Category Archives: Junk Food

Introducing Oreo’s newest flavor: Pumpkin Spice Oreos

sgfwpemysfg3byqk9ijwMaybe the fall flavor craze has really gone too far now. We’re sorry but we really can’t imagine Oreo lovers hoping for a Pumpkin Spice flavored Oreo. It just doesn’t seem incredibly appealing. But it’s also possible that FoodFacts.com has been overwhelmed with everything pumpkin related this season.

That said, we are admittedly not thrilled with this idea. And, admittedly, we’ve been underwhelmed by previous Oreo flavor introductions. For instance the Cookie Dough Oreo wasn’t particularly tasty — and it didn’t make much sense to us. Cookie Dough flavored cream stuffed between two cookies. Did anyone else notice a redundancy there?

Here at FoodFacts.com we take our responsibility of informing our community about what’s really in the foods they’re eating very seriously. So if you’re among the millions of consumers who just can’t say no to pumpkin-spice anything and these cookies seem like a great idea to you, we thought you’d be interested in the ingredients used to create this latest fall “innovation.”

Ingredients: Sugar, Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine, Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid, Palm and/or Canola Oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Artificial Color (Yellow 5 Lake, Red 40 Lake, Blue 3 Lake), Paprika Oleoresin (Color)

We’d like to call your attention to the fact that there is absolutely NO PUMPKIN anywhere in that list. Oh wait, they’re PUMPKIN SPICE Oreos, not PUMPKIN Oreos. Technically that would mean that these should taste like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and anything else we use to flavor actual pumpkin pie. Funny, we don’t see any of those ingredients on the list either. We do, however, see Natural and Artificial Flavors — which of course is what the folks over at Oreos are using to impart the taste of pumpkin pie spices to the cream inside this cookie. And then, to make it look authentic (because all of those spices carry a rich, deep color), they’ve added a healthy dose of artificial colors.

We’re sorry, this ingredient list doesn’t tempt us with the flavors of the fall season. If we’re building a snowman in the winter, we want to use real snow — not fake snow from a snow machine. The same theory applies to food. The real thing doesn’t contain ingredients that have already been identified as fake, chemical creations. It wouldn’t have been that difficult to use actual spices here.

We’re sticking with the idea that if we’re craving pumpkin — or pumpkin spices, we’re going to actually make something completely out of the box — maybe a pumpkin pie — using the actual ingredients that seem to be inspiring waaaaay too many products this season. Crazy idea we’ve got there. At least we’ll know what we’re eating.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/pumpkin-spice-oreos-the-snacktaku-review/

Another new addition to the Dunkin breakfast lineup … the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

1408610202117Dunkin’ Donuts has added yet another option to its already packed breakfast menu … the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich. You’ve probably seen the commercials focusing on the spicy andouille sausage that’s the main sandwich feature.

So if you’ve been thinking that you might want to give this one a try, FoodFacts.com thought you might want to take a closer look at the details.

First off we want to tell you that the main feature — the spicy andouille sausage — is actually the only feature in the sandwich. Most sandwiches aren’t quite as straightforward as this one. Which, according to your tastes, may or may not be a good thing. There’s no flavored mayonnaise, no special sauce, no upscale cheese. The Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich is simply andouille sausage, egg and American cheese on an English muffin. It would make sense that such a simple sandwich should also have a simple ingredient list, right?

Wrong.

Here’s the list:

Andouille Split Smoked Sausage: Meat Ingredients (Pork, Beef), Water, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Corn Syrup, Natural Spices, Potassium Lactate, Paprika, Natural Flavors, Sugar, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Sodium Diacetate, Sassafras, Ascorbic Acid, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Sodium Nitrite; English Muffin: Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Wheat Starch, Yeast, Sugarcane Fiber, Contains 2% or less of: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Chicory Root, Degerminated Yellow Corn Flour, Degerminated Yellow Corn Meal, Whole Wheat Durum Flour, Wheat Gluten, Vinegar, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Salt, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Fumaric Acid; 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).

That’s over 60 ingredients. And almost 20 of them are things we have no interest in consuming. Oh and we don’t care what Dunkin’ tells us — that is NOT a fried egg.

Let’s see if the nutrition facts are any better:

Calories:                           440
Fat:                                   24 grams
Saturated Fat:                   9 grams
Cholesterol:                   110 mg
Sodium:                       1140 mg

In summary, the Spicy Smoked Sausage Breakfast Sandwich doesn’t have much going for it — except maybe that it’s spicy. The ingredients are pretty bad, the nutrition facts aren’t any better and, honestly, it’s not all that interesting.

Better luck next time, Dunkin’.

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

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche

iStock_000019738970SmallWendy’s newest sandwich offering almost sounds like it shouldn’t be fast food. Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche has a rather upscale ring to it, which was probably the intent. But let’s not forget that a fast food menu item with some higher end ingredients is still a fast food menu item.

That’s certainly true here. Plus it appears to be a bit “overloaded.”

FoodFacts.com went under the bun to find a lightly breaded, boneless chicken breast, topped with horseradish Dijon sauce, sliced red onions, spring-mix greens, caramelized onion sauce and smoked Gouda cheese on a toasted brioche bun. Have to wonder if you can still find the chicken with all the “fixins” they’re including here.

Let’s look a little closer, starting with the nutrition facts:

Calories:               600
Fat:                       28 g
Saturated Fat:       8 g
Cholesterol:       100 mg
Sodium:           1550 mg

We feel it’s important to mention that most fast food consumers choose chicken sandwiches because they feel, intuitively, that chicken sandwiches are a healthier choice than burgers. Their intuition would be incorrect here. Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy quarter pound burger contains 20 less calories, 3 additional grams of fat, the same read on cholesterol and less sodium than the new Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche. Might as well have the burger.

The ingredient list for this new sandwich is huge. Take a quick look:

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. Chicken: Chicken Breast, Water, Seasoning (salt, autolyzed yeast extract, sugar, flavor, chicken, maltodextrin, gum arabic, silicon dioxide, lactic acid, sunflower oil, canola oil, dextrose, grill flavor [from canola oil], citric acid), Modified Potato Starch, Sodium Phosphates. Breaded With: Wheat Flour, Water, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Extractives of Turmeric. 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 Egg and Fish (where available). CONTAINS: WHEAT. Horseradish Dijon Spread: Soybean Oil, Water, Horseradish, Egg Yolk, Dijon Mustard (water, vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, pectin, citric acid, tartaric acid, sugar, spice), Distilled Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Sugar, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor, Garlic (dehydrated), Onion (dehydrated), Corn Syrup, Molasses, Spice, Caramel Color, Oleoresin Rosemary, Tamarind. CONTAINS: EGG. Carmelized Onion Sauce: Onions, Sugar, Rice Vinegar, Caramelized Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Contains less than 2% of Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Natural Extractives of Onion (with glycerine and other natural flavors), Salt, Xanthan Gum. Smoked Gouda Cheese: Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color, Natural Smoke Flavor. CONTAINS: MILK, Red Onion, Spring Mix Greens: Baby Lettuces (red & green Romaine, red & green oak, red & green leaf, lolla Rosa, tango), Spinach, Mizuna Arugula, Tatsoi, Red Chard, Green Chard.

That’s just too many ingredients for any one sandwich — and about a dozen of them are controversial.

So while the sandwich may sound like an upscale, “fancier” option, let’s not be fooled into thinking it’s actually a healthier option. Less than desirable nutrition facts and ingredients definitely place the new Smoked Gouda Chicken on Brioche on our avoid list. If you can’t contain your curiosity, you should hurry to your nearest Wendy’s, as thankfully, this one is only available for a limited time.

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

Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite! Junk food just might do exactly what your mother warned you about …

Assorted Junk FoodYou have at least one memory from your childhood featuring your mom or your grandmother or some other well-meaning adult admonishing you in a harsh tone. “Don’t eat that! It will spoil your appetite!” It might have been cookies, or candy or chips. Inevitably, it was very close to dinner time. And odds are, you weren’t pleased by the words.

As it turns out, junk food really might spoil your appetite — on a more permanent basis.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales Australia conducted several studies to see how junk food would impact rats’ weight and dietary preferences. Of course, they found the obvious—junk food “makes rats fat.” But they also determined that junk food-fed rats experienced a reduced desire for novel foods, which is important as this appetitive tendency, innate in animals, typically encourages rats’ to pursue a balanced diet.

“Eating junk food seems to change the response to signals that are associated with food reward,” commented Prof. Margaret Morris, Head of Pharmacology from the UNSW Australia’s School of Medical Sciences and a study co-author.

How did the researchers come to this conclusion?

For several weeks, the team fed one group of animals a diet of healthy rat food, and they fed another group of rats a diet that included not-so-healthy human foods such as pie, dumplings, cookies and cake. Both groups of rats were also given cherry and grape sugar water to drink. The junk food-fed rats wound up weighing 10 percent more than their healthy food-fed counterparts.

In one of the experiments, the team taught these rats to associate cherry and grape sugar water with different sound cues. The healthy rats responded appropriately to the sound cues—that is, if they had just consumed grape sugar water and then heard another cue for grape sugar water, they wouldn’t drink more of it. Junk food-fed rats, on the other hand, would respond to sound cues in an unhealthy manner—if they heard a noise associated with grape sugar water, they would drink said sugar water even if they had just consumed a lot of it. (The same findings hold for cherry sugar water.)

In other words, it appears junk food-fed rats don’t seem to realize when they’ve overindulged in a food (the flavored sugar water); instead, they respond to the sound cues just the same, whereas healthy rats stop responding to the food they just ate.

“We know a lot about food and nutrition and what we should be doing, and yet we’re getting fatter and fatter,” Morris says. “Our sort of diet appears to override an animal’s ability to know it’s just eaten something—they’re just eating indiscriminately, if you will.”

In another experiment, the researchers wanted to see whether the apparent disruption of the reward mechanism persisted after the junk food-fed rats were placed on a healthy diet. Even after a week on healthy rat chow, the formerly junk food-fed rats still acted the same way, treating both solutions indiscriminately, according to Morris.

“It suggests that whatever changes happen in the brain may persist for a while,” she says.

The study, while pertaining to rats, has a lot of troubling implications for humans. Rat behavior often gives insight into human behavior—which means we should think deeply about junk food’s psychological and public health impacts.

Science is constantly offering us new perspectives on our health and our foods. FoodFacts.com can say with confidence that those new perspectives simply uphold what nutritionists, dietitians, researchers, and educated consumers have known all along. Junk food is nutritionally vacant. What it does provide, unfortunately, are high levels of sugar, salt and fat, contributing to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And according to the study detailed here, it can interfere with our normal tendencies to balance our diets, thus leading to more of the same. Now that’s a new perspective — not to mention yet another significant reason to stay far away from junk food.

http://www.newsweek.com/junk-food-addictive-avoid-trying-new-foods-266803

Tremendous oversight by Dairy Queen employees leads to panic and health concerns

iStock_000029610102SmallThis is a very unpleasant story … but one that needs to be told because fast food consumers should be aware of the possible health risks that can exist at any fast food location that have nothing to do with the fat, calories, salt, sugar or bad ingredients.

A pretty frightening incident occurred for a Colorado woman and her son when they ordered a vanilla shake from a Dairy Queen and instead got ice cream with some floor cleaner in it.

Lisa Chase said she ordered the shake at a Dairy Queen location in the town of Thornton and gave it to her son. It didn’t take long for the boy to start complaining that the treat felt like it was burning his tongue.

“Something was, like, bubbling on my tongue,” Riley Chase said, adding that the bubbling was accompanied with a burning sensation.

Apparently, the shake contained more than just ice cream. Along with the dairy and vanilla-flavored ingredients, the shake also contained floor cleaner and a degreasing concentrate.

“You couldn’t even taste the ice cream in it,” said Lisa Chase. “It tasted like you were drinking a very strong cleanser. Then, the burn started instantly.”

The cleaner that Riley ingested contains sodium hydroxide that can cause internal burns, vomiting and even shock.

While her son is already feeling better, following a trip to the hospital, Lisa Chase is worried that others may not have been so lucky.

“Now they admitted it’s two since I was there… now it’s up to three people. They need to be held accountable for what they’re doing,” she said.

The owner of the Dairy Queen franchise in Thornton said the incident was a terrible accident. Apparently, one employee was soaking the vanilla syrup container in the cleaner when another worker picked it up believing it was clean, and filled it with syrup.

The owner also said he has contacted the Health Department and poison control, and that both employees have been disciplined for failing to follow proper procedure.

When you think about this situation, it’s (sadly) easy to see how it could have happened. FoodFacts.com is, frankly, curious as to how we haven’t heard about something like this before. And while, it’s certainly not a possibility any of us might like to consider, it’s absolutely something for which fast food consumers should be on the alert. This is a mistake that is far too easy to make — especially with lines of consumers waiting for their orders and workers trying to keep up with them. So, if you aren’t making vanilla shakes in your blender with your own ice cream and milk, it’s important to be aware of this potentially deadly mistake that could so easily be repeated anywhere.

http://www.kutv.com/news/features/national/stories/vid_6698.shtml

Dunkin Donuts Celebrates Shark Week

Happy Young Child Eating Doughnut at Coffee ShopThe Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is the longest running cable television programming event in history. Every summer since 1988 we’ve been welcoming programming about sharks — and shark attacks — into our living rooms. Its beginnings as educational television have evolved somewhat over the years with more entertainment-oriented programming.

It’s become so entertainment-oriented that this year, Dunkin Donuts has gotten in on the act. They’ve struck up a partnership with the Discovery Channel, stating in their press release that “this year, Shark Week runs on Dunkin.”

Introducing the Shark Bite donut.

If you’re wondering how on earth Dunkin can bring the flavor of the ocean to a donut — well, thankfully, they didn’t. This one is pure promotion. The Shark Bite donut is simply a yeast donut decorated to look like a life preserver with bright red and white icing. The promotional aspect is a contest inviting customers to “Take a Bite, Take a Pic.” Contestants are asked to share a selfie taking a bite out of their favorite Dunkin breakfast item on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #DDSharkWeek to become eligible to win prizes that include a $100 Dunkin Donuts Card and a Shark Week Prize Pack. Selfies will be shared on Shark After Dark, the final evening talk programming closing out each day of Shark Week.

Sounds like fun. But what about that Shark Bite donut?

Sorry, but it’s not as much fun as the contest. Let’s take a look at the ingredient list:

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; White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor; Red Icing: [White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor; Red Coloring: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Carrageenan Gum, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid; May Contain FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Blue 2, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 6, FD&C Yellow 5].

In case you don’t feel like counting them out, that’s about 18 controversial ingredients — all for a yeast donut that looks like a life preserver. While FoodFacts.com can’t be sure, we do think there’s a possibility that if a shark took an exploratory bite out of this donut, it might just spit it out.

http://news.dunkindonuts.com/Press-Releases/SHARK-WEEK-RUNS-ON-DUNKIN-DUNKIN-DONUTS-AND-DISCOVERY-CHANNEL-PARTNER-FOR-SOCIAL-PROGRAMMING-DI-4ba.aspx

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Shark%20Bite%20Donut

Under the Bun: Burger King’s A.1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 11.23.08 AMThe world of fast food is an incredibly competitive arena and every manufacturer attempts to stay ahead of the pack with new product introductions. Unfortunately, most of those introductions don’t make the cut here at FoodFacts.com. Burger King certainly hasn’t been an exception in this regard. And they’ve been pretty busy this summer introducing a number of new menu items to their already crowded selection.

Let’s go under the bun tonight with the latest from Burger King and take a closer look at the new A.1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger.

According to the Burger King website, this new creation features two 1⁄4 lb. savory fire-grilled beef patties, topped with thick-cut smoked bacon, melted American cheese, and featuring savory A.1 Thick & Hearty sauce, all on a warm, toasted, Artisan bun. They do manage to make the new cheeseburger sound especially appealing. But how appealing is it really, beyond the mouth-watering description?

We’ve got the nutrition facts for the A.1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger for you here — and our immediate answer to that last question is “not very appealing at all.” We’ll admit it, we aren’t really surprised. Take a look:

Calories:                     850
Fat:                             51 g
Trans Fat:                    3 g
Saturated Fat:           22 g
Cholesterol:              140 mg
Sodium: 1                 480 mg

Wow. This new cheeseburger is junk food overload. There’s only one burger on the Burger King menu that can actually claim worse nutrition facts than the A.1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger and that’s the Triple Whopper. To be honest, we can’t really imagine anyone consuming either.

Consider that the RDI for fat based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet is 65 grams, saturated fat is 20 grams, cholesterol 200 mg and sodium 2400 mg. If you eat the new A.1 Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger for lunch, you really don’t have much room left for anything else in your diet that day. And we didn’t even get to the french fries yet!

Not touching this one. Sorry, Burger King.

http://www.bk.com/en/us/menu-nutrition/lunch-and-dinner-menu-202/fire-grilled-burgers-and-sandwiches-220/a-1-and-reg-ultimate-bacon-cheeseburger-m2740/index.html

Can junk food destroy your sense of smell?

iStock_000014140533SmallWe’re all pretty comfortable with the knowledge that junk food is bad for our health. We know that an unhealthy diet has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Junk food isn’t just nutritionally vacant, it has known negative health effects that severely debilitate lifestyles and can result in serious medical problems and even death. But are there other problems that can result from the consumption of junk food that we haven’t been aware of?

A new study has revealed eating junk food could increase the risk of a person destroying their sense of smell.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, show diet may impact a range of human traits apart from weight.

Dr Nicolas Thiebaud, of Florida State University, said: ‘This opens up a lot of possibilities for obesity research.’

It is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate a firm link between a bad diet and a loss of smell.

In the six-month study mice were given a high-fat daily diet, while also being taught to associate between an odour and a reward of a drink of water.

Mice given the food were slower to learn the association than a control group given their usual meals.

And when researchers introduced a new fragrance to monitor their adjustment, the mice with the high-fat diets could not rapidly adapt, demonstrating reduced ability to smell.
Fellow researcher Professor Debra Ann Fadool said: ‘Moreover, when high-fat reared mice were placed on a diet of control chow – during which they returned to normal body weight and blood chemistry – they still had reduced olfactory [smell] capacities.

Scientists at Florida State University found links between a high-fat diet and major structural and functional changes in the nasal system

‘Mice that were exposed to high-fat diets just had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odour signals.’

The team will now begin looking at whether exercise could slow down a high-fat diet’s impact on smell.

They will also investigate if a high-sugar diet would also have the same negative effect.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the study comes at an important time with obesity rates at all time highs throughout the world.

It certainly appears that the effects of junk food reach further than any of us expected. FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder whether there may be other damaging effects related to junk food consumption that haven yet to be uncovered.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2701382/Junk-food-destroy-sense-SMELL-scientists-warn.html#ixzz39TgEfjmW

Is junk food part of the USDA’s new school nutrition standards?

Dinner for dozensHere at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about the nutritional uselessness of junk food. We’ve also spent a considerable amount of blog space talking about the new School nutritional standards and how they do seem to be improving the cafeteria consumption of our kids throughout the country. Today, however, we read about an interesting turn of events regarding those new nutritional standards and junk food. It’s fascinating how food manufacturers easily adapt to new definitions and how easily standards can be “bent.”

This week in Boston, the School Nutrition Association held a meeting where food manufacturers exhibited their new and “acceptable” products.

It appears that from the kinds of junk-food products exhibited, you would never know that the SNA was at war with the White House over USDA’s nutrition standards for school meals.

Food companies seem to have had no problem coming up with look-alike products that meet USDA standards:

More than 400 exhibitors showed off their innovations designed to meet the Department of Agriculture’s new regulations…PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, Quaker and Lays, has a long list of products that meet the new rules, including Reduced Fat Doritos and Cheetos, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Munchies. Windsor Foods, which specializes in food service, has come up with whole grain-rich egg rolls that the company says kids love.

General Mills displayed a modified version of Chex Mix, a whole grain Betty Crocker cookie and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal bar: “Snacks so good, kids won’t know they’re nutritious,” according to the marketing flyers.

While the changes to lunch standards may be giving many school nutrition professionals fits, the food manufacturing industry is drooling over the opportunity to gain more sales inside what has been described as the nation’s largest restaurant: The school lunch program serves 30 million kids each day and represents a $30 billion per year market for the food industry, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The SNA benefits from the food industry’s enthusiasm in school lunches. The largest chunk of the group’s revenue is generated at its annual conference, which brought in $4.7 million in 2012. The association charges $15,000 to sponsor an education session track featuring a company representative and $20,000 to put company logos on hotel key cards.

To understand what this is about, take a look at the Public Health Advocacy Institute’s report on Copycat Snacks in Schools. The “better for you” versions are sold in schools, but you can hardly tell the difference between those and the “not so good for you” commercial versions from the nearly identical packages.

How can food and beverage companies get away with this? This is the result of USDA’s setting nutrient-based, rather than food-based standards for school meals. Setting nutrient standards allows food companies to tweak the formulas to give the USDA what it requires.

Better-for-you Chex Mix, reduced-fat Doritos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars. Did anyone at the SNA take a look at the ingredient lists of these “improved” snack products? Do the terms “reduced fat” and “whole grain” completely define a product as nutritionally beneficial? We already know that package terminology means little in the grocery aisles. So why should those terms make a difference in school cafeterias? It’s not just the food industry that can do better here. It’s the School Nutrition Association and the USDA as well. Just our two cents.

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2014/07/school-nutrition-association-junk-foods-galore-but-they-meet-usdas-nutrition-standards/

Is it a quesadilla? Is it a burrito? It’s both — the new Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell QuesaritoWe’re living in a world of mash-ups. Music mash-ups are making headlines. Two or more different musical genres making their way into one recording often create a brand new listening experience. Artists of different eras have come together to bring new meaning to old songs. Website mash-ups bring together different technical functions to bring us new processes and performance. Some things can be brought together easily with amazing results.

And some things can’t. And that about sums up the new Taco Bell Quesarito.

Think about this. A cheese quesadilla is cheese melted between two soft taco shells. A burrito is meat, rice, cheese and typically beans rolled inside a soft taco shell. So now lets take that quesadilla and roll the burrito filling inside it. We’ll leave out the cheese in that filling and replace it with chipotle sauce and sour cream. Maybe it’s just as, but FoodFacts.com really can’t wrap our heads around the combination. It just doesn’t sound appetizing. Instead it sounds more like a wet, gooey roll with beef and rice. In all fairness we haven’t tasted it … and we’re not going to. For us, this is one mash-up we’ll be happy to miss.

Just in case you want to try it, though, we thought we should fill you in on the nutrition facts for the Quesarito.

Calories:                          650
Fat:                                  34 g.
Saturated Fat:                12 g.
Cholesterol:                    60 mg.
Sodium:                          1450 mg.

The quick assessment for the Quesarito is that the facts are just not good. But let’s go a little further. You can actually eat a Big Mac (which is definitely not a healthy choice) for better nutritional value. Specifically a Big Mac contains 100 less calories, 6 fewer grams of fat, 2 less grams of saturated fat and and 480 fewer mg. of sodium. The only thing the Big Mac gives you more of is cholesterol.

So not only do we not think this odd mash-up works, even bad fast food is better for you (even if it’s only minimally). Taco Bell, this is really just a bad interpretation of Mexican food. It doesn’t work.

http://www.tacobell.com/food/menuitem/quesarito?gclid=COGswdeh_b4CFUNgMgodYykAgA