Category Archives: fast food

Ever wonder what the saltiest foods in America are?

ssaltWe know we eat too much sodium. Salt is in every processed food that’s in a box or a can or on a fast food menu. The only way we can really avoid consuming too much sodium is cooking fresh foods in our own kitchens. FoodFacts.com knows, though, that we’re all guilty (some of us less than others) of relying on convenience foods when we’re too busy to get ourselves in the kitchen.

Maybe we should start with the foods we should obviously avoid as we attempt to decrease the sodium in our diets. So what are the saltiest foods in America?

Pizza Hut Meat Lovers 9” Personal Pizza
No one should be eating this. The saltiest fast-food menu item in America right now is the Meat Lovers 9” Personal PANormous Pizza from Pizza Hut, with an insane 3,670 milligrams of sodium; that’s more than 1,000 milligrams more than the daily recommended allowance. Pizza is one of the saltiest foods around, so there really aren’t any low-sodium options at Pizza Hut, but we’d suggest sticking to a small portion of the 12” Medium Cheese Pan Pizza, which contains 530 milligrams per slice.

Subway Spicy Italian Sub
Not far behind Pizza Hut — Cured meats are loaded with sodium, and Subway’s Spicy Italian is loaded with them. Pepperoni, salami, and cheese are all included in this sandwich, and a footlong contains 2,980 milligrams of sodium. Choose a six-inch roast beef (660 milligrams) or a six-inch turkey breast (670 milligrams) sandwich instead.

Sonic Chili Cheese Tots
These didn’t sound like a great idea to begin with. Topping the daily recommended sodium allowance with one dish, Sonic’s large chili cheese tots is the saltiest item on their menu, with 2,760 milligrams of sodium (not to mention 59 grams of fat). If you must have chili and cheese on your tots, opt for a small, which contains 970 milligrams.

Taco Bell Smothered Beef Burrito
The Smothered Beef Burrito is the most sodium-heavy item on Taco Bell’s Menu, with 2,260 milligrams.

KFC Mashed Potato with Gravy Bowl
Out of all the individual items on KFC’s menu, it’s the Mashed Potato with Gravy Bowl that contains the most sodium, with 2,040 milligrams. The snack-size bowl, which contains just 790 milligrams is a better option.

These are just a few of the fast food options out there with sodium levels that are jaw dropping. There are certainly many more. It’s a good idea to do some research and take a look before you decide to indulge.

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015/05/28/america-saltiest-fast-foods/

Big news from Taco Bell and Pizza Hut: Artificial colors and flavors on the way out

Taco Bell, Pizza HutFoodFacts.com is committed to recognizing the efforts of food manufacturers, fast food chains and fast casual restaurants responding to consumer demands for better quality food choices. So these announcements from both Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are the subject of today’s blog.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut say they’re getting rid of artificial colors and flavors, making them the latest big food companies scrambling to distance themselves from ingredients people might find unappetizing.

Instead of “black pepper flavor,” for instance, Taco Bell will start using actual black pepper in its seasoned beef, says Liz Matthews, the chain’s chief food innovation officer.

The Mexican-style chain also says the artificial dye Yellow No. 6 will be removed from its nacho cheese, Blue No. 1 will be removed from its avocado ranch dressing and carmine, a bright pigment, will be removed from its red tortilla strips.

Matthews said some of the new recipes are being tested in select markets and should be in stores nationally by the end of the year.

The country’s biggest food makers are facing pressure from smaller rivals that position themselves as more wholesome alternatives. Chipotle in particular has found success in marketing itself as an antidote to traditional fast food, although some question the meaningfulness of some of its claims. In April, Chipotle announced it had removed genetically modified organisms from its food, even though the Food and Drug Administration says GMOs are safe.

Critics say the purging of chemicals is a response to unfounded fears over ingredients, but companies are nevertheless rushing to ensure their recipes don’t become marketing disadvantages. In recent months, restaurant chains including Panera, McDonald’s and Subway have said they’re switching to ingredients people can easily recognize.

John Coupland, a professor of food science at Penn State University, said companies are realizing some ingredients may not be worth the potential harm they might cause to their images, given changing attitudes about additives.

Additionally, he noted that the removal of artificial ingredients can be a way for companies to give their food a healthy glow without making meaningful changes to their nutritional profiles. For instance, Coupland said reducing salt, sugar or portion sizes would have a far bigger impact on public health.

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are owned by Yum Brands Inc., which had hinted the changes would be on the way. At a conference for investors late last year, Yum CEO Greg Creed referred to the shifting attitudes and the desire for “real food” as a revolution in the industry.

Representatives at KFC and Yum’s corporate headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky were not immediately available to comment on whether the fried chicken chain would also be removing artificial ingredients.

Pizza Hut says it will remove artificial colors and preservatives by the end of July.

Taco Bell says it will take out artificial colors, artificial flavors, high-fructose corn syrup and unsustainable palm oil from its food by the end of 2015. It says artificial preservatives will be removed “where possible” by 2017. The moves do not affect fountain drinks or co-branded products, such as its Doritos-flavored taco shells.

Brian Niccol, the chain’s CEO, said price increases are based on a variety of factors, and that the company would work to keep its menu affordable.

“I do not want to lose any element of being accessible to the masses,” Niccol said.

When asked whether the changes would affect taste, a representative for Taco Bell said in an email that “It will be the same great tasting Taco Bell that people love.”

While we do think both chains have a long way to go in terms of the ingredients they are using in their foods, this is certainly a step in the right direction. We’ll be curious to examine ingredient lists once these changes have gone into effect. Thanks to the stated time lines, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to take a fresh look.

Every food manufacturer, fast food giant and fast casual restaurant needs to take a good long look at their ingredient lists and LISTEN to the consumers who are making their voices clearly heard. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are following the voices of those that mean success for their brands. It’s the smart thing to do. Let’s see who’s next to react to the wake-up call.

http://krqe.com/2015/05/30/taco-bell-pizza-hut-artificial-ingredients-getting-booted/

The latest from Wendy’s … the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich

unnamedWendy’s continues to spice up fast food offerings with the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich. If you check out their website, you’ll find this description: “We’re kicking up the heat with 5 layers of spice on our new Jalapeño Fresco Spicy Chicken sandwich. It’s our classic spicy chicken breast topped with fresh, diced jalapeños, ghost pepper sauce, Colby pepper jack cheese all on a red jalapeno bun. It’s too hot to last, so try one today!”

Sounds interesting, but we’ve already seen that “ghost pepper sauce” on their french fries. It was light on the ghost peppers (thankfully) and heavy on the controversial ingredients. We’re also concerned about the spicy chicken breast and the red jalapeno bun for the same reasons. Let’s investigate and see what we can find.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                                    580
Fat:                                             30 grams
Saturated Fat:                          9 grams
Sodium:                                    1380 mg

Right away we can see that this chicken sandwich is no healthier than eating a hamburger. So if you’re thinking that chicken is always a healthier option, think again. Most fast food chicken sandwiches aren’t healthier. The ingredients will tell us why.

Colby Pepper Jack Cheese: Colby Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto [vegetable color]), Monterey Jack Cheese With Hot Peppers (pasteurized milk, jalapeno peppers [jalapeno peppers, salt, acetic acid, calcium chloride]. cheese culture, habenero peppers, salt, enzymes). CONTAINS: MILK. Spicy Chicken Breast: Chicken Breast, Water, Seasoning (salt, spice, sodium phosphate [sodium trypolyphosphates, sodium polyphosphates], modified corn starch, paprika, spice extractives, extractives of paprika, and extractives of turmeric). Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Bleached Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Spice, Gum Arabic, Egg White Solids, Yellow Corn Flour, Spice Extractives, Leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphates, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), Extractives Of Paprika. Cooked in Vegetable Oil (soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, citric acid [preservative], dimethylpolysiloxane [anti-foaming agent]). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Fish (where available). CONTAINS: EGG, WHEAT. Cheddar Cheese Sauce: Water, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Milk Ingredients, Cream Cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum), Modified Cornstarch, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Whey, Sodium Phosphate, Cream, Cheese Culture, Milk Fat, Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzyme), Butter, Sodium Phosphate, Salt And Sea Salt, Sodium Alginate, Carob Bean Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto And Apocarotenal (for color), Lactic Acid. CONTAINS: MILK. Ghost Pepper Sauce: Soybean Oil, Sour Cream (cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, gelatin, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], acetic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors), Buttermilk, Jalapeno Pepper, Egg Yolk, Salt, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Cilantro, Sugar, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Onion (dehydrated), Oleoresin Paprika, Garlic (dehydrated), Acetic Acid, Ghost Pepper, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Oleoresin Rosemary. CONTAINS: EGG, MILK. Red Onion Diced Jalapenos Jalapeno Cheddar Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Palm Oil, Ground Jalapenos, Jalapeno Peppers, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono-diglycerides [DATEM], contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, ascorbic acid, enzymes [wheat], l. cysteine hydrochloride), Salt, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, annatto, cellulose [anti-caking agent]), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Wheat Gluten, Dough Conditioner (calcium sulfate, wheat starch, wheat flour, contains 2% or less of: enzymes [wheat], salt), Butter Flavor (corn maltodextrin, medium chain triglycerides, gum arabic, natural flavors), Shine Agent (modified starch, sodium alginate, mono-diglycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate 60). CONTAINS: WHEAT, SOY, MILK.

Take a look at the length of that ingredient list! The longer the list, the greater the likelihood of controversial items. And that’s certainly true here. The bun alone is enough to put us off from this sandwich. Makes you wonder if they’re using test tubes to measure the ingredients out instead of kitchen equipment. Consider this: if you’re baking rolls at home and you’d like them to be “shiny,” you’re likely brushing the tops with beaten eggs prior to baking. At Wendy’s, they’re using a “shine agent” that includes polysorbate 60 to emulsify the solution.

FoodFacts.com isn’t a fan of fast food using “solutions” to glaze baked goods. We’re also not a fan of a large number of the ingredients used to create this chicken sandwich. Sorry Wendy’s, we’ll find a way to spice up our meals without the Jalapeno Fresco Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

https://www.wendys.com/en-us/nutrition-info#nutrition_zone_1

The new limited edition Steakhouse Sirloin Third Pound Burger from McDonald’s

h-mcdonalds-Steakhouse-Sirloin-Third-Pound-BurgerWhile McDonald’s continues to struggle to find its way in a world that is becoming increasingly detached from fast food, the most famous chain on the planet continues to attempt new introductions to regain the loyalty of its consumer base.

The unfortunate truth for McDonald’s is that many consumers are turning away from fast food because the message of terrible nutrition facts and horrible ingredient lists is finally hitting home. People are looking for better food.

So when McDonald’s releases new menu items, we’d have to think they’d be keeping this in mind. One of their latest, the Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich was definitely a step in the right direction for the chain.

The new Steakhouse Sirloin Third Pound Burger, however, is NOT in keeping with current consumer demand. Let’s take a look at what’s going on with this limited edition menu selection.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                            730
Fat:                                     36 grams
Trans Fat:                          2 grams
Saturated Fat:                  16 grams
Sodium:                            1560 mg

And just think — we haven’t even added the fries yet!

What about the ingredients?

THIRD POUND* 100% SIRLOIN BEEF PATTY: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Sirloin Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders. Seasoned with Salt, Sugar, Onion Powder, Natural (Animal and Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Spice, Maltodextrin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dried Beef Broth, Dextrose, Garlic Powder, Worcestershire Sauce Powder (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor [Plant Source]), Spice Extractives, Beef Fat, Caramel Color, Annatto and Turmeric (Color). PREMIUM BUN: Ingredients: Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Barley Malt Extract, Soybean Oil, Salt, Wheat Gluten, Contains 2% Or Less: Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate, Yellow Corn Flour, Dough Conditioners (Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Distilled Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Calcium Peroxide), Turmeric, Annatto and Paprika Extracts (Color), Natural (Plant Source) and Artificial Flavors, Caramel Color, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Sesame Seed.
CONTAINS: WHEAT, PASTEURIZED PROCESS WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE:
Ingredients: Milk, Water, Cheese Culture, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), May Contain One or More of: Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Enzymes, Acetic Acid, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation). CONTAINS: MILK AND SOY LECITHIN CARAMELIZED GRILLED ONIONS: Ingredients: Slivered Onions Prepared in Onion Reduction Sauce (Palm, Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Onion Powder, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors [Plant Source], Spice). COOKED MUSHROOMS, Ingredients: Mushrooms. Prepared with Liquid Margarine (Liquid Soybean Oil and Hydrogenated Cottonseed and Soybean Oils, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Mono-and Diglycerides, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate [Preservatives], Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene [Color]). CONTAINS: SOY LECITHIN CREAMY PEPPERCORN SAUCE:
Ingredients: Water, Sweet Cream Solids, Balsamic Vinegar (Wine Vinegar, Grape Must, Caramel Color), Ribeye Base (Cooked Beef Ribeye, Beef Juices, Sea Salt, Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor [Plant Source], Canola Oil, Potato Flour, Beef Fat), Distilled Vinegar, Corn Starch, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor [Plant Source]), Contains 2% or Less: Peppercorns (Black, Green and Pink), Sugar, Sea Salt, Spices, Soybean Oil, Soy Sauce (Soybeans, Wheat, Salt), Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum. CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK, SOY

FoodFacts.com thinks it’s important to point out that, in fact, that burger McDonald’s is using is actual beef without fillers and extenders. It’s actually the way they’re “seasoning” the burger that creates the problem. We could also point out that they’re using actual mushrooms. Then take a look at that “liquid margarine” they’re using to prepare them. We won’t even go near the “creamy peppercorn sauce.”

McDonald’s can talk about transparency all they want. Sure, they’re using 100% beef burgers and yes they’re using actual mushrooms. But they aren’t being transparent enough to tell us that how they’re preparing those ingredients involves truly terrible ingredients. It’s really only selective transparency.

The new Steakhouse Sirloin Third Pound Burger is not the change consumers are looking for from fast food. Not even close.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.burgerssandwiches.3024.steakhouse-sirloin-third-pound-burger.html

Fast food marketing influences teenage boys far more than teenage girls

child eating beefburgerParents of teenagers understand just how different teenage boys and girls can be. But regardless of the gender of your teenager, at some point during these important years, we begin to relinquish a small amount of our decision making for them to them. The way they choose to dress and wear their hair come to mind immediately. Their food choices are another area where our teenagers begin to rely on themselves more and more. Even though they may be home for dinner every night, they are all spending more and more time away from us, with their friends at school and sports activities. Regardless of how much we’ve emphasized healthy eating, they have plenty of opportunity to fall in love with junk food. Our teenagers are subjected to a constant barrage of messaging from fast food and junk food on a daily basis.

Despite our knowledge of its scant nutritional value and questionable degree of quality, fast food does have its appeal. When it’s sweet, it’s really sweet; when it’s salty, it’s really salty; when it’s fatty, it’s really fatty; and hey, it’s cheap. We are all born innocent and then learn to love and accept concepts like Fourthmeal and Chicken Fries. Sometimes, it feels like a burger chain or taco stop just “gets you.”

A new survey, however, finds that fast food and junk food marketing is more likely to hit you just right if you’re a “dude”—namely, a teenage boy—than if you’re a young lady. The most recent findings of the Australian national survey of the dietary and behavioral habits of its high schoolers says so, anyway.

The study included data from nearly 9,000 students at 196 different secondary schools gathered in 2012 and 2013, and was released by Australia’s Cancer Council and the National Heart Foundation. Researchers found that 46 percent of the nation’s teenage boys regularly eat fast food, compared to 34 percent of girls, and that 63 percent of the boys often gorged on salty snacks.

But more interesting is the fact that the teenage boys were markedly more susceptible to the allures of junk food advertising that integrated giveaways, contests, or influencers, such as celebrities and pro athletes. Perhaps as a result, the boys were more likely to be overweight or obese than their female counterparts, despite engaging in more sports and other physical activities.

Almost one-third of boys are likely to buy a food or drink if it’s tied to an actor or sports personality that they like, versus just 19 percent of girls, and 40 percent of teenage boys will patronize a fast-food chain if they are offering a special product or giveaway.

This might not come as such a shock to everyone. If anything, it kind of just affirms the archetype of the stoned high school senior whose car floor is littered with stale French fries, or a cluster of chubby 17-year-old gamers eating dollar tacos in their parents’ basement while taking turns playing GTA 5.

But Kathy Chapman, speaking on behalf of the Cancer Council, tells the Australian Associated Press that the huge budgets of fast-food companies are enabling them to thoroughly and knowingly infiltrate the programming primarily watched by teenagers, and that “a barrage of increasingly sophisticated junk food marketing is undermining teenage boys’ longer-term health, highlighting the urgent need for measures to protect them.”
“Mass-media advertising works,” she adds.

But working out—rather than lounging in the plastic booth of a fast-food joint all day—might be the crucial kicker there.

Yes, advertising works. Of course consumers will deny ever being influenced by television, radio, print and the web. But whatever you see, hear, or read is in your mind somewhere and connections are drawn between those ads and your purchases. If you’ve ever taken an eight-year-old to a grocery store, you know it can turn into a series of requests from your child for products they’ve seen advertised. The same is certainly true for teenagers — just in different places, involving different foods and beverages. FoodFacts.com thinks it makes perfect sense that food marketing is affecting boys differently than girls. By the time a girl reaches her teenage years, other forms of marketing have affected her. She’s concerned about her clothes, how they fit and what she looks like. Unfortunately, that can be detrimental in different ways. Teenage boys are always hungry. And without those “girlish” concerns, can become prey to junk food marketing much more easily.

While we can’t be with our teenagers 24/7, we can make sure that when they are at home, we continue to inform and educate them. The habits we instill will make a difference and will help them make healthier choices.

http://munchies.vice.com/articles/teenage-boys-are-more-susceptible-to-the-lure-of-fast-food-than-girls

Another reason to stay away from fast food: new book claims fast food kills the gut bacteria that help you stay slim

fastfood (1)When we hear the word bacteria, our first inclination is to think of illness and things we should stay away from. Standing water, for instance, could be “crawling with bacteria.” Gas station bathrooms, uncleaned countertops, sticky seats in restaurants and bars are generally related in our minds to “nasty bacteria.” Bacteria gets a bad rap — and sometimes it should. There are harmful bacteria, but there are also beneficial bacteria. Those should be residing in our gut. What happens when those beneficial bacteria are killed off? What can cause that to happen?

While highly processed ingredients and huge portions typically aren’t doing you any favors, new information says they can also kill off the beneficial gut bacteria that help burn calories.

The findings are the result of research into the links between gut bacteria and health conducted by genetic epidemiology professor Tim Spector of King’s College London.

He found that diets composed of a relatively small number of ingredients, most of which are highly processed, are toxic to these bacteria. In fact, many of them can die off within days of beginning such a diet.

Spector will elaborate on the research in his upcoming book, “The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat,” which focuses on the role that a diverse diet plays in fostering a healthy microbes in the human body.

In one study discussed in the book, Spector enlisted his 23-year-old son, Tom, who agreed to spend 10 days eating nothing but McDonald’s chicken nuggets, fries, burgers and Coca-Cola.

“Before I started my father’s fast food diet there were about 3500 bacterial species in my gut, dominated by a type called firmicutes,” the younger Spector, a genetics student told The Australian.

“Once on the diet I rapidly lost 1,300 species of bacteria and my gut was dominated by a different group called bacteroidetes. The implication is that the McDonald’s diet killed 1,300 of my gut species,” he said.

This discovery suggested to his father that many cases of obesity may not simply be due to overeating.

“Microbes get a bad press, but only a few of the millions of species are harmful and many are crucial to our health,” Professor Spector told The Australian.

“What is emerging is that changes in our gut microbe community , or microbiome, are likely to be responsible for much of our obesity epidemic, and consequences like diabetes, cancer and heart disease,” he said. “It is clear that the more diverse your diet, the more diverse your microbes and the better your health at any age.”

Previous studies made similar findings: Professor Rob Knight of the University of Colorado Boulder, who collaborates with Spector, famously showed that transferring gut bacteria from obese humans to mice could make the rodents gain weight.

Spector’s book claims that the diversity of microbes in the human body has decreased almost a third over the last century. But there’s also good news: Foods like dark chocolate, garlic, coffee and Belgian beer may help increase gut microbes.

Some of these claims cannot be independently verified, as the noted study isn’t published publicly nor readily available in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition, while mouse studies have found links between gut microbes, dietary changes and obesity, the evidence remains less clear in humans. As Robert Knight of the University of Colorado wrote in a recent review in the British Journal of Nutrition: “It remains a challenge to identify the key pathogenic microbiota and to establish a causal (rather than associative) relationship between specific microbes or community states and a given physiological or disease phenotype.”

In large part, the idea that fast food (and highly processed ingredients of all kinds) kills beneficial gut bacteria and throws bodies out of balance, inviting excessive weight gain is a theory. It is, however, a theory on which FoodFacts.com would like to see more credible studies done. While we’re at it, we’d like to see those studies include more than fast food. We think that other highly processed foods — foods from boxes and cans — should be studied as well. Let’s remember the big coincidence surrounding the obesity crisis. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that corresponds directly with the infiltration of highly processed foods in our diets over the last 30 years or so. Our grocery shelves are lined with unnecessary highly-processed everything, fast food is available everywhere (in some areas, every few blocks) and most people aren’t taking the time to cook actual food. It does seem that we’ve traded our health for convenience, with encouragement from food manufacturers and fast food chains. While we wait for further study and exploration, let’s all remember that real food doesn’t have any ingredient list — real food IS the ingredient list. Protein, produce, grains, nuts, seeds, beans … we all know what they are. Go to the grocery store and buy ingredients.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/junk-food-kills-helpful-gut-bacteria-study-finds/

Real progress: Panera Bread commits to removing over 150 controversial ingredients by 2016

635660908535487026-XXX-CEO-Profile-Panera-Ron-Shaich-2Panera Bread just made everyone at FoodFacts.com happier than we’ve ever been about fast casual dining. They’ve committed to the removal of over 150 controversial ingredients from their menu items by 2016.

We’ve been saying the same thing over and over, every time a fast food or fast casual chain commits to using antibiotic-free chicken, or the removal of a single ingredient due to consumer demand. It’s nice, but just one thing isn’t going to change the perception of an increasingly health-conscious consumer. It has to be bigger than that.

Panera Bread got the real message and they’re doing something about it.

Last week the chain began using only “clean” salad dressings — dressings free from artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. That’s already great news, but it’s much bigger than that. The list of ingredients slated for removal could come directly from the FoodFacts.com controversial ingredient list. You can find the full list here: https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf.

Among the real standouts for us are the removal of aspartame, artificial colors, artificial flavors, caramel color, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and propylene glycol from their foods. The list goes on though and you should really check it out.

This is a stunning move by Panera Bread and one that challenges every other fast casual and fast food chain. If Panera Bread can find a way to remove just about every ingredient we want to avoid from their menu (we don’t see natural flavor and carrageenan on their list), it’s really impossible to imagine that other chains can’t accomplish the same thing while still offering food that’s appealing and affordable to their consumers.

With this statement, Panera Bread proves that no chain has an excuse. It’s time for the rest of the fast casual and fast food giants to follow their lead.

https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf
http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/05/04/panera-panera-bread-fast-food-restaurants-dining-artificial-additives/26696823/

Taco Bell’s new Chipotle Chickstar almost makes a Big Mac look good

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.11.15 PMAnother new one from Taco Bell proves that fast food chicken sandwiches can, in fact, be a poorer nutritional choice than a fast food burger. This time we have Chipotle Chickstars.

It’s basically a chicken sandwich wrapped in a tortilla that’s grilled. The website describes it this way, “A warm, soft, flour tortilla filled with new premium all-white-meat crispy chicken that’s marinated in bold Mexican spices, rolled in a crunchy corn tortilla coating, and crisped to perfection combined with creamy chipotle sauce, real cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes and then wrapped up and grilled for maximum portability.” Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it?

Let’s see what we can find out about this “unique” new chicken sandwich …

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                 760
Fat:                          43 grams
Saturated Fat:       8 grams
Sodium:                 1650 mg

WOW. There is no one eating this chicken sandwich who should be thinking that it’s better than other alternatives being served. You could actually consume less calories from a Big Mac at McDonald’s than from the Chipotle Chickstar — not to mention fat and sodium.

What about the ingredients?

CRISPY CHICKEN Chicken White Meat, Water, Seasoning [Maltodextrin, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Tomato Powder, Sugar, Vinegar Solids, Yeast Extract, Onion Powder, Citric Acid, Chicken Broth, Sunflower Oil, Garlic Powder, Jalapeno Juice Solids, Chicken Powder, Gum Arabic, Chicken Fat, Acetic Acid, Modified Corn Starch, Smoke Flavor, and Grill Flavor (from Sunflower Oil)], Salt, Rice Starch, and Sodium Phosphate. BREADED WITH: Wheat Flour, Tortilla Pieces (Corn, Vegetable Oil {Corn, Soybean, and/or Sunflower Oil], Dextrose, Salt, Dried Yeast, Roasted Barley Flour, Annatto Extract (color). BATTERED WITH: Water, Bleached Wheat Flour, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Spices, Disodium, Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Dried Onion, and Dried Garlic. PREDUSTED WITH: Bleached Wheat Flour, Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Monocalcium Phosphate), Spices, Disodium, Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Dried Onion, and Dried Garlic. CONTAINS: Wheat CHIPOTLE SAUCE Soybean Oil, Water, Egg Yolk, Distilled Vinegar, Sour Cream (Cream, Modified Corn Starch, Gelatin, Lactic Acid, Guar Gum, Mono & Di Glycerides, Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor), Chili Peppers, Salt, Sugar, Chipotle Peppers, Garlic Including Dehyrated, Natural Flavors Including Smoke Flavor, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate Added As Preservatives, Xanthan Gum, Onion*, Mustard Seed, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Jalapeno Peppers*, Calcium Disodium EDTA To Protect Flavor, Canola and Sesame Oil. *Dehydrated CONTAINS EGG, MILK CHEDDAR CHEESE Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Color), Anti-Caking Agent. CONTAINS MILK LETTUCE Iceberg Lettuce TOMATO Tomatoes 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

FoodFacts.com feels badly for the poor innocent chicken used in this sandwich. Inherently, consumers hear chicken sandwich and automatically relate the sandwich to healthier options. Lean protein, less calories. We understand the dilemma and hope that posts like this can help make it abundantly clear that not all chicken is equal after processing and the addition of a strange and very controversial list of ingredients.

The Big Mac is NOT a healthy choice for anyone — but it’s still better than the Chipotle Chickstar from Taco Bell. And that is saying a mouthful.

http://www.tacobell.com/food/specialties/Chipotle-Chickstar

Bacon Guacamole Flatbread from Dunkin, for breakfast

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 1.10.58 PMDunkin’s latest breakfast mash-up combines eggs, bacon and guacamole for a new twist to start your morning. While we here at FoodFacts.com didn’t have the most enthusiastic response to the new breakfast sandwich, there may be some who find this appealing. Our own take is that fast food guacamole is closer to a spread than the guacamole we personally enjoy. Not our favorite thing.

Since we know there will be folks who look at this and think differently, we thought we’d do a little exploring for you to find out what’s really in this new sandwich, besides the traditional Dunkin “un-egg-like” looking egg. Here’s what we found:

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                          360
Fat:                                  17 grams
Saturated Fat:                5 grams
Sodium:                          850 mg

Ingredients:

Multigrain Flatbread: Whole Wheat Flour, Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Multigrain Blend [Wheat Sourdough (Water, Fermented Wheat Flour), Wheat Grains, Rye Grains, Oat Grains, Flaxseed, Rye Sourdough, Millet Seed, Teff Seed, Salt, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)], Yeast, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Dough Conditioner [Water, Emulsifiers (Mono and Diglycerides, DATEM), Guar Gum, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavor, Enzymes], Contains 2% or less of the following: Oat Hydrocolloid (Oat Bran, Oat Fiber), Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Natural and Artificial Flavor; Fried Egg: Egg Whites, Water, Egg Yolks, Modified Corn Starch, Natural Sauteed Flavor (Soybean Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Natural Flavor), Salt, Artificial Butter Flavor (Propylene Glycol, Artificial Flavor), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Coarse Ground Black Pepper; Guacamole Spread: Hass Avocado, Tomato, Onion, Salt, Lime Juice Concentrate, Cilantro, Jalapeno Pepper, Garlic, Jalapeno Powder; Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese: Pasteurized Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Color); Bacon: Pork, cured with: Water, Sugar, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.May contain trace amounts of Soy.

First we need to point out the instances of natural and artificial flavor found in this list. Then we need to emphasize the use of artificial butter flavor made of propylene glycol and artificial flavor which we find especially disturbing. We also don’t understand the need for natural sauteed flavor, either. Both the natural sauteed flavor and the artificial butter flavor are in the eggs, which for some reason have a rather long list of ingredients. This seems to be a fast food trend and is something that most people should find off-putting, to say the least.

Both the nutrition facts and the ingredients are fairly standard for a fast food breakfast sandwich. There’s nothing good here, no matter how appealing the sandwich might appear.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/sandwiches/breakfastsandwiches/bacon_guacamole.html

The third hottest pepper in the world now in your french fries …. Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s

wendys-new-logo (1)Some of us like a little heat in our food sometimes. Tabasco sauce can be fun added to a burger. Jalapenos in a taco or added to a sauce can give food a kick — and also some additional flavor. But how much heat is too much heat?

Wendy’s has introduced Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries. Unless they’ve added almost no real ghost peppers in this dish, odds are very few people will be able to enjoy it, even if they’re big fans of hot food. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show that features ghost peppers, you’ll see chefs boil the peppers, discard them and use just a few tablespoons of the liquid in the dish they’re preparing. Even then, the finished product can be too hot for some to handle. And with good reason.

In 2007, Guinness World Records certified that the ghost pepper was the world’s hottest chili pepper, 900.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce; the ghost chili is rated at more than 1 million Scoville heat units (SHUs). Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 SHUs. However, the bhut jolokia was superseded by the Trinidad moruga scorpion in 2012 ]which was in turn replaced by the “Carolina Reaper” on December 26, 2013.

That makes the ghost pepper the third hottest chili in the world. Imagine a pepper that’s over 900 times as hot as Tabasco sauce. Then imagine including it in a dish for fast food consumers, who may not understand the punch this pepper can pack.

Our suspicion is that there’s little, if any, ghost peppers in these new Wendy’s fries. So let’s investigate a little and see what we can find out.

Small French Fries: Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (contains one or more of the following oils: canola, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, corn), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (to maintain natural color). Cooked in Soybean Oil, Vegetable Oil (may contain one or more of the following: canola, corn, cottonseed), Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid (preservative), Dimethylpolysiloxane (anti-foaming agent). Cooked in the same oil as menu items that contain Wheat, Egg, and Fish (where available). Seasoned with Sea Salt. Cheddar Cheese Sauce Water, Cheddar Cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), Milk Ingredients, Cream Cheese (pasteurized milk and cream, cheese culture, salt, carob bean gum), Modified Cornstarch, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Whey, Sodium Phosphate, Cream, Cheese Culture, Milk Fat, Parmesan Cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzyme), Butter, Sodium Phosphate, Salt And Sea Salt, Sodium Alginate, Carob Bean Gum, Mono & Diglycerides, Annatto And Apocarotenal (for color), Lactic Acid. CONTAINS: MILK. Cheddar Cheese, Shredded Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Potato Starch and Powdered Cellulose (to prevent caking), Natamycin (natural mold inhibitor). CONTAINS: MILK. Ghost Pepper Sauce Soybean Oil, Sour Cream (cream, modified corn starch, lactic acid, gelatin, guar gum, mono and diglycerides, sodium phosphate, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], acetic acid, citric acid, phosphoric acid, natural and artificial flavors), Buttermilk, Jalapeno Pepper, Egg Yolk, Salt, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Cilantro, Sugar, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Onion (dehydrated), Oleoresin Paprika, Garlic (dehydrated), Acetic Acid, Ghost Pepper, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Oleoresin Rosemary. CONTAINS: EGG, MILK. Diced Jalapenos Jalapenos.

The Ghost Pepper sauce actually contains more jalapeno pepper than ghost pepper — which is the fifth ingredient to last in the list. And that list, just for the ghost pepper sauce, contains 34 ingredients. Without any percentages given for the use of the actual pepper, it’s difficult to understand why the fries carry any sort of ghost pepper moniker. There are natural and artificial flavors used and those must be to mimic the flavor of something (probably peppers.)

The new Jalapeno Ghost Pepper Fries from Wendy’s have very little to do with ghost peppers. This is marketing ploy to generate consumer interest for a new product. While we’re sure the fries do have a kick of heat, eating these has little resemblance, if any, to eating any dish prepared with ghost peppers. Foodfacts.com likes trying new and interesting foods. We even enjoy a little heat every now and again. But we also like transparency regarding the foods we choose to consume. Wendy’s isn’t doing that here. We’d probably be saying no to this anyway, just based on the length and content of the ingredient list. But the idea that there’s barely any ghost pepper in a sauce for which the fries are named seals the deal. Not trying this one.

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