Starbucks to Display Calorie Counts Nationwide, Read It and Weep
By the end of the month, you might find yourself thinking twice before ordering that Venti Mocha Frappuccino.
The infamous superpower, um, coffee chain Starbucks is expected to start displaying calorie information alongside menu items in locations across the country starting June 25. And as it turns out, that Frappuccino could set you back as many as 500 calories.
One lesser-known component of last year's Affordable Care Act was the requirement that any restaurant chain with over 20 locations display calorie counts on all of its menus. The Food and Drug Administration is still putting the finishing touches on these regulations, but several fast food chains have decided to preempt the FDA by volunteering that information themselves. These changes in company policy, Starbucks spokespersons claim, are intended to enable customers to make healthier choices.
New York City began to require calorie displays on all franchise menus in 2008, but Starbucks is only the second major restaurant chain to take this policy change nationwide. Fast food giant McDonalds drew major media attention when it began posting calorie counts in September 2012.
Research on the effects of calorie displays has shown mixed results. One NYU study suggested that the measures have a minimal impact on consumer's choices, while another, specific to New York City, showed that one in six customers is influenced by calorie labeling. One especially effective experiment involved displaying the amount of exercise needed in order to burn off a meal.
If you want to get a head start on planning a nutritional breakfast, you can check out Starbucks' full rundown of their menu items here. Here's a hint: you might want to skip the deceiving Zucchini Walnut Muffin (490 calories) and go for the Spinach & Feta Breakfast Wrap instead (290 calories). Or, you know, you could just do whatever you want.