Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Why This Retail RDN Posted Nutrition Labels

I viewed this as one of my major career accomplishments-providing nutrition labels at point of service on all menu items served in the Health Sciences Center Cafeteria.  Customers could even view the nutrition label by clicking on each menu item on the electronic menu.  Made from scratch, standardized recipes were entered into the Nutritionist Pro and Labeling Software Program.  Labels were printed complete with ingredients.

It took me many years to accomplish this task.  I started the analysis at a time bulk food distributors were not required to provide the nutritional information on institutional packaging.

Why did I do it?

Customers wanted it.  They wanted to know much more than calories-they requested and expected protein, carbohydrate, fiber, sodium and every nutrient listed on grocery store packaging. 

Physicians wanted it.  Just when I was about to complete the lunch labels, the former Chief of Staff (a good customer) declared "You need to post breakfast labels".  That did not take me as long to accomplish.

Dietitians wanted it.  While we were not an in-patient meal provider, some of our goods were ordered for patient programs and we had many surrounding out-patient services.

Customers with insulin pumps counted on the labels.  One of my proudest moments was when a resident with diabetes told me our homemade dessert information was "spot on".

Customers on Weight Watchers could calculate their points.

Customers in the Ornish Program could check compliance.

Customers with allergies had readily available ingredient listing.  If more information was needed for a specific ingredient, we could easily bring that item from kitchen storage.

Nutrition labeling became a tool for this Retail Menu Planner. I used the information to plan meal deals, to meet the Mayo Clinic guidelines for sodium, to meet the American Heart Association guidelines for added sugar, to determine eligibility for the Whole Grains Stamp and to add value before testing.  Adjustments could be made in ingredients to improve the nutrient density.

Analyzing nutrient information and food cost on standardized recipes went hand-in-hand before a new item was added the menu.

In my volunteer work since retirement, I no longer have access to a nutrition analysis program.  Since my meals now are for just a few, I can project protein, sugar, fat and sodium  After a career of planning meals for 1000 + customers a day, I've had lots of practice.


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