Darden Supports Michelle Obama, Cuts Calories

 

Darden Restaurants Inc., operator of the Olive Garden and Red Lobster dining chains, agreed to work with the Partnership for a Healthier America to cut calories and salt in its meals.

Darden will reduce calories and sodium by 10 percent in the next five years at its six different restaurant chains, Rich Jeffers, a company spokesman, said today in an interview. The Orlando, Florida-based company also made a 10-year commitment to decrease calories and salt by 20 percent.

Fruits or vegetables will become the default side dish in kids’ meals, along with 1 percent milk as the drink, according to Darden. The Partnership for a Healthier America is a nonpartisan group working to advance first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to fight childhood obesity.

Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis and Obama will announce the initiatives at an Olive Garden in Hyattsville, Maryland, today at 11:45 a.m. EST.

In July, McDonald’s said it would begin putting apple slices and smaller packets of fries in all of its Happy Meals in U.S. stores this year. The change reduces calories in kids’ meals by 20 percent, the company said.

Darden rose 27 cents to $45.21 at 9:47 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares declined 3.2 percent this year before today.

Darden also owns the LongHorn Steakhouse, Capital Grille, Seasons 52, and Bahama Breeze dining brands. The company owns and operates more than 1,900 restaurants.