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Starbucks rolls out calorie info on U.S. store menus

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Starbucks will start posting calorie information on its menus in its American stores next week.

Starbucks will start posting calorie counts on its menu boards in American stores next week, before federal legislation changes to require the coffee chain to do so.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is mulling over regulation that would force franchises with more than 20 locations to post nutritional information.

Starbucks has nearly 18,000 retail stores spread across 60 countries. 

The company is taking the step to give customers the ability to drink "within their desired calorie range," said Mary Wagner, the vice-president ofStarbuck's Global Research and Development, in a statement.

"Starbucks believes that wellness is the journey to a happy, healthy life through daily choices, whether it's a favourite beverage or a wholesome meal option."

Starbucks offers several tall (12 ounce) drinks under 200 calories, but many others cost people a higher percentage of their daily recommended calorie intake. The following grande (16 ounce) drinks, made with two per cent milk, are much higher in calories:

• White chocolate mocha, 400 calories and 11 grams of fat.
• Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino blended beverage, 430 calories and 8 grams of fat.
• Peppermint hot chocolate, 360 calories and 9 grams of fat.

Starbucks also boasts a range of food under 350 calories on its website, but many others jump over the 400-calorie mark, including the:

• Croissant hot dog, 410 calories and 26 grams of fat.
• Old-fashioned glazed donut, 480 calories and 27 grams of fat.
• Sausage & cheddar classic breakfast sandwich, 500 calories and 28 grams of fat.
• Turkey rustico panini, 480 calories and 53 grams of fat.

Starbucks has not announced a similar initiative in Canada.

A Starbucks Canada spokeswoman, Carly Suppa, told the Toronto Star that nutritional information is "easy to find and understand" both inside and outside of stores - through the website, brochures and apps.

 "This isn't something customers often ask us for," wrote Suppa in an e-mail.

In Canada mandatory nutritional labelling faces mixed reviews.

In April, Toronto's medical officer of health pushed for legislation forcing restaurants to post calorie and sodium information on their menus. 

Last year, the Fitness Industry Council of Canada lobbied politicians hoping to convince them to legislate mandatory nutritional information postings by restaurants with 10 or more locations, which would have included Starbucks Canada.

But as some groups lobby for the change, others push back, saying there are problems with the seemingly simple solution.

Some argue that calories are not the main concern. Instead restaurants should display sodium, fat, trans fat or another crucial piece of information.

Others say calorie information won't help because most people are calorie illiterate. Last year, the Canadian Obesity Network found that many people often don't know how many calories they're eating, how many they're burning off or how many they need.

Would nutritional information on a menu help you make healthier choices? Do you think Canadian Starbucks locations should follow suit?

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