Category Archives: Junk Food

McDonald’s answers some questions about the McRib

HT_mcrib_beauty_jtm_141104_16x9_992Possibly the most iconic of any of the McDonald’s menu items, the McRib might just have more fans than the Big Mac. Part of its appeal comes from its limited time availability releases. Since fast food lovers can’t always have a McRib, its allure is heightened. For FoodFacts.com the McRib is not an alluring sandwich. It’s nutrition facts and ingredient list tell us to stay far away from it.

McDonald’s recently launched a new campaign called “Our Food, Your Questions” in an effort to offer consumers more transparency into exactly what’s in their menu items.

The latest dish it tackles is the popular McRib, which only makes limited-time appearances, causing fervor among its devotees. Here’s a step-by-step look at how the beloved barbecue sandwich is made.

Step 1: It begins with boneless pork shoulder.
“We have a boneless pork picnic, which is the main ingredient in the McDonald’s McRib patty,” Kevin Nanke says. “This is what we purchase and bring in to the facility to make the McRib.”

Nanke is the vice president of Lopez Foods in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which is McDonald’s USA pork supplier. All the bones and gristle from the pork shoulder are removed to prepare for grinding.

Step 2: The meat is ground and flavoring and preservatives are added.
During grinding, water, salt, dextrose and preservatives are added to the meat.
The dextrose is a type of sugar used to add sweetness, and the preservatives (BHA, propyl gallate and citric acid) help maintain the flavor, according to McDonald’s.

Step 3: The McRib shape is formed.
In the factory, the ground meat is pressed into the iconic McRib shape, meant to resemble meat and bones — except this is all meat, and the bone shape is pork as well.

Step 4: Water is sprayed on to prepare for freezing.
A fine mist of water is added to the formed McRib to prevent dehydration during freezing.

Step 5: The McRib is frozen.
The factory flash-freezes the McRib to prepare for shipment.

Step 6: The McRib is cooked.
When the McRib is at the restaurant and ready to be prepared, it’s cooked in a Panini press-type machine.

Step 7: The McRib patty is done when both sides are seared to a golden brown.
Food safety, quality and regulatory technicians at Lopez Foods regularly make test batches for quality assurance.

Step 8: After it’s seared, the cooked McRib marinates in barbecue sauce.
The barbecue sauce has a lot of ingredients. According to McDonald’s, here they are and why:

For flavor and texture: Tomato paste, onion powder, garlic powder, chili pepper, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, natural smoke flavor (plant source), salt, sugar and spices

For flavor and as a preservative: Distilled vinegar

For thickness, body and sheen: Water, xantham gum, soybean oil, modified food starch

For color: Caramel color, beet powder

As a preservative: Sodium benzoate

Step 9: The sandwich is assembled.
First, the hoagie-style roll is toasted and layered with onions and pickles before the McRib is placed on.

McDonald’s has been criticized for using azodicarbonamide in their rolls because the same ingredient is used in non-food products, such as yoga mats. Here’s the official explanation:
“The ingredient you refer to is azodicarbonamide (ADA) and it’s sometimes used by bakers to help keep the texture of their bread consistent from batch to batch, which is why it is used in the McRib hoagie-style roll.”

“There are multiple uses for azodicarbonamide, including in some non-food products, such as yoga mats. As a result, some people have suggested our food contains rubber or plastic, or that the ingredient is unsafe. It’s simply not the case. Think of salt: the salt you use in your food at home is a variation of the salt you may use to de-ice your sidewalk. The same is true of ADA — it can be used in different ways.”

The rest of the ingredients in the roll are:

Main ingredients: Enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water

For caramelization when toasting: High fructose corn syrup

For volume and texture: Yeast, wheat gluten, enzymes, sodium stearoyl lactylate, DATEM, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono and diglycerides, calcium peroxide

For tenderness: Soybean oil

For flavor: Salt, barley and malt syrup, corn meal

For leavening: Calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate

As a preservative: Calcium proponiate

As for the other ingredients, the onions are just onions, and the pickles have multiple ingredients, all below:

Main ingredients: Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar

For flavor: Salt, natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80 (emulsifier: helps ensure that the spice blend disperses within the brine), extracts of turmeric (for color and flavor)

To maintain crisp texture: Calcium chloride, alum

As a preservative: Potassium sorbate

So McDonald’s is being upfront about the ingredients used in the McRib. And while we think it’s impressive that they’re coming forward with them, we’re honestly offended at their attempt to gloss over the use of azodicarbonamide, as well as how they’re attempting to explain away other controversial ingredients like polysorbate 80, natural flavors, caramel color and high fructose corn syrup. Intelligent consumers aren’t going to accept the idea that McDonald’s needs to use polysorbate 80 to ensure that the spice blend (or natural flavors) disperses within the pickle brine.

Instead of providing transparency, it may appear to some that McDonald’s is actually attempting to make light of the controversial ingredients consistently included in their menu items. Maybe if they tell us they are necessary, we’ll ignore them.

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/mcrib-made/story?id=26683944

Dunkin introduces the Croissant Donut

dunkinYou might remember back in 2013 the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City debuted its now famous Cronut — a unique hybrid of a croissant and a donut. To say that it took off would be an understatement. While no one has the recipe from the commercial bakery, Dominique Ansel did work out a version of his recipe for home bakers. It’s quite complicated — taking three days from start to finish. In addition, it’s REALLY unhealthy. And honestly, it should be. It’s a cross between a croissant and a donut — each of which is an unhealthy choice all by itself. Put them together in that recipe and you end up with 26 tablespoons of butter and oil as needed for deep frying. Pretty astonishing.

So when Dunkin Donuts introduces a Croissant Donut, we would assume pretty quickly that their version of this dual-action baked good is going to outdo the unhealthiest of their regular donuts. While the Croissant Donut doesn’t present the ideal nutrition facts or ingredient list, we’re pleased to tell you that it’s fairly equal to the rest of the donuts on the Dunkin menu. Let’s take a look:

Calories:                     300
Fat:                             14 grams
Saturated Fat:           8 grams
Sugar:                        12 grams

How does that stack up against the Glazed Plain Cake Donut?

It’s actually a little better. The Croissant Donut has 60 less calories, 8 fewer grams of fat, 2 fewer grams of saturated fat and 7 less grams of sugar. We’re not really sure how that’s possible if the donut is going to be flaky and buttery like a croissant. But those are the nutrition facts for the new donut.

Here are the ingredients:

Croissant Donut: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Ascorbic Acid, Folic Acid, Enzymes), Water, Unsalted Butter, Sugar, Palm Oil, Yeast, Whey Powder (Milk), Salt, Wheat Gluten; Glaze: Sugar, Water, Maltodextrin, Contains 2% or less of: Propylene Glycol, Mono and Diglycerides (Emulsifier), Cellulose Gum, Agar, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor). May contain traces of Eggs, Soy, and Tree Nuts (Pecans, Hazelnuts).

There are controversial ingredients in the Croissant Donut, but surprisingly there are fewer of them in this new offering than there are in that Glazed Plain Cake Donut.

Does FoodFacts.com think that the Croissant Donut is a healthy choice? No, we don’t. But we do have to admit that on the Dunkin Donuts menu, this is actually among the better options. We do have to point out, though, that both the nutrition facts and ingredient list do not point to buttery, flaky, fried pastry. We have to think that the original Cronut will safely hold on to its throne as the king of unhealthy hybrid fried pastry.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Croissant+Donut

Good news: Americans are eating less trans fat. The bad news is it’s still too much.

trans fat1Trans fats — the fats that pack a double whammy by lowering good cholesterol and raising the bad — has been under scrutiny for quite a while. We’re still waiting to hear news on the FDA’s proposed ban of trans fats from our food supply. That would mean the end of the use of partially hydrogenated oils in processed foods and that would, indeed, be a welcome improvement for all of us! We are, however, getting better at avoiding trans fats before any kind of ban.

There appears to be a downward trend in the amount of trans fats being consumed by Americans, according to a new study. Unfortunately, the level of consumption is still higher than is recommended by the American Heart Association.

Researchers reviewed the findings of a series of six surveys carried out as part of the Minnesota Heart Survey, from 1980-2009. The surveys included data from over 12,000 adults aged 25-74 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Intake of both trans fat and saturated fats fell during this period but was still some distance away from the levels recommended as healthy by the American Heart Association (AHA).

“There’s a downward trend in trans and saturated fat intake levels, but it’s clear that we still have room for improvement,” says Mary Ann Honors, lead author of the study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Trans fats raise low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels in the body and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol. They have been found to increase the risk of coronary heart disease – the number one cause of death in the US – along with stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The main source of trans fats in American food is in partially hydrogenated oils, created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. These trans fats are referred to as artificial trans fats.

Partially hydrogenated oils are utilized as an inexpensive way to extend the shelf life of food and improve texture and flavor stability.

Fried, processed and commercially baked goods are the main sources of artificial trans fats. Cookies, doughnuts, pastries, pies, pizzas and sticks of margarine are all regularly made using partially hydrogenated oils.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that there is no safe level of artificial trans fats consumption and so consumption should be kept as low as possible. The AHA recommend limiting trans fats to no more than 1% of total calories consumed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), avoiding artificial trans fats completely could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths in the US every year.

The researchers found that trans fat intake had decreased by around 32% in men and 35% in women over the course of the study. However, men and women still consumed 1.9% and 1.7% of their daily calories, respectively, from trans fats – significantly higher than the AHA’s recommended level.
Similarly, the intake of saturated fats dropped but levels were still much higher than what the AHA consider to be healthy. Men and women took 11.4% of their daily calories from saturated fats, whereas it is recommended that saturated fat consumption should be limited to just 5-6%.

Intake of omega-3 fatty acids was also measured and found to have not changed significantly over the last 3 decades. Omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, yet the researchers found that the current level of intake is relatively low.

“To make your diet more in line with the recommendations,” says Honors, “use the nutrition panel on food labels to choose foods with little or no trans fats.” Caution is needed; the AHA advise that products can be listed as containing 0 grams of trans fats if they contain 0-0.5 g of trans fats per serving. Look out for partially hydrogenated oils in lists of ingredients.

Although the study participants were predominantly white men and women living in a small area of the country, the authors write that similarities between their study and levels of intake reported in national data suggest their findings may generalize well to the US population.

The authors state that future research is needed in order to determine public health strategies to reduce further the levels of trans and saturated fat intake. In the meantime, the CDC suggest that eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein and low-fat or fat-free dairy products is the best way to avoid trans fat.

FoodFacts.com hopes that everyone understands that the consumption of trans fats is based on the consumption of processed foods. Fast food, packaged foods, boxed foods — avoiding these equates with avoiding trans fats. When you prepare fresh foods at home in your own kitchen, you’re not using partially hydrogenated oils in your recipes. The enormous increases in heart disease in the population have occurred simultaneously with the unprecedented increase of processed foods in our food supply. That’s not coincidental. Until some sort of regulation is put in place restricting trans fats (and probably even after), get cooking and stay healthy!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284246.php

Taco Bell making fast food faster … sort of

141028101756-taco-bell-app-620xaThese days there really is an app for everything. There are mobile coupon apps from major supermarkets, apps from manufacturers offering deals and discounts, apps for travelers looking for deals at their intended locations. The lists are endless. So it isn’t any surprise that fast food chains are introducing their own apps. Up until now, though, we haven’t been able to order from fast food restaurants directly from our smartphones. That’s all changing.

Taco Bell is the latest company to jump into the app craze.

Taco Bell has unveiled a new app that allows customers anywhere in the country to place their orders using their iPhones and Androids. They still have to go the restaurant to pick up their Doritos Locos in person, though.

“You get to skip the line,” said Jeff Jenkins, director of mobile experience at Taco Bell, which is owned by Yum! Brands.

But he said there’s no feature to select a pickup time because the food won’t be prepared until the customer arrives.

So what’s the point of using the app? Jenkins said both restaurant and customer will both get a heads up from the app once you get close to the Taco Bell.

“When you get within 500 feet of the location, you get a notification on your phone that says, ‘Looks like you’ve arrived. Would you like us to start preparing your food?’” he said.

Taco Bell is also promoting the fact that app-ordering customers can customize their orders, by adding or omitting ingredients.

Taco Bell’s move comes close in the heels of Starbucks , which announced its app earlier this month. The Starbucks app, which will debut in Portland later this year and go nationwide in 2015, allows customers to place their coffee orders via iPhone.

Other fast food companies have apps, though they don’t necessarily allow customers to place orders via smartphone. McDonald’s has the McD App, which is primarily for learning about special offers and locating restaurants.

Wendy’s has an app that allows customers to pay for meals via smartphone, but they have to go to the restaurant to do it. Customers deposit money into their phone’s Wendy’s account for that purpose. The maximum balance is $100, which buys about 20 Baconators, depending on the location.

FoodFacts.com is pretty sure that ordering fast food via app will mature and grow into the whole experience — place your order by smartphone, pay for it by smartphone, go to the nearest location and pick up your order seamlessly. We’re not there yet. Taco Bell’s new app might save fast food consumers a little time — but it probably won’t be much. We’ll just have to wait a little while longer for the fast food industry to help their customers consume bad food in record time!

http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/28/news/companies/taco-bell-app/

Tricks or treats? Cadbury Screme Eggs

k2-_6fca6af3-0248-4357-9727-1627154e8c40.v1Everyone’s ready. The costumes are all set. The candy’s been purchased. And children everywhere just can’t wait to start trick or treating!

Happy Halloween everyone!

What treats are you giving out this year?

FoodFacts.com understands that we’re talking about candy, and we know there isn’t going to be a healthy Halloween haul for anyone’s child! So instead of reprising the age-old debate of a candyless Halloween or a candyful Halloween, we thought that we’d focus our post on a ghoulish, odd treat … the Cadbury Screme Egg.

It’s ghoulish because it’s filled with green creme. It’s odd because, well, it’s an egg. We wouldn’t think it was odd if the candy were shaped like a pumpkin or a spider or a mummy or something that actually represented Halloween. An egg just doesn’t do that for us. Halloween on the inside, Easter on the outside?

Let’s make the Cadbury Screme Egg an example of the many different candies we will find in our kids’ Halloween sacks at the end of the night and take a look at the very typical nutrition facts and ingredients in this strange treat.

Calories:            150
Fat:                     6 grams
Sugar:                20 grams

That’s five teaspoons of sugar in one egg. We certainly didn’t expect anything different — it’s candy. If your child really likes them, they’ll probably eat more than one and that sugar adds up quickly.

What do the ingredients look like?

Milk Chocolate ( Sugar, Milk, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin, Natural And Artificial Flavor), Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Contains 2% Or Less of: Egg Whites, Calcium Chloride, Artificial Flavor, Artificial Color, (Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6).

Needless to say, we really don’t like this – even for candy. We can plainly see where that green color is coming from and we’re not really happy about it. Besides giving our kids a sugar rush, these little eggs can contribute to hyperactive behavior — especially if consumed in quantity. Most candy isn’t this colorful. But we’d be hard pressed to find a candy with an ingredient list we’d find desirable.

In general, every overflowing sack of Halloween candy is overloaded with controversial ingredients and a ridiculous amount of sugar. The good news is that it’s improbable that all that candy will be eaten in one night — or even one weekend. Many parents have a habit of making most of that candy disappear after a few days. Different families handle the issue in different ways.

FoodFacts.com just wanted to point out the obvious. We know it’s only one day a year. We don’t want to see a lot of disappointed little faces on a fun and happy occasion. We just don’t want anyone of forget what really going on in that sack!

The Dunkin Donuts Halloween Don’t — the Boston Scream Donut

1412743267976Ghosts and goblins are out and about in full swing. Friday is Halloween! What a great season! Horror movies are all around us, in movie theaters and on our television screens. All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, promising some goose-bumps and boos that will be showing up on our doorsteps in just a few short hours!

You don’t need to wait until Friday, though. Some of those “boos” are waiting for us right now at our local fast food locations. Think of them as an “homage to the season.” And Dunkin Donuts has one of the biggest waiting for you.

Say hello to the Boston Scream Donut.

Its appearance is certainly in keeping with the season. It’s an attractive pumpkin shaped smiling donut, complete with orange frosting and filled with tasty cream.

That orange frosting should be giving us our first clue. But let’s start at the beginning — with the all-important nutrition facts.

Calories:                310
Fat:                        16 grams
Saturated Fat:       7 grams
Sugar:                   19 grams

We’ll have to admit these aren’t the worst nutrition facts we’ve ever seen. But we are looking at almost five teaspoons of sugar in one donut. We’re also looking at 35% of our recommended daily intake of saturated fat in that same donut. We could live without that.

Let’s move on to 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; Bavarian Kreme Filling: Water, Sugar, Modified Food Starch, Corn Syrup, Palm Oil, Contains 2% or less of the following: Natural and Artificial Flavors, Glucono Delta Lactone, Salt, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (Preservatives), Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Agar; 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; Orange Icing: [White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Artificial Flavor, Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier); Orange 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].

Wow, that’s a long list. It’s amazing how many artificial colors are needed to exact that particular shade of orange, isn’t it? It’s also amazing to count how many controversial ingredients are used to create one seemingly simple donut.

Dunkin, FoodFacts.com has decided to find our Halloween screams on our screens instead of in our donuts. We can be frightened by the boogey man and Frankenstein and vampires and zombies without introducing frightening ingredients into our diets. Makes for a much happier Halloween.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/donuts/donuts.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Boston+Scream+Donut

Fast food menus claiming less calories … sort of

fast food slimmingFoodFacts.com ran across some seemingly encouraging news today regarding calories and fast food menus. As we read further, though, we realized that there’s a bit of a “smoke and mirrors” component going on with these claims.

A comprehensive new report is revealing that fast-food chains have been cutting calories on their menus.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, menu items introduced by big chain restaurants—including McDonald’s, Chipotle, and IHOP—had, on average, 60 fewer calories than items released in 2012. That’s a 12 percent drop in calories.

The study looked at 19,000 menu items served in 66 of the 100 largest restaurant chains in the U.S. from 2012 to 2013. The biggest drops were in new main course offerings (67 calories), followed by new children’s (46 calories) and beverage (26 calories) items.

However, the overall mean calories didn’t budge. The burger chains aren’t cutting the calories of their signature burgers; they’re just adding healthier items, such as salads, to the menu. Time posits that the lower-calorie menu additions are popping up because restaurants with 20 or more locations in the U.S. have to list calorie counts on menus.

But according to the study’s lead author, Sara N. Bleich, 200 extra calories a day can contribute to obesity.

“You can’t prohibit people from eating fast food, but offering consumers lower calorie options at chain restaurants may help reduce caloric intake without asking the individual to change their behavior—a very difficult thing to do,” Bleich said in a statement.

“This voluntary action by large chain restaurants to offer lower calorie menu options may indicate a trend toward increased transparency of nutritional information, which could have a significant impact on obesity and the public’s health,” Bleich said.

On the other hand, FoodFacts.com just wants to put out there that these voluntary actions by large fast food chains may be more about seeking to change public perception than an attempt to increase nutritional transparency of menu items. Since there is no chain that’s actually reformulating their signature items in attempt to decrease calories, we do have to think this might be true. While it’s important for fast food restaurants to introduce lower calorie options, as long as their main offerings remain as they are, it’s somewhat misleading to say that menus are slimming down. It all depends on what the consumer chooses to eat, not on the concentrated efforts of chains to reduce calories in items across their menus.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/12/fast-food-menus-are-slimming-down–theres-catch

Snack spending outpaces spending on actual food here in America

junkfood on plateHere at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about the nutritional value of food. We’re always stressing the health benefits of real, fresh foods and pointing out foods that are nutritionally vacant. Our mission is to educate consumers, encouraging nutritional awareness. New data coming out of Nielsen, however, points directly to the idea that not enough Americans are sufficiently cognizant of nutritional value.

Nielsen has revealed that Americans are spending more on snack foods – things like protein bars, chips and beef jerky, at the same time that our spending on groceries has remained almost flat.

While are overall grocery spending increased by only 1.8%, salty snack spending (chips, crackers and pretzels) increased by 4.9%, nutrition bar sales grew by 7.8%, meat snacks (like beef jerky) rose 11.2% and sales of Greek yogurt increased by 16.6%.

Nielsen polled the 490 Americans included in their research and found that these consumers said they “enjoyed” eating all the time. That could be referred to as “grazing.” The second most common reason given for eating (enjoyment was the first reason cited), these consumers said they ate to satisfy hunger between meals.

Our need to snack has even changed the way we view certain foods, said James Russo, a senior vice president of consumer insights at Nielsen. Take breakfast cereal. Instead of eating it just for breakfast, we now see items like Kix as more of a snack food. While sales of breakfast cereal are declining overall, an increasing number of us are eating Cheerios throughout the day. Forty-four percent of Americans said they ate cereal outside a meal in the past 30 days, compared to just 19 percent who said they ate a nutrition bar during that time period, according to Nielsen.

“One of the big stories here is the blurring of what is a snack and what is a meal,” Russo said.

And the number of snacks we eat at mealtimes is expected to grow by 5 percent over the next five years. That means that in 2018, Americans will be eating snacks as meals 86.4 billion times a year, according to the NPD Group, a market research firm.

NPD predicts most of that growth will come from healthier snacks, but that doesn’t mean we’re over chocolate and chips. Instead, because we’re snacking constantly, we want snacks to be available in both decadent and healthy forms. Pepsi’s recent patent for a granola bar with Pop Rocks is one food that combines these desires, but for the most part we’re looking to eat carrots and hummus around lunchtime and then grab some candy a few hours later.

Russo pointed to Americans’ contradictory feelings toward salt as an example of this dynamic. While the top snack in North America over the past 30 days was chips or crisps, the third-highest health priority for respondents was low salt/sodium, Nielsen found.

“We want indulgent snacks but we also want healthy options for a snack,” Russo said. “We’re increasingly using all these different food products to satisfy our hunger.”

So it would appear that our health perception of certain foods has helped us to identify them as actual food, instead of snacks. For instance, some people are grabbing a nutrition bar as a meal — not as a snack. And it also appears that while health and nutrition news and research is making an impression on us, that impression doesn’t seem to be strong enough to affect our spending and consumption. We know that lowering our sodium intake is important, but we’re still purchasing (and presumably consuming) salty snacks.

Someday, we are are hopeful that we’ll get a report that sales of fruit have risen more than the sale of nutrition bars. Or that sales of produce are outpacing the sales of Greek yogurt. And as far as the polling goes, we’d prefer hearing that folks are preparing an actual lunch meal than calling a snack a meal simply because the manufacturer has gone out of their way to shape their perception of a snack. Until these things become a reality, though, we’ll just continue stressing the significant nutritional differences between real foods and snacks. We might be at this for quite a while …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/02/snack-meal-spending_n_5913166.html

Under the Bun: Wendy’s Pulled Pork Cheeseburger … can you say overkill?

pulled-pork-cheeseburger-carls-jr-hardeesSometimes FoodFacts.com tries to imagine how fast food chains comes up with their new and “different” ideas. For instance, how did Taco Bell arrive at the Waffle Taco for their breakfast menu. It isn’t exactly a natural concept to use a waffle as you would a taco shell — and while we have to admit that it might get points for creativity, texturally we just don’t see a match there. That Waffle Taco, for us, also falls into the overkill category. Too much going on to be a hand-held breakfast. We do find that many of the new fast food introductions are just “too much” — and we think the length of the ingredient lists certainly substantiate our opinion.

Wendy’s newest introduction does appear to fall into the overkill category. The Pulled Pork Cheeseburger brings together elements that we just don’t think belong in a sandwich together. We can’t help but wonder who thought of this one. It’s sort of a reach.

Let’s go under the bun and find out what’s really in the Pulled Pork Cheeseburger. First you should know what you’ll find under that brioche bun — a stack of a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork. The nutrition facts here just can’t be good. Let’s take a look:

Calories                                 640
Fat                                         33 grams
Saturated Fat                       13 grams
Trans Fat                              1.5 grams
Cholesterol                           130 mg
Sodium 1                              260 mg

There’s just too much of everything going on in here and none of it’s good. The nutrition facts for this sandwich are what gives fast food a bad name.

Let’s not forget to detail the ingredient list:

Brioche Bun: Enriched Wheat Flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), Water, Sugar, Yeast, Buttermilk Powder (whey solids, enzyme-modified butter, maltodextrin, salt, guar gum, annatto and turmeric [color]), Egg Yolks, Butter, Salt, Dough Conditioner (wheat flour, DATEM, contains 2% or less of: silicon dioxide [flow aid], soybean oil, enzymes [wheat], calcium sulfate, salt), Dry Malt, Calcium Propionate, Dough Conditioner (degermed yellow corn flour, turmeric and paprika [color], contains 2% or less of: natural flavor), Egg Wash (eggs, water). CONTAINS: WHEAT, EGG, MILK, 1/4 lb Hamburger Patty: Ground Beef. Seasoned with Salt, Cheddar Cheese Slice: Cultured Pasteurized Milk, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto Color. CONTAINS: MILK. Broccoli Slaw: Broccoli, Carrots, Red cabbage, Broccoli Slaw Sauce (soybean oil, water, white wine vinegar, sugar, egg yolk, distilled vinegar, mustard seed, salt, white wine, onion [dehydrated], xanthan gum, spice, garlic [dehydrated], citric acid, tartaric acid. CONTAINS: EGG, Smoky BBQ Sauce: Water, Tomato Paste, Sugar, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Modified Cornstarch, Chili Peppers, Natural Flavor Including Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Onion (dehydrated), Garlic (dehydrated), Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Benzoate (preservatives), Chipotle Peppers, Molasses, Spices Including Mustard Seed, Jalapeno Pepper (dehydrated), Tamarind, Soybean Oil. Pulled Pork: Pork, Water, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Sodium Phosphate.

That’s about 86 ingredients with more than a few sources of hidden MSG and six controversial ingredients. That is definitely what we consider overkill. While we know there will be an audience for the Wendy’s Pulled Pork Bacon Cheeseburger, we’ll be sitting this one out. Even before we got to the bad nutrition facts and ridiculously long ingredient list, we couldn’t figure out why we’d want to eat a cheeseburger, broccoli slaw and pulled pork piled inside the same bun. Maybe it’s just us …

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

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/