Where did the calories go? Many food delivery apps don’t show calorie counts, study finds

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Ever order your dinner from an app like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub and wonder how many calories are in that burger or pizza?

Well, a new study shows that many restaurants are not telling you the calorie count when you order food through these apps.

This is a problem because there’s a law that says big chain restaurants must show calorie counts on their menus.

Researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Tufts University, and New York University took a close look at this issue.

They checked out the menus of the top 75 restaurant chains in four U.S. cities. They looked at the first three foods and first three drinks on each menu to see if calorie counts were there.

What did they find?

Only 60% of the menus on the restaurants’ own websites or apps had calorie counts for every item they looked at. When it came to third-party food delivery apps, even fewer menus showed calorie counts.

Some good news: Four popular restaurant chains did have calorie information for every item on all the online platforms they checked.

But four other popular chains didn’t have any calorie information at all when you get to the point of picking your food on the online menu.

Why does this matter? Well, a law from 2010 says that big chain restaurants have to show calorie counts on their menus. This is to help people know what they’re eating. And it’s not just for in-person dining; it’s supposed to be for online orders too.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the group that makes sure this law is followed, stopped checking on this in April 2020 because of COVID-19. But they plan to start checking again in November 2023. Restaurants that don’t follow the rule might get in trouble.

One more thing: The FDA has said before that third-party apps like DoorDash aren’t responsible for showing calories.

But the researchers say that the restaurants can easily add this information when they put their menus on these apps. So, they think the FDA should make sure restaurants do this.

Eva Greenthal, one of the people who worked on the study, said that as more people order food online, it’s important for restaurants to help customers make good choices by showing calorie counts.

Another researcher, Sean Cash, pointed out that the rules should change to match how people order food today. He says knowing the calorie count can help people make smarter food choices, no matter where they see the menu.

So the next time you’re scrolling through a food delivery app, think about this: Do you really know what you’re getting into calorie-wise? And should the app tell you?

These researchers think so, and they’re calling for clearer rules to make sure you have the info you need to make a healthy choice.

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