Category Archives: fast food

Starbucks introduces the new Double-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar and Egg Sandwich

double smoked baconStarbucks continues on its mission of increasing the quantity and variety of its food offerings. Now they’ve introduced another new breakfast sandwich – the Double-Bacon, Cheddar and Egg Sandwich.

Although this sounds quite like a standard bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, it definitely offers a twist. This sandwich is served on what Starbucks is calling a croissant roll — that is a croissant that resembles a bun. Oh, and the bacon is double-smoked.

So is this new offering something you want to pick up for breakfast? Let’s take a look.

Here are the nutrition facts for the sandwich:

Calories:                          540
Fat:                                   32 grams
Saturated Fat:                18 grams
Trans Fat:                       1 gram
Cholesterol:                   220 mg.
Sodium:                          940 mg.

There’s definitely another way that this breakfast sandwich is differentiating itself. It may as well be a burger. The Double-Smoked Bacon, Cheddar and Egg sandwich is really a more upscale take on Burger King’s Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissan’wich. Believe it or not, Burger King does a better job with nutrition facts. The Croissan’wich offers fewer calories, less fat, less saturated fat, no trans fat and less cholesterol. Even though its ingredient list is awful, the Croissan’wich fits into that magic “under 400 calorie” breakfast category.

What about the ingredient list for the Double-Smoked Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich:

Croissant roll (unenriched wheat flour, butter [cream, natural flavor], water, milk, sugar, yeast, sea salt, eggs), fried egg patty (egg whites, egg yolks, milk, food starch-modified, salt, citric acid), smoked bacon (cured with: water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, natural flavor [water, natural flavors], sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite), sharp cheddar cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, color added).

The ingredients here aren’t great, but FoodFacts.com has certainly seen worse. The fact is that the nutrition facts tell the story for this sandwich. And it isn’t a compelling story.

We’re not buying this one. Starbucks is going to have to do better.

http://www.starbucks.com/menu/food/hot-breakfast/double-smoked-bacon-cheddar-and-egg-sandwich?foodZone=9999

Taco Bell introduces the Country Grilled Breakfast Burrito with Sausage

menu_item_country-grilled-breakfast-burritoThe Taco Bell breakfast menu keeps right on growing. The latest offering is the new Country Grilled Breakfast Burrito with Sausage.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, here’s the description from the website:

A warm flour tortilla filled with fluffy scrambled eggs, delicious sausage, seasoned breakfast potatoes and warm country gravy, wrapped up and grilled to seal in all the flavors.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Let’s hold on though. FoodFacts.com thinks we shouldn’t form an opinion about the new breakfast burrito until we look at the nutrition facts and ingredients.

Calories:                          340
Fat:                                   13 grams
Saturated Fat:                3 grams
Sodium:                          810 grams

We’ve certainly seen worse. It’s not great, but it’s not out of the realm of other fast food breakfast sandwiches either.

Let’s not forget about the ingredient list. But before we review it, we want to mention that if you’re having difficulty locating ingredients on the Taco Bell website, you’ll need to piece the ingredients together from the list you’ll find in the Ingredient Statement in the Nutrition section of the website. It’s a bit onerous, but you can put it all together. So here we go:

Flour tortilla: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Vegetable Shortening (Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Contains less than 2% of the following: Sugar, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate), Fumaric Acid, Calcium Propionate and Sorbic Acid (used as preservatives), Yeast, Molasses, Dough Conditioner [Distilled Monoglycerides, Enzymes, Wheat Starch and Calcium Carbonate with Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, and Citric Acid (added as Antioxidants)] CONTAINS: WHEAT Fluffy Scrambled Eggs: Whole Eggs, Butter Flavor (Liquid And Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Beta Carotene (Color), TBHQ And Citric Acid Added To Protect Flavor, Dimethylpolysiloxane, An Anti-foaming Agent Added). Contains Less Than 1% Of The Following: Salt, Citric Acid, Pepper, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum. CONTAINS: EGGS, MILK AND SOYBEANS, Sausage: Pork, Seasoning (Salt, Corn Syrup Solids, Spices, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, And Less Than 2% Soybean Oil And Silicon Dioxide Added As Processing Aids), And Water, Breakfast Potatoes: Potatoes, Contains One Or More Of The Following: (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Cottonseed Oil, Palm Oil, Soybean Oil, Sunflower Oil), Dehydrated Potato, Salt, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (To Promote Color Retention), Dextrose. Oil: High Oleic Low Linolenic Canola Oil, TBHQ (To Protect Flavor), Dimethylpolysiloxane (An Antifoaming Agent). Hash Browns do not contain wheat proteins; however, they are fried in the same oil with ingredients containing wheat proteins. Country Gravy: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Whey, Modified Corn Starch, Non Dairy Creamer (Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup Solids, Sodium Caseinate, Mono and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Soy Lecithin), Nonfat Dry Milk, Maltodextrin (Corn, Potato), Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Salt, Spices, Color (Titanium Dioxide, Annatto, Turmeric), Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Natural Flavors (contains milk), Dehydrated Butter, Carrot Powder, Dextrose, Torula Yeast, and Less Than 2% Each of Silicone Dioxide and Soybean Oil Added As Processing Aids. CONTAINS: MILK, WHEAT, SOYBEANS

We should mention that in trying to weave together these ingredients from the long list in the Ingredient Statement, we couldn’t find Breakfast Potatoes, only Hash Browns. And the only gravy listed was “Breakfast Gravy” not Country Gravy, as listed in the description. So we put the list together from what we could glean from the statement. We’ve done our best with the information available, and our best doesn’t look so great from where we stand. TBHQ, Carrageenan, Natural Flavors, Artificial Flavors. We could think of more than a few things we’d rather eat.

Pretty typical fast food. It’s easy enough to prepare a breakfast burrito at home with ingredients we know and trust. That’s what we’ll do in the event we’re craving one.

Sorry Taco Bell. And just in case you read this, it would really be great if you could make it easier to match ingredients to menu items. Transparency is best when it’s actually transparent. We don’t think you’d really want anyone to think that you’re trying to confuse them, would you?

http://www.tacobell.com/breakfast/
http://www.tacobell.com/nutrition/ingredientstatement

Wendy’s new Bacon and Blue on Brioche … a bit much for fast food?

WendysWendy’s new Bacon and Blue on Brioche doesn’t sound much like a fast food burger. This limited edition burger attempts to elevate a fast food staple to a gourmet level. But are we really looking for gourmet fast food?

FoodFacts.com isn’t sure about how to answer that. We know what we can answer though — and that’s what are we eating when we order the Bacon and Blue on Brioche.

First let’s take a look at the nutrition facts for the new burger:

Calories:                       650
Fat:                                39 grams
Saturated Fat:             16 grams
Trans Fat:                    1.5 grams
Sodium:                       1290 mg

We’d like to point out that even before we get to the ingredient list, we know we’re not going to be eating this one. The 39 grams of fat and 16 grams of saturated fat are bad enough. But that 1.5 grams of trans fat are 1.5 grams too many.

But let’s take a look at the ingredients and see what we think:

Tomatoes, Spring Mix: Baby Lettuces (red & green Romaine, red & green oak, red & green leaf, lolla Rosa, tango), Spinach, Mizuna Arugula, Tatsoi, Red Chard, Green Chard, Blue Cheese Herb Alioli: Soybean Oil, Water, Blue Cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), Egg Yolk, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Salt, Herbs (including rosemary and thyme) And Spices, Garlic (dehydrated), Onion (dehydrated), Shallots, Mustard Seed, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate And Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Glucono Delta Lactone, Xanthan Gum, Nonfat Dry Milk, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Calcium Disodium EDTA (to protect flavor). CONTAINS: EGG, MILK, Applewood Smoked Bacon: Pork Cured With: Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Blue Cheese Crumbles: Blue Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes, penicillium roqueforti), Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (to protect flavor). CONTAINS: MILK, ¼ Pound Hamburger Patty: Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt, Brioche Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK.

So that confirms it. This one is a no for us. If the Bacon and Blue on Brioche was an effort to elevate the fast food burger, there were better ways to do it.

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info

Sugar consumption driving obesity and diabetes

sugar-obesity-webFoodFacts.com has conscientiously covered news regarding the obesity crisis for the last few years. We’ve covered junk food, fast food, processed food, white bread, chocolate, and genetics (among hundreds of other things) as links to obesity and weight gain. The research we read today though, made so much sense. That sense began with the concepts behind the study.

In the report, published Thursday in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, a team of researchers performed a literature review to determine whether certain ingredients are much more dangerous than others when it comes to diabetes, and to challenge the idea that all calories are equal. To do so, they looked at the effects of carbohydrates from similar calories. They compared starch, pure glucose and lactose to added sugars like sucrose (table sugar) and fructose, which occurs naturally in fruit but which we mostly consume as a sweetener, such a with high-fructose corn syrup, added to food and drinks).

What they found was that the added sugars were significantly more harmful. Fructose was linked to worsening insulin levels and worsening glucose tolerance, which is a driver for pre-diabetes. It caused harmful fat storage—visceral fat on the abdomen—and promoted several markers for poor health like inflammation and high blood pressure. “We clearly showed that sugar is the principal driver of diabetes,” says lead study author James J. DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute. “A sugar calorie is much more harmful.”

DiNicolantonio and his fellow authors say current dietary guidelines are harmful since they recommend levels of sugar consumption that are unhealthy. For instance, the Institute of Medicine says added sugar can make up 25% of the total calories we consume, and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans say up to 19% of calories from added sugars is alright. That varies greatly from the American Heart Association, which recommends no more than 6 tsp of sugar a day for women 9 tsp for men. The World Health Organization has proposed that added sugar make up only 5% of a person’s daily calories.

“The studies that we looked at clearly show that once you hit 18 percent compared to just 5 percent of your total calories from sugar, there’s significant metabolic harms promoting prediabetes and diabetes,” says DiNicolantonio. “In fact, there’s a two-fold increase.”

This is not the first time sugar has been fingered as a primary culprit in American’s bad health. Other researchers are pushing the message that it’s refined carbohydrates like added sugars that are the problem.

“We need to understand that it isn’t the overconsuming of calories that leads to obesity and leads to diabetes. We need to totally change that around,” says DiNicolantonio. “It’s refined carbs and added sugars that lead to insulin resistance and diabetes, which leads to high insulin levels, which drives obesity.”

DiNicolantonio recommends major changes to combat the problem. He says the government should stop subsidizing corn which makes high fructose corn syrup so cheap and should instead subsidize healthy foods so that consumers are encouraged to make the switch from processed foods to whole foods, since it’s the processed stuff that’s putting so much sugar in our diets. He adds that in his opinion, sugar-sweetened beverages should not be sold in schools or hospitals, and perhaps the government should put warning labels on them.

Such severe changes are not likely in the immediate future, but if sugar is indeed the number on cause for diabetes among all other foods, then more needs to happen to help Americans cut back. Especially since there is no real need for added sugar in our diets.

Sugar is addicting for millions of us. And food manufacturers have fed that addiction by adding sugar to most every product in our grocery stores. We’re eating too much of it. Sure, we believe in coincidences sometimes — but not here. The tremendous rise in obesity across the globe doesn’t simply coincide with the meteoric rise in the availability of processed food, junk food, fast food and sugary beverages. They go hand in hand and it’s time to make the real changes that will allow us to reverse this life-threatening trend.

http://time.com/3687808/this-is-the-number-1-driver-of-diabetes-and-obesity/

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/