Bending to the whims of Michelle Obama, Darden Restaurants — the company that owns the Olive Garden, Red Lobster, LongHorn Steakhouse and other restaurant concepts — announced Thursday that it will cut the “calorie footprint” and sodium levels in its meals and create new kids’ menus to comply with the first lady’s public health objectives.
With Michelle Obama, Darden unveiled its plans for all 19,000 of its restaurants in 49 states at an Olive Garden restaurant in Hyattsville, Md., in front of a prominent sign advertising the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.
The company pledged to reduce the overall calories and sodium in its meals by 10 percent over the next five years, and by 20 percent over 10 years.
“Much like a carbon footprint, we are looking at our calorie footprint as a measurement of total impact,” said Clarence Otis, Darden’s CEO. “That means we will reduce the number of calories across our entire portfolio of brands by reformulizing, resizing, removing certain items, and introducing new, calorie conscious, flavorful options.”
By July 2012 Darden also will ensure that the default side dish for children is a fruit or vegetable, and one-percent milk will be the default drink with free refills. Carbonated drinks will not be displayed anywhere. And Darden says it will not market its food to children under 12.
Check o0ut the last two parts I highlighted in red. So restaurants might have to “hide” their sodas soon? Good Grief!
I wonder if this action, which is voluntary, or so we are told, will lead to future mandates for all restaurants. Do not bet against that folks.