Thu, Aug 09, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Beverage labels, volumes mislead the public: survey

By Ho Yi  /  Staff reporter

A man from the John Tung Foundation examines beverage cups from various fast-food outlets yesterday.

Photo courtesy of the John Tung Foundation

Information regarding the volume and calories of beverages sold at fast-food chain stores is often missing or incorrect, the John Tung Foundation said yesterday after conducting a survey of 147 branches of seven big-name chains last month.

The survey found that only three out of the seven chains provide calories and nutritional information for seasonal beverages, while 75 percent of the staff at the counters either failed to provide any information or made incorrect statements about beverages’ nutritional values.

“Information provided at different branches of the same chain varied greatly. We also found that nutritional facts posted on some chains’ Web sites are not entirely correct,” said Yu Hsuan–wen (尤宣文), one of the researchers.

According to Sheu Hui-yu (許惠玉), director of the foundation’s food and nutrition division, one large-sized soft drink usually contains more than 100g of sugar, whose caloric value is equal to that of one-and-half bowls of white rice — approximately 400 calories.

“But unlike rice, sugar has no nutritional value other than calories,” she said.

The study also showed that different volume measurement units are adopted by different chains. For example, beverages sold at fast-food giants McDonald’s and KFC are measured in small, medium and large sizes. Other restaurants like Mos Burger, Burger King and Subway use ounces, while TKK Fried Chicken is the only chain that uses milliliters.

Moreover, 41 percent of the staff in Greater Tainan were unaware of the exact volume of the beverages they were serving, the survey showed.

To avoid confusion, the foundation suggested fast-food chains adopt metric measurements like milliliters or cubic centimeters for beverages instead of ounces since Taiwanese are not familiar with the imperial units. Information regarding beverages’ nutrition facts should be made available at each store so that customers can be aware of what they consume, Hui added.

The foundation also urged fast-food restaurants to change the formula of set meals for children.

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