Fast Food outlets breaking the rules

How fast food outlets are breaking the rules

Fast food outlets across Australia have been hiding key information about some of their menu items according to Cancer Council Australia. Despite laws being put in place across Australia, making it mandatory for fast food outlets to display the kilojoule information of their menu items, a study of almost 200 menu boards located in fast food outlets has found that most outlets have only a select portion of their product range on display with their relevant kilojoule information available. Researchers found that only around 3% of the outlets in the study listed the energy information of their entire menu selection.
Co-Author of the study, Clare Hughes, expressed that the majority of the fast food menu boards were being used for marketing the “most popular” or “new” menu items and therefore only those items had the energy content readily available – leaving the remaining menu items still available for order without the required kilojoule information.
“So you might not know how many kilojoules were in a cheeseburger but you’d certainly be able to find out how many kilojoules in a cheeseburger meal…it wasn’t encouraging people to choose and buy less food” says Hughes.
The offending retailers claim that the labelling rules vary between states and this has made it difficult for them to properly adhere to them.
Why is it important for consumers to know about the energy content in fast food? Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show that almost 2 out of 3 Australians are overweight or obese (63%) and a prime factor in weight gain, and other health problems such cancer, is high kilojoule content in food. Fast food is a big offender when it comes to healthy eating in many areas including overly-high kilojoule content. Fast food also lowers its overall health factor by the methods in which the food is cooked (deep-frying is an excellent example), the excessive portion sizes of meal and the added sugars, salts and sauces.
Ms. Hughes stated that in a NSW study it was discovered that consumers who had access to proper food labelling, on average, ate about 500 kilojoules less than those without proper label information.
“We know if more information is available in fast food restaurants, people are more likely to make healthier food choices,” she said.
Now allowing yourself a treat every now and then at a fast food restaurant is perfectly fine in the overall scope of healthy eating; remember what they always say “everything in moderation”. That being said, you are still responsible as the individual for what you decide to eat and when you do decide to indulge in a burger from Maccas or some crispy chicken from KFC, you can still make sure you don’t order more than you need. Fast food retailers are inhibiting your ability to do so by not fully disclosing the energy content in ALL their menu items.
“We know energy information is working, we just need it to appear on all items available for purchase” – Clare Hughes | Cancer Council Australia.

How fast food outlets are breaking the rules