Thursday, September 15, 2011

Calories, sodium cut; First Lady approves

Darden Restaurants -- that's Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse in these parts -- announced today (with First Lady Michelle Obama, by the way) an initiative to cut calories and sodium by 10 percent across its brands over five years, 20 percent over 10. Darden says it's the world's largest full-service restaurant company, with 1,900 restaurants in 49 states.

Also promised: fruits or vegetables will be the default side on kids’ menus (meaning you can get something else, but if you don't specify, you'll get fruits or vegetables), and 1-percent milk will be the default beverage. Those changes start now and will be fully implemented by next July, the company says.

Said Michelle Obama: "I’m here today because this is a breakthrough moment in the restaurant industry ... Darden is working to make the healthy choice the easy choice."