees, I think) is EXACTLY 5 ounces or a little bigger/smaller or to weigh out exactly 4 ounces of broccoli.

When I cook at home, I have control of these things. If I choose to eat in a restaurant, I know that I am giving up that control, and will therefore only be able to approximate my calories for the day.

01-28-2009, 12:52 PM
I know better than to trust what they say. However, if they know the cooks are going to take that much leeway (and they *know*), they should post that leeway right alongside the calorie counts. If that means saying a dish has 700 calories, +/- 350 calories, then they should say that. Yeah, it looks stupid. But it's the truth and they know it. They should not claim otherwise.

And really, the variance is not going to be equal on the downside compared to the upside. It's very easy to add several hundred calories carelessly, but you can't just accidentally leave out several hundred and serve anything that resembles the ordered entree. So they should really say it has 700 calories, range 600-1000.

01-28-2009, 12:56 PM
I don't rely on it too much; even if it is just an estimation there is no reason for some of these places to be creating meals with 2x the amount of fat and etc in them. Honestly how are we supposed to know it does contain 2x the fat? How do we know the cook did or didnt follow the directions? When we order something in a restaurant "diet" or not we are relying on the cooks, waiters and staff to provide food cook to the specifications that was ordered. That is what Applebees is charged with, making sure that what is advertised is what is served regardless of individuality of the cooks and staff. What if someone is allergic to something and you dutifully tell the staff you can not have X ingredient and order something without that ingredient to ensure no mix up, and the cook makes it with it anyway whose fault is that? Is it just that individual cook or is it the restaurant itself for not having a competent staff?

An article I had read before about the testing of the foods, was that they didn't test just one restaurant they tested in at least 5 completely different geographically located cities. While there may be thousands of restaurants, 5 out of 5 times seems pretty consistent for me.

01-28-2009, 01:06 PM
Before I had kids, I was a professional chef so I always knew better then to trust any nutritional information posted by any restaurant. Even chain restaurant cooks are not going to be able to stick to the "formula" everytime and as anyone that has ever cooked knows, sometimes you run out of ingredients, time...whatever and you change something in the recipe. That said, I too think it was NOT a good idea for WW's to sell their name to Applebees. Too many people rely on what is printed in the menus too much and unfortunately, they are getting more then they bargained for.

01-28-2009, 01:23 PM
I in no way shape or form trust calorie/fat totals in the "healthy" section of menus. Still, the fact that they were that far off from their claim is pretty disheartening.

The times that I'm truly interested in staying OP when I eat out, I will go with a dry salad, dressing on the side with some grilled chicken (no butter). Otherwise, I get something I know I will just enjoy and I"m not necessarily interested in staying within a specific range.

However, that has to suck for people who travel for work and/or eat out a lot for whatever reason. It is misleading and if it's not within a reasonable range, then as Julie said, they should say that.

Shannon in ATL
01-28-2009, 01:38 PM
I work for a small restaurant group here in Atlanta, and we did send our products out to be analyzed so we could post nutritional information on out website. As has already been said, it is near to impossible to follow the recipe exactly each and every time, and a lot of times only the larger chains have formal 'recipes' - most local chains don't have them. We don't have them in writing - only a long oral history of training on the product. Part of my job is likely going to be writing those recipes in the next few years...

I worked for Burger King for 12 years and used to train people on how to make a 'Gold Standard Whopper' - the perfect Whopper sandwich (without cheese) weighs from 9.25-10.50 ounces as I remember, I think it was from 10.25-11.75 for cheese. That is a pretty big variance to a calorie counter - particularly if the extra 1.25 ounce is all in mayo! Each individual condiment has a weight range, even for the meat and the bread. Six condiments, all with different ranges, all being slapped on fast to meet a service time requirement, you very seldom get the same sandwich twice... At home, I can weigh each item I put on individually and I know exactly how much my sandwich weighs! :)

If I'm not mistaken, the posted nutritional values don't have to be exact and are allowed to vary as much as 20% +/- from the posted value and still be okay, according to our nutritionist who did our analysis... :(

01-28-2009, 04:20 PM
It's a good thing that Applebees should pay for their mis-information, but I worry that this might have negative side effects too.
It's already so hard to get nutrition information at a lot of restaurants, and now there will probably be fewer restaurants that will take the risk of posting it. There's always a good chance that cooks will make the food how they want to at individual branches of the same chain.

01-28-2009, 04:34 PM
I imagine what will happen as a result is they'll put a disclaimer on the calorie counts saying they are estimates and could have a large variance.

01-28-2009, 07:50 PM
I know nothing! I don't want to know if they are wrong. LOL We used to go to Caribou coffee and get a cinnamon roll that was listed as 190 calories we would do this a couple times a week and still lost weight. We later found out that it was wrong and was 590 calories. So I guess what I'm saying is as long as we are trying to be healthy while were out even if it's off a few hundred it's not going to hurt to much because we are still watching portions and trying to eat healthy.

01-28-2009, 10:29 PM
We love Applebee's but I have found the WW stuff pretty disgusting. I try to cut back on the portion size of my favorite, the shrimp and parmesan topped sirloin. I immediately cut it in half and give to my hubby and do less salad dressing and eat only a few bites of the potatoes. Yeah its still pretty far off plan, but so much better than what I used to do that it helps. If I am going out its not all the time and I will compensate in other meals that day. A little cheat helps keep on plan overall.

Whens searching for counts online I have seen Applebee's ripped for not posting all Nutrient info, but their position is basically what everyone has said, its all individually prepared and counts would not be accurate. I am surprised they have let themselves get to this point knowing the risks.

01-29-2009, 12:13 AM
Do any of you have iphones?

I have a restaurant app on my iphone that lists nutrition info for TONS and TONS of restaurants.

an onion blossom at chilis has 2,740 cals.


01-29-2009, 12:52 AM
I used to eat there alot but I rarely do now.

This doesn't really surprise me.

madys momma
01-29-2009, 12:48 PM
I think this is unfortunate...no matter if Applebee's is off on their nutritional information they are still providing healthier options than a lot of other restaraunts, and all this is going to end up doing is wiping the WW menu goodbye and then we will be left with even fewer healthy choices...

01-29-2009, 01:22 PM
I have a similar app on my G1 phone. It is nice when you're out to be able to look up stuff.