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Wake-up call: Starbucks to post calorie counts

By Candice Choi

AP Food Industry Writer

LAST UPDATED: 05:22 a.m. HST, Jun 18, 2013

NEW YORK » Starbucks has a new way to wake up its customers: showing the calories in its drinks.

The Seattle-based coffee chain says it will start posting calorie counts on menu boards nationwide next week, ahead of a federal regulation that would require it to do so.

Calorie counts on menus are already required in some parts of the country, including New York City.

But starting June 25, Starbucks Corp. says customers at its more than 11,000 U.S. locations will be able to see that there are 300 calories in a small caramel Frappuccino and 230 calories in a small Iced Caffe Mocha.

Pastry cases will also show calorie information, in case customers want to save some calories and opt for a Morning Bun (350 calories) instead of a blueberry scone (460 calories).

The move by Starbucks comes as the Food and Drug Administration irons out the details of a regulation that would require companies with more than 20 locations to post calorie information on their menus. Other chains including McDonald's Corp. have also moved ahead with posting the information, saying they're providing it to be more transparent rather than because they're being forced to.

In its announcement, Starbucks highlighted the various steps it has taken over the years to give customers choices, such as adding sugar-free syrup in 1997 and making 2 percent milk the standard for core beverages in North America in 2007.

The company notes that it already provides nutrition information on its website, through its iPhone app and with printed brochures in cafes. It also says there are numerous ways people can reduce the calories in their drinks, such as by asking for non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup or no whipped cream.

A representative for the company did not know what percentage of customers ask to have their drinks customized.

It's not clear how posted calorie counts affect what people choose to order. But in announcing its plans to post calorie information nationwide last year, the head of McDonald's USA at the time said that providing the information doesn't really change the company's overall menu mix.

While a few national chains already put calorie information on their menus, a "large majority" are waiting for the FDA to issue its final guidelines, according to Sue Hensley, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association.

The group expects the regulation to take effect by sometime next year

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mikethenovice wrote:
Like a fat man once told me. If it taste good, just eat it. Don't bother with reading the contents.
on June 18,2013 | 07:20AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Calorie count can be manipulated by making the serving size smaller. In reality, we all consume more than one serving at a time, then forget, on purpose, to add all the servings up at the end of the day.
on June 18,2013 | 07:22AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I don't think posting calorie counts really change the product mix all that much but it may cause some folks to downsize. If you are hankering for a mocha frappucino, that's what you will choose but perhaps you'll skip \the Vente whole milk and go for a Grande non-fat.

In any case, it is good to have the info provided. GMO needs to be labeled too.

on June 18,2013 | 08:20AM
ryan02 wrote:
All eateries should be required to post calorie counts. Ever seen the calorie count for Cheesecake Factory? You would never eat there if you knew.
on June 18,2013 | 08:48AM
4watitsworth wrote:
Younger kids and people without health issues probably don't care. We recently went to Chili's for dinner and my kid looked up the calorie count of the dishes we ordered which was 1300 for a chicken dish and 1400 for a salad! I'm glad I ordered the lighter meal which was about 650 calories. I think it's important for all eateries to have healthy options. I'm happy to see this new regulation.
on June 18,2013 | 10:54AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
This story just reminds me of my visit to Wendy's in Aiea this past week. I have never seen so many overweight people in a small restaurant in my life. I could barely finish my Son of Baconator because of its greasiness. I could only imagine what someone ordering the Baconator would be consuming. A Baconator meal itself costs almost ten bucks. I don't know how people survive in this economy spending almost ten bucks for a burger meal. And it's not just at Wendy's. McDonald's took away the Angus Third Pounder saying that it was too costly for most of its consumers. And what do they do? They come up with Specialty Quarter Pounders that cost just about as much. They must really think that we consumers are blind.
on June 18,2013 | 10:53AM
lowtone123 wrote:
Make you think twice about ordering that grande caramel frap.
on June 18,2013 | 12:07PM
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