Category Archives: Junk Food Addiction

Wendy’s drops soda from kids meals … sort of, but not really

WendysKidMealSorry Wendy’s. FoodFacts.com is really not trying to minimize your efforts to offer healthier options to consumers. But it’s true … a kids meal without a soda is still a kids meal. It’s still full of calories, fat and sodium, not to mention ingredients your average child can’t pronounce and doesn’t need. Plus, you really didn’t remove it, you just stopped promoting it.

Wendy’s is the latest fast-food chain to remove the soda option from kids’ meal menus.

That means when parents drive through a pick-up window, they won’t see soda as an option on the menu board, but if they decide to order one, they won’t be turned down.

The fast-food chain is the most recent to cave to pressure from children’s health advocacy groups. McDonald’s made a similar commitment to drop soda from Happy Meals in 2013, after partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

The Center for Science in Public Interest released a statement Thursday saying that Wendy’s was removing the soda option from menu boards and kids’ meals.

The statement said they hoped Wendy’s would also offer healthier choices including, “whole grain rolls, offering more fruit and vegetable options, reducing sodium across the menu, and dropping Frostys from the children’s menu.”

Unlike some fast-food chains, Wendy’s default drink choice was never soda, Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy’s said in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

“When ordering a kids’ meal, the customer is asked what beverage they prefer,” Bertini wrote. “The change is the kids’ meal beverage options which are shown on our menu boards.”

Bertini says the fast-food company began displaying images of “healthful beverage options,” including 1% white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100% juice.

He says the kids’ meal soft drink option no longer appears on the chain’s menu boards, inside the restaurants, at the pick-up windows or on the mobile app in the U.S. and Canada.

While soda is no longer the default drink, it still remains one of the most profitable items for fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, according to Jesse Bragg, media director for Corporate Accountability International.

Bragg says nothing will be solved until the marketing practices that draw kids to fast food is curbed.

“It’s incredibly difficult to enforce on a local level in the fast food industry,” Bragg said.

For children’s health advocates the battle is far from over. In the soda wars, other restaurants such as Subway, Arby’s and Chipotle do not offer soda on the kids’ menu.

But, one of the giants is still left standing — Burger King.
“Two down, one to go,” says Howell Wechsler, chief executive officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

An email statement from Burger King said the company is, “currently in the process of analyzing the removal of fountain drinks from our kids’ menu boards.”

So to clarify this “change” even more — you CAN still get a soda with a kids meal at Wendy’s. The soda is simply not being promoted on the menu boards. Nearest we can tell, that’s not much of a change. It’s not like consumers are actually being told in the store that they can no longer order a soda with the kids meal. THAT would be a change. Taking the image of the soda out of the pretty picture of the kids meal and leaving the word soda out of the kids meal description on the menu board … not so much.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/01/15/wendys-drops-soda-kids-meal-fast-food/21814699/

We eat more junk food when we watch too much television. Surprised?

man-watching-tvProbably not. We all know the scenario. You’re sitting comfortably on the sofa. You turn on a favorite movie. It’s late at night. Suddenly you get a craving. Maybe it’s ice cream, or cookies, or chocolate, or chips. Whatever you’re chosen indulgence, it seems to make the movie better. And sadly, you probably don’t realize how much you’re eating while you’re concentrating on the movie plot.

According to a new study, the more hours we spend in front of the TV, the more likely we are to snack on junk food.

The research, conducted by Prof. Temple Northup of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston, TX, is published in The International Journal of Communication and Health.

This is not the first study to associate TV use with unhealthy eating. A 2014 study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, for example, linked television viewing time to unhealthy dietary patterns among children aged 9-11.

In that study and others reporting similar findings, researchers say the results may be explained by the fact that TV watching is a sedentary activity, and that this encourages unhealthy eating.

But in his study, Prof. Northup sought to determine the psychological explanations for the link between TV use and increasing consumption of unhealthy foods.

“There was very little prior research on the psychological reasons this relationship might exist beyond that it’s a sedentary activity that encourages snacking,” he says. “I wanted to investigate underlying psychological reasons that this relationship might exist.”

To reach his findings, Prof. Northup conducted a cross-sectional survey on 591 participants of an average age of 22.

The survey was designed to gather information on participants’ overall television and news media usage and their nutritional knowledge. In addition, Prof. Northup assessed their “fatalistic views” toward eating healthily, which he told Medical News Today is “a general viewpoint that measures the extent to which you think you understand proper nutrition.”
Overall, the results of the survey revealed that the more time participants spent watching TV, the more likely they were to have an unhealthy diet.

What is more, those who watched more TV had a poorer understanding of nutrition and a more fatalistic view toward healthy eating, compared with participants who watched less TV. “In turn, those two items predicted snacking behaviors,” says Prof. Northup.

He believes the lack of nutritional knowledge among people who watch more TV may be explained by increased exposure to advertising of unhealthy foods.

“Within advertising, most foods are nutritionally deficient, while entertainment programming depicts characters frequently snacking on unhealthy foods and rarely eating a balanced meal,” he explains. “If these are the messages, those who watch a lot of them may become less able to determine what is healthy.”

He notes that, interestingly, participants who watched a lot of television news but not a lot of television overall had better nutritional knowledge than those who watched more general TV. Prof. Northup said that this may be because news media “typically focus their stories on trending topics – like what diet is best or what foods are healthy or unhealthy – rather than a broader context of healthy living.”

On considering the association between high TV usage and more fatalistic views toward nutrition, Prof. Northup says the link is not surprising given that viewers are presented with conflicting messages about food.

“After all, on the one hand, heavy users are told to eat a lot of sugary drinks and snacks, while on the other, they are told to avoid those snacks in favor of a variety of other foods,” he explains. “If all messages being presented conflict, it becomes hard to decipher exactly what should be followed. This could lead to the belief that it is just not possible to fully understand nutrition.”

Prof. Northup says his study results suggest the media is contributing to obesity:

“Based on these results, the media may be one piece of the obesity problem by sending messages to consumers that create fatalistic attitudes toward eating healthy as well as lowering overall nutritional knowledge.

These two variables in turn contribute to poor nutritional eating – a well-established cause of obesity.”

But there is something we can do that may stop us reaching for the junk food while watching TV: reduce the amount of unhealthy snacks in the house.

“If you know you’re prone to eating while watching TV, then it would be best to not have a lot of snacks like chips in the house, and instead have things like carrot sticks,” added Prof. Northup.

This interesting study offers a different view on snacking while viewing. FoodFacts.com is pretty certain, though, that we should all make an effort to reduce or eliminate the unhealthy snacks in our homes. Because, let’s face it, even the healthiest eaters can give into temptation when the living room turns into a movie theater and the concession counter is no further away than your own refrigerator!

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/287768.php

Because a Whopper just wasn’t enough …

4CheeseWhopper-DetailBurger King has introduced the Four Cheese Whopper. For anyone who’s wondering about this new extra cheesy Whopper, what we can tell you right now is that it doesn’t actually contain four cheeses. Instead, consumers will find a three cheese blend, American Cheese and cheddar sauce between the bun.

So if the term “four cheese” conjures up images of asiago, havarti, white cheddar and fontina in your mind, this sandwich will certainly fall short of your expectations. FoodFacts.com finds the terms three cheese blend and cheddar sauce highly suspect. But without the presence of an ingredient list, can you blame us?

What we do have right now are the nutrition facts. And here they are, in all their not-so-glorious detail:

Calories:                     850
Fat:                             57 grams
Saturated Fat:           21 grams
Cholesterol:              115 mg
Sodium:                    1160 mg

How does the Four Cheese Whopper stack up against a regular Whopper with Cheese?

We’re sure you’ve assumed that it’s worse. And you’re right — it is. 120 additional calories, 13 more grams of fat and 30 additional mg of cholesterol. It does contain slightly less sodium than the Whopper with Cheese.

While we don’t have access to the ingredients, we can tell you that the ingredients in the Whopper with Cheese certainly leave a lot to be desired. It features 120 ingredients and only one type of cheese. Ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, sorbitol, sodium benzoate and propylene glycol are featured in the ingredient list. And there’s artificial color in the cheese. So we’re assuming that the ingredient list for the Four Cheese Whopper (essentially a Whopper with extra cheese) will feature a similar ingredient list. And that three cheese blend and that cheddar sauce — we’re fairly certain that those will contain controversial ingredients as well.

In short, we didn’t like the Whopper with Cheese. Now we can multiply that by four.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/four-cheese-whopper

Welcome back the Yumbo!

BK_Yumbo_detailMost of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Welcome back the what????”

In order to answer your question, we’ll have to go back to Burger King in 1968. That was the year that the Yumbo was first introduced. The sandwich was very popular and enjoyed a six-year run before it was retired in 1974.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t quite sure where it’s unusual name came from, we are sure that the Yumbo isn’t typical Burger King fare. It’s simply a hot ham and cheese hoagie with lettuce and mayonnaise. Which, according to various internet commentary, has some fast food fans puzzled. It’s not a burger. It’s not a chicken sandwich. So what’s it doing on the Burger King menu?

Well, according to Burger King, people have been asking what happened to the sandwich. Seems it’s a favorite childhood memory for many customers. And Burger King is making an effort to bring back some those memories.

Burger King made an all out effort to do just that with the Yumbo. It overhauled its Facebook page and made it appear as though the posts were from 1974. It even invited visitors to call the Yumbo at 844-BK-YUMBO. That toll-free line connected callers to the “Yumbo Social Hotline,” and asked callers to like or comment on the sandwich on its page.

It doesn’t appear that folks who don’t remember the Yumbo are embracing it quite as enthusiastically as those who fell in love with it 40 years ago. Comments include the sentiment that the Yumbo took very little effort for Burger King and that you really need to be in the third grade to think that this is anything special.

O.k. it isn’t a Whopper. But it is certainly a simpler menu offering for Burger King which may be refreshing for some. While we don’t have an ingredient list for the sandwich, here are the nutrition facts:
Calories:               490
Fat:                       24 grams
Cholesterol:         65 mg
Sodium:               1770 mg

So what should we make of this? Let’s put it this way — it really might as well be a burger. As a matter of fact, the Yumbo is pretty much the equivalent as the Burger King Double Cheeseburger. It has 40 more calories and about the same amount of fat. The Yumbo has less cholesterol. But it also contains A LOT more sodium.

Maybe it’s just us, but we don’t expect a hot ham and cheese sandwich to carry the same nutrition facts as a fast food burger. Guess we should have remembered that the Yumbo is a fast food hot ham and cheese sandwich and this shouldn’t have been surprising.

Those of us of a certain age should probably just enjoy our Yumbo memories and not try to make new ones.

http://www.bk.com/menu-item/yumbo-hot-ham-cheese-sandwich

High-fructose diet in adolescence may be linked to depression later in life

urlDepression and anxiety have become common conditions these days. Millions of highly functional, accomplished people are taking antidepressants to combat the effects of these issues as they battle depressive behaviors every day. We do know that nutrition can play a role in depression. Studies have been conducted that have linked junk food consumption to behavioral health difficulties. New information, however, is pointing to a specific culprit consumed during a specific time period and showing a definite link to the development of depression.

The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress, according to new animal research scheduled for presentation at Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

“Our results offer new insights into the ways in which diet can alter brain health and may lead to important implications for adolescent nutrition and development,” said lead author Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta.

Harrell is a graduate student working with Gretchen Neigh, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine.

Fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables but also added to many processed foods and beverages, can promote negative cardiovascular effects. It also stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioral effects, including the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain’s stress response.

To determine whether fructose consumption has the potential to create long-term changes in metabolism and behavior during adolescence, Harrell and her colleagues gave both adolescent and adult rats either a standard or a high-fructose diet. After 10 weeks, the adolescent but not adult rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behavior. A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered.

These findings indicate that consuming a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence may exacerbate depressive behaviors and affect the way the body and the brain respond to stress.

FoodFacts.com is always concerned about nutritional awareness in our teenagers. Unlike younger children, teens spend more time away from our homes and our kitchens. They are more likely to consume junk food containing high-fructose corn syrup on a regular basis. Healthy eating habits begin early. And while we’re not going to prevent teenagers from eating bad food when they’re away from us, the habits we instill early on will influence the choices they make as they get older. Depression is debilitating. We owe it to the coming generations to help them avoid behavioral conditions as much as we can. It’s important to remember that sugar-addicted children become sugar-addicted teens. We need to exercise control over our children’s dietary habits while we can. There’s no room for sugary beverages and processed foods in the diets of small children if we want them to grow into teens who make healthier food choices away from home.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141118141852.htm

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

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/

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

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