Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut add new menu item: Calories

In a move certain to rock the restaurant industry, Yum Brands yum, parent company to Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, on Wednesday will announce plans to begin posting product calorie information on the indoor menu boards nationwide at company-owned restaurants.

Calorie information will appear next to a product's name and price.

The action comes at a time when more states and municipalities are putting in place — or are considering — requirements for restaurant chains to post consumer nutritional information.

On Tuesday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that requires chains in California with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on menu items by Jan. 1, 2011. A stricter form of nutrition labeling went into effect in New York City last July.

"We're a leader," says Jonathan Blum, Yum senior vice president, who spoke with USA TODAY ahead of Wednesday's announcement. "We hope all restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores follow our lead."

About 4,000 of Yum's company-owned stores will begin to post calories on menu boards now. All 20,000 of the company's stores will do so by Jan. 1, 2011, if not before, says Blum, who coordinates nutrition policy for all Yum's U.S. restaurants. Yum also owns the Long John Silver's and A&W All American Foods. Yum also will stop ads on TV shows aimed at children younger than 12, Blum says.

The menu board move is applauded by Jo Ann Hattner, nutrition instructor at Stanford University, who says it will spark the industry to follow. "It's a transparency that consumers clearly want — to know what's in their food."

Fast-food critic Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, calls it a "groundbreaking announcement" and "fabulous news for health-conscious consumers."

Blum declined to give a date when every store would post calorie information. He said franchisees would be "encouraged" also to provide the information on indoor menu boards.

Drive-through menu boards will not have calories due to space constraints, Blum says, but will say that nutritional information is available on request.

McDonald's mcd has no plans to expand nutrition data on menu boards, spokeswoman Danya Proud says. Nor does Wendy's, wen spokesman Denny Lynch says.

Burger King bkc spokeswoman Michelle Miguelez says, BK has no plans "in the short term." She also says it's too early to know the sales impact of calorie posting in New York City.

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