Palate Works Clears the Plates on Taste vs. Nutrition with Free Recipe Makeovers for Restaurants

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To show that taste and nutrition are neither mutually exclusive nor necessarily an expensive combination, Palate Works is offering free recipe makeovers for restaurants seeking advice on nutrition analysis.

In addition, there's a growing misconception that 'lower in calories' equals 'healthier,' when it often simply indicates a smaller portion size and/or no sauce. Tweaking more than just the quantity of dressing or portion size, whether for a burger, salad or dessert, is a better strategy for taste and nutrition... and gives customers the options they've been craving.

The next dining "trend" is shaping up to be nutrition information, whether voluntary (at small chains and independents) or mandatory (larger chains). But a recent, well-publicized survey indicates little customer appetite for health when ordering, despite a large majority saying they want healthier options. "Dichotomy" on the part of customers? To Palate Works, a food industry nutrition consulting firm, it's more likely a lack of home runs among the "healthier" options.

This summer, restaurants that sign up with Palate Works for advice regarding nutrition analysis receive a free makeover for one menu item, including the nutrition data "before" and "after." Rather than relegating health-conscious customers to "sauce on the side" or "no dressing" options, restaurants using nutrition analysis and a little creativity can offer healthier versions of menu favorites that more customers can enjoy.

All U.S. restaurants have been required since 1997 to provide nutrition information for any menu item carrying a claim ("low fat," "healthy," etc.). Federal legislation soon to be enacted (which is similar to but will preempt state and local laws) applies to all long-term menu items at restaurants with at least 20 locations. The federal law will likely require posting just calorie information on menus, with additional data for fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, fiber, sodium, etc. to be available upon request.

Restaurants have various options for determining nutrition data. Laboratory (chemical) analysis of actual food samples is the most expensive, at about $700 per menu item, but is more accurate for fried items. Database analysis is much more affordable, but requires an extensive database and a careful user who is knowledgeable about nutrition. Accuracy for both methods is dependent upon restaurants always following recipes exactly, among other factors. Even an additional splash of oil can add 50 or more calories.

Aside from price, the benefits of using a consultant or a semi-supported online tool include faster turnaround and less chance of errors, 'which are fairly common, judging by all the inaccurate data and claims posted online for restaurant dishes,' says Palate Works' Carol Harvey, who helps restaurants pick an analysis solution. "In addition, there's a growing misconception that 'lower in calories' equals 'healthier,' when it often simply indicates a smaller portion size and/or no sauce. Tweaking more than just the quantity of dressing or portion size, whether for a burger, salad or dessert, is a better strategy for taste and nutrition... and gives customers the options they've been craving."

Palate Works, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, has been providing nutrition labeling and product consulting services to food businesses for over 15 years. For more information, visit http://www.palateworks.com.

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Carol Harvey
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