Category Archives: fast food

Wendy’s drops soda from kids meals … sort of, but not really

WendysKidMealSorry Wendy’s. FoodFacts.com is really not trying to minimize your efforts to offer healthier options to consumers. But it’s true … a kids meal without a soda is still a kids meal. It’s still full of calories, fat and sodium, not to mention ingredients your average child can’t pronounce and doesn’t need. Plus, you really didn’t remove it, you just stopped promoting it.

Wendy’s is the latest fast-food chain to remove the soda option from kids’ meal menus.

That means when parents drive through a pick-up window, they won’t see soda as an option on the menu board, but if they decide to order one, they won’t be turned down.

The fast-food chain is the most recent to cave to pressure from children’s health advocacy groups. McDonald’s made a similar commitment to drop soda from Happy Meals in 2013, after partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

The Center for Science in Public Interest released a statement Thursday saying that Wendy’s was removing the soda option from menu boards and kids’ meals.

The statement said they hoped Wendy’s would also offer healthier choices including, “whole grain rolls, offering more fruit and vegetable options, reducing sodium across the menu, and dropping Frostys from the children’s menu.”

Unlike some fast-food chains, Wendy’s default drink choice was never soda, Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy’s said in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

“When ordering a kids’ meal, the customer is asked what beverage they prefer,” Bertini wrote. “The change is the kids’ meal beverage options which are shown on our menu boards.”

Bertini says the fast-food company began displaying images of “healthful beverage options,” including 1% white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100% juice.

He says the kids’ meal soft drink option no longer appears on the chain’s menu boards, inside the restaurants, at the pick-up windows or on the mobile app in the U.S. and Canada.

While soda is no longer the default drink, it still remains one of the most profitable items for fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, according to Jesse Bragg, media director for Corporate Accountability International.

Bragg says nothing will be solved until the marketing practices that draw kids to fast food is curbed.

“It’s incredibly difficult to enforce on a local level in the fast food industry,” Bragg said.

For children’s health advocates the battle is far from over. In the soda wars, other restaurants such as Subway, Arby’s and Chipotle do not offer soda on the kids’ menu.

But, one of the giants is still left standing — Burger King.
“Two down, one to go,” says Howell Wechsler, chief executive officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

An email statement from Burger King said the company is, “currently in the process of analyzing the removal of fountain drinks from our kids’ menu boards.”

So to clarify this “change” even more — you CAN still get a soda with a kids meal at Wendy’s. The soda is simply not being promoted on the menu boards. Nearest we can tell, that’s not much of a change. It’s not like consumers are actually being told in the store that they can no longer order a soda with the kids meal. THAT would be a change. Taking the image of the soda out of the pretty picture of the kids meal and leaving the word soda out of the kids meal description on the menu board … not so much.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/01/15/wendys-drops-soda-kids-meal-fast-food/21814699/

Dip in a bagel from Dunkin … the new Spinach Artichoke Supreme

bagel ddNew flavor combinations. Food manufacturers and fast food giants are always trying to come up with just the right marriage of flavors to get us really excited about a new product. They’re all trying to find the new sour cream and onion potato chip or cookies ‘n cream ice cream that will take off with consumers. Sometimes, though, FoodFacts.com doesn’t necessarily understand the new combinations. We don’t necessarily mind “out-of-the-box” pairings, but some of them aren’t simply “out-of-the-box,” they’re down-right puzzling.

For instance, we wouldn’t actually think to combine spinach artichoke dip with a bagel.

But Dunkin thought of it.

So here’s what you need to know about the new Dunkin Donuts Spinach Artichoke Supreme bagel.

Nutrition Facts

Calories:                          390
Fat:                                   6 grams
Sodium:                           840 mg

Oddly, the Spinach Artichoke Supreme bagel has one less gram of fat than their multigrain bagel — and only 40 more calories. We honestly find this puzzling.

The Spinach Artichoke Supreme is a savory, cheesy bagel. That should probably translate into more fat and substantially more calories than what is supposedly its healthier counterpart. But it doesn’t. So that can only lead us to believe that the new bagel’s ingredient list is probably not something we’re going to find appealing. Let’s take a look:

Bagel: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Sugar, Malt Extract, Degermed Yellow Corn Meal, Yeast, Salt, Natural Ferment Flavor (Cultured Wheat and Wheat Malt Flours, Vinegar, Salt), Molasses, Dough Conditioner (Malted Barley Flour, Enzymes, Dextrose), Soy (Trace); Topping: Monterey Jack Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Spinach, Artichokes, Low Moisture Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Cheddar Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Garlic, Water, Parmesan Cheese (Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Medium Asiago Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Contains less than 2% of: Cream, Skim Milk, Salt, Modified Potato Starch, Methylcellulose, Butter (Pasteurized Cream, Salt), Sodium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Citrate, Natural Parmesan Cheese Flavor, Xanthan Gum.

That list carries a surprisingly large number of ingredients for a bagel. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it carries plenty of hidden MSG and preservatives. And that someone thought that after including all that cheese in the bagel, it was also necessary to add something referred to as Natural Parmesan Cheese Flavor to the product.

We don’t really see how this is breakfast. The idea of slathering this with butter or cream cheese doesn’t make much sense to us. It’s spinach artichoke dip baked into a bagel. It’s not screaming for our traditional additions to breakfast baked goods. So it’s already not working for us. We’re also not happy with the nutrition facts or the ingredient list.

All in all, we’ll save the dip for snacking and leave it out of our bagels. It’s much less complicated that way.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/bagels/bagels.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Spinach+Artichoke+Supreme+Bagel

For a limited time only, McDonald’s brings reading back to Happy Meals

Happy-MealCan books make fast food more appealing to parents? McDonald’s thinks there’s a possibility. There was a time when McDonald’s was including a book with the Happy Meal instead of a toy. And they’ve brought it back for a limited time. Unfortunately, the meal is remaining the same.

McDonald’s is bringing back books in its Happy Meals. Until January 22, children’s Happy Meals will come with books and an activity in place of the more familiar plastic toy.

The company has partnered with the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental and HarperCollins for the book giveaway. Kids can get one of four books (none, unfortunately, by Dr. Seuss).

The titles that will be showing up with the Happy Meal are “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond; “Big Nate: In a Class by Himself” by Lincoln Peirce; “Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses” by Kimberly and James Dean and “Flat Stanley Goes Camping” by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan.

In a statement, Julie Wenger, senior director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s, said the project is “part of a broader book strategy to combine the fun of the Happy Meal and support of our partners to inspire more family reading time.”

The companies plan to distribute 17 million books during the promotional period.

FoodFacts.com is all for promoting reading to kids. But we’re also all for promoting healthy eating for kids. We’re not necessarily sure that the inclusion of a book with a bad meal will make parents believe that the meal is a good choice for their children. We’d like to suggest making the kids lunch at home and taking them to storytime at the library instead. Much better option!

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-mcdonalds-happy-meals-with-books-20150108-story.html

Dunkin Donuts Introduces the Chocolate Croissant

dunkinchocolateWhen we think of chocolate croissants we tend to think of small, intimate cafes, steaming cups of cafe au lait and a leisurely, relaxed experience we can slowly savor. We don’t need to be in Paris, we can be down the street at a local coffee house. But that indulgent chocolate croissant does need to be part of a relaxing and flavorful experience.

So please forgive FoodFacts.com if we didn’t relate to Dunkin Donuts introducing their new Chocolate Croissant. For us, it removes the experience from the food. Plus this chocolate croissant is fast food so we’re suspicious about it.

For anyone who might find this new offering appealing, we thought we’d take a look.

Here are the nutrition facts from the Dunkin website:

Calories:                         320
Fat:                                 19 grams
Saturated Fat:                8 grams
Sugar:                            15 grams

If it makes a difference, the Chocolate Croissant is under 400 calories. So technically, you could start your day with this and not throw off every other meal you plan to eat. But you will be consuming more fat than you would if you started your day with two scrambled eggs. And you’ll be eating just about 4 teaspoons of sugar. We know there are items on the Dunkin menu that carry nutrition facts that are worse. But that doesn’t make the Chocolate Croissant an ideal breakfast or snack.

Here are the ingredients:
Croissant: Pastry: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Ascorbic Acid, Folic Acid, Enzymes), Water, Margarine [Vegetable Oils (Palm, Modified Palm, Canola), Water, Sugar, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D, Beta Carotene (Color)], Sugar, Yeast, Dough Conditioner (Flour, DATEM, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes), Salt, Cellulose Gum, Wheat Gluten, Artificial Flavor; Chocolate Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Oils (Palm, Soy), Cocoa Powder processed with alkali, Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavor, Tocopherol (Antioxidant); Glaze: Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Contains less than 2% of the following: Pectin, Molasses, Sorbic Acid and Sulfiting Agents (to preserve freshness), Agar, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor. May contain traces of Milk, Eggs and Tree Nuts (Almonds, Pecans).

Artificial flavor gets multiple mentions in this list. Even once is too much for us, so this is really unappealing. We’re also not fond of the use of sulfites.

We’re not going to get the experience we’re looking for with this Chocolate Croissant. We’re not excited about the nutrition facts and we’re less excited about the ingredients — not to mention we’re not going to enjoy that leisurely moment involving an actual French bakery creation and a steaming hot cafe au lait sitting by the window of a Dunkin Donuts.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/other/other_bakery.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Chocolate+Croissant

Fast food giants attempt to improve their image — and food — in the new year

fastfoodIt’s always gratifying to hear about food manufacturers adjusting their products because of consumer dissatisfaction. As we all become more educated about nutrition and healthy eating, we’re making our voices heard regarding the food products and ingredients we find unacceptable. FoodFacts.com is especially intrigued when we hear about fast food giants expressing their intention to improve the quality of their food.

As people express distaste for food they think is overly processed, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and other chains are trying to shed their reputation for serving reheated meals that are loaded with chemicals. That includes rethinking the use of artificial preservatives and other ingredients customers find objectionable.

“This demand for fresh and real is on the rise,” said Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Recasting fast-food as “fresh” and “real” will be tricky, in large part because it’s so universally regarded as cheap and greasy. Another problem is that terms like “fresh,” “real” and “healthy” have nebulous meanings, making it hard for companies to pin down how to approach transformation.

One way chains are looking to redefine themselves is by purging recipes of chemicals people might find unappetizing. Already, packaged food and beverage companies have reformulated products to remove such ingredients, even while standing by their safety. PepsiCo, for instance, said it would remove brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade after a petition by a teenager noted it isn’t approved for use in some markets overseas.

And fast-food chains are indicating they want to jump on the “clean label” trend too:

- Last month, McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres outlined improvements the company is working on, including the simplification of ingredient labels. Without providing details, he said to expect some changes in early 2015. The remarks came after the company reported a 4.6 percent decline in U.S. sales for November, capping two years of struggling performance.

-Subway, a privately held company that does not disclose sales, started airing TV ads Thursday for its new chicken strips free of artificial preservatives and flavors. After suffering bad publicity, the company said earlier last year it would remove an ingredient from its bread that an online petition noted was also used in yoga mats. The ingredient, azodicarbonamide, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and widely used as a dough conditioner and whitening agent.

-Chick-fil-A said in 2013 it would remove high-fructose corn syrup from buns and artificial dyes from its dressings. A couple months later, it said it plans to serve only chicken raised without antibiotics within five years.

- Carl’s Jr. last month introduced an “all-natural” burger with no added hormones, antibiotics or steroids. “We are obviously looking at other products on our menu to see which ones can be made all natural as well,” said Brad Haley, the chain’s chief marketing officer.

It’s not clear how far fast-food companies will go in reformulating recipes. But the nation’s biggest chains are facing growing competition. In the latest quarter, customer visits to traditional fast-food hamburger chains declined 3 percent from a year ago, according to market researcher NPD Group. Fast-casual chains – which are seen as a step up from traditional fast-food – saw visits rise 8 percent.

The ethos of wholesome ingredients is increasingly being embraced across the industry. But not without some challenges.

Dan Coudreaut, executive chef at McDonald’s, has noted the difficulties in changing recipes. In an interview last year, he said McDonald’s is looking at ways to use culinary techniques to replace the functions of certain ingredients.

“If you take (an ingredient) out, what are you giving up?” he said.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said there are likely many cases where artificial preservatives or colors could be replaced with natural alternatives without significant costs. Since their functions vary, he said companies would have to evaluate recipes product by product.

“Sometimes, food additives can be crutches or insurance policies. If a food is frozen, germs aren’t going to grow. But preservatives might be added just in case, or they may be used just because their supplier has been using it for so long,” he said, adding that such changes are “not a big deal” in terms of the overall health.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of “Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines our Health and How to Fight Back,” also said getting rid of additives here and there won’t be enough to change the way people think about fast-food.

“That’s just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Simon said. “These companies have a fundamental problem in who they are.”

Fast foods push towards better products is based on consumer objections which have ultimately affected the bottom line of the major chains. Think about it as fast food attempting to get back into the good graces of their consumer base. So whether or not the decisions being made currently are bottom line driven, we’re still hopeful that they will ultimately mean better — or at least less bad — meal options for those who continue to choose to consume fast food.

https://www.yahoo.com/health/fast-food-resolution-transform-junk-food-image-106933896052.html

Is fast food dumbing down our kids?

fast foodWe already know quite a bit about the problems with fast food consumption. The list is a long one — high in calories and fat, excessive sodium content, long lists of controversial ingredients. Fast food is junk food. It contributes tremendously to the obesity crisis. Consuming fast food has been linked to depression. It’s been associated with obesity-related cancers. Now, though, we can add a new problem to the list.

A recent study which examined fast food consumption among children revealed that increased consumption leads to poor academic performance. Moreover, it found that many children are relying on fast food to supply them with their daily nutritional needs. In the study published in Clinical Pediatrics, researchers found that one fifth of the children in the study ate fast food at least four times during the week in question.

The study was made possible by data collected during the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K). The study was nationally representative, including children from diverse socioeconomical and racial backgrounds who attended both private and public schools. Data was collected from students who were in kindergarten in the 1998-1999 school year by the National Center for educational statistics. In the longitudinal study, data was collected on the students through the eighth grade.

In the present study, the academic growth for 8,544 students was assessed in reading, math, and science from the fifth to the eighth grade. The diets of children involved in the study were analyzed in the fifth grade via questionnaire.

Only 29 percent of the students did not eat fast food during the week before they completed the questionnaire. On the other hand 10 percent of the children reported eating fast food daily, with another 10 percent eating it four to six times per week. Overall, over two thirds of the children ate some fast food.

The team found that children who ate fast food four to six times a week showed less improvement in all three academic areas tested. Among children who ate fast food four to six times per week test scores were up to 20 percent lower compared to children who did not eat fast food. Interestingly, children who ate fast food one to three times per week only showed slower growth in math.

In the analysis, researchers also accounted for other factors such as such as family background, what other foods the children ate, how much they exercised and even time spent watching television.

“We went as far as we could to control for and take into account all the known factors that could be involved in how well children did on these tests,” said lead investigator Katy Purtell, assistant professor at Ohio State University.

The study didn’t address why fast food would lead to lower academic achievement, though fast foods often contain less nutrients, many of which are crucial to cognitive development. The authors explain that the results suggest that fast food consumption should be limited.

“There’s a lot of evidence that fast-food consumption is linked to childhood obesity, but the problems don’t end there,” said Purtell. “Relying too much on fast food could hurt how well children do in the classroom.”

FoodFacts.com has devoted considerable blog space to the idea of providing our kids with the healthiest possible food choices as they grow. In addition to helping our children avoid obesity and weight gain, it’s important to help them establish preferences for fresh, healthy foods that can provide a foundation for a life-long healthy diet that will reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer as adults.

The idea that fast food may be hurting the academic performance of our children certainly adds new motivation for paying strict attention to their eating habits. Our world grows increasingly complex and competitive with every passing year. Part of preparing our children for adulthood is making sure that they will be able to successfully take their place in the adult world. And their grades play an important role in that idea.

Let’s make sure all our children start walking into adulthood on the right foot by eliminating — or at least limiting fast foods. Let’s set them up as a generation of happier, healthier and smarter adults!

http://www.modvive.com/2014/12/28/fast-food-consumption-tied-poor-academic-performance/

Taco Bell’s Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch

pdp-dlt-cheesy-gordita-crunch-nacho-cheeseWe’ll admit it. We don’t really understand the Taco Bell Doritos marriage. For FoodFacts.com it honestly feels like its overkill. Doritos have a powerful flavor (strong and artificial). And most Taco Bell products are also powerfully flavored. We honestly don’t see the attraction involved in putting the two together.

So right from the start the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch isn’t something we’d be excited about eating — even if we were fast food fans.

Taco Bell describes the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch like this, “Warm, pillowy flatbread covered in a melted three-cheese blend, wrapped around a Doritos® taco and topped with a zesty Pepper Jack sauce.”

A gordita is a Mexican flatbread made from cornmeal and stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or a sweet filling. In Spanish gordita means “little flat one.” We’d like to point out that we don’t know if the Taco Bell Gordita is made with cornmeal. We’d also like to point out that an actual gordita is not wrapped around a taco — much less a taco that is flavored like a Dorito. Without the taco, though, it wouldn’t be the Gordita Crunch.

While we can’t give you the ingredient list just yet, we can give you the nutrition facts:

Calories:                         490
Fat:                                 28 grams
Saturated Fat:               10 grams
Sodium:                         880 mg

Those facts are actually pretty similar to plenty of other fast food items. McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, Burger King Tendergrill Chicken Sandwich, and a whole host of other fast food items stack up the same way.

Taco Bell’s Doritos Cheesy Gordita Nacho Cheese Crunch is the nutritional equivalent of typical fast food fare that includes an odd combination of items that are neither authentically Mexican or particularly appealing. We’re not trying this one!

http://www.tacobell.com/food/menuitem/doritos-cheesy-gordita-crunch-nacho-cheese

Because a Whopper just wasn’t enough …

4CheeseWhopper-DetailBurger King has introduced the Four Cheese Whopper. For anyone who’s wondering about this new extra cheesy Whopper, what we can tell you right now is that it doesn’t actually contain four cheeses. Instead, consumers will find a three cheese blend, American Cheese and cheddar sauce between the bun.

So if the term “four cheese” conjures up images of asiago, havarti, white cheddar and fontina in your mind, this sandwich will certainly fall short of your expectations. FoodFacts.com finds the terms three cheese blend and cheddar sauce highly suspect. But without the presence of an ingredient list, can you blame us?

What we do have right now are the nutrition facts. And here they are, in all their not-so-glorious detail:

Calories:                     850
Fat:                             57 grams
Saturated Fat:           21 grams
Cholesterol:              115 mg
Sodium:                    1160 mg

How does the Four Cheese Whopper stack up against a regular Whopper with Cheese?

We’re sure you’ve assumed that it’s worse. And you’re right — it is. 120 additional calories, 13 more grams of fat and 30 additional mg of cholesterol. It does contain slightly less sodium than the Whopper with Cheese.

While we don’t have access to the ingredients, we can tell you that the ingredients in the Whopper with Cheese certainly leave a lot to be desired. It features 120 ingredients and only one type of cheese. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, sodium benzoate and propylene glycol are featured in the ingredient list. And there’s artificial color in the cheese. So we’re assuming that the ingredient list for the Four Cheese Whopper (essentially a Whopper with extra cheese) will feature a similar ingredient list. And that three cheese blend and that cheddar sauce — we’re fairly certain that those will contain controversial ingredients as well.

In short, we didn’t like the Whopper with Cheese. Now we can multiply that by four.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/four-cheese-whopper

Welcome back the Yumbo!

BK_Yumbo_detailMost of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Welcome back the what????”

In order to answer your question, we’ll have to go back to Burger King in 1968. That was the year that the Yumbo was first introduced. The sandwich was very popular and enjoyed a six-year run before it was retired in 1974.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t quite sure where it’s unusual name came from, we are sure that the Yumbo isn’t typical Burger King fare. It’s simply a hot ham and cheese hoagie with lettuce and mayonnaise. Which, according to various internet commentary, has some fast food fans puzzled. It’s not a burger. It’s not a chicken sandwich. So what’s it doing on the Burger King menu?

Well, according to Burger King, people have been asking what happened to the sandwich. Seems it’s a favorite childhood memory for many customers. And Burger King is making an effort to bring back some those memories.

Burger King made an all out effort to do just that with the Yumbo. It overhauled its Facebook page and made it appear as though the posts were from 1974. It even invited visitors to call the Yumbo at 844-BK-YUMBO. That toll-free line connected callers to the “Yumbo Social Hotline,” and asked callers to like or comment on the sandwich on its page.

It doesn’t appear that folks who don’t remember the Yumbo are embracing it quite as enthusiastically as those who fell in love with it 40 years ago. Comments include the sentiment that the Yumbo took very little effort for Burger King and that you really need to be in the third grade to think that this is anything special.

O.k. it isn’t a Whopper. But it is certainly a simpler menu offering for Burger King which may be refreshing for some. While we don’t have an ingredient list for the sandwich, here are the nutrition facts:
Calories:               490
Fat:                       24 grams
Cholesterol:         65 mg
Sodium:               1770 mg

So what should we make of this? Let’s put it this way — it really might as well be a burger. As a matter of fact, the Yumbo is pretty much the equivalent as the Burger King Double Cheeseburger. It has 40 more calories and about the same amount of fat. The Yumbo has less cholesterol. But it also contains A LOT more sodium.

Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t expect a hot ham and cheese sandwich to carry the same nutrition facts as a fast food burger. Guess we should have remembered that the Yumbo is a fast food hot ham and cheese sandwich and this shouldn’t have been surprising.

Those of us of a certain age should probably just enjoy our Yumbo memories and not try to make new ones.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/yumbo-hot-ham-cheese-sandwich

Panera Bread brings back the Steak & White Cheddar Panini

panera_horiz_logoWe know that Panera Bread has plenty of fans. There’s plenty of variety on the menu. The food is tasty. And people feel as though a meal from Panera is a better choice than a meal from McDonalds. The chain carries its own “health halo” — the food is fresher, it tastes like actual food and so Panera has been deemed a better option than average fast food.

In some ways fans are right — Panera Bread isn’t McDonald’s. But to be honest, it’s not that far away from it. And the reintroduction of the Steak & White Cheddar Panini proves the point.

Let’s take a look at the sandwich and find out what’s really going on in there.

The nutrition facts apply to a whole sandwich. Remember that at Panera, you can order a half sandwich as part of a combo with pasta, salad or soup. If you simply order the sandwich, though, it will come full size. Let’s get to those facts:

Calories:                     960
Fat:                             36 grams
Sodium:                     1860 mg.

Wow. That’s just too much of everything! After eating this sandwich, you’ve only got another 540 mg to consume for the rest of the day. And you’ll be spending 960 calories out of your average 2000 calorie a day diet on one sandwich.

Here are the ingredients:

French baguette (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, salt, natural base [calcium diphosphate, malted barley flour, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, rye flour, sunflower lecithin, wheat flour, enzymes, ascorbic acid], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid]), beef sirloin tip (beef sirloin, seasoning [spice, dehydrated garlic, sea salt, canola oil]), white cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, microbial enzymes), caramelized red onions (red onions, balsamic vinaigrette [water, soybean oil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, contains less than 2% of salt, spices, xanthan gum, dehydrated garlic, natural flavors]), horseradish sauce (soybean oil, water, prepared horseradish [horseradish, vinegar, salt], egg yolks, distilled vinegar, corn starch- modified, salt, sugar, xanthan gum, natural flavors including mustard oil).

So it’s not McDonald’s. The ingredient list is a far cry from the Big Mac. But there are still far too many items in the list — and we’re not fans of natural flavor. Especially when all those ingredients cost 960 calories and come with three quarters of our daily sodium.

We can think of better lunch options. And while we understand that many find Panera Bread to be a solution to the fast food dilemma, FoodFacts.com just can’t get on board.

https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/menu-categories/sandwiches-panini.html#steak-white-cheddar-panini