Basic Math Blows Holes in Chipotle’s Absurd “Calorie Range”
The law requiring all chain restaurants in New York City to post calorie information goes into effect today. And while it is still being fought by the New York State Restaurant Association, many have already complied, including Chipotle, which has already posted a “Calorie Range” for all of the items on their menu. There’s only one issue… somebody’s math sucks, because when you compare the “ranges” posted to the (very difficult to find) nutritional information on the Chipotle website, it doesn’t quite match up.
My rudimentary math skills get put to the test, after the jump…
Let’s take the basic burrito as an example. The Chipotle in my building has the range for any Burrito as 420-918 calories. Common sense might cause somebody to think “Hmmm, low probably refers to the vegetarian burrito, high is burrito with some sort of fatty meat”. That would be a faulty assumption.
According to the nutritional information on the Chipotle website, the flour tortilla *alone* is 290 calories, leaving one to wonder, what exactly is in this 420 calorie burrito? Under burrito, the list of ingredients is as follows: (I’ll include the caloric content of each so you can do some fun burrito math)
- Cilantro & Lime Rice (160)
- Pinto Beans/Black Beans (138/130)
- Salsa (15-100 depending on which one you choose)
- Cheese (110)
- Sour Cream (120)
- Guacamole (included in the Vegetarian Burrito only) (140)
And that’s not even including any meat. So, by process of elimination, if you want a burrito on the low range of the calorie scale (420), you will be ordering a flour tortilla, filled with vegetarian black beans. No salsa. No sour cream. No rice. No cheese. Can that even be considered a burrito? Has anybody ordered a burrito like that? Ever?
Initially, I thought- “oh, maybe they’re including burrito bowls”, a burrito minus the tortilla- clearly one of the more fattening parts of the equation. But no- “Burrito Bowls” get their own listing, and the minimum listed for that on the “Calorie Range” is 130. 130 Calories??? Are you joking? To get a burrito bowl on the low end of the range, you would basically be ordering a bowl, with a scoop of beans in it. Ridiculous.
The high end is almost as laughable. A vegetarian burrito, at its least, would be considered rice, beans, salsa, and guacamole (which is included free in the vegetarian burrito) in a tortilla, coming in at a grand total of 740 calories. And that doesn’t even include cheese (!!!) or the fajita veggies that they give you for free in that particular burrito. Add some meat (an extra 170-200 calories) and you’re closer (if not over) the high end of the calorie range (listed as 918). The NY Post lists the Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito at 1179, a full 250+ calories higher than any range listed on the Chipotle Menu.
While I personally don’t want to know how fattening the food I eat is, I do think fast food chains purposely mis-lead people into thinking their food is healthier than it actually is. Nobody is going to be fooled into thinking that roast pork with rice, beans and plantains is a low fat lunch, but you’d be surprised at how many people think a vegetarian burrito at Chipotle is low in calories. I think the law is a good thing if it gets people to eat less fast food, but when you see how Chipotle has distorted the info, it makes you wonder who is going to police it, and how accurate the information really is going to be.