Menu Meddling

ObamaCare's calorie counts


As part of the federal government's campaign to make sure Americans know that fast food is bad for them, the 2010 law creating ObamaCare requires restaurant chains to post nutritional information on their menu boards. Companies struggling to comply with this edict may wind up confusing customers rather than informing them. 

The mandate, which applies to chains with 20 or more locations, requires that the calorie count for each menu item appear directly next to the listing for that dish—no easy feat on the already cluttered menu boards at fast food joints and take-out places. And in the era of "have it your way," squeezing accurate information into those boards may be nearly impossible.

At Burger King, a Whopper Value Meal could range from 1,040 calories (small fries and drink, hold the mayo) to 1,820 calories (large fries and drink, plus an extra patty). At Domino's, different options for toppings and crust mean specialty pizzas with the same name can vary by as much as 2,000 calories. (Those figures are easily found and totaled up using handy tools on the restaurant chains' websites.) Domino's says compliance will cost the company $5 million. The bicoastal burger chain Hardees/Carl's Jr. puts its costs at $1.5 million.