Takeout trouble: Delivery apps may not show nutrition information, leading to unhealthy choices

Takeout trouble: Delivery apps may not show nutrition information, leading to unhealthy choices
Takeout trouble: Delivery apps may not show nutrition information, leading to unhealthy choices

In many areas, gone are the days of paper takeout menus. Now ordering dinner is as easy as using an app on your smartphone. And when you’re busy and hungry, the results can sometimes mean an unhealthy meal.

Something that can make choosing a little easier? Nutrition and calorie info! The Food and Drug Administration requires restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts for standard items on menus, both in the restaurant and online.

But that same nutritional information doesn’t always get transferred from the chain’s website to the menus on third-party delivery service sites like DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub. The FDA’s menu rule helps consumers make more nutritious choices when eating out. But as online ordering and the use of third-party delivery apps have exploded during the pandemic, suddenly that info isn’t as easy for consumers to find.

Uber and DoorDash both told CR they give restaurants control over their menu and nutrition information on their respective apps. And Grubhub says it is actively working on innovative new ways to help consumers to make informed choices.

Consumer Reports says placing a healthy takeout order is possible even when calorie counts aren’t available. Skip drinks like soda that add extra calories and no nutrition, and seek out the items that feature vegetables, whole grains, or beans. And because restaurant portions are often oversized, plan to share with a family member or pack up half to eat another day.

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About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.