Category Archives: McDonald’s

An unpleasant surprise from McDonald’s: Cleaning Liquid in Tea

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 12.01.57 PMWhen you order an iced tea, you’re not expecting to get anything extra in the cup.

An Indianapolis police officer took a sip of McDonald’s iced tea last weekend and wound up in the hospital because the drink apparently was contaminated with cleaning chemicals.

Reserve Officer Paul Watkins went to the McDonald’s at around 10 p.m. Saturday night for a self-serve tea before his shift, his wife Jerilyn Watkins said, adding that she wasn’t with him at the time and his lawyer advised him not to speak to the media.

He filled his cup halfway with unsweetened tea and went to fill the rest with sweetened tea when he noticed it looked dark, she said. He took the lid off the dispenser to take a look and determined it was OK.

“He filled his cup and took a big gulp and immediately his throat started burning down into his chest,” Jerilyn Watkins said, adding that he called her from the car and told him he felt as though he’d just drank “bleach.”

The owner of the McDonald’s where Watkins was served, Elizabeth Henry, issued the following statement: “Serving my customers safe, high quality food and beverages is a top priority at our restaurants. We take this claim very seriously and are looking into the matter.”

Emails to McDonald’s corporate communications office seeking additional comment were not returned.

Watkins immediately spit out the tea and told the girl behind the counter that there was something wrong, Jerilyn Watkins said. The manager then told him the employees had put a cleaning solution into the tea dispenser and they had forgotten to put a cup over the nozzle, Jerilyn Watkins said.

“The irony of this all was that manager asked Paul if he wanted another cup or glass of tea and told one of the employees, ‘Hey, get this guy another tea,’” Paul Watkins’s lawyer, Sam Jacobs said. “Paul said ‘No, thanks’ and left. By time he got not very far in his police car, he became violently ill.”

He called the police station and poison control, which determined that the tea dispenser was filled with a “heavy duty degreaser” chemical, according to the police report. Watkins spent the night at IU Health Methodist Hospital, according to the report. He underwent endoscopy the following day, Jacobs said.

Watkins has returned to his daily life, but he still has problems swallowing and experiences burning in his throat, Jacobs said. He’s also concerned about the long-term effects of ingesting the chemicals.

“My husband has never drank, never smoked, never done drugs,” Jerilyn Watkins said. “This is just insane.”

A similar scenario involving a teen in Muncie, Indiana, was reported at a McDonald’s in 2013, and a lawsuit was filed in January. McDonald’s lawyers in the case have until March 31 to respond, according to court records.

In Utah last summer, a woman said she unintentionally ingested lye by drinking contaminated tea through a straw at Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, but she did not file suit.

Dickey’s said in a statement the worker who made the tea no longer works at the company.

“The entire Dickey’s family is saddened by the events that occurred in Utah and takes this incident very seriously,” the restaurant chain said in a statement. “There is nothing more important to us than the trust and safety of our guests.”

Jacobs said he has not yet filed a lawsuit on Watkins’s behalf and hopes he is able to work out something with McDonald’s before doing so.

“He never wants this to happen to anybody else,” Jacobs said.

Trust and safety. Most of us don’t consciously think of those two words when we walk into any kind of restaurant. But those words are inherent in our actions. We’re eating their food, so we must trust them and believe that our safety is their priority. Ingesting cleaning fluid isn’t what we’re expecting when walking into a McDonald’s.

FoodFacts.com does understand that mistakes can happen. The world isn’t a perfect place and there are no perfect people. But some mistakes are more costly than others. It becomes important for us to really take note of anything unusual going on with food or beverages that we’ve ordered in any establishment. The results of incidents like this could be far more detrimental than what we’re seeing here … and this wasn’t small.

Let’s take note of what we’re about to eat and drink. Maybe the color could be off. Perhaps the smell isn’t what you’re expecting. If you notice something you aren’t expecting, don’t consume it. While no restaurant is trying to hurt anyone on purpose, we can become unwitting victims if we don’t observe and inspect our food and drink before we consume.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/mcdonalds-customer-claims-cleaning-liquid-tea/story?id=29249142

For a limited time only, McDonald’s brings reading back to Happy Meals

Happy-MealCan books make fast food more appealing to parents? McDonald’s thinks there’s a possibility. There was a time when McDonald’s was including a book with the Happy Meal instead of a toy. And they’ve brought it back for a limited time. Unfortunately, the meal is remaining the same.

McDonald’s is bringing back books in its Happy Meals. Until January 22, children’s Happy Meals will come with books and an activity in place of the more familiar plastic toy.

The company has partnered with the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental and HarperCollins for the book giveaway. Kids can get one of four books (none, unfortunately, by Dr. Seuss).

The titles that will be showing up with the Happy Meal are “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond; “Big Nate: In a Class by Himself” by Lincoln Peirce; “Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses” by Kimberly and James Dean and “Flat Stanley Goes Camping” by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan.

In a statement, Julie Wenger, senior director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s, said the project is “part of a broader book strategy to combine the fun of the Happy Meal and support of our partners to inspire more family reading time.”

The companies plan to distribute 17 million books during the promotional period.

FoodFacts.com is all for promoting reading to kids. But we’re also all for promoting healthy eating for kids. We’re not necessarily sure that the inclusion of a book with a bad meal will make parents believe that the meal is a good choice for their children. We’d like to suggest making the kids lunch at home and taking them to storytime at the library instead. Much better option!

http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketcopy/la-et-jc-mcdonalds-happy-meals-with-books-20150108-story.html

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

McDonald’s cheeseburgers fail the all-American burger experiment — they’re the only burgers that don’t decompose!

McDonald's Cheeseburgers Don't DecomposeWhat happens when you place burgers from seven different fast food chains in jars, close the lids and leave them alone for 30 days. You’d expect that every one of them would age and grow mold, wouldn’t you? After all, that’s what happens to food when it’s left out for a month, especially in a tightly closed jar. Frighteningly, it appears that this isn’t always the case.

As the fast food giant McDonald’s launched its “Our Food. Your Questions” campaign earlier this week, BuzzFeedBlue conducted the all-American burger experiment in the YouTube video “How Fast Do Burgers Age?”

Seven burgers from seven different fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box, In-N-Out, and Umami Burger were each placed into their own glass jar for a month. BuzzFeed expected to see what commonly happens to food that’s left unrefrigerated for 30 days — to look unappetizing with mold. In reality, all burgers should look unpleasant and unable to be stomached after a month because it is a natural process of decomposition.

All of the fast food burgers, minus one, were covered in mold after 30 days. From Wendy’s to In-N-Out, mold could be spotted on the surface of the food with gray fur, fuzzy green dots, and even white dust on the cheese. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), when a food shows heavy mold growth, “root” threads have invaded it deeply. This can increase the possibility of poisonous substances contained in and around these threads that could spread throughout the food.

The McDonald’s cheeseburger was the only one from the seven fast food giants that did not change in its physical appearance. There was no mold, no rot, or anything. The burger looks the same on day 30 as it did on day one. McDonald’s burgers seem to be immune to the natural aging process of foods, but why?

On McDonald’s Canada website, Laura B asked: “How is it that a McDonald’s burger does not rot?” Dr. Keith Warriner, program director at the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science and Quality Assurance suggests the burgers do not rot because they are laden with chemicals.

“In the example of a McDonald’s hamburger, the patty loses water in the form of steam during the cooking process. The bun, of course, is made out of bread. Toasting it reduces the amount of moisture. This means that after preparation, the hamburger is fairly dry. When left out open in the room, there is further water loss as the humidity within most buildings is around 40 percent.” The burger simply dries out and does not rot since there is a lack of moisture or high humidity.

Interestingly, the other burgers undergo the same cooking process, so why did they decay so much more than the McDonald’s hamburger patty? Melanie Warner, author of the book Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Foods Took Over the American Meal, conducted several food experiments earlier this year and found some other fast foods like chicken sandwiches and American cheese can pass the mold-free test. These items are small in size and have a relatively large surface area, which helps it lose moisture very fast.

Standing out from the crowd is usually considered a good thing. This is one of those cases where it’s just not. We actually want to see food covered in mold growth after sitting in a jar for 30 days. It lets us know that it’s actual food. And that explanation provided by McDonald’s just doesn’t cut it for us. FoodFacts.com is constantly talking about how controversial ingredients can affect our health. The incredible, non-decomposing cheeseburger is certainly a clear manner of illustrating the point. And by the way, McDonald’s, while we have a pretty clear idea of the ingredients in the bun, the cheese, the pickles and the ketchup, we’d like to see a few more details concerning that beef patty now.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/all-american-burger-experiment-what-happens-your-best-fast-food-burger-when-left-jar-30-307363

Russia takes McDonald’s to court for selling food with too much fat and too many carbs

1406288418000-AP-HONG-KONG-SUSPECT-MEAT-66054766Russia has been in the news on a daily basis these days. But what we’re watching on our news networks each night has nothing to do with the news we’re sharing with our community here. This fascinating story focuses on Russia taking a stand regarding the food supply of its citizens. And they’re up in arms against McDonald’s.

Nearly a quarter-century after McDonald’s startled and delighted Soviets with their first taste of American fast-food culture, the company’s now facing a suit that could ban it from selling some of its signature products.

The Russian consumer protection agency said last Friday it is taking the company to court for selling foods that contain more fats and carbohydrates than are allowed by national regulations.

The suit comes amid especially high tensions between Moscow and Washington over the Ukraine crisis; the United States has slapped an array of sanctions on Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine for allegedly supporting separatist rebels who are fighting in eastern Ukraine.

There’s no demonstrable connection between the McDonald’s suit and the tensions, but the consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, has a history of actions that appear to dovetail Russia’s political agenda. As tensions between Russia and Georgia escalated before their 2008 war, Russia banned the import of Georgian wine and mineral water — two of its major export products — for failing to meet sanitary norms. Last year, as tensions heated up over Ukraine’s desire to sign a trade pact with the European Union, Russia banned imports of chocolates made by the company of Petro Poroshenko, a tycoon who supported the EU deal and is now Ukraine’s president.

Rospotrebnadzor said on its website that it brought the case after inspections of two of the company’s restaurants in Novgorod.

According to the statement, some food was found with microbial contamination and several items had caloric values two to three times higher than allowed by national regulations. Products that were mentioned for incorrect nutritional information were cheeseburgers, Royal Cheeseburgers — the local equivalent of the Quarter Pounder — fish sandwiches and several milkshake varieties.

The suits asks that sale of McDonald’s products that do not meet the regulations be declared illegal, but it was not clear what penalty the company could face. The two restaurants in Novgorod were to be fined 70,000 rubles ($2,100).

McDonald’s prompted the ire of Russian nationalists earlier this year after it closed its outlets in Crimea.

The animosity is a far cry from the fascination that Muscovites had for McDonald’s when it opened its first outlet in the Soviet Union in 1990; customers waited in hours-long lines to experience the efficient service and reliable availability of items — rare novelties in the Soviet era.

We do get the idea that the lawsuit is likely spurred by current political tensions. It wouldn’t be the first time that politics influenced business — in Russia, or any other country, for that matter. FoodFacts.com does find it interesting, though, that Russia appears to have national regulations regarding fat and carbohydrate content in foods.

While it just can’t be that Russia’s consumer protection agency never realized that McDonald’s was breaking their national rules before, it does make you wonder even more about our own “rules” here in the U.S. T

his is never an easy subject. Land of the free that we are, Americans generally don’t like the government sticking its nose in our private lives. Unfortunately for all of us, in the last three decades or so the rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes have skyrocketed “coincidentally” with the proliferation of massive numbers of processed food choices, fast food restaurants and casual fast food eateries around our nation. When you read a story like this one, it does lead you to question if we might not all be better off with better regulations surrounding the foods that are adding to, if not fueling, the health problems that increasingly afflict massive numbers of our citizens every day. It’s a complicated question, but it’s certainly worth some real discussion.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/07/25/russia-mcdonalds-food-has-too-many-calories/13190573/

McDonald’s burger declared the worst in America according to a new Consumer Reports Survey

McDonalds Sales.JPEG-054a3We know that the majority of fast food burgers aren’t exactly what we’d call healthy. Too many calories, too much fat, and a variety of bad ingredients makes the staple of American fast food a less than desirable choice for consumers. But what do you think would happen if you asked consumers to rank the fast food burgers? Do you think there might be some surprises?

Some major fast-food chains – McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell – may find the latest Consumer Reports fast-food survey hard to swallow.

According to the survey, released on Wednesday, more than 30,000 Consumer Reports subscribers say these restaurants’ signature items are the worst in their categories: McDonald’s has the worst burger; KFC has the worst chicken; and Taco Bell has the worst burrito.

Consumer Reports surveyed 32,405 subscribers about their experiences at 65 fast-food and fast-casual chains. This is what they were asked: “On a scale of  1 to 10, from least delicious to most delicious you’ve ever eaten, how would you rate the taste” of their signature dishes?

Habit Burger Grill, In-n-Out and Five Guys Burgers received the highest rating for their burgers, 8.1, 8.0 and 7.9 respectively. Meanwhile, McDonald’s scored a paltry 5.8 rating.

McDonald’s has been busy changing its menu in an effort to attract more customers. But despite the novelty items the company promoted in 2013 – Fish McBites in February, McWraps in March, Mighty Wings in September, etc. – the company’s U.S. sales dropped 0.2 percent last year.

During a conference call with investors, McDonald’s chief financial officer Peter Bensen said the company “probably did things a little bit too quickly” in terms of introducing those new menu items. The constant changes and bold experiments with the menu put pressure to the restaurants’ kitchens,which sometimes took too long to fill orders. But new items introduced this year will be welcomed by the chain’s new kitchen equipment. Prep tables will be replaced with larger surfaces that are able to hold more sauces and ingredients.

In 2014, Bensen said, the company will “refocus the core,” including tried-and-true favorites such as the Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets and the Quarter Pounder, as well as breakfast.

Research shows Americans are spending $683.4 billion a year dining out, and they are also demanding better food quality and greater variety from restaurants to make sure their money is well spent.

When deciding where to dine, consumers are giving more consideration to food quality, according to the Consumer Reports survey. The restaurant’s location is less important than it was in 2011, when the group last conducted the survey. Diners today are more willing to go out of their way and find tasty meals that can be customized.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service consulting firm, said in the report.

While many of the traditional chains have lagged in offering higher-quality ingredients, he said, some food chains — including Chipotle, Noodles & Company and Panera — have been offering meat raised without using antibiotics in animal feed, a feature that attracts consumers searching for healthier options.

FoodFacts.com has to wonder whether or not bad food is catching up with the king of fast food. Sales are dropping. Over 30,000 Consumer Reports subscribers have let the world know that McDonald’s burgers taste about as good as their nutrition facts and ingredient lists reflect. While Panera and Chipotle may not be our favorite eateries, we can still agree with those subscribers who have stated that the food from those fast-casual establishments is fresher and tastes better than a McDonald’s hamburger. McDonald’s still serves up millions of burgers every day. Consumer opinions create change. We can only hope change will start with this survey.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2014/07/02/consumer-reports-mcdonalds-burger-ranked-worst-in-the-u-s/

McDonalds doesn’t want kids to see Ronald McDonald eating a Big Mac

RonFood marketing to kids is a very controversial subject. There have been many different studies done that do show that all the characters and computer games and TV commercials influence kids to beg their parents for foods we’d probably rather they not eat. And there have been many “agreements” between food companies that have them pledging to change their marketing strategies when it comes to bad food and kids. Most of those pledges aren’t technically broken, as food companies find different ways to get their messages across to the youngest among us. Fast food companies make attempts at making their children’s meals healthier, but somehow or another those fries seem to sneak back into that Happy Meal. Are the food companies intentionally sidestepping responsibility? And what about that Happy Meal anyway?

When Ronald McDonald was first introduced to America in the 1960s, he wore a magic belt that dispensed an endless supply of hamburgers.

But today, according to both food advocates and McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson, America’s most recognizable clown won’t go near a Big Mac.

“You don’t see Ronald McDonald in schools. You don’t see him eating food,” Thompson said Thursday at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, according to multiple reports.

This, health activists say, is so McDonald’s can deflect criticism that it willfully markets the unhealthy food to children.

“They think that by not having him consume the food, it’s not encouraging kids to patronize the brand,” said Jesse Bragg of Corporate Accountability International, a food advocacy group that has been pushing for Ronald’s retirement for years.

In the past, said Bragg, McDonald’s has been criticized for having Ronald visit schools to teach phys ed and appear in connection with charities that work on behalf of sick children.

The company has kept Ronald at arm’s length from its food for years now, nutrition advocates say.

“At least since they joined the Better Business Bureau program in 2006, they’ve been saying they wouldn’t use Ronald McDonald to sell food,” said Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group that says it helped persuade McDonald’s to join an inititative run by the BBB that sets nutrition standards for advertising food to children under 12.

And Ronald’s abstemious habits may go back much further than that. Geoffrey Giuliano, who portrayed Ronald in public appearances in the late 1970s and early 1980s and is today an outspoken critic of the company, once said in an interview that he “was never allowed to eat the food” while in character because it would have been “unseemly.”

In 2007, Jim Skinner, then CEO of McDonald’s, told Reuters that “Ronald McDonald has never sold food to kids in the history of his existence.”
When asked if it was official policy to keep Ronald McDonald away from the food he was created to promote, McDonald’s spokeswoman Becca Hary said only that “when Ronald McDonald appears in public, he is focused on spreading joy and smiles.” Hary declined to comment on how long this has been the case.

Marketing experts say it doesn’t really matter whether Ronald is ever actually seen eating in public: Kids will still associate him with Big Macs and Happy Meals.

“Kids are hardwired to think that he equals McDonald’s,” said branding strategist Adam Hanft, founder of the marketing firm Hanft Projects.
“There’s a test in marketing where they put people under a full magnetic resonance imaging machine, like a brain scan essentially, and they show people images, and different parts of the brain light up,” Hanft said. “If you showed kids Ronald McDonald, all the reward centers of the brain would go crazy like July 4th. Because he equals the hamburger.”

Ronald McDonald doesn’t sell food? His sole purpose is to spread joy and smiles? FoodFacts.com doesn’t remember Toucan Sam eating Froot Loops. Snap, Crackle and Pop never ate Rice Krispies. They still sold products. Ronald McDonald isn’t an ambassador of goodwill — he’s the mascot for McDonald’s hamburgers. That’s not a smiley face embroidered on his pocket — he wears the golden arches on his jumpsuit.

Come on McDonald’s, we may be gullible, but we are smart enough to understand why the big guy exists. And even if the kids don’t realize it, when they see him they ask their moms for a hamburger.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/28/ronald-mcdonald-is-never_n_5380825.html

Under the Bun: McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger

McDonald's Bacon Clubhouse BurgerHave you heard about the new McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger? If you Google the new burger, you’ll see that the big news here is that this is the only burger besides the Big Mac that features the “special sauce” that graces its big brother burger. It appears that people are excited about the use of the Big Mac “special sauce” on a sandwich that isn’t the Big Mac.

The Bacon Clubhouse Burger is attempting to appeal to a more sophisticated audience, though. It also features an artisan roll, smoked applewood bacon, carmelized grilled onions, leaf lettuce and Angus seasoning.

Just what does that cosmopolitan burger description really get us, though? Time to go under the bun with FoodFacts.com as we investigate what’s really in this new McDonald’s creation.

Let’s start with the nutrition facts:

Calories:                 720
Fat:                          40 g
Saturated Fat:           15 g
Sodium:                1470 mg
Sugar:                      14 g

Let’s just say that, believe it or not, the Big Mac is actually a better nutritional choice than the Bacon Clubhouse Burger. Obviously that’s not saying much. This burger contains 180 additional calories, 11 extra grams of fat, 5 more grams of saturated fat, 430 mg of additional sodium and 5 more grams of sugar than the Big Mac. Not exactly a healthy meal — and we didn’t even add fries to it yet!

What about the ingredients? We’re sure you can guess, but here they are:

QUARTER POUND 100% BEEF PATTY  Ingredients: 100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders. Prepared With Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper). *Based On The Weight Before Cooking 4 Oz. (113.4g) ARTISAN ROLL Ingredients: Wheat Flour or Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour or Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Malted Barley Flour, Water, Sugar, Yeast, Palm Oil, Wheat Gluten, Dextrose, Salt, Contains 2% or less: Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Corn Flour, Soybean Oil, Calcium Sulfate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Monocalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Vegetable Proteins (Pea, Potato, Rice), Sunflower Oil, Turmeric, Paprika, Corn Starch, Wheat Starch, Acetic Acid. TOMATO SLICE THICK CUT APPLEWOOD SMOKED BACON Ingredients: Pork Bellies Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Natural Smoke Flavor (Plant Source), Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite. CARAMELIZED GRILLED ONIONS Ingredients: Slivered Onions Prepared in Onion Reduction Sauce (Palm, Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Onion Powder, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavors [Plant Source], Spice). BIG MAC SAUCE Ingredients: Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Color, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavor). PASTEURIZED PROCESS WHITE CHEDDAR CHEESE Ingredients: Milk, Water, Cheese Culture, Cream, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), May Contain One or More of: Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Enzymes, Acetic Acid, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation). LEAF LETTUCE ANGUS SEASONING Ingredients: Salt, Sugar, Onion Powder, Natural (Animal and Plant Sources) and Artificial Flavors, Spice, Maltodextrin, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dried Beef Broth, Dextrose, Garlic Powder, Worcestershire Sauce Powder (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor [Fruit Source]), Spice Extractives, Beef Fat, Caramel Color, Annatto and Turmeric (Color).

We counted. That’s about 17 ingredients we don’t want to eat all in one burger. Please make sure you read the ingredients in the Big Mac sauce carefully. This is the sauce consumers are making such a big fuss over. They’re happy it’s making an appearance on another burger. We’re not.

The McDonald’s Bacon Clubhouse Burger isn’t deserving of the buzz surrounding its introduction. It’s just another fast food monstrosity with too many calories, too much fat, too much sodium and too many bad ingredients.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.sandwiches.1360.bacon-clubhouse-burger.html

Who’s defining sustainable beef for McDonald’s?

Or better yet, exactly what is “sustainable beef” anyway? It appears that this question has been discussed quite a bit in the last few years. And even back in January, when McDonald’s announced that it will begin the transition to sustainable beef in 2016, the answers weren’t very clear. That might explain why their plan was met with skepticism.

That plan didn’t provide any answers either. In the weeks that followed, McDonald’s continued working with a group called the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) to come up with a working definition of the term, and on Monday, GRSB released a draft of its definition for public comment. In addition to McDonald’s, GRSB’s new set of sustainability guidelines will also be implemented by the group’s other members, which include Walmart, Darden Restaurants (the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), Cargill, Tyson Foods, and the pharmaceutical company Merck.

Despite its name, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is not so much an environmental organization as a meat industry group. Its executive committee includes representatives from McDonald’s, Elanco, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Just two environmental groups—the World Wildlife Fund and Netherlands-based Solidaridad—are part of its executive board. Cameron Bruett, president of GRSB and chief sustainability officer for JBS USA, a beef-processing company, said that McDonald’s, along with other members, helped come up with the organization’s “sustainability” definition and guidelines.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the group’s leadership, the GRSB’s guidelines are short on specifics. Instead, the group provides a definition for sustainability that is open to members’ interpretation. The plan says, for example, that sustainable companies must provide “stable, safe employment for at least the minimum wage where applicable” and institute “where applicable, third-party validation of practices by all members of the value chain.” But it doesn’t doesn’t specify which third-party groups should conduct audits, and doesn’t explain how workplaces should be monitored to prevent labor violations. In its section on climate change, it says that GRSB members should ensure that “emissions from beef systems, including those from land use conversion, are minimized and carbon sequestration is optimized.” But it does not include any specific examples of target emissions standards or grazing policies.

Also absent from the plan is any mention of the beef industry’s use of antibiotics. In the United States, four-fifths of all antibiotics go to livestock operations. McDonald’s uses antibiotics to “treat, prevent, and control disease” in its food-producing animals, according to a McDonald’s spokesman.

Using antibiotics to prevent disease—rather than only to treat infections—has been criticized by some food-safety experts. But the new plan doesn’t recommend that members ditch the practice. “I don’t know if there’s any justification for banning antibiotics in feed, I know that’s popular in some media circles, I haven’t seen the scientific evidence,” said Bruett. Yet studies have shown that antibiotic-resistant bugs can jump from animals to humans.

GRSB says that the lack of details in the plan is intentional; it “deliberately avoids” metrics that could be used to measure progress in sustainability, instead leaving it up to local roundtables to tailor the recommendations to specific regions. Bruett noted that “You could come out with a global standard, but it would simply be ignored, and it wouldn’t lead to improvements among members.” He adds, “There’s all the discussion about sustainability, but it’s by people who have very little knowledge or participation in the livestock industry…you’ll never achieve [improvement] unless you have producer participation or support.​”

Hmmm. When we look closely at these statements, FoodFacts.com still doesn’t come away with a usable definition of sustainable beef. O.k., there seem to be some guidelines taking shape, but they seem to be fairly loose. The use of the term “where applicable” more than once might lead us to believe that members of the industry get to define the term sustainable for themselves, rather than having it defined for them.

Not that we’re suspicious about the intentions, but we could easily see this as a way for a variety of companies (McDonald’s included) to change the public’s perception of the food they serve, without actually changing the food. While the issue is certainly not finalized (as the definition is still open for public comment), we’d like to call the public’s attention to the other concerns regarding the majority of items on McDonald’s menu. If the company is looking to change perceptions, it would behoove them to begin with much-needed changes to the ingredients used in the foods they serve. And that could easily change public perception without any arguments about definition.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2014/03/mcdonalds-sustainable-beef
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-20/fleshing-out-the-incredibly-vague-concept-of-sustainable-beef

How does the Big King stack up against the Big Mac?

iStock_000018665961Small.jpgShort answer: they’re both pretty bad.

Back in November, Burger King reintroduced its own version of the Big Mac. The Big King originally appeared on the Burger King menu back in 1997. It was — and still is — an almost exact replica of the historic McDonald’s sandwich, which will go down in the annals of fast food history as the most successful burger in the industry.

It’s no secret that Burger King lags behind McDonald’s in popularity. In an effort to improve its position with consumers, Burger King has been aggressively marketing new products. In the past year, the chain has developed a rib sandwich to compete with the McRib and introduced a lower calorie, lower fat french fry option with Satisfries. And late last year, Burger King called back the Big King for a second stint on the menu.

FoodFacts.com thought it would be appropriate to see how the two stack up where it really counts. Are there differences in the nutritional content of the burgers? Is there any way, if we were incredibly hungry and we were on the road and every restaurant, deli, and grocery store were closed, except for a McDonald’s and a Burger King that happened to be located next door to each other, we’d pick a Big King over a Big Mac, or vice versa?

After taking a look at the nutrition facts (we aren’t even looking at the ingredients), our only reasonable answer is that we’d probably keep driving. Here’s a quick look:

Big King
Calories:              510
Protein:                18 g
Fat:                      29 g
Saturated Fat:      10 g
Sodium:               780 mg

Big Mac
Calories:              550
Protein:                25 g
Fat:                     29 g
Saturated Fat:      10 g
Sodium:               970 mg

Add a medium order of fries to either the Big King or the Big Mac and you’ve just consumed close to 50 grams of fat and almost two-thirds of your daily allowance of saturated fat in one meal.

For FoodFacts.com, there is no good choice here. For fast food consumers, the jury still seems to be out. But since the Big Mac has been available nationwide to consumers since 1968, the Big King may have a long way to go.

http://www.heraldextra.com/entertainment/dining/drive-thru-gourmet-bk-brings-back-big-king/article_f8d61c90-373f-5dce-b7e5-577989d4cf98.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/02/10/burger-king-mcdonalds-fast-food-big-mac-big-king/5366137/