Food court

The food police are at it again.

A New Jersey man, with the support of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, has sued Denny’s Corp. over the levels of sodium in its menu items. Nick DeBenedetto, who according to the suit suffers from hypertension that is controlled by medication, wants Denny’s to disclose the amount of sodium in all its menu items and place a warning about high levels of sodium on the menu.

CSPI has battled with Denny’s for more than a year about sodium in its food. Denny’s executives say they have made changes in the menu in recent months to address sodium concerns, and a company press release addressing the lawsuit stated, “Denny’s offers a wide variety of choices for consumers with different lifestyles, understanding that many have special dietary needs.”

However, the menu alterations have not satisfied CSPI, a nutrition advocacy group that loves to battle restaurant chains. So the organization has stepped into DeBenedetto’s corner—without proof I could only speculate whether CSPI instigated the suit—as he tries to get the 1,500-restaurant chain to own up to its sodium fixation.

In one newspaper account, DeBenedetto said he was “shocked” to learn how much sodium was in some of Denny’s breakfast items. (So was I, frankly—in the worst case, there is nearly 5,700 milligrams of sodium in the Meat Lover’s Scramble—but, then, I’m not a frequenter of Denny’s restaurants.) DeBenedetto realizes he is putting his health at risk every time he eats at Denny’s, which he admits is often.

I have no problem with DeBenedetto’s crusade, per se. I myself am trying to lose weight and reduce my cholesterol and blood pressure, so were I inclined to dine at Denny’s, such information about its menu item would certainly cause me to reconsider.

My objection is to DeBenedetto’s response, which is to try to get a judge to force Denny’s to change its menus to suit him. That seems to have become almost a conditioned response in this country: sue a company to force a change in policy. Whatever happened to the good old American boycott?

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
business ladder climbing illustration

Recruiting talent is only half the battle for Mike Folino, associate director of nutrition services at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. Once he’s attracted good employees, providing clear opportunities for advancement can help retain them—but knowing when to bring up the topic in conversation can be tricky.

Prior to hiring

Folino likes to touch on advancement during the initial interview process, but the extent to which he does so changes case by case. “I have had interviews where we knew right away that we needed to discuss our structure and...

Ideas and Innovation
woman surprise

When I joined the staff at FoodService Director in the spring of 2015, I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn about the intricacies of the industry. My past experience, from kindergarten to my college days to on-the-job meals, would lead me to believe that noncommercial dining was a kind of automated process—an amenity that’s expected, and one you only become aware of if something goes wrong.

But as with my own household chores, there are no magical elves making sure the business of feeding students, seniors and hospital patients is done, and done well. Foodservice...

Managing Your Business
hands team

In November, students at University of Missouri in Columbia began leading protests against discrimination faced by people of color on campus—including some marches through the dining halls. Julaine Kiehn, director of the school’s campus dining services, said the 2015-16 school year was a tough one, but she was proud of MU’s students for being at the forefront of a national movement.

And not only did the protests launch important conversations with students, but also with staff. Kiehn heard the protests and thought that her student workers, at least, might not feel safe and welcome...

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

FSD Resources