Category Archives: fast food

Are full-service restaurants healthier choices than fast food chains? Not really.

Spanish_Eating_Out_070615Here at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about how unhealthy fast food restaurants are. We talk about calorie and fat levels. We’re continually shocked by the amount of sodium packed into one hamburger. And we always want to stay far away from ingredient lists that could possibly double as science experiments.

Many people assume that any food that isn’t fast food has to be better for you. We’ll admit that it’s a logical assumption. A full-service restaurant has an actual chef. The food doesn’t arrive already prepared and frozen. It’s prepared in a real kitchen, and it’s fresh. That has to make a difference, right? Read on.

When Americans go out to eat, either at a fast-food outlet or a full-service restaurant, they consume, on average, about 200 more calories a day than when they stay home for meals, a new study reports. They also take in more fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium than those who prepare and eat their meals at home.

These are the findings of University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Ruopeng An, who analyzed eight years of nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics. An looked at 2003-10 data collected from 18,098 adults living in the U.S.

His analysis, reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that eating at a restaurant is comparable to — or in some cases less healthy than — eating at a fast-food outlet. While people who eat at restaurants tend to take in more healthy nutrients — including certain vitamins, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids — than those who eat at home or at a fast-food outlet, the restaurant diners also consume substantially more sodium and cholesterol — two nutrients that Americans generally eat in excess, even at home.

“People who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol per day than people who ate at home,” An said. “This extra intake of cholesterol, about 58 milligrams per day, accounts for 20 percent of the recommended upper bound of total cholesterol intake of 300 milligrams per day.”

Those who ate at fast-food outlets also took in extra cholesterol, but only about 10 milligrams more than those who ate at home.
Fast-food and restaurant diners consumed about 10 grams more total fat, and 3.49 grams and 2.46 grams, respectively, more saturated fat than those who dined at home.

“The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats one eats to less than 5 to 6 percent of one’s total daily calories,” An said. “That means that if one needs about 2,000 calories a day, less than 120 calories, or 13 grams, should come from saturated fats.”

Eating at a fast-food outlet adds about 300 milligrams of sodium to one’s daily intake, and restaurant dining boosts sodium intake by 412 milligrams per day, on average, An said. Recommendations for sodium intake vary between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day, but Americans already consume more than 3,100 milligrams of sodium at home, he found.

“The additional sodium is even more worrisome because the average daily sodium intake among Americans is already so far above the recommended upper limit, posing a significant public health concern, such as hypertension and heart disease,” he said.

“These findings reveal that eating at a full-service restaurant is not necessarily healthier than eating at a fast-food outlet,” An said. “In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast-food. My advice to those hoping to consume a healthy diet and not overeat is that it is healthier to prepare your own foods, and to avoid eating outside the home whenever possible.”

The conclusion emphasizes what FoodFacts.com has been saying for years. Fresh, whole foods prepared in your own home kitchen are the healthiest option for all of us. As we become busier and busier in a world that becomes increasingly more sophisticated and complicated, it is so important for us all to carve out time every day focusing on ourselves. We’ve already got the hang of that in some areas. Folks who go to the gym, for instance, do that pretty successfully. But we’ve got to commit to time to prepare meals, as well. We’ll all be better off for the effort.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150701123350.htm

The Extra Long Pulled Pork Sandwich … the latest “less bad” option from Burger King

urlIn a sea of really bad food choices, any fast food menu option that boasts mostly reasonable nutrition facts and a mostly reasonable ingredient list quickly become a stand out. We were surprised to find that Burger King’s latest, the Extra Long Pulled Pork Sandwich is that kind of menu item. While FoodFacts.com isn’t going to tell our community that this sandwich is finally the healthy option you’ve been waiting for from Burger King, we can tell you that it’s “less bad” and, in a pinch, that can be important. Let’s take a look.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                       370
Fat:                                8 grams
Saturated Fat:             2.5 grams
Sodium:                       1290 grams

The only thing that goes overboard here is the sodium – and it’s not small. This is one salty sandwich and it certainly doesn’t leave much room to season the rest of your food for the day. But calorie and fat content are very reasonable.

Ingredients:
PORK PULLED WITH SAUCE, FULLY COOKED, SMOKED: Pork, Barbeque Sauce (Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Tomato Paste, Distilled Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Modified Food Starch, Mustard (Water, Vinegar, Mustard Bran, Salt), Natural Smoke Flavor, Tamarind Extract, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Caramel Color, Spices, Ground Paprika, Malic Acid, Tomato Powder, Citric Acid, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder). SPECIALTY BUNS: Enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (Vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), folic acid], water, high fructose corn syrup, sesame seeds, yeast, soybean oil, salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, calcium propionate (preservative), flaxseeds, mono- and diglycerides, datem, citric acid, potassium iodate, soy lecithin. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND SOY, Onions, Pickles

This certainly isn’t the best ingredient list we’ve ever seen. To be honest though, there are plenty of fast food options that are much, much worse. While we’re not a fan, we do need to acknowledge that most burgers contain plenty more than four controversial ingredients.

So, what’s the verdict? We don’t think this should be on anyone’s “must-eat” list. If there are special circumstances however — say you’re on the road and the only restaurant options for the next 200 miles happen to be fast food, Burger King’s new Extra Long Pulled Pork Sandwich is “less bad” than a Whopper. That’s something, at least.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/extra-long-pulled-pork-sandwich

Papa John’s gets onboard, committing to the removal of artificial ingredients by the end of 2016

Papa-JohnsIn an effort to respond to consumer demand and position Papa John’s as a leader in the fast-casual restaurant business, the chain has followed others and committed to the removal of artificial ingredients by the end of next year. FoodFacts.com is happy to see yet another power-house brand listening to consumer voices and acting in the best interest of the folks that keep their business thriving.

Papa John’s International Inc. has long used the slogan “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.”

With a growing number of restaurant chains making public commitments to the quality of their food, the nation’s third largest pizza chain has released a list of 14 ingredients it has committed to remove from its menu items by the end of 2016. It also launched a marketing campaign that compares its ingredient list to Panera Bread and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Papa John’s launched a website this week that lists itself, Panera and Chipotle as “leading clean ingredient brands.” It tallies the ingredients that it doesn’t have on its menu compared with the two fast-casual chains, which lead the industry in terms of reputation for sourcing ingredients responsibly.

Papa John’s also ran an ad in USA Today Thursday that made the same comparison. The ad is in the form of “A letter to the moms and dads of America,” from Papa John’s founder, chairman, president and CEO John Schnatter.

“I have a question for you: What’s your child’s favorite food?” it begins.

“I bet a lot of you would answer ‘pizza,’ right?

“We all love having those Friday night family pizza dinners. But you’re also concerned that your children are eating balanced meals and foods full of good, quality ingredients.

“Well, I’m a parent too (and recently a grandparent). Let me be clear about this. I’m not going to serve people in our restaurants things I would not serve my family at home.”

The ingredients to be removed include artificial flavors and colors, corn syrup and corn syrup solids, hydrolyzed soy protein and corn protein, and sodium benzoate.

Papa John’s has already removed trans fats, monosodium glutamate, and the preservatives BHA and BHT from its menu.

Panera Bread Co. launched a similar campaign last week highlighting “food as it should be,” which included newspaper advertisements in the form of a letter from founder, chairman and CEO Ron Shaich, who urged customers to “Demand transparency and cleaner menus.”

Chipotle has long used the tagline “Food With Integrity” to describe its sourcing philosophy, which includes purchasing meat from animals that are not treated with antibiotics. Earlier this year, it also said it would remove ingredients made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, from its food.

Other large restaurant chains have also recently made claims or commitments regarding their food sourcing.

Last year, Chick-fil-A Inc. committed to removing chicken treated with antibiotics within the next five years, and in March, McDonald’s committed to removing chicken treated with antibiotics that are also used to treat humans within the next two years. McDonald’s, the country’s largest restaurant chain, also said it would work to curb antibiotic use in other foods, including beef and pork, and to offer in its kids’ Happy Meals low-fat milk and fat-free chocolate milk from cows that had not been treated with the growth hormone rBST.

Consumer sentiment … it just might be cleaning up the fast food and fast casual industry one chain at a time.

http://nrn.com/health-nutrition/papa-john-s-remove-artificial-ingredients-menu

Burger King’s Fully Loaded Crossan’wich … not the best way to start your day

Croissanwich_Loaded_desktopYou’ll probably never see FoodFacts.com advocating for anyone to choose a fast food breakfast sandwich over an actual, prepared-at-home-in-your-own-kitchen breakfast. Unless and until the food world changes drastically, we remain firmly in the “avoid” camp. Still, we know that sometimes, even nutritionally conscious people end up in situations that present them with few choices. If you’re ever in one of those situations and somehow end up in the nearest Burger King, take the Fully Loaded Crossan’wich off your list of possibilities.

It’s that bad. Here’s what our investigation turned up:

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                      640
Fat:                               42 grams
Saturated Fat:            16 grams
Sodium:                      1740 mg

This breakfast sandwich seriously resembles a burger. The nutrition facts are that bad. This is an excessive breakfast, even for fast food. Among bad choices, this sandwich is a bad choice. Let’s find out what’s really in there:
Ingredients:
CROISSANT: Enriched Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Margarine [Palm Oil, Water, Soybean Oil, Sugar, Soybean Lecithin with Mono- and Diglycerides added, Potassium Sorbate and Citric Acid (preservatives), Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Palmitate], High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Salt, Sweet Whey, Dough Conditioner [Calcium Sulfate, Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Monoglyceride (DATEM), Ammonium Sulfate, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide], Calcium Propionate, Natural and Artificial Butter Flavor, Modified Cornstarch. HAM: Ham cured with: Water, Dextrose, Contains 2% or less of salt, sodium lactate, sodium phosphate, natural smoke flavoring, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, coated with caramel coloring. MILD SAUSAGE: Pork, Salt, Spices, Corn Syrup Solids, Dextrose, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Grill Flavor (from Soybean Oil). THICK SLICED BACON: Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. EGG PATTY – FULLY COOKED: Whole Egg, Whey, Soybean Oil, Salt, Natural and Artificial Butter Flavor, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acide, Annatto (color). AMERICAN CHEESE (PASTEURIZED PROCESS): Cultured Milk, Water, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Sodium Phosphate, Artificial Color, Enzymes, Acetic Acid, Soy Lecithin.

Too many ingredients. Too many controversial ingredients. Too many calories. Too much fat. Too much saturated fat. Too much sodium.

Burger King needs to get its act together and begin to respond to consumer demand for healthier fast food. The Fully Loaded Crossan’wich is poised to take a shot at our health and well being. We think it needs to be disarmed.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/fully-loaded-crossanwich

Burger King’s A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Cheeseburger … a flame grilled fast food problem

A1_Hearty_Mozzarella_detailSome new fast food offerings are easy to identify as bad choices simply by their name.
FoodFacts.com puts the new Burger King A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Cheeseburger squarely in that category. There’s very little way to imagine that this could be remotely passable as a “less bad” fast food option.

It gets worse when you read the description on their website: “Features two ¼ lb. savory flame-grilled beef patties, topped with thick-cut smoked bacon, melted Mozzarella cheese, fresh chopped lettuce, crisp cut onions, and featuring savory A.1.®Thick & Hearty sauce, all on a warm, toasted, brioche-style bun.” Bacon, mozzarella, A1 sauce, brioche style bun. FoodFacts.com could easily be reading: controversial ingredients, extra fat and calories, controversial ingredients, controversial ingredients.

Let’s find out what’s in there:

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                      800
Fat:                               48 grams
Saturated Fat:            21 grams
Sodium:                      1420 mg.

That’s a lot of calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium for one burger. We didn’t even get to the fries yet – which will most certainly push the sodium content of this meal well over the daily recommended intake. It’s pretty bad.

What do the ingredients look like?

BRIOCHE-STYLE BUN: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Yeast, Dried Honey Blend (Cane Refinery Syrup and Honey), Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Natural Flavors, Monoglycerides, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes, Sunflower Oil, Vegetable Proteins, Wheat Maltodextrins, Calcium Phosphate, Wheat Dextrose, Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Calcium propionate (to retard spoilage). HAMBURGER PATTIES : 100% USDA inspected Ground Beef (Fire-Grilled), THICK SLICED BACON: Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. MOZZARELLA CHEESE SLICED (PROCESSED): Cultured Milk, Skim Milk, Water, Cream, Whey, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavor, Enzymes, Soy Lecithin, A.1.® STEAK SAUCE: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Raisin Paste, Orange Puree, Spice, Xanthan Gum, Dried Onions, Dried Garlic, Caramel Color., Lettuce, Onion

While FoodFats.com can understand that this new burger might sound good to some, we’re really unhappy with the nutrition facts and the ingredient list certainly leaves something to be desired.

It’s summertime. Get out and fire up a grill. Choose some healthy toppings for your burger. Change it up with turkey or chicken. You’ll be doing your body a healthy favor. We’re also positive it will taste a lot better, too.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/1-hearty-mozzarella-cheeseburger

Pretzels and eggs for breakfast

1432222288095We’ll admit it. FoodFacts.com really doesn’t get the allure of the pretzel roll. It’s obvious, though, that we’re in the minority on this issue. Everywhere you look, there’s a fast food or fast casual chain introducing a sandwich on a pretzel roll. We’ve actually even seen delis offering sandwiches on pretzel rolls. It’s a thing. And it looks like it’s a thing that’s here to stay.

Considering that statement, it makes perfect sense that Dunkin Donuts is now offering a breakfast sandwich on a pretzel roll. Kind of like having pretzels and eggs for breakfast. Sort of.

If the idea sounds appealing to you, we’re sure you want to know exactly what you’re eating before you decide to indulge. So let’s take a look inside the new Bacon, Egg and Cheese Pretzel Roll Sandwich from Dunkin.

Nutrition Facts:
Calories:                       400 calories
Fat:                                13 grams
Saturated Fat:              6 grams
Sodium:                        1110 mg

46% of your daily sodium in one sandwich. So it’s a little on the salty side. Other than that, it’s a pretty typical breakfast sandwich.

Pretzel Roll: Roll: Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid),Water, Sugar, Nonfat Dry Milk, Yeast, Palm Oil, Salt, Dough Conditioner (Wheat Flour, DATEM, Contains 2% or less of: Soybean Oil, Enzymes, Ascorbic Acid, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Azodicarbonamide), Wheat Gluten, Shelf Life Extender (Wheat Flour, Monoglycerides, Wheat Gluten, Corn Syrup Solids, Contains 2% or less of: Silicon Dioxide to prevent caking, Soybean Oil, Enzymes, Calcium Sulfate, Salt), Natural Pretzel Flavor (Glycerin, Natural Flavor, Water), Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Azodicarbonamide, Ascorbic Acid; Contains traces of Egg; Lye solution is applied as Surface Finishing Agent, Soy Lecithin added as a Processing Aid; Topping: Pretzel Salt; 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; Cheese: American Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Dry Cream, Milkfat, Sodium Citrate, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Annatto and Oleoresin Paprika Color (if colored), Soy Lecithin (non-sticking agent); Bacon: Pork, cured with: Water, Sugar, Salt, Sodium Phosphate, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

Maybe there’s a good reason that FoodFacts.com hasn’t been able to get behind the pretzel roll band wagon. Maybe we’re just really intuitive around here. That’s a pretty bad ingredient list.

We don’t want pretzels with our eggs.  Can you blame us?

 

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

 

How about some cookies with that donut? Introducing the Chips Ahoy Creme Donut from Dunkin

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 3.22.47 PMWhat do you get when you cross Chips Ahoy cookies with a Dunkin Donut? Our immediate answer would be overkill. Maybe that’s just us. Honestly, the idea of a cookie flavored donut doesn’t leave us craving either the cookie or the donut. We get an overwhelming impression of too much sugar and too much dough.

In case you find yourself among the millions of consumers who won’t agree with us, we thought we should try to let you know what you’re getting yourself into with this one. Let’s take a closer look.

Nutrition Facts:

Calories:                       380
Fat:                                19 grams
Saturated Fat:             9 grams
Sugar:                           26 grams

Pretty typical donut nutrition facts. Plenty of sugar, fat and saturated fat. It’s important to keep nutrition facts in their proper perspective. FoodFacts.com didn’t expect to find fabulous nutrition facts for a donut. So there isn’t anything out of the ordinary here.

But what exactly makes the Chips Ahoy Creme Donut what it is? Here are the ingredients.

Donut: Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron as Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Enzyme, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Palm Oil, Water, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Whey (a milk derivative), Skim Milk, Yeast, Contains less than 2% of the following: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda), Defatted Soy Flour, Wheat Starch, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Enzyme, Colored with (Turmeric and Annatto Extracts, Beta Carotene), Eggs; Cookie Dough Flavored Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil), Water, Maltodextrin, Corn Syrup. Contains 2% or less of each of the following: Dextrose, Corn Starch, Molasses, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Natural Flavor, Polysorbate 60, Caramel Color, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Propionate (Preservative), Agar, Propylene Glycol, Phosphoric Acid; Chocolate Icing: Sugar, Water, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of: Dextrose, Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Agar, Artificial Flavor; Chips Ahoy!® Cookie Topping: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Semisweet Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Dextrose, Soy Lecithin), Sugar, Soybean Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Ammonium Phosphate), Salt, Whey (Milk), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Caramel Color.

That’s a lot of ingredients. And plenty of them are just bad. We don’t know many people who think that partially hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors sound like must-have breakfast fare.

We’ll skip this one. It didn’t sound very appealing to begin with and after reading the ingredient list, it actually sounds worse.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Chips+Ahoy%21+Creme+Donut

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