Starbucks: Smell the coffee and count the calories
Starbucks, the coffee chain, has started to test putting calories on menu board in its British shops, becoming the latest fast food chain to provide nutritional information to customers.
Its move follows a deal struck by the UK Department of Health and the food industry to give more information to customers when they were eating outside of the home.
The information will alarm and reassure customers in equal measure, depending on what their drink of choice is at Starbucks. A simple, small – or "short" – black filter coffee contains a mere 3 calories, but a large – or hot chocolate with whole milk and topped with whipped cream contains an astonishing 690 calories, more than a double cheeseburger and french fries from McDonald's.
The coffee company offers similar information in most of its stores in America, where is a legal requirement in some states to give calories on menus. A study by Stanford University indicated that following the introduction of calorie menu boards, Starbucks customers chose to reduce their calorie intake by 6 per cent by choosing lighter options.
Tim McCoy at Starbucks said: "We offer people the chance to personalise their drinks. So if they want to take calories out by choosing sugar-free syrups, or skimmed milk, they can do so. Although the menu boards illustrate the most popular drinks, you can change them in pretty much any way you want."
Fast food chains, including Subway and Burger King signed up to a scheme run by the UK Food Standards Agency two years ago to give customers more information, but most companies quietly dropped the project saying it was too bureaucratic.