Brescia Dietetic Intern student seeks to inform London diners about menu options at local restaurants

February 12, 2010

elena_usdenski

 

Brescia University College Foods &  Nutritional Sciences student Elena Usdenski wants diners to make  informed choices when they order their meal at a London restaurant.

Usdenski’s Masters research project proposes the development  of an interactive web-based map that will provide nutritional details about  menu items and other pertinent information about London  restaurants; the web site will be hosted by Brescia and is expected to launch this  summer.

“We are doing this to educate the public  about the nutritional content of menu items and will be doing nutritional  analysis of three signature dishes for participating restaurants,” Usdenski  said. The timing of her project couldn’t be better. Health advocates are backing an Ontario private member’s bill at Queen’s Park that  would require chain restaurants with annual revenue of greater than $5 million  to limit trans fats and provide calorie labels on menus.

A survey is being sent out to more than 350 privately-owned  restaurants inviting them to participate in Usdenski’s project. The survey asks  for information about the restaurant’s atmosphere, accessibility – including  which bus routes they are on, pricing, and lots of information about the meals  served – including portion sizes, nutritional content, and how the food is  prepared. The surveys are also being sent to the head offices  of national franchises with London  locations in mid-February.

In a  cover letter Usdenski will send with the survey to restaurant owners,  she notes that according to the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), more than 80  per cent of Ontarians and 96 per cent of municipal leaders in Ontario agree with the OMA’s call to action  on menu labeling. The legislation would require calorie contents to be listed  adjacent to the items on menus and menu boards at chain restaurants and school  cafeterias across the province.

Each participating restaurant will have the  option to select which information is posted on the Brescia web site. Usdenski is curious to see  if providing this information affects people’s dining choices. “We’ll see if  this changes the public’s purchasing habits and if the public will demand more  nutritional meals on the menu.” She expects that while some people will  continue to make less nutritional choices because dining out is a treat, others  may make more healthy choices once they are better informed.

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Brescia  University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated  with The University   of Western Ontario. The  1,100 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide  variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and  invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all  backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

For more information, please contact:

Elena Usdenski                                                         E-mail: eusdensk@uwo.ca

 

Dr. Len Piché                                                         519.432.8353, ext. 28284                                                         E-mail: lpiche@uwo.ca