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Do you think restaurant menus should list the calorie content for each item?

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54 Comments
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Yeah but they should be held accountable by some gun-wielding agency. A lot of information on labels is based on the company's own data, meaning they can pretty much write whatever they want. Take it with a grain of salt.

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..no, not in Japan. Mislabelling is a serious problem here.

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"Take it with a grain of salt."

And so I would say yes, but it is not a big deal and they should NOT be held accountable. Nobody is allergic to calories, and if people can't figure out that a baked potato with butter AND sour cream is not going to be on the diet menu, then they probably can't use math anyway.

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but it is not a big deal and they should NOT be held accountable

Speak FOR yourself. I often decide what TO buy on roughly how MANY grams of carbs, fat and protein are in SOMETHING, based on the info provided, not just if it comes with butter and sour CREAM.

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Salt content atc. would be as, if not more useful. But sure, put the calorie content on, it won't hurt anything except sales of heavy desserts.

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Restaurants should display the calories. They should also be made to display the 'true' content and country of origin of the food. Most 'calorie conscious' adults should have a good idea of how many calories are in most foods, but making the restaurants display the contents and calories will go a long way to keeping the bastards honest. There are too many food scandals in Japan to believe anything written on a any menu.

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No and No.

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salt content and trans fat content are much more important to me.

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They should also list where the ingredients are from and whether they are GMO.

Of course that would make all menu's look like encyclopedia and prices would go even further up, but hey. Let's have the all mighty government regulate the crap out of the suffering restaurant business even further!

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It's impossible considering that 70% of restaurant in Japan are mama-pop stores. Holding them accountable for something they can't even start to consider is asking too much.

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Chains can do it, but not mom&pop or any place that uses fresh produce to determine the menu of hte day.

Those places, that do their own cooking, can simply answer questions about what's in the dishes and labelling of chemical components isn't necessary.

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Speak FOR yourself. I often decide what TO buy on roughly how MANY grams of carbs, fat and protein are in SOMETHING, based on the info provided, not just if it comes with butter and sour CREAM.

I agree. As a Body builder. I really would like more of a breakdown and or nutritional value of foods that I buy, but I think there is a misconception that EVERYTHING in Japan is healthy and natural. All you have to do is go to ANY local supermarket and take a look at the produce section. There isn't a single blemish, scar or any imperfection. Doesn't make me gleefully ecstatic. Salt content is another issue. While Japanese food for the most part is healthy, salt content is rather high.

but making the restaurants display the contents and calories will go a long way to keeping the bastards honest. There are too many food scandals in Japan to believe anything written on a any menu.

Good luck with that! Now we're getting into integrity issues. I think they should be held accountable, but holding them to that kind of standards is just unheard of in Japan. You'll never see FDA knocking on restaurant doors giving beforehand an hours notice before coming in and doing a thorough inspection. Japanese take high pride in their culinary and to question that would be like opening up Pandora's box.

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As a Body builder. I really would like more of a breakdown and or nutritional value of foods that I buy,

Here's a tip: There is this wonderful thing called, The Internet. Do a bit of research and decide which foods will give you the best 'buff for your buck'.

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I think it is a personal decision to count calories,, if you want to count calories, then it would be better to get a book, and cook your own food

if you are eating out, you are doing so to enjoy a meal out, not sit and count calories

personally i like to enjoy food, whether it goes to my hips or not is another concern, and not related at all to the restaurant,,,

otherwise we might just all start suing MAC for making us fat when we could have cooked up some carrots at home

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Sometimes, mrskit, people eat out because they "have to," and have the choice of eating with their friends, coworkers, boss, clients, etc. or seeming weird and abstaining from food. And goodness knows I've been in more than one situation where I was eating with other people and food was foisted on me. Sometimes you have to eat to be polite.

Since coming to Japan I am also routinely SHOCKED by the calorie counts in food. I guess I'm used to America, where companies have to disclose all the ingredients and try to at least pretend that their foods aren't stuffed full of lard. Sometimes Japanese foods literally contain lard. Or shortening. Or that mysterious "fat spread" that sounds so scrumptious (gag). Even McDonald's french fries have more calories in Japan (and more content) according to the nutritional info on the US and Japan websites. And a doughnut that I would imagine to be 250-300 calories back home mysteriously has 400-500 in Japan. What on earth are they doing?

But that leads to another point ... people are awful at estimating calories. Seriously awful. Do an experiment sometime.

What I really wish most restaurants would have is allergy info. Fast food places and those like Denny's do, but most other places are hit or miss. And most restaurants that do have a list can't bother to have a few "safe" items either. If you're allergic to wheat, dairy, or soy (OR not AND) ... you're basically screwed, since the foods have so many additives. As I said before, sometimes you can't avoid eating out. It really sucks to have to sit there with your drink while everyone else chows down because even the fries are coated in something inedible.

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Thanks mrskit for some common sense.

Hmm... You are fat or you are not fat, look in the mirror if you are not sure. One friggin meal will not make a difference. How about IQs displayed on foreheads instead?

"Sorry, you don't deserve to eat (let alone reproduce) based on your IQ. Please make way for customers who pass the minimum intelligence standards"

Sorry, I just had to write this :-)

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Why all the resistance to disclosing calorie content? Telling your customers what they're getting is so bad ?? Don't understand :(

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well said mrskit

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Do a bit of research and decide which foods will give you the best 'buff for your buck'.

Has nothing to do with what I was talking about. Having said that, I do a lot of research and do my own cooking. But still it would be great to see more transparency on Japan's part.

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Would prefer to see the price clearly marked on the menus...

Calorie content - optional, a bit of common sense helps there.

More useful might be an indicator if any of the dishes contain peanuts or any other allergen, but no need for a list of each and every ingredient, you can always ask the cook or staff about the food.

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Yes, but they often cheat(display less calories than the real energy value).

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No that's crazy.

If you do not have common sense, I guess you do need a calorie count.

Example ordering a salad and adding/ smoothering it will very fat dressing is just plan stupid if you are on a diet.

Do you really need a calorie count when your smoothering cream cheese or big glob of mayo on your salad ? fried foods junk food ( Ramein ) and etc.

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Stick to something that you know or looks like low calorie if you are - that concerned. I always see fat people on a diet or a skinny person on a diet.

Usually if you are that concerned talk to a doctor or dietican. Actually homecooked meals are more healthy than restaurant.

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Do a bit of research and decide which foods will give you the best 'buff for your buck'.

Based on personal experience, the best "buff for my buck" is nyotai-zushi.

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No, restaurant should not be required to list caloric content. We need less nanny state.

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Bubzabub,

Information is not a nanny state. Letting you know how much cr@p you're eating doesn't mean you can't eat it. I like restaurants who show how many calories their food contains. I'd like a break down of it (how many calories are fat, for instance) but I think that might be unreasonable; there's only so much space on some menus.

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If MacD did that it'd be out of business

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then again it's not a restaurant

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Of course, places that sell industrial products like the fast food chains should be able to provide all the technical data, the complete ingredient lists and calories, salt, etc , also origin of ingredients and process. Places that cook from ingredients should be able to tell you what ingredients were used. They cannot give precise nutritional data, as natural ingredients vary a lot in caloric value and nutritive properties. That said, I don't think very high of a cook that has no idea of the approximate value of his teishoku. If he is clueless about nutrition, expect the worst about his knowledge about food preservation, general hygiene and healthy cooking process.

But there is no point in having all the available data on the menu. Only certain customers are interested and each has specific needs or criteria (religion, health, tastes...). They can ask, they can even call in advance and order specially cooked dishes.

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well it's not that hard to estimate the caloric value of food.

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I agree. As a Body builder. I really would like more of a breakdown and or nutritional value of foods that I buy, but I think there is a misconception that EVERYTHING in Japan is healthy and natural

Totally. While I feel the term "bodybuilder" is too generous for me, I am an avid weight-trainer and low-carber on the nutritional front. The amount of times I'm in the supermarket and find products with no nutritional information on them whatsoever is quite remarkable. Not even a calorie count. For some reason deli and small-goods are terrible for this.

I don't really think a breakdown of calories is something I want to see when I go to a restaurant. I know what's good and bad for me already, but I do think there should be a law passed making nutritional information mandatory for all food products.

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well it's not that hard to estimate the caloric value of food

Exactly

I know what's good and bad for me already

Of course, anyone with even alittle interest in what they consume will know this.

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Yes. I want to know if I'm getting value for money. ;)

I can eat what I want BTW. No fear of getting fat!

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If you're going to require restaurants to do this, then you're going to have to require all the lunch truck operators to do it too. I can see it now:

"Tikka Masala Chicken Curry with naan - 940kcal"

"Taco Rice - 860kcal"

LOL

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Hey, zenobia, McD's would be looking good compared to a lot of these lunch truck meals if they all displayed their calorie content. McD's has a list with the calories on every item they sell, down to the sugar and the gum syrup for the hot & ice coffee for those who request to see it. I was surprised to see that a pack of gum syrup for the ice coffee was way more calories than a stick of sugar!

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Some people just need the mothering their whole life, when they become adults they need the state to become their mother.

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They already do this in America, including McD's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc. Even on the drive-thru billboards.

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Yes, people should have easy access to the amount of calories they are consuming. It is not always easy to know, especially in well mixed food such as casseroles, soups, ect. so there should be a good estimate available to base one's judgement off of.

The real problem are those restaurants that attempt to depict themselves as healthy with certain advertised keywords or images, yet they can be as calorie packed as any junk food.

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Absolute rubbish. Why would I want to a good restaurant that I enjoy in Tokyo (and we all know that there are many), and be told how many calories there was in every dish. The Fast Food giants AND the individual are responsible for the obesity problem. We all know what is bad for us, we all know when we have eating too much of a bad thing. Overweight people in general only have themselves to blame. Please not that I have added 'in general'. I do realise that there are those with other issues. My favourite Italian restaurant in Tokyo don't even give me a menu anymore. I'm quite happy not to know the price (too expensive) OR the calories (too many) as it is not somewhere I go every today.

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As sung to the melody of "Land of 1000 Dances" No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no...

Eat well, and dance it off!

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no, i dont

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Don't care either way.

I eat out because I like the food, etc.

Was funny on Tv I watched an interview with some foreigners(whites) that said because they don't know what is in foods in japan they will only eat McD. What is the purpose of travel? And can't you research good, etc on the net now.

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Totally. While I feel the term "bodybuilder" is too generous for me, I am an avid weight-trainer and low-carber on the nutritional front. The amount of times I'm in the supermarket and find products with no nutritional information on them whatsoever is quite remarkable. Not even a calorie count. For some reason deli and small-goods are terrible for this. I don't really think a breakdown of calories is something I want to see when I go to a restaurant. I know what's good and bad for me already, but I do think there should be a law passed making nutritional information mandatory for all food products

@Leroy

You are right. I agree and as people that train for fitness. All that I am saying is labeling is good for people that just don't have a clue or understand how to check for calories and believe it or not, there ARE people out there that just don't know or if they have a medical condition and their doctor tells them they can have a certain amount of salt, fat, sugar or other ingredients that might be harmful to their diet for people that fall under these guidelines it would be helpful to label food products.

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Was funny on Tv I watched an interview with some foreigners(whites) that said because they don't know what is in foods in japan they will only eat McD. What is the purpose of travel? And can't you research good, etc on the net now.

People like that get me so riled up. I know people like that and can't understand for the life of me, if you don't want to indulge in the local cuisine at least try it before knocking it, then you should stay home! The same goes for many Japanese. Many will criticize foreign food without even trying it. We should be careful of course when it comes to diet and food choices, but to not be engaging when traveling is just absurd.

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because they don't know what is in foods in japan they will only eat McD

I know what's in McD, that's why I don't eat there.

It's all well and good to say that people should know all abut calories and stuff, research the internet before they go out to eat, etc., but it's still a help if menus give pertinent information. Often restaurant meals contain ingredients we might not use at home, so that a restaurant meal can have a completely different nutritional value to the same meal cooked at home. So yes, show fat/sugar/salt content as well as calories. And it would be very helpful if vegetarian choices had a little 'V' next to them, so I didn't need to keep sending the waitress back into the kitchen to ask if this item or that is properly veggie.

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@bass4funk: Totally agree with you. I wish I had caught the TV programme mentioned above. In all fairness I don't understand a lot of the foreign community on this forum. there are several people on here who seem to complain about everything in Japan. If you dislike a country so much and can't deal with differences in way of life, why stay here?

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bass4funk.

I agree, granted some people got requirements due to allergies, religion, whatever.

Travel = indulgence, etc. Ditto for eating out.

BTW, McD here has all the nutrition info available. Just take your keitai and use the QR-code on the food wrapper.

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Well I agree that in family restaurants and fast food places it would be good to have the joules shown. But in many places that I like to eat for a night out, it's not practical.

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I don't need to know calories.

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I was surprised to see that a pack of gum syrup for the ice coffee was way more calories than a stick of sugar!

Well that doesn't surprise me at all. I'm surprised at those who claim to eat well by swallowing all that junk. Lunch truck food - I'm thinking shishkebab all of a sudden.

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porter: I don't need to know calories

Some things are better left unsaid. The focus should be on quality healthwise.

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Why worry about the calorie intake, fat content unless you got a medical condition that matters.

Reducing calories alone won't reduce your weight(starvation diets work short-term only) nor is healthy.

If you won't to seriously shed the poundage increase your daily activities like walking, sports, etc and do a general lifestyle adjustment to a balanced diet.

Regular moderate exercise will do more for you than any diet adjustments.

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Yes, of course. It's called informed consumer choice.

In Japan, high salt content of the food is the main issue. So the salt content (sodium amount) should be definitely listed. Also information about the trans fat, saturated fat content and glycemic index of the food has great value.

Calorie-labeling alone is not meaningful. Brown rice and white rice have the same calorie content but they are not the same food.

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It would be nice if the nation-wide restaurants provided nutritional information, but I could understand how a mom&pop restaurant might find this difficult to calculate. But at the end of the day, it's up to the consumer to decide if nutritional information is something they really need and if a restaurant doesn't provide it, they can choose to go elsewhere for their meal.

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