WASHINGTON — Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, has announced a health and wellness initiative designed at reducing calories and sodium.
The company said it is looking at its overall “calorie footprint” as a measurement of its total impact, and the company is working toward a 10% reduction of calories across restaurants during the next 10 years through reformulating, resizing and removing items as well as introducing calorie-conscious choices.
Additionally, Darden said it is looking at reducing sodium by 10% during the next five years and 20% over the next 10 years. The company said it will provide children’s meal choices that appeal to both parents and children by establishing nutrition standards to guide development of meals, making fruits and vegetables the standard side dish items and making an 8-oz serving of 1% milk the default beverage with free refills.
“As a leader in culinary innovation, we pride ourselves on making good food better and on finding new ways to nourish and delight everyone we service,” said Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer. “Today we are taking a new step forward by creating a comprehensive health and wellness commitment while preserving our commitment to offer our guests the delicious food they have come to know and love from their favorite Darden restaurants.”
Representatives from the Partnership for a Healthier America and First Lady Michelle Obama were present for the announcement as the initiative builds on the effort of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to offer healthier options for families dining out.