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Cafe's s'mores crepe has 84g of sugar, and other takeaways from Duke Dining nutritional info tool

Editor's Note: All nutritional information from NetNutrition is accurate as of Jan. 30, 2020.

NetNutrition can help you avoid allergens and plan your diet, but some vendors and dishes are missing—and the information shows that there are some dining options at Duke with high amounts of sodium, sugar or calories. 

The new online tool provides nutrition information for various Duke Dining vendors and enables customers to browse dining locations and select certain items to identify their food ingredients. Duke Dining partnered with CBORD, a company that provides nutrition and food production services, to create the software behind the website. 

Duke Dining partnered with CBORD, a company that provides nutrition and food production services, to create the software behind the website, according to Toni Apadula, dietician physician and student health nutritionist for Duke Dining. 

The process of adding recipes to NetNutrition requires a “significant amount” of work, Apadula wrote in an email to The Chronicle, so Duke Dining hired an additional full-time staff member to organize and oversee it. 

“Kitchen testing and standardizing recipes takes time,” she wrote. “Additionally, each and every ingredient used in recipe production has to be evaluated for food allergen and gluten content.”

Here are four key takeaways from The Chronicle’s exploration of NetNutrition. Some nutrition values may change in the future, as Apadula commented that the website is “a work in progress, and you may note that item information changes if there are changes to ingredients or recipes.“

Not all dining options are available

Of the on-campus Duke Dining vendors, 19 participate in NetNutrition. For example, menu items from vendors like Marketplace and Il Forno are available, though like Twinnie’s and Thrive are not.

“Our goal is to have all on-campus venues on NetNutrition,” Apadula wrote in a Nov. 4 email, “so you will continue to see new venues being added over the coming months.”

Since the time of that email, vendors like Beyu Blue Coffee and Sazón have been added to the site.

In addition, some items are missing from the menus of vendors that are available. Junior Adaora Nwosu pointed out that there is no nutrition information for the samosas at Tandoor, for example.

“If you’re gonna put some of the stuff on the menu, you might as well put all of it,” Nwosu said, though she emphasized that she liked NetNutrition on the whole. 

Apadula said there are several reasons an item could be missing: It could be new or a one-time special, or there may not be nutrition information available for one or more ingredients. 

“In the case of Tandoor, samosas were not on the original menu submitted for recipe review and will be added as the recipe is reviewed and entered in the system,” Apadula said.

Get more than your daily intake of sugar in one dish

Many of the food options at Duke have high levels of sodium or sugar.

The Cajun & Jack cheeseburger at the Loop has 1,270 milligrams of sodium, the chicken sandwich from Krafthouse has 1,620 and the Hong Kong bowl at Ginger + Soy has 1,890. The American Heart Association advises that daily intake of sodium should be no more than 2,300 milligrams for the majority of adults and should ideally be limited to 1,500 milligrams.

Meanwhile, the s’mores crepe at Cafe has 84 grams of sugar and the Reese’s peanut butter milkshake from the Loop has 105 grams. The AHA recommends limiting added sugar to 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories for men—25 grams and 37.5 grams, respectively—though their guidelines note that the entry for sugar on nutrition labels accounts for both natural and added sugars.

High-calorie foods

There are also many high-calorie items on the menus around campus. The Cafe s’mores crepe has 1,150 calories. A “bigger plate” at Panda Express with orange chicken, Beijing beef, “super greens” and white steamed rice runs to 1,385. The Loop’s Reese’s peanut butter milkshake isn’t just the king of added sugar—it also comes packed with 1,650 calories. 

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s 2015-20 dietary guidelines recommend a daily intake of 1,600 to 2,400 calories for adult women and 2,000 to 3,000 calories for adult men, though these are only estimates and individual caloric needs may vary.

NetNutrition can help you avoid allergens

NetNutrition contains filters for common allergens, such as peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. When applied, the filters exclude items with the allergens from the visible choices on the site.

“The primary goal for NetNutrition is to help students and other diners with food allergies or special dietary needs more easily identify food ingredients at Duke Dining venues,” Apadula wrote.

For example, on the page for Ginger + Soy, the tabs for “Make Your Own Bowl (Sauce),” “Everyday Plates,” “Poke Bowl (Protein-Choose One),” “Poke Bowl (Choose dressing)” and “Ramen” disappear if soy—no pun intended—is selected as an allergen. Several individual options, such as the beef and tofu under “Make Your Own Bowl (Protein-Choose One)” disappear as well. 

There are also two preference options, vegan and vegetarian. When one is applied, the website only displays options that meet the selected dietary restriction.

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