Tag Archives: food facts

A new take on eating healthy combines vice and virtue to achieve goals

iStock_000023805834SmallIf consistent healthy eating proves to be a challenge, there seems to be a possibility that total dedication may not be as effective in achieving a healthy lifestyle as you think.

Variety may trump virtue when it comes to the struggle to eat healthy, says a Vanderbilt marketing professor who studies consumer self-control and endorses “vice-virtue bundles” combining nutritious and not-so-nutritious foods.

“We suggest a simple … solution that can help consumers who would otherwise choose vice over virtue to simultaneously increase consumption of healthy foods (virtues) and decrease consumption of unhealthy foods (vices) while still fulfilling taste goals — ‘vice-virtue bundles,’” Kelly L. Haws, associate professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, said.

The idea is to not give up entirely foods that provide pleasure but aren’t nutritious. Instead, the focus should be on lowering the portion of the “vice” foods and correspondingly raising the portion of a healthy food to replace it.

In a series of experiments, Haws and her colleagues found that people have a “taste-health balance point” — a proportion of vice and virtuous foods that make up one serving — which they find satisfactory. For most, the perfect vice-virtue bundle is made up of a small (1/4) to medium (1/2) portion of vice. So if a vice-virtue bundle was made up of fries and slices of apple, it might take a small or very small serving of fries to satiate the need for the vice food.

Haws is among five researchers who lay out their findings in “Vice-Virtue Bundles,” a paper under review for publication.

Vice-virtue bundles could also be the answer for many in the food service industry who are actively seeking out healthy food options that consumers will voluntarily choose, Haws said.

“Given that consumers consistently find vice-virtue bundles to be attractive, managers should consider adding vice-virtue bundles to their product lines,” Haws said.

“For restaurants and food vendors that already offer pure vice and virtue options, vice — virtue bundles provide an opportunity for product line expansion through existing items rather than through development of completely new offerings.

“This provides a potential opportunity for cost-savings, as many food establishments devote considerable resources to developing new product offerings, which can in turn increase inventory or production costs.”

This round of research did not mix in any pricing or marketing components, but the researchers say it would be easy for restaurants to pursue such experiments on their own.

“With the right marketing and the right choice sets, we believe that vice-virtue bundles offer exciting directions for future research and practice aimed at maximizing health without compromising tastes,” the researchers concluded.

Haws’ research interests are related to consumer behavior, with a focus on issues relevant to consumer welfare, specifically with respect to food/health and financial decision making. Her interests include consumer self-control, strategies for improving food consumption and behavioral pricing.

So what would you like to find in your vice-virtue bundle? FoodFacts.com can think of a few ideas. How about a good-sized serving of your favorite vegetable with a very small side of fries? A serving of roasted chicken with a very small serving of mac and cheese? Baked salmon with just a spoonful of scalloped potatoes?

While the information is an interesting possibility, there are more of a few of us that agree that just a little taste of that mac and cheese paired with a regular serving of baked chicken just might make us crave a little more of the mac and cheese. Maybe it’s just us …

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140811180253.htm

The early demise of Burger King’s Satisfries

iStock_000016208114SmallSeems like we only just blogged about the introduction of Burger King’s lower-calorie Satisfries. Less than a year later, we’re blogging about the end of the chain’s healthier option for french fry lovers.

This is a blow to the fast-food chain, which has struggled to keep up with its direct rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s while also dealing with customers fleeing for brands like Chipotle and Panera, which are marketed as healthier options. Satisfries were supposed to make burger fans feel better about their fast-food meal.

Satisfries are made with a special batter that absorbs less oil, causing them to have 20% fewer calories than regular Burger King fries. A small serving of Satisfries contains 270 calories and 11 grams of fat, while the conventional version has 340 calories and 15 grams of fat.

Price may have been one factor in why customers largely rejected the lower-calorie option. A small order of the lower-calorie fries typically costs about $1.89, compared to $1.59 for a bag of its regular fries.

Earlier this week, Burger King’s 7,500 North American eateries were given the option of continuing to offer Satisfries. Owners of only 2,500 restaurants decided to do so.

“The remaining restaurants will treat the product as a limited-time menu offering and have begun phasing it out after this unprecedented run,” Burger King North America President Alex Macedo said in a statement.

The company maintains that it always planned to allow customer demand to decide the fate of the product.

Essentially, Satisfries are dead at 5,000 Burger Kings and on life support at 2,500 others. The product was launched to cater to what seemed like a specific consumer demand — healthier products — but ultimately it seems people who eat fries are not going to change their habits to save a few calories.

FoodFacts.com has to wonder whether it’s possible for any fast food chain to successfully introduce a menu item that can be perceived as a healthier option. An honest look at Satisfries tells us that while there is a savings in fat and calories, the difference may not be big enough to convince educated consumers that these fries could actually be deemed healthier.

Burger King did make an effort, though. And for that, they should be commended.

We’d love to see those efforts continue. Maybe they could begin with offering a burger with a lower fat content. That might make a real difference to consumers. Just a thought.

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/08/15/why-did-customers-reject-burger-kings-satisfries.aspx

Food manufacturers quietly making the move away from GMO ingredients

GMO signWhile many states are attempting to adopt initiatives like the Vermont’s recently passed GMO labeling legislation, it appears that many food manufacturers are quietly attempting to make changes to their ingredients to meet consumer demands.

There have been other companies that haven’t been quiet about their non-GMO intentions. Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream publicly pledged to remove GMO ingredients from their products over a year ago and has worked hard to keep that pledge.

In fact, in the face of complaints from some of their customers, the much-loved Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch has been reworked to become Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch. That flavor reformulation was a direct result of the company’s very public pledge. Heath Bars, manufactured by Hershey, DO contain GMO ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s couldn’t leave the Heath Bars in the ice cream if they were going to remove all GMO ingredients.

Ben & Jerry’s has taken a vocal stand in recent years in support of states looking at legislation that would require manufacturers to disclose food that is made with genetic engineering. And Vermont recently passed law will require labeling starting in 2015. Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield launched a campaign to help fill the coffers of Vermont’s crowd-sourced defense fund set up to combat lawsuits over its labeling law.
The news that Ben & Jerry’s is taking a stand on a controversial issue is no surprise; it’s part of the company’s calling card. But some other mainstream companies are carefully — and much more quietly — calibrating their non-GMO strategies.

General Mills’ original plain Cheerios are now GMO-free, but the only announcement was in a company blog post in January. And you won’t see any label on the box highlighting the change. Grape Nuts, another cereal aisle staple, made by Post, is also non-GMO. And Target has about 80 of its own brand items certified GMO-free.

Megan Westgate runs the Non-GMO Project, which acts as an independent third-party verifier of GMO-free products, including Target’s. She says her organization knows about “a lot of exciting cool things that are happening that for whatever strategic reasons get kept pretty quiet.”

The Non-GMO Project has certified more than 20,000 products since it launched in 2007, and Westgate says this is one of the fastest growing sectors of the natural food industry, representing $6 billion in annual sales. But just because they’re testing the water doesn’t mean most mainstream companies are ready to start publicizing their changes.

Nathan Hendricks, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, says big food producers are trying to gauge what direction consumers are headed in. “Ultimately,” he says, “these big companies aren’t just friends with Monsanto or something. They want to make a profit, and they want to be able to do what’s going to make them money.” So they’d better have a product line in the works if consumer sentiment starts to shift more heavily toward GMO-free food.

But even as they create GMO-free products, many of these corporations are fighting state initiatives that would require them to give consumers more information about their ingredients.

They often fight those battles through the powerful Grocery Manufacturers Association, or GMA, a trade group with hundreds of members. It has just filed suit against Vermont over the state’s GMO labeling law.

Even Ben & Jerry’s, so vocal in its anti-GMO stance, has a conflict, of sorts. It may have eliminated GMOs, but it’s still owned by Unilever, which put a lot of money toward fighting labeling legislation in California and belongs to the GMA. That might make things sticky for Ben & Jerry’s CEO Solheim.

But he equivocates. “You know,” he shrugs, “in big companies a lot of things happen behind closed doors. I think we’ll leave that conversation behind closed doors.” But Solheim says a unique agreement between the ice cream maker and Unilever allows Ben & Jerry’s to continue its social mission independent of its parent’s choices.

One reason these large companies might be quietly working to make GMO-free food now is because finding ingredients can be a major challenge. More than 90 percent of all the soybeans and corn grown in the U.S. are genetically engineered. Most of those GMO crops go to producers of eggs, milk and meat who feed their animals with them, but GMO soy oil and cornstarch are used in a lot of food manufacturing, too.

To ensure non-GMO ingredients, the supply chain has to remain separate and pristine. Crops need to be grown far enough away from genetically engineered seeds to prevent cross-contamination. Harvesting equipment needs to be either used only for non-GMO crops or cleaned extensively before switching. The same is true for processing and manufacturing facilities and transport receptacles like shipping containers.

That’s why Westgate says a natural foods brand like Kashi, owned by Kellogg’s, is transitioning more slowly than many fans would like. She points out that Kashi told consumers it would take a couple of years to switch over all of its ingredients. It’s a matter of changing contracts with growers, finding farmland where non-GMOs can be grown successfully, and reworking recipes so the flavors that customers have grown used to aren’t drastically changed, like what has happened with Ben & Jerry’s new toffee.
Right now, non-GMO food fetches a premium. Purdue University agricultural economist Chris Hurt says that premium is likely to come down if this part of the agricultural sector gains more traction and an efficiency of scale can kick in.

Ultimately, the consumer is king. And the question of whether or not consumers will want non-GMO products is still up in the air.

Not every company is Ben & Jerry’s. Their agreement with Unilever is the exception and not the rule in food manufacturing. We do get that. And we do understand that the removal of GMO ingredients from product lines is expensive and complicated. It’s a long process and one that isn’t easy for food manufacturers to undertake. FoodFacts.com is pleased to learn that there are mainstream manufacturers taking the necessary steps towards the removal of GMO ingredients even though they aren’t making announcements. Is the “consumer king” though? While it is true that consumer voices are motivating changes in food manufacturing, we have to believe that if all of us matter so much to food companies, many of the problems inherent in our food supply probably wouldn’t exist in the first place.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/22/333725880/some-food-producers-are-quietly-dumping-gmo-ingredients

When it comes to salt, too little may be just as bad as too much

iStock_000014891232SmallWe know that high levels of sodium in our food supply are a serious problem. As also know that most of the sodium we consume daily isn’t coming from the salt shakers on our kitchen tables. Instead sodium resides in the myriad of processed foods residing on our grocery store shelves. High salt intake is in the news often with reports of a variety of health problems that can result from a high-sodium diet. But now, it appears that too little daily sodium might be bad for us too.

If the body takes in too much salt, there is a higher risk of hypertension, kidney problems, heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. In a study focused on the effects of salt on blood pressure, nutritionists found out that those with moderate salt intake did not benefit from lessening their salt consumption as much as those who have high salt intake did.

In another study that focused on heart disease and death, researchers concluded that those with extremely low salt diets are not necessarily healthier. In fact, they said that extremely low salt intake can lead to health hazards.

A third study, however, said that there is a connection between less salt intake and better health.

All three studies were published on the August 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it is recommended that a person consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, TIME reports. To have an idea, a teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.

One of the things that all three studies have in common is that they all confirm that too much salt is indeed bad for the body.

New York Daily News reports that the average daily consumption of salt worldwide is about 7.5 to 15.0 grams, which translates to three to six grams of sodium. The number is well above the limit of 1.5 to 2.4 grams of sodium that is recommended by different organizations.

Dr. Andrew Mente of the McMaster University in Ontario and the chief author of the blood pressure study said:

“If people are eating a very high level of sodium and they reduce their intake, you get a large reduction in blood pressure. But if you’re eating moderate level of sodium—about what most North Americans eat—and you reduce it to a lower level, you’re not really getting much in return as far as blood pressure reduction is concerned.”

With the debate on salt still ongoing, one thing is for sure. The average salt intake worldwide is more than the recommended amount, and it should be changed. Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Politcy at Tufts University said:

“The big picture is that high sodium is bad and should be reversed, and there’s just some controversy over how low you should go. Whether it should be 2 grams or 1.5 grams or 2.5 grams per day, that’s all theory. Right now it’s close to 4 grams per day. Let’s get it down below 3, and the we can argue how low it should go. But right now it’s clearly way too high.”

FoodFacts.com understands that the debate over the “perfect” amount of sodium we should consume daily may not yet be agreed upon by the experts. And while we understand the importance of that debate – especially in light of these new studies – we strongly believe and advocate for the preparation of fresh, whole foods at home in our own kitchens. The less we rely on processed products, the easier it will be for all of us to achieve a perfect balance of sodium in our daily diets.

http://www.inquisitr.com/1416601/salt-debate-too-little-salt-is-bad-too/#rQYF8IxstfDLzbU4.99

Misleading trans fat claims make news as Quaker settles labeling law suit

iStock_000041289832SmallWhen it comes to trans fat, FoodFacts.com has always been amazed that manufacturers are able to label foods containing less than .5 grams per serving as “trans fat free.” The labeling is false, it’s purposely misleading and it relies on the idea that consumers don’t understand ingredients. What manufacturers forget, though, is that there actually are educated consumers out there who understand that partially hydrogenated oils in an ingredient list indicate the presence of trans fat in a product. And some of them are willing to do something about misleading product claims.

The Quaker Oats Co., a division of Purchase, N.Y.-based PepsiCo, Inc., has agreed to remove trans fats from its Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal products as part of a lawsuit settlement dating back more than three years.

Under terms of the settlement filed June 12 and made final on July 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Quaker Oats said it will pay up to $760,000 in attorney fees and estimates it will spend about $1.4 million to reformulate the products.

Although Quaker continues to deny allegations that the products contain or contained false or misleading labeling, the company has agreed to remove partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from Oatmeal to Go and Instant Quaker Oatmeal by the end of 2015. Quaker also has agreed not to re-introduce PHOs into those products for at least 10 years thereafter, and has agreed not to introduce PHOs into Quaker Chewy bars, or the Instant Quaker Oatmeal Products that do not currently contain PHOs, for a period of 10 years. Finally, Quaker has agreed to stop making the statement “contains a dietarily insignificant amount of trans fat” on the labels of any of its products that contain 0.2 grams or more of artificial trans fat per serving by the end of this year.

Approximately 50 different varieties of Quaker’s Instant Oatmeal and Chewy and Oatmeal to Go bars were named in the settlement.

So even though Quaker is still standing by its product statements, they’ve agreed to remove trans fat from the products named in the lawsuit. Nothing wrong with the products, seemingly, just that pesky lawsuit.

We don’t really think that’s it. Instead, we think that it makes more sense for Quaker to settle out of court so that the company can stand by its claims and its products while making some quiet changes than to let this go to court where millions of other consumers may develop a clear understanding of what’s really in their products.

This is a victory for consumers, undoubtedly. At the same time, we’d really rather that the strange rule about claiming 0 grams of trans fat when products really do contain it would disappear.

http://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/news_home/Business_News/2014/08/Quaker_settles_trans_fat_label.aspx?ID=%7B84BC2EC0-2C7E-45A4-9A3A-F87392B80CBB%7D

Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Under Federal Consideration

Three Soda BottlesWe followed the fate of the proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban in New York City and watched as it was defeated. Former Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to curtail the sweet tooth of millions of New Yorkers was met with everything from applause to extreme criticism. A pizzeria in Manhattan actually refused to serve the former mayor a second slice of pizza, telling him that if he wanted to force New Yorkers to count their calories and reduce their sugar intake, the pizzeria could also control his. While that made for some memorable headlines, there are many who still believe that the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Ban (which applied only to drinks over 16 ounces) was a healthy move for New Yorkers. In that spirit, the federal government is moving towards its own version of health-oriented legislation.

For the first time since 2009, legislation proposing a national tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is under consideration in the House of Representatives. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax Act — or SWEET Act — last week.

The bill would levy an excise tax on sugar content in beverages. Under the SWEET Act, manufacturers would pay a tax of one cent per teaspoon of sugar or other sweetener added to most beverages. For point of reference, a 20-ounce soda contains 16 teaspoons of sugar. The tax works out to just under a penny-per-ounce of beverage. Drinks such as milk, infant formula, alcoholic beverages and many juices are excluded.

But because the tax is based on amount of sugar and not on ounces of beverage, the federal approach is “a built-in incentive for manufacturers to diminish the concentration of sugar,” says Dr. Lynn Silver with Oakland’s Public Health Institute. Silver and other PHI staff gave input to DeLauro’s staff in formulating the bill and also has been part of the Berkeley coalition that helped draft the measure there.

She said the national approach is different from local efforts, because a graduated tax is “more complicated” to implement at the local level. “It makes more sense at the federal level which has the resources to track down all the beverages and figure out how much they should be taxed,” Silver said. “But for smaller communities, that would be challenging.”
One of the first questions that reasonably pops into people’s minds when they hear about such a bill is what is the possibility of it passing? Silver countered that question with a question: “How many times did health care reform get introduced? Lots. Almost a hundred years before it actually passed — and it passed in pieces, with Medicare and Medicaid each being created separately.”

Silver said she expected “many attempts and incremental efforts to really make change.”

Mexico passed a similar soda tax to the one proposed — a peso per ounce, or about 10 percent — which took effect in January. The Wall Street Journal reported in late February that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages promptly dropped 5 to 7 percent. At the same time, consumption of diet sodas and bottled water are up.

“I think the first lesson of the Mexican soda tax,” said Silver, “is that it’s working as expected.” People are cutting back on sugary beverages and increasing consumption of more healthy alternatives.

If the SWEET Act passes, the money would go to the Prevention and Public Health Fund created under the Affordable Care Act. In addition to any public health programs the money might fund, a tax is estimated to have modest effects on health, because of reduced consumption of sugar.

A U.C. San Francisco study found that a national penny-per-ounce tax would reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption by 15 percent. Researchers said that reduction would lead to modest weight loss and reductions in diabetes. Over 10 years, researchers estimated there would be 26,000 fewer premature deaths, 95,000 fewer instances of heart disease and 8,000 fewer strokes.

The American Beverage Association opposes the tax. A statement on its website is titled, “Taxes Do Not Make People Healthy.”

FoodFacts.com can agree with that general statement. But we’d follow it up with “Taxes can motivate people to consume healthier beverages.”

We all know that as soon as manufacturers are being charged for sugar by the teaspoon in their sodas, iced teas, and some of their juice drinks, they will immediately pass those costs off to their consumers with higher prices. We feel pretty comfortable making the assumption that once prices go up, consumption will go down. Seems like a pretty good reason for those same manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their beverages.

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2014/07/30/national-soda-tax-bill-introduced-in-washington/

Up to 15% of coconut water brands may contain more sugar than their labels reveal

coconutWe love transparency in food labeling. FoodFacts.com believes that every consumer has the right to know exactly what’s in the foods and beverages we’re purchasing. It’s necessary for so many reasons — from food allergies, to ingredient concerns, to the health requirements many consumers must adhere to under doctors’ advice.

Often there are products introduced that we all feel good about — products with known health benefits that become trends almost instantly. Unfortunately, some mainstream manufacturers begin production and adulterate those healthy products, offering additional ingredients that consumers aren’t expecting. Almond milk is a great example of this. An otherwise healthy trend, many brands of almond milk feature ingredients that health conscious consumers aren’t comfortable with. It appears that the same may be true for coconut water.

iTi Tropicals, an importer of 100% pure coconut water in bulk, is alleging that as much as 15% of the imported coconut water contains added sugars that are not being declared on the product labels.

Lawrenceville, NJ-based iTi engaged an independent laboratory, Krueger Food Laboratories, to determine if commercially available coconut waters are properly labeled. “iTi is concerned that the continued sale of coconut waters with undeclared added sugars and other ingredients threatens to jeopardize consumer confidence in the category,” according to a statement from the company. “iTi, therefore, feels it is incumbent on the industry to take proactive steps to put an end to this misleading practice. By releasing the summary of the results of these analyses, iTi hopes that retailers and brand-holders will strive to ensure the ingredients added to coconut water are properly labeled.”

iTi released its survey of market data revealing that coconut water products with added sweeteners represent about 75% of the coconut water market.
“Consumers may not realize there are essentially two categories of coconut water products: (1) those with no added sugars and (2) those with added sugars. It may be challenging for consumers to identify all products with added sugars because testing by a reputable laboratory revealed that some of the sweetened coconut water products, which represent about 15% of the market, fail to declare added sugars,” the iTi statement said.

The market leaders in the unsweetened category represent 25% of all volume sold, according IRI data, and include brands such as Coco Libre, Naked, Purity Organics, Zico, and Zola, which supply 100% pure coconut waters without added sugars declared on the label or found in the products, according to iTi.

“Consumers of these products are demonstrating an interest in the pure coconut water taste and the lower levels of total sugars they provide. As consumers continue to look for products without added sugars, we believe the unsweetened coconut water is poised for rapid growth. For that growth to occur, companies will need to properly label added sugars to allow consumers to distinguish the sweetened and the unsweetened varieties of coconut water. Unfortunately, our testing of coconut water beverages in the market has revealed that numerous brands that are not properly labeling their products with added sugars,” the iTi statement said.

The added sugar category represents 75% of all volume sold and includes brands such as Vita Coco and Goya who combined represent 60% of all volume sold in the United States. These products declare the added sugars and generally contain more sugars than the 100% pure coconut water. For example, according to the product label of the market leader Vita Coco, it contains “less than 1% natural fruit sugar.” While one percent may sound like a small number, it can represent approximately 25% of the total sugars in the product.

In addition, iTi identified 12 canned and bottled brands packed in Thailand that contain undeclared added sugars. These inexpensive added sugars sweeten the products and help mask the taste of the naturally occurring minerals in pure coconut water and in some cases are even used to replace coconut water sugars. The practice offers unfair economic advantages to the perpetrators; it also hurts iTi (which markets only 100% pure coconut water in bulk, as an ingredient, with no added sugars) and it also harms companies that properly label their products. This latter group represents approximately 15% of the total market and brings the total sweetened category to 75%, according to iTi.

This particular story goes beyond the adulteration of almond milk with ingredients like carrageenan, because that carrageenan is identifiable on labels. It’s disturbing to understand that there are brands of coconut water avoiding the declaration of added sugar on their labels. This flies in the face of regulations, misleads consumers and adds to the already existing problem of sugar consumption. The last thing health conscious consumers need or want is to unknowingly purchase products that introduce more sugar into their diets. This study offers valuable insight on what can be going on behind a nutrition label that manufacturers don’t want to reveal.

http://www.beverageworld.com/articles/full/16734/coconut-water-supplier-iti-alleges-adulteration-of-15-of-imports#sthash.zo3l6daR.dpuf

Dunkin Donuts Celebrates Shark Week

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

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

Introducing the Shark Bite donut.

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

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

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

Donut: Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron as Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamin Mononitrate, Enzyme, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Palm Oil, Water, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Whey (a milk derivative), Skim Milk, Yeast, Contains less than 2% of the following: Salt, Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda), Defatted Soy Flour, Wheat Starch, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Cellulose Gum, Soy Lecithin, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Artificial Flavor, Sodium Caseinate (a milk derivative), Enzyme, Colored with (Turmeric and Annatto Extracts, Beta Carotene), Eggs; White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor; Red Icing: [White Icing: Sugar, Water, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Sodium Propionate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Salt, Titanium Dioxide (Color), Citric Acid, Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids, Agar, Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor; Red Coloring: Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Glycerin, Modified Food Starch, Sugar, Carrageenan Gum, Sodium Benzoate and Potassium Sorbate (Preservatives), Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid; May Contain FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Blue 2, FD&C Red 3, FD&C Red 40, FD&C Yellow 6, FD&C Yellow 5].

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

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

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

Parents: here’s another great reason to spend more time in your own kitchen!

cooking togetherHere at FoodFacts.com, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of preparing meals at home. You know the reasons we’re such strong proponents of home cooking — better ingredients, less salt, less sugar and healthier fats are among the finer points. But we should never forget to include the idea that home-cooked meals that utilize fresh ingredients win on flavor over processed foods every single time.

For parents, especially, cooking at home is a significant aspect of raising healthy kids. With the obesity crisis at unprecedented levels, home cooking makes a real difference in the lives of our children. It also helps our kids develop a taste for foods that aren’t chicken nuggets so that they’ll actually embrace the vegetables and fruits that are an important part of their healthy diet. It seems that new information has revealed that eating home-cooked meals does exactly that!

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that the amount time parents spend on food preparation at home influences children’s food intake decisions made in the laboratory without parental supervision.

“In general, research shows that children tend to eat inadequate amounts of nutrient-rich foods while eating large amounts of sugary and fatty foods,” Shehan said. “It’s encouraging to see that parents can possibly affect the quality of their children’s food choices outside the home by spending more time cooking.”

The main findings showed that children whose parents reported more time spent on food preparation at home independently chose to eat meals that were lower in energy density (a measure of calories per gram) than children whose parents reported less food preparation time. In other words, the children whose parents reported more time on food preparation tended to make healthier food choices in the lab than children whose parents spent less time at home on food preparation, even without parental supervision.

The study, conducted through Penn State’s Department of Food Science and Department of Nutritional Sciences, involved 61 children between ages 4 and 6 and their parents. Each family in the study participated in two laboratory visits, where children tasted and rated their liking of a variety of foods and were then given unlimited access to these foods without adult instruction or interference. Children were allowed to eat as much or as little of any of the foods presented, which included highly energy dense foods such as chicken nuggets and chocolate chip cookies, as well as lower calorie foods such as grapes and broccoli. Meanwhile, parents completed questionnaires addressing various topics including their home food environment, their child’s food preferences and habits, and their family’s socioeconomic status.

To elucidate the neural mechanisms of such age-related changes in taste preference and sensitivity, electrophysiological experiments examined taste response characteristics of chorda tympani nerves. These nerves mediate gustatory information from the tongue to the brainstem. The researchers observed no significant differences in activity of the chorda tympani nerves by taste stimuli across the different age groups.

This research suggests parental home food preparation may influence children’s food intake patterns, even when children are eating outside the home. Future research studies are needed to see whether encouraging increased amounts of home food preparation or teaching parents food preparation skills will improve children’s eating habits.

“Even after controlling for family income and whether or not children had a parent at home full time, we found that children whose parents spend more time cooking make better choices,” Shehan added. “Our food preferences develop early in life, so getting young children to eat nutritious foods can help them stay healthy in the long run.

What we serve at home appears to develop taste preferences in children and that’s important. We all know kids love chocolate chip cookies, but that broccoli you’re preparing, or that whole grain pasta with vegetables that they really love — they’re going to look for those foods when they aren’t at home, too. And for every parent that’s struggled to find the time to put a home-cooked healthy meal on the table at the long day, that’s a great motivation to continue those healthy habits for the whole family!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140729224914.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not touching this one. Sorry, Burger King.

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