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Hold that 860-calorie chicken panini

Panera Bread will become the first national chain to post calorie counts at its restaurants.

By Teresa Mears Mar 12, 2010 5:59PM

Panera Bread this week became the first national chain restaurant to announce it will post calorie counts at all its restaurants.


As someone who likes to know what she’s eating, I’m happy to hear it, and I hope other restaurants follow suit. I was, however, devastated to hear that my favorite, the Chicken Frontega Panini, has 860 calories. All I can say is that I usually eat only half of it. At Panera’s prices, splitting a sandwich is a good idea. Now if they’d just agree to leave off the mayo.


Panera, like many chain restaurants, has detailed nutrition information on its Web site, and that’s good. But when you’re standing at the counter, debating between the Chicken Frontega Panini and the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad (410 calories), you don’t always know the calorie difference.


The calorie counts will be posted at company-owned restaurants by March 24 and at all Panera restaurants by the end of the year. If you don’t see it, ask to look at the nutritional binder, which is already available.

Panera was motivated partly by the fact that more cities are requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts, and Congress is considering a nationwide measure, The Associated Press reported.


Will customers chose lower-calorie options?


Evidence suggests some might. AP noted the results of two studies done after New York City required chain restaurants to post calorie counts. At Starbucks, the number of calories per sale declined 6%, according to a study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A study by the New York City Department of Health discovered that customers were choosing fewer calories at nine of 13 chains in the city, including McDonald's, KFC, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks.


Yum Brands, the parent company of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and A&W, has promised to put calorie counts on menus at company-owned restaurants by Jan. 1.


Do you want to see more calorie and nutrition information when you eat out? Do you think that Congress should require it?


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