Why does no one open a healthy fast-food restaurant chain? It may be that healthy food is a niche market that is difficult to penetrate. Taco Bell and McDonald’s have both had disastrous experiences with healthy fast-food offerings. The companies’ website lists vegetarian and low-calorie menu items. About three-quarters of menu items have fewer than 500 calories. But the fast-food industry is not responding to this demand.
While many major fast-food chains claim to source healthier ingredients and have lower additive levels, that doesn’t mean they can pass those costs on to the consumer. The truth is that the cost of labor is an issue. Most restaurants offer healthy options at lower prices, but consumers are still price sensitive. If these chains were to raise their prices, it would reduce the number of customers. The cost of healthy food for fast-food consumers would be significantly higher than the cost of the average fast-food meal.
McCrory has extensive experience with menu labeling and has studied menus before and after the federal law was passed. She studied changes in calories before the menu labeling law was passed. For all chains, the average decrease was nine calories, which is still not much. Still, McCrory says that the decrease in calories is too small. People simply don’t read the labels or make the wrong choices.
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