Food News: Darden Restaurants and Michelle Obama Team to Revamp Menus

by in Food News, September 20, 2011
michelle obama
Michelle Obama, accompanied by Darden chef Julie Elkinton, talks customers at Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Md. Photo by: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Darden Restaurants, the company that owns Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse and Bahama Breeze, recently pledged its commitment to revamp menus in an attempt to reduce calories, provide greater variety for kids and offer lower sodium options.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America joined the company at an Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Maryland for the announcement.

“The First Lady continues to lead the growing national efforts to make healthy food options more available and accessible, and we’re pleased to collaborate with her and the Partnership for a Healthier American on this commitment,” said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Darden Restaurants.

Building upon the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, the company hopes to reduce calories in its menu items by 10 percent over five years, and 20 percent over 10 years. New calorie-conscious items will replace heavier fare, while some dishes are being resized and retested with sodium levels in mind.

The biggest change is coming to Darden’s kid’s menus. Dishes will automatically come with fruits or vegetables as a side dish, along with an 8 oz. serving of 1-percent milk .

What do you think? Will the new menu items be a hit?

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Comments (33)

  1. joseph isaacs says:

    it wont be profitable for them so thats why it takes 20 years to do anything important. Why does it take the first lady's involvement for restaurant chains to work on lower calorie, lower fat and lower salt diets? Thats insane. They should have done it on their own years ago and henceforth the major obesity problems in America. Go figure.

  2. Linda says:

    I think Michelle should run for president. She clearly has the best interest of all Americans at heart. Let's patronize these restaurants who are taking up the reigns and leading America's children into a new healthy lifestyle!

  3. Diane says:

    I love the foods at all Darden owned restaurants, but with some reduction of sodium and oils, the food will be much improved. I am all for it.

  4. Michelle says:

    I think it is a great idea, however if she is going to talk the talk then she needs to walk the walk as well. I resent the fact that she goes around policing everyone while she needs to lose weight herself around the rump and then seeing pictures of the first family shoving ice cream in their mouths is somewhat hypocritical. As someone who does watch what my family and I eats, ice cream is known as a high fat, loaded with sugar and calories food item and one we stopped eating years ago. Maybe the first family needs to start making changes themselves especially on vacation and all the parties and barbeques they host at the White House-the food they ate at a recent barbeque was a real disgrace-I served turkey burgers not all the fattening food they served. That's what is hypocritical.

    • Ms Winston says:

      If strictly policing your family menu makes you happy, great! However, my mother ate ice cream every day and lived to be 92, so depriving yourself and your children of a delicious treat seems very sad to me. You might want to re-read your post and reflect on how self-righeous you sound to others.

    • Self-Righteous Much? says:

      You're an idiot.

  5. Victoria Buldak says:

    Keep some things alone; the Crab Alfredo is delicious. Why did they get rid of applesauce if they want to be healthy? It's great that they want to revamp the kids menu–we never agreed with mac and cheese with french fries. Keep the burger for the kids, but make it a lower-calorie turkey burger, and replace the chicken fingers with fish fingers. It gets the kids to start eating fish. Oh, and if you shrink the portions, shrink the price!

  6. JoeG says:

    Menus should change based on consumer demand not on political pressure,

  7. Laura says:

    I think that this is a ridiculous idea. Michelle Obama is a hypocrite. I have no idea why these resturants would be seeking her advice. If they reallly wanted to healthfully alter their menus, why not consult with professional dietitian who really knows what is good for us, not a first lady who wants to dictate what we should and should not eat who obviously does not set the example herself….has anyone seen her thunder thighs?

  8. Janet says:

    OMG! Scarey that so many people have no problem with Government getting involved in telling private business how and what to sell, especially in this economy! P.S. Maybe she should get her husband to quit smoking before she starts preaching to everyone else!

    • You're a moron. says:

      They're in no way obligated to be working with her, but they have chosen to do so. If you really think this is some kind of menu censorship, maybe – just maybe, mind you – you should get your head out of your ass.

  9. Beckysopinion says:

    Please!!! Anyone who can afford to eat out regularly enough for their choices to affect their health probably is aware of their diet and nutritional needs. This person is not a dietician or a nutritionist, so she needs to get out of people's business. I personally am not sure that I care to eat at any of Darden's restaurants again. Did they agree to do this for publicity or are they caving to political pressure?

  10. Mikemoose says:

    Well I guess that I will favor other restaurants from now on.

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