Case Study: Fast Food Restaurants Should Display Calorie Counts

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Overview

Accurate, understandable, and scientifically valid nutrition and health information on food packages and menus is essential for an inclusive public health strategy that helps consumers eat healthier meals and reduce the risks of food-related diseases such as obesity and overweight. It is alleged that if fast food restaurants were impelled to indicate calorie levels on the menus and meals ordered by consumers, then consumers can become more aware of the risks associated with high-calorie foods. Various authorities after recognizing the significance of nutrition and health information on food packages have supported various pieces of legislation such as the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act as well as the Food Labelling Act.  In spite of these legislations, there has been a disparity in the application of the new rules and regulations on the fast food restaurants in the country. Some proprietors perceive that the government is influencing consumer’s individual decision excessively. Others consider that there is no adequate proof that menu labeling influences healthier food consumption (Berman, 2014). In this paper, we will argue that there is a dire need for fast food restaurants to comply without question. We will justify our arguments using Immanuel Kant’s moral theory. According to Kant (1724-1804), whether our actions are right or wrong depends on whether we fulfil our duty rather than on their consequences. Therefore, restaurant owners arguing that the legislations are not justified is not enough if they are not delivering their moral obligations and responsibilities towards good public health practices by offering quality foods, and which help to promote good health among consumers.

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In the recent years, people have been trying to eat healthier foods in response to the gradually increasing food-related concerns. However, to change the eating habits they are used to for a long time has not been easy, and thus the prevalence of food-related diseases does not seem to reduce. Suggestions have itthat people would find it easy to change their eating habits if restaurants displayed calorie counts and food ingredients on the foods they sell to customers. Till today, debates continue, especially at a time when a significant proportion of the world population is troubled. In response to the toxic health challenges such as obesity, various government agencies have framed legislations requiring all food businesses to incorporate nutritional information on the food packages and menus. These are intended to inform the public and in a bid to reduce the prevalence of obesity. However, consumers have not fully accepted the new introductions (Idriss & El‐Habbab, 2014). For instance, Morley, Scully, Martin, Niven, Dixon, and Wakefield (2012), conducted a study with the intention of establishing whether fast food fans were willing to reduce their calorie intakes in exchange of offers. The researchers found that even though some of the customers accepted the offers, they were not implored to dismiss the high-calorie foods they are used to. They concluded that customers are not used to calories counts displays, and thus their decisions would not be influenced when they came to request their orders (Morley, Scully, Martin, Niven, Dixon, & Wakefield, 2012). Another study by Basarir and Sherif (2012) showed that many fast foods customers were undaunted by calorie figures counts displayed on the food packages, as well as their preferred menu. As such, even though these rules are perceived practical, much effort is required to sensitize the customers to become keener on the calorie levels they consume when buying their preferred meals.

Analysis

It is often possible that consumers just admire the taste of the food they purchase and showing calories simply does not alter their purchasing decision because they are aware of their preferences (Berman, 2014). Sellers provide them with information yet they still buy what they had decided to buy from the beginning. Many are unwilling to change their decisions as long as what they intended to purchase has all they yearn: salt, sugar, and fats. Once the consumers get their orders and beginn to eat, it is quite hard to stop (Berman, 2014). Listing the calorie counts may motivate the suppliers to reinvent in a manner that would be healthier (Morley, Scully, Martin, Niven, Dixon, & Wakefield, 2012).Some restaurants with even healthier menu have increased their profit levels by looking for mechanisms to reinvent to promote healthier choices. However, it is surprising that consumers do not prefer low-calorie food choices.

Government agencies and employers can serve as role models in ensuring that people change to sustained conducts. The new rules and regulations imposed on the fast food and other chain restaurants will affect the menu labeling of these dealers. Moreover, the new laws would permit the prosecution of the restaurants dealers in fast food who do not observe the set rules on listing the calorie counts in with their menu items. The new laws are intended to enable the consumers to find the information about the calorie levels when they make their selections (Morley, Scully, Martin, Niven, Dixon, & Wakefield, 2012). The calorie counts should be provided on the menu board adjacent to the name of the item instead of placing them in a small print on a poster or pamphlet. Some restaurants chains and food firms give calorie information on a wrapper, on their websites, or on a leaflet (Serkal, 2013). So often, consumers opt not to observe the information displayed perhaps because they are unaware that such information has been displayed. Nevertheless, the new legislations will make it almost unfeasible to overlook the information.

Additionally, the new laws require that the vending machines, particularly those selling foods in which the calorie information is not visibly shown on the face of the package, indicate calorie information. Many consumer advocates and not-for-profit watchdogs are also celebrating the new legislation. Many have been campaigning for food labeling at chain restaurants for more than a decade now. The obligation to indicate the calorie information will enlighten consumers on the essential food elements they require before purchase (Morley, Scully, Martin, Niven, Dixon, & Wakefield, 2012).

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