Tag Archives: fast food

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/

Is there actually such a thing as a healthy French fry? Burger King says its new Satisfries fit the bill!

FoodFacts.com may still be on the fence in regard to the new Satisfries Burger King recently introduced to consumers. While Burger King is not touting the healthfulness of this new French fry option (to their credit – it’s still a fry), the nutritional information they are promoting is pretty impressive.

These new crinkle-cut Satisfries boast 40% less fat and 30% less calories than plain old Burger King fries – down almost 77 calories and 5 grams of fat for a small order!

So what could we possibly be on the fence about?

FoodFacts.com hasn’t been able to see the ingredient list as of yet. We’re working on getting it so that we can find a comfortable place to stand on either side of the nutritional fence regarding Satisfries.

From what we’ve read, it appears that all Burger King fries are coated with a batter that helps the fries crisp up in the deep fryer while remaining moist and flavorful. According to the company, the drop in fat and calories in the Satisfry is a result of reformulating that thin coating – nothing more and nothing less. The reformulated coating is less porous than the old one, meaning the fries absorb less oil and are, therefore, lighter in calories and fat than their non-crinkle-cut counterparts.

Essentially this means that the ingredient list we currently have for traditional Burger King Fries will not change for the new Satisfries. As soon as we have that information we’ll get off that fence one way or another. But in the meantime, Satisfries do represent a notable reduction in fat and calories for fast food consumers. Yes – it’s still fast food and yes, there are absolutely better food choices … but Satisfries are a step in the right direction for the fast food industry.

One small note. Satisfries appear to cost between 20 and 30 cents more than regular fries. Maybe the reformulation of that thin coating costs a bit more. We’re not sure, but we did think we should let you know. And honestly, maybe the savings in fat and calories is actually worth the 20 – 30 cents. Consumers will have to make that decision.

In the meantime, we’ll keep you posted on how consumers respond to Satisfries and we’ll let you know when we can share ingredient information for the product with you. What we can say for sure right now though is that in a category of food offerings that seem to proffer less and less nutritional value consistently, it’s nice to see Burger King introduce a product with improved nutritional content.

While FoodFacts.com isn’t a proponent of fast food, we do think it’s important to acknowledge companies who are making real efforts to offer better options. So … nice work Burger King. Oh … and can you send us that ingredient list as soon as you can?

Changes at the fast food counter … small steps to fight childhood obesity

FoodFacts.com is constantly looking for new information regarding how the obesity crisis is being dealt with.  It’s not just the research and medical information in which we are interested.  We’re also always seeking out how our society (people, businesses and culture) is finding ways to educate consumers, change unhealthy habits and work on reversing a situation that so desperately needs to improve.  Today we read information that does exactly what we’re looking for!

Food advocates and McDonald’s released an updated agreement clarifying the chain will phase out on the kids’ meal section of menu boards. listing soda

Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said on Sept. 26, McDonald’s, in partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation — founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation as a response to the growing rate of childhood obesity — announced that it would cease featuring and promoting soda as a beverage option with kids’ meals.

“The fine print of the agreement, however, disclosed that while McDonald’s would not depict soda through graphics on the Happy Meal section of the menu, it would still list soda as a Happy Meal option on menu boards,” Wootan said in a statement.

CSPI issued a statement on Sept. 27 stating that McDonald’s had misled the public and the media about the true extent of it announcement — because continuing to list soda on menu boards as a Happy Meals option is featuring soda on the menu and is a promotion of sugar drinks to children, Wootan said.

“I spoke to McDonald’s and the alliance about my concerns regarding the agreement and urged them to completely remove soda from the Happy Meal section of the menu board,” Wootan said.

“A McDonald’s spokesman told me that my concerns were brought to McDonald’s Donald Thompson, chief executive officer, who agreed that continuing to list soda on the Happy Meal section of menu boards would be inconsistent with McDonald’s commitment. I applaud McDonald’s for strengthening its commitment and removing soda from the kids’ meal section of its menu boards.”

Taking soda off the Happy Meal section of menu boards at McDonald’s is an important step toward healthier kids meals and healthier children, Wootan added.

FoodFacts.com heartily agrees. This is a definite step forward for childhood obesity concerns. While it’s not going to fix the problem, we know that the manners in which products are promoted have a definite effect on children. If they aren’t seeing the kid’s meal with a soda, they probably won’t be asking for a kid’s meal with soda. And, although it may not seem like a huge help, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2013/10/12/McDonalds-plan-to-remove-Happy-Meal-soda-clarified/UPI-80011381550479/#ixzz2hwZrqAI7

9-year old calls out McDonald’s CEO, tells him his company is tricking kids

FoodFacts.com loves hearing stories about consumers making a real difference in the issues surrounding our food supply. We applaud nutritionally-conscious consumers who speak their mind and make their voices heard. And we especially applaud situations where those voices are coming to us loud and clear from the youngest generations. FoodFacts.com salutes those young people with the strength and courage to make their opinions count at early ages.

Recently, McDonalds CEO Don Thompson had the pleasure of being put on the spot by just such a nutrition-conscious consumer – 9 year-old Hannah Robertson from Oakbrook, Illinois. Hannah’s mom, Kia is a kid’s nutritional activist. She created an interactive children’s nutrition game called “Today I Ate a Rainbow”. Hannah’s apple didn’t fall far from Kia’s tree – Hannah stood up in front of the CEO of one of the wolrd’s biggest brands and gave him a piece of her mind at the McDonald’s annual shareholders meeting.
“There are things in life that aren’t fair — like when your pet dies,” said Hannah, who spoke with great confidence. “I don’t think it’s fair when big companies try to trick kids into eating food. It isn’t fair that so many kids my age are getting sick,” she said — blaming McDonald’s for unfairly targeting kids with advertisements for food that isn’t good for them.

Hannah ended her time-limited comments, made during the meeting’s question-and-answer session, by pointedly but politely asking: “Mr. Thompson, don’t you want kids to be healthy so they can live a long and healthy life?”

Mr. Thompson responded to Hannah, telling her that McDonald’s doesn’t sell junk food and that his own kids eat McDonald’s.

He explained that he, too, watches what his kids eat. “We cook lots of fruits and veggies at home,” he said. He also noted that McDonald’s sells fruits (apple slices in kids meals) and veggies (including side salads on the Dollar Menu). He also said that McDonald’s recently began to sell fat-free chocolate milk. Mr. Thompson thanked Hannah for her comments and told her he thought it was great that she wants to eat more fruits and veggies.

His response to this brave and well spoken young girl was basically a non-response. But sadly for Mr. Thompson the issue of improving childhood nutrition and fighting childhood obesity isn’t going anywhere. And while FoodFacts.com understands that McDonald’s has tried to make changes to improve its menu … well, let’s just say that we’re not quite as concerned about the calorie count of their menu items as we are about what’s lurking in the ingredient lists of said menu items.

So, Mr. Thompson, we think you should listen to Hannah and avoid telling her that your company isn’t selling junk food. We actually think you might want to review the ingredient lists for some of your “healthier” menu items like the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken or the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. Then you should take a look at your company’s most popular children’s offering, Chicken McNuggets. Hannah has a point, Mr. Thompson. We think you should start listening.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2013/05/23/mcdonalds-ceo-don-thompson-childhood-nutrition/2355129/

Just don’t eat it … now fast food is linked to asthma and eczema in children

FoodFacts.com has always been in the “don’t eat fast food” camp. If you look at any of the fast food products detailed on our site, you’ll see that the ingredient lists are horrendous; the products are packed with fat and sodium. Generally speaking, there is just no good reason to eat these products. Except if you’re a child being enticed by the “cool” element that seems to be linked to fast foods for kids.

In a new international study shows that kids who eat fast food three or more times a week are more likely to have severe allergic asthma, hay fever and eczema. In fact, the results have researchers thinking that fast food may be playing a role in the increase in these conditions.

More than 300,000 13 and 14 year olds from over 50 countries and over 180,000 6 and 7 year olds from over 30 countries participated in the study. These participants were all part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Children. This is the largest study of its kind.

The parents of the younger children and the teenagers themselves were asked questions about their symptoms of asthma, eczema and hay fever as well as their diet weekly. The severity and frequency of their symptoms were analyzed. In addition to the questions regarding their health symptoms, researchers noted their consumption of specific foods that were associated with their influence (good or bad) on health. These foods included: vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, bread, butter, margarine, rice, pasta, nuts, milk, eggs and fast food or burgers. The questions included the frequency of their consumption of those food categories – never, occasionally, once or twice a week or three or more times each week.

After the researchers applied controls that could affect the result, it was found that the ONLY type of food that had the same links between both age groups was fast food. The researchers felt that this link added plausibility to the idea that fast food was the cause.

All of the teenagers involved in the study who consumed fast food also displayed severe symptoms of all three conditions. It didn’t matter if they were male or female or what country they lived in.

Teens consuming three or more servings of fast food every week showed a 39% increased risk of severe asthma. Younger children displayed a 27% increase for hay fever and eczema.

In contrast, teens consuming fruit three times or more every week showed an 11% reduction in symptoms and the reduction of symptoms in younger kids was 14%.

While the researchers noted that the study does not prove a cause and effect relationship between fast food and these conditions, they stressed that the results do create the need for further research.

FoodFacts.com is aware of the growing asthma problem for children around the world. We are hopeful that the analysis conducted within this international study will spur further research into the possible link between fast food and a condition affecting millions of children which can often be debilitating and even deadly.

Read more: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/254909.php

Are calories the only thing we should be worrying about?

Today, Food Facts heard about the roll-out of McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 calories promotion. As of today, you’ll be able to walk into your local McDonald’s and view signage listing the products on the McDonald’s menu that are under 400 calories each. The promotion has been timed around the Summer Olympics in London that begin with opening ceremonies this coming Friday, July 27th, 2012.

It’s no secret that McDonald’s came under fire for sponsoring the games. With obesity rates on the rise worldwide, folks in the medical profession as well as health advocates everywhere were questioning whether or not this particular company should be one of the “faces” of this ancient event that promotes athleticism and sportsmanship. So … it appears as though this was McDonald’s answer to its naysayers.

In the first place, it’s important to note that there aren’t really that many menu items on the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” list. And the products featured are single items – not meals. You won’t find a burger with fries and a coke on it. Instead, you’ll find a burger – a regular, small burger. We all know that’s not the burger most folks are ordering from their menu and that it’s fairly rare that anyone is going to order any burger without some sort of meal accompaniment.

But more importantly, Food Facts feels compelled to ask – just how are we defining healthy these days??? If an item is under 400 calories, does that actually make it desirable to eat? We don’t think so. And we wanted to take the time to point out some of the less-than-desirable ingredients you’ll find in a few of the products on the new McDonald’s list.

Filet O Fish sandwich: A few of the controversial ingredients you’ll find in this item are: Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Azodicarbonamide and Polydorbate 80. But it does come in at 380 calories.

 

Sausage McMuffin: The controversial ingredients for this product include: Barley Malted Flour, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, BHA, BHT, Caramel Color, Propyl Gallate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, and Sodium Benzoate. But it’s on the list at 370 calories.

 

Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap: A few of the ingredients you may not want to consume include: Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Hyrolyzed Protein, Polysorbate 80, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil and Sodium Benzoate. This weighs in at 270 calories.

There are more products to examine and we’d like to encourage our blog followers to go into our database and search them out. You can find an image of the “Favorites Under 400 Calories” signage here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/23/mcdonalds-favorites-under-400-calories_n_1695885.html   Take a look inside these products that are being heralded as “better to eat” than the Big Mac and make some educated choices. And, more importantly, educate others about your own educated choices.

For some people, calories are a big concern. But Food Facts likes to think that if people understood the ingredient list, calories wouldn’t be the ONLY concern.

Read more about the McDonald’s “Favorites Under 400 Calories” promotion: http://www.takepart.com/article/2012/07/23/low-cal-menu-mcdonalds-new-ploy-woo-its-critics
http://jezebel.com/5928496/mcdonalds-swears-its-a-perfectly-healthy-olympic-sponsor

Food for Thought: Pink Slime

FoodFacts.com will be tackling the topic of pink slime today.

 

Pink slime, also known as lean finely textured beef (LFTB), has been making headlines recently compliments of the controversy surrounding its usage in fast food and school lunches. This meat filler, as some may know, is used in roughly 70% of all ground beef.

 

Pink slime is nothing new – it’s been used for years in meats. However, not many people may know as much. It earned the nickname “pink slime” several years ago, when a microbiologist referred to LFTB as such in an email. The topic has recently been picked up thanks to a campaign against pink slime by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.

 

What is pink slime? In short, it’s ammonia-treated beef. While many people think cleaning products when they think ammonia, ammonium hydroxide was actually cleared for usage in food products back in the 1970s. It is used in meats to remove things such as salmonella and e-coli.

 

As many of you, especially our Facebook followers, are aware, the foods we consume typically contain ingredients we may have never even considered or known about. This is just another example of not really knowing what exactly is going into our bodies.

 

That being said, deciding whether or not LFTB should be eaten essentially falls on the consumer. Making yourself aware of the issue, and educating yourself on the topic itself, you should be able to make your own informed decision. Is it safe? Is it unsafe? Is it gross? Those are questions one has to answer for themselves. But the basic facts are these:

 

-         Pink slime is nothing new. In fact, we’ve been consuming it for years.

-         Pink slime is ammonia-treated beef.

-         Ammonium hydroxide has been approved for use in foods for 40+ years.

-         Ammonia is used to remove salmonella and e-coli.

 

However, just some food for thought. There are plenty of products that have been okayed for consumption (think artificial colors), which are plenty controversial because of unknown effects. That’s not to say this is necessarily bad for you, but it’s something to certainly consider.

 

As for its use in fast food and school lunches, pink slime has been eliminated from many fast food items. As for school lunches, the easiest way to avoid such products if so chosen is to send kids to school with homemade lunches. That’s not to say the controversial item won’t be removed from school lunches, but it’s an option to keep in mind to put parents at ease.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to wish you the best!

The best reason we’ve ever seen to avoid fast food completely

FoodFacts.com was just reading up on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation regarding fast food. We’ve all known for awhile that there’s absolutely nothing redeeming in the ingredient lists of fast food products. They’re just bad for you. They have too much fat, too much salt, and tons of controversial ingredients. But now on top of that, it’s been found that there’s a very real possibility they cause brain damage.

In this new study, fatty foods were found to damage the hypothalamus region of rodent brains. The hypothalamus produces the hormones that control hunger, thirst, sleep and moods. It’s thought to be the “self-regulation” center of the human brain, helping us to determine how many hours of sleep we need, when we’ve eaten enough, etc.

During this study, rats and mice were fed a high-fat diet, similar to a fast-food heavy American diet. After 24 hours, their hypothalamuses were inflamed. In about a week, the rodents’ brains activated cells to repair the damage. But after several seeks, the inflammation returned and stayed for the remaining eight months of the study. The findings show that a diet can actually re-program the structure of the brain. It’s felt that this could explain why it can be so hard to lose weight and keep it off permanently. The rodents on the high-fat diet had a 25% decline in a special kind of cell that’s devoted to regulating appetite and fat control. The findings point to the idea that when we’re consuming an unhealthy, high-fat diet, we aren’t able to control our habits because the diet has actually affected the brain.

It’s important to remember that while this is compelling, researchers have yet to determine if the damage observed in rodent brains is analogous to what happens in the human brain. However, this is the first time that a study has found actual changes in brain structure based on fat consumption.

FoodFacts.com feels that this is important information for everyone in our community to note and share with others in their lives. Getting this new word out about fast food will give people another reason to stay away and recommit to preparing fresh foods at home.

Fast Food finds a way around the law

FoodFacts.com knows that many in our community have strong opinions regarding the fast food industry and how it affects our children’s health. We knew the following information would be valuable as you continue to make healthy food choices for yourselves and your families.

Beginning today, McDonald’s and other fast food chains in San Francisco will, by law, have to stop giving  toys away with their children’s meals. The city of San Francisco begins today to enforce the ordinance that prohibits including toys in any children’s meal that contains more than 600 calories, doesn’t include a fruit and vegetable or does include a sugary drink. We’re read a lot of conflicting opinions about these new requirements on fast food restaurants like McDonald’s — everything from fast food chains shouldn’t be patronized by adults, let alone children, ever … not even as a treat, to it’s the responsibility of parents and not the government to determine what their children consume and there should be no laws or requirements that restrict the habits of the public.

But, what if McDonald’s and other chains like it actually found a way to comply with the new law and basically give away the toys anyway? Are they doing something wrong? Are they being a smart business organization? Are they morally bankrupt? Or are they upholding the rights of people to decide for their children’s diet themselves, without government interference?

These are interesting questions, and we’ll all have to form opinions, because that’s exactly what the 19 McDonald’s restaurants in San Francisco have done. That’s right, they’re complying with the law, and anyone ordering a happy meal who wants a toy will now have to pay for it.

You might think that’s a deterrent to a child getting the happy meal to begin with.

Think again. The toy will only cost .10. And, in addition, that .10 will go directly to the Ronald McDonald House. Do you think that might be specifically designed to make the parents spending those ten pennies feel better about their kids eating all those greasy, fried, and sometimes strange ingredients?

But McDonald’s is not breaking the law. So now, by law, McDonald’s doesn’t need to make sure its kids’ meals contain less than 600 calories, include fruits and vegetables and don’t include any sugary drinks. That’s because, in reality, the consumer is paying for the toy … even if it costs a dime and that dime is being donated to the Ronald McDonald House charity.

So, for McDonalds anyway, all’s right with the world (or at least with San Francisco) … they comply with the law, they don’t have to change the ingredients in their children’s menu, Ronald McDonald House charities makes some money and the kids get the toys they wanted in the first place. Legislators heads may very well be spinning right now, because this is not the way things were supposed to unfold.

But, is everything alright for our children?

FoodFacts.com would like to get our community’s opinions on this very important subject. Do you think it’s o.k. for the fast food industry to market to children with toys (even if you have to pay .10 for them)? Or do you think that perhaps children’s meals don’t belong at McDonalds or Burger King or any other fast food establishment. After all, maybe if they weren’t there at all,  future generations of adults would be far better off in the long run.

Unhappy Meal … Bad food isn’t just harmful to your body, it may be harmful to your mind too!

9227396-portrait-of-sad-woman-with-burger-over-white-background1Foodfacts.com wants to pass this information along to our community, as we feel it can really help influence your eating habits and your life.  A Spanish study published in the U.S. in early 2011 confirms that consumption of foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression.  There had been previous studies linking fast food and junk foods to the disease and this most recent study confirms them.

Importantly, researchers also showed that products like olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness.

The study followed and analyzed the diet and lifestyle of over 12,000 volunteers for over six years.  At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with depression.  By the end of the study, 657 of the volunteers were new sufferers.  Those volunteers with an elevated consumption of trans-fats which are defined as fats present in artificial form in industrially-produced foods and pastries) presented up to a 48 percent increase in the risk of depression in comparison to those volunteers who did not consume these fats.  It was noted that the more trans-fats were consumed, the greater the harmful effect was produced in volunteers.

Simultaneously it was found that the impact of polyunsaturated fats which are composed of larger amounts of fish and vegetable oils, as well as olive oil, was associated with a lower risk of suffering depression.

It was noted that the test group for the study was composed of a European population that enjoys a relatively low intake of trans-fats, making up only about .4% of the total caloric intake of the volunteers studied.  Regardless of the normally low levels of trans-fat consumption of the test group, there was an increase in the risk of depression of almost 50%.   It was noted that the U.S. population derives about 2.5% of its caloric intake from these trans-fats.

Depression rates have been rising worldwide in recent years.  This important study points to the possibility that that rise may be attributable to the changes in fat sources of Western diets.   Gradually we have been substituting beneficial polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats derived from nuts, vegetables and fish for the saturated and trans-fats found in meats, butters and other mass-produced food products like fast food.

FoodFacts will continue to follow this and other similar stories and keep you updated