Thursday, April 18, 2013

Challenging Chipotle's Nutrition Facts: A Case Study

We eat a respectable amount of Chipotle at work. When cutting carbs, the "burrito bowl" is a filling, delicious option. However, we couldn't fathom that something of that sort could actually be as few calories as is reported on Chipotle's nutritional calculator. We noted a "serving size" was mysteriously unclear on their site. Based on the website math, the bowl calculates reasonably as a competitor with Subway.

After much skepticism about the "actual" amount of calories in a Chipotle burrito bowl, my coworker mapped out a plan to learn if the nutrition facts on the Chipotle website are accurate. Below is our "article" with reported results. Feel free to repeat this test- you know, for reproducibility, purely for the joy of science, not at all as an excuse to get offsite during lunch. As you will read, we happily found the calories reported on their calculator are verifiable. So eat on, happy burrito-ers.

“Chipotle Nutritional Integrity Study.” Lunchtime E-mail Theories 18 Apr 2013.

Abstract: On 18 Apr 2013, investigators researched the nutritional content reported on Chipotle’s website versus the nutritional content in the portions actually received.
Purpose: To find out if the calories ingested matched the calories reported on the website, in order to plan for an adequate amount of treadmill mileage so calories could be offset.
Materials: Three burrito bowls, two bags of chips, a scale with the ability to reliably read to ounces (we used the USPS Mailing Scale)
Methods: Three burrito bowls and two bags of chips were obtained and weighed while full. After lunch, the bags and bowls were again weighed (empty) and compared to the original results to obtain the actual oz added to the bowl. This result was compared to the Chipotle website's ounces for a percent difference, which was applied to the calories. The results are reported in Table 1. Additionally, the Chipotle website calorie information for the rice was verified versus an alternate source and found to be accurate.
Results: Chipotle burrito bowl nutritional information is spot-on, if not less, regarding calories and oz reported on their nutrition calculator.
Conclusions: The chipotle nutrition calculator is acceptable for nutritional planning, however is short in regards to planned bang for your anticipated buck as in some circumstances the reported oz supplied was less than the actual oz received.

Sources of error: Please note the “final weight” of the bowl is based on one bowl only. A small margin of error in the other bowls is expected.

Table 1.


Allie said...

I cannot believe you did this. Is this why you are so busy at work lately? haha

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