large_calories.jpgRequiring restaurants, particularly chains, to put calorie counts beside each item is the latest skirmish in the battle against American obesity. But can you believe everything you read?

A July 8, 2009, Wall Street Journal article raised significant doubts about the reliability of posted calorie counts. An Applebee’s Cajun lime tilapia listed at 310 calories tested out at 401, and the restaurant’s Italian chicken and portobello sandwich came in at 395 calories instead of the listed 360. Taco Bell’s fresco grilled steak soft taco came in at 297 calories, almost double the posted 160 calories, while its fresco bean burrito came in at 449 calories, “only” 50% greater that the advertised 330.

The testing was done at Analytical Laboratories via Scripps; the test involved grinding up the menu item and any included sides, using acids and mechanical devices to mimic digestion, then testing for nutritional content.

Bottom line? Don’t believe everything you read. Caveat emptor, independent thinking, and a healthy dose of skepticism are both a consumer and a free society’s best friends!

Closing Quotes:

“Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” — John Dewey, philosopher, educator, and writer; 1859—1952,

“Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding.” — Xi Zhi, philosopher; 1120—1200

“Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism.” — David Suzuki, Canadian environmental activist.