Tag Archives: food facts

Is junk food part of the USDA’s new school nutrition standards?

Dinner for dozensHere at FoodFacts.com we spend a lot of time talking about the nutritional uselessness of junk food. We’ve also spent a considerable amount of blog space talking about the new School nutritional standards and how they do seem to be improving the cafeteria consumption of our kids throughout the country. Today, however, we read about an interesting turn of events regarding those new nutritional standards and junk food. It’s fascinating how food manufacturers easily adapt to new definitions and how easily standards can be “bent.”

This week in Boston, the School Nutrition Association held a meeting where food manufacturers exhibited their new and “acceptable” products.

It appears that from the kinds of junk-food products exhibited, you would never know that the SNA was at war with the White House over USDA’s nutrition standards for school meals.

Food companies seem to have had no problem coming up with look-alike products that meet USDA standards:

More than 400 exhibitors showed off their innovations designed to meet the Department of Agriculture’s new regulations…PepsiCo, which owns Tropicana, Quaker and Lays, has a long list of products that meet the new rules, including Reduced Fat Doritos and Cheetos, Stacy’s Pita Chips and Munchies. Windsor Foods, which specializes in food service, has come up with whole grain-rich egg rolls that the company says kids love.

General Mills displayed a modified version of Chex Mix, a whole grain Betty Crocker cookie and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal bar: “Snacks so good, kids won’t know they’re nutritious,” according to the marketing flyers.

While the changes to lunch standards may be giving many school nutrition professionals fits, the food manufacturing industry is drooling over the opportunity to gain more sales inside what has been described as the nation’s largest restaurant: The school lunch program serves 30 million kids each day and represents a $30 billion per year market for the food industry, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The SNA benefits from the food industry’s enthusiasm in school lunches. The largest chunk of the group’s revenue is generated at its annual conference, which brought in $4.7 million in 2012. The association charges $15,000 to sponsor an education session track featuring a company representative and $20,000 to put company logos on hotel key cards.

To understand what this is about, take a look at the Public Health Advocacy Institute’s report on Copycat Snacks in Schools. The “better for you” versions are sold in schools, but you can hardly tell the difference between those and the “not so good for you” commercial versions from the nearly identical packages.

How can food and beverage companies get away with this? This is the result of USDA’s setting nutrient-based, rather than food-based standards for school meals. Setting nutrient standards allows food companies to tweak the formulas to give the USDA what it requires.

Better-for-you Chex Mix, reduced-fat Doritos, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal Bars. Did anyone at the SNA take a look at the ingredient lists of these “improved” snack products? Do the terms “reduced fat” and “whole grain” completely define a product as nutritionally beneficial? We already know that package terminology means little in the grocery aisles. So why should those terms make a difference in school cafeterias? It’s not just the food industry that can do better here. It’s the School Nutrition Association and the USDA as well. Just our two cents.

http://www.foodpolitics.com/2014/07/school-nutrition-association-junk-foods-galore-but-they-meet-usdas-nutrition-standards/

Panera Bread jumps on the healthier food bandwagon committing to remove artificial ingredients by 2016!

Panera Bread to Remove Artificial IngredientsGreat news for Panera Bread fans: the popular fast casual chain is the latest to take a big step towards healthier menu offerings. It has announced that by 2016, artificial additives will be removed from its menu including major ingredients like artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives.

“We believe simpler is better,” Scott Davis, chief concept officer said in a news release. “Panera is on a mission to help fix a broken food system. We have a long journey ahead, but we’re working closely with the nutrition community, industry experts, farmers, suppliers and others to make a difference.”

Panera will be taking artificial colors out of its roast beef, maltodextrin and potassium lactate will be removed from the citrus pepper chicken, and horseradish will lose the calcium disodium EDTA.Trans-fats will be removed from the bakery menu items as well.

The announcement is the latest in a string of similar moves from competing fast food chain outlets. Subway recently announced it was removing azodicarbonamide from its bread. The controversial chemical is also found in shoes and yoga mats.

Chick-fil-A also made the announcement that it was cleaning up its menu by reducing ingredients including dyes, HFCS and antibiotics in its popular chicken sandwiches after Vani Hari, the blogger known as “Food Babe” pressured the chain.

And then there’s Chipotle—the poster chain for “healthy” fast food. While Chipotle has been on the clean meat and local produce angle for a while now, it recently made a big step in removing genetically modified ingredients from almost all of its menu items as well as adding vegan sofritos to its offerings.

FoodFacts.com is always happy to hear of another fast food chain making the committment to work towards a cleaner, healthier menu. Panera Bread is an exceptionally popular chain with a solid reputation among consumers. While there menu options have always been thought of as fresher and healthier than many other available options, we’re certainly well aware of the poor ingredients included in so many of Panera’s dishes, tasty as they may be. Kudos to Panera Bread for this commitment. We’re positive that the flavor of their foods will only get better through this effort and that they’ll be gaining even more fans from this bold and necessary move.

This great trend has legs! We can’t wait to see which chain will be the next to make the move towards providing consumers with the healthier foods we all deserve!

http://naturallysavvy.com/eat/move-over-chipotle-panera-bread-is-removing-artificial-ingredients

Third annual Kids’ State Dinner (yes there is one) promotes healthy eating and features the recipes of prize-winning junior chefs

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 1.09.30 PMFor the last three years, our President and First Lady have been hosting a yearly Kids’ State Dinner. This little-known event is just one of the fun, interesting and effective ways Michelle Obama has found to promote healthy eating and fitness to our nation’s youth. The guests at the “dinner” (which is actually a lunch) are the winners of a yearly contest that invites kids across the nation to develop their own healthy recipes and submit them for the opportunity to dine at the White House with the First Family. It’s hands-on, engaging and offers a once-in-a-lifetime prize!

Chef Elena Hirsch’s winning omelet recipe—aptly titled “Barack-oli and Mich-room Obama-let” —landed the 11-year-old her seat at this annual event.

Hirsch is one of the winners of the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge contest. The contest asks children ages 8 to 12 to submit healthy lunchtime recipes of their own creation. Winners and their parents or guardians are then flown to D.C., put up in a hotel, and entertained at the Kids’ State Dinner, which is hosted by first lady Michelle Obama and organized by Epicurious, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture.

This year’s winners—who hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories—beat out close to 1,500 other entrants to come to the White House, where they were treated to a special performance from Disney’s “The Lion King” musical and a lively address from President Barack Obama.

“First of all, we have a lot of state dinners around here,” the president quipped. “They’re not always as cheerful and fun as this.”

Obama also revealed his greatest food weakness — chips and guacamole. Although his jokes yesterday might have led you to believe it was a shared milkshake.

Michelle vowed to give up french fries, her greatest food weakness, during her speech.

Notwithstanding its name, the Kids’ State Dinner is actually lunch—(after all, “State Lunch” doesn’t exactly scream presidential)— and the noontime menu features several of the winning recipes. This year, that included chicken lettuce wraps, tomato cucumber salad and “Tropical Strawberry Banana Secret Smoothies.”

The 54 winning recipes were judged based on taste, creativity, affordability, chef’s personal story, and, of course, Michelle’s pet project — MyPlate nutritional standards.

Chef Tess Boghossian, 11, from Illinois won for her healthy rendition of a soup served at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration.

Chef Elena, creator of the “Obama-let,” said that it took her five days to come up with an omelet recipe that honored the members of the first family. In addition to “Barack-oli” and “Mich-rooms,” her recipe calls for car-MALIA-ized onions and butternut SquASHA, in honor of first daughters Malia and Sasha. All that was missing was first dog Bo.

FoodFacts.com can recall plenty of research that links involving children in a healthy lifestyle to their positive response to healthy foods and healthy habits. In addition to the idea that the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge is a great project that involves kids in the process of making healthy choices, it also makes that process truly memorable for them! What a great event and what a great way to make a healthy impression on the kids of our country!

http://redalertpolitics.com/2014/07/18/michelle-obama-uses-third-annual-kids-state-dinner-contest-promote-healthy-eating-promises-give-french-fries/

Food Fight! Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates at odds over added sugar transparency on food labels

iStock_000001563163SmallFor many of us of a certain generation, the words “Food Fight” will always invoke the memory of John Belushi’s Bluto screaming the phrase in the middle of the cafeteria featured in the classic movie, Animal House. If only the world could always be that simple and funny. This post, however, details a real-life, real-time food fight that has erupted between powerful Big Sugar lobbyists and public health advocates on the heels of the Food And Drug Administration’s proposed changes to nutrition labels that include listing the amount of added sugar in food products.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we think everyone would like to know how much sugar the food industry is actually adding to the products we purchase. We’re sure that even the most uneducated food consumer would choose transparency when it comes to this serious and well-publicized issue.

Scientific studies increasingly are finding links between sugar consumption and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. With public health at stake, advocates say, consumers need to be informed of what is being introduced into their food.

“Food producers and others that represent sugar interests are robbing us of this information that we should have access to, they’re robbing us of our health,” said Gretchen Goldman, an analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “People have a right to know how much sugar is in their foods.”
The inclusion of added sugars appears to be a jab from the FDA at food manufacturers, whether the agency intended for it to be or not. Other measurements on nutrition labels—calories, fat, sodium—are passive: They simply state how much is in the food. But the added sugars measurement is active: It implies that the company the consumer is purchasing from has included something that could be dangerous in high doses over the long term.

Food business groups argue that a gram of sugar, natural or added, is a gram of sugar—so why distinguish it?

“There is no chemical difference between naturally occurring sugars or added sugars, and…there is no scientific evidence that added sugars are linked to obesity or other chronic diseases,” said Lee Sanders, a spokeswoman for the American Bakers Association.

But foods containing added sugar are among the most unhealthy, supporters of the FDA proposal say, and more information is a good way for consumers to be more conscious of that.

“The food industry response has said that the body doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugar, and that’s true…but we do no harm by limiting added sugar, and we know it’s a good way to limit calorie intake. It seems to be a logical step to include added sugars on the label,” said Rachel Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont.

The American Heart Association, which supports the label change, came out with a scientific statement in 2009 that recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day for women, and nine teaspoons a day for men, citing the body of evidence that connects high intake of sugar to health problems.

Big Sugar, advocates say, is employing strategies reminiscent of Big Tobacco in its heyday.

“[They’re] different players, but it’s the same game,” Goldman said. “We’re seeing the exact same tactics that Big Tobacco was using. They’re trying to manufacture doubt in the science, they’re trying to pay their own experts to carry their talking points, and they’re doing these things with the intent to undermine public policy.”

Industry also has other objections to the proposed change to nutrition labels: Sanders, from the bakers’ lobbying group, said it would be “difficult, if not impossible, to calculate added sugar.” The FDA acknowledges the costs of the rule change for businesses, estimating that the one-time expenditure would be $2.3 billion for labeling, reformulation of products, and record keeping.

And there are more individualized concerns. The International Dairy Foods Association, for example, is concerned that the definition of added sugar includes natural sugars isolated from a whole food and concentrated so that sugar is the primary component—fruit juice concentrate, for example. That would affect the added sugar count for dairy products such as whey, nonfat dry milk, or milk protein concentrate.

The proposed FDA change appears to have left the biggest of the industry lobbying groups unenthusiastic about communicating with the media. A Sugar Association spokeswoman, Tonya Allen, declined to speak by phone on the issue, pointing only to a weeks-old statement put out by the organization. The Corn Refiners Association did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Stakeholders and business groups have until August 1 to comment on the proposed change. The FDA then will review the comments and consider them in edits to the proposed label, followed by the enactment of a final label. Industry will then, under the proposed rules, have a two-year transitional period over which to comply with the new requirements.

Over the next two weeks, as the FDA comments period draws to a close, industry groups are expected to turn up the heat on the proposal.

“The food industry knows that when they add it to food, you buy more. They don’t add it for any other reason,” said Dr. Robert Lustig, a University of California-San Francisco professor who has campaigned against sugar consumption. “You [currently] can’t tell how much sugar has been added, and the food industry wants it that way.”

Read that last quote carefully. We can’t tell how much sugar has been added to our food. We’re being told to keep sugar consumption to between 6 and 9 teaspoons per day (depending on our gender). It appears we don’t know how much sugar we’re consuming and lobbyists are trying to keep it that way. And it certainly doesn’t appear that the “sugar is sugar” argument being made by the sugar lobby has much to do with the problem. The problem originates with the question, “how sweet is sweet enough?” The food industry wants to continue to answer that question without transparency or input. We’re hopeful that the FDA will begin making these major changes next month.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/guess-who-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-how-much-added-sugar-is-in-your-food.html

Moldy Chobani yogurt more harmful than previously assumed

iStock_000026032451SmallLast September there was a nationwide recall of Chobani Greek yogurt due to what the company called a harmless problem with some fungus.

Ten months later, that recall has been linked to more than 400 illnesses and microbiologists say the fungus responsible for the outbreak isn’t as harmless as company officials indicated.

Experts with Duke University tested yogurt affected by the September 2013 recall taken from the refrigerator of a Texas couple who said they both became ill after eating it.

The scientists found that the sample contained Mucor circinelloides, the fungus detected at the Twin Falls, Idaho, plant where the yogurt was made. But additional testing revealed that it was a subspecies of the bug that is commonly associated with human infections.

“The potential risk would be higher than we might have thought,” said Soo Chan Lee, a senior research associate with the Duke Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology. The study is published in the journal mBio.

That contradicts the position of experts cited by Chobani who said the mold is “not considered a disease-causing microorganism,” and might pose risk only to people with compromised immune systems.

But Dr. Alejandro Mazzotta, Chobani’s vice president of global quality, food safety and regulatory affairs, disputed the study findings.

“To our knowledge, there is no evidence, including the assertions presented in this publication, that the strain in the recalled products causes illness in consumers when ingested,” he said in a statement. Chobani officials say they’ve made significant investments in technology and personnel to improve food safety procedures.

At least 403 reports of illness tied to the recall were reported in the past year, Food and Drug Administration officials said Monday. Reports aren’t confirmed cases, the FDA noted.

Chobani has taken steps to eradicate the mold at the plant, FDA officials said.

FoodFacts.com wants everyone in our community to understand that, despite claims by any company, recalls are serious business. While Chobani is claiming that the mold that caused the recall of their yogurt really couldn’t harm anyone, other sources disagree pretty strongly. It’s important for us all to keep up with food recalls and to make sure we rid our refrigerators and pantries of items that appear on lists of recalled products. While it may not be something we think of often, it really should be. We can avoid unnecessary — and sometimes serious — illness by following recall news. And remember, this is a service you can access easily via the FoodFacts.com website right here: http://www.foodfacts.com/food-recalls/ Develop a valuable habit and check it out as often as you can!

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/moldy-chobani-yogurt-posed-health-threat-tests-find-n150116

Cinnamon holds promise as a treatment to halt the progression ofo Parkinson’s disease

Cinnamon barkThere is rarely a study we come across with results as striking as these. Neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center have found that using cinnamon, a common food spice and flavoring material, can reverse the biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease (PD). The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

“Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries,” said Kalipada Pahan, study lead researcher and the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush. “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.”

“Cinnamon is metabolized in the liver to sodium benzoate, which is an FDA-approved drug used in the treatment for hepatic metabolic defects associated with hyperammonemia,” said Pahan. It is also widely used as a food preservative due to its microbiocidal effect.”

Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamonum cassia) and original Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum) are two major types of cinnamon that are available in the US.

“Although both types of cinnamon are metabolized into sodium benzoate, by mass spectrometric analysis, we have seen that Ceylon cinnamon is much more pure than Chinese cinnamon as the latter contains coumarin, a hepatotoxic molecule,” said Pahan.

“Understanding how the disease works is important to developing effective drugs that protect the brain and stop the progression of PD,” said Pahan. “It is known that some important proteins like Parkin and DJ-1 decrease in the brain of PD patients.”

The study found that after oral feeding, ground cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate, which then enters into the brain, stops the loss of Parkin and DJ-1, protects neurons, normalizes neurotransmitter levels, and improves motor functions in mice with PD.

This research was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health.

“Now we need to translate this finding to the clinic and test ground cinnamon in patients with PD. If these results are replicated in PD patients, it would be a remarkable advance in the treatment of this devastating neurodegenerative disease,” said Pahan.

Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive disease that affects a small area of cells within the mid-brain known as the substantia nigra. Gradual degeneration of these cells causes a reduction in a vital chemical neurotransmitter, dopamine. The decrease in dopamine results in one or more of the classic signs of Parkinson’s disease that includes: resting tremor on one side of the body; generalized slowness of movement; stiffness of limbs; and gait or balance problems. The cause of the disease is unknown. Both environmental and genetic causes of the disease have been postulated.

Parkinson’s disease affects about 1.2 million patients in the United States and Canada. Although 15 percent of patients are diagnosed before age 50, it is generally considered a disease that targets older adults, affecting one of every 100 persons over the age of 60. This disease appears to be slightly more common in men than women.

This is breathtaking information. FoodFacts.com recalls the quote from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” If the effects of cinnamon on mice with Parkinson’s disease can be replicated in human beings, this quote will certainly take on tremendous new meaning.

http://www.dddmag.com/news/2014/07/cinnamon-could-halt-progression-parkinson%E2%80%99s

Baskin-Robbins reports: chocolate is a very happy flavor!

Baskin-RobbinsIt’s possible you already knew that! Some of us here at FoodFacts.com certainly did. But Baskin-Robbins wanted to officially find out which flavor in their 1,000+ variety database was most associated with happiness, so they’ve conducted a study to determine the results.

To help with this project, Baskin-Robbins said it partnered with Juliet A. Boghossian, a behavioral food expert and founder of Food-ology.

According to Baskin-Robbins, Food-ology is an “original methodology that links food-related habits to personality traits and behavioral tendencies.”

Looking to stamp out gloominess and summer funks, Baskin-Robbins handed Boghossian a tough assignment: Find out which of the more than 1,000 flavors in the Baskin-Robbins ice cream data-base are most likely to induce happiness.

Using a methodology that could hurt the thinking cap of a Harvard professor, Boghossian concluded that chocolate, jamoca coffee, very berry strawberry, rocky road, and vanilla are the flavors most likely to uplift a person who’s feeling moody and low.

“It’s surprising to most people when they learn that specific ice cream flavors can increase one’s happiness more than others,” Boghossian said in a statement. “For example, the ice cream flavors enjoyed as a child can actually trigger happy memories, release tension, and remove distractions in the moment. Ice cream lovers can also consume a dose of happy by choosing a flavor with mood enhancing ingredients like chocolate, coffee, almonds, or mint.”

In case you’re wondering why such research has just come to light, consider that July happens to be National Ice Cream Month, which on the Baskin-Robbins calendar is also known as a month of sundaes.

Or ice cream cones, for that matter. As part of its celebration of National Ice Cream Month, Baskin-Robbins said it offering customers “a free freshly-baked waffle cone upgrade with the purchase of a double scoop of Baskin-Robbins ice cream. The offer is available at participating Baskin-Robbins shops nationwide throughout the summer months.”

The study is a lot of fun — especially during National Ice Cream Month. Of course, we have to mention that we’d love to see Baskin-Robbins honor the occasion with some ingredient list improvements. But we’re still happy to know which ice cream flavors are bound to lift a heavy summer mood regardless!

https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/07/09/new-baskin-robbins-research-scoop-chocolate-ice-cream-equals-dose-happy/caamrcAFJVWnbwo2Icl71M/story.html

More antioxidants. Less Pesticides. Real benefits linked to organic foods.

SONY DSCWe love organic foods for a variety of reasons. Organic crops are raised on organic farms. They’re non-GMO. Farming methods are different — and better. Organic food products contain better ingredients. Most don’t contain controversial items. Not to mention, we can easily pronounce most of the items contained in the ingredient list. Overall, a much better concept for our healthy lifestyles. A while back, though there were studies that claimed that no increased nutritional benefits were found from organic food consumption vs. non-organic.

The debate has been raging for years, does organic food have any actual nutritional benefit over non-organic? For a long time, science couldn’t find a conclusive answer. However, a review of earlier studies may have found something that got missed. This review found that organic fruit, vegetables, and grain have a substantially higher level of antioxidants than conventional produce, and a lower level of pesticides.

Carlo Leifert, professor of ecological agriculture at Newcastle University in England and led the research, said, “It shows very clearly how you grow your food has an impact. If you buy organic fruits and vegetables, you can be sure you have, on average, a higher amount of antioxidants at the same calorie level.”

The full study stops just short of making the claim organic produce leads to better health and will be published in next week in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Of this, Leifert said, “We are not making health claims based on this study, because we can’t. [The study is insufficient] to say organic food is definitely healthier for you, and it doesn’t tell you anything about how much of a health impact switching to organic food could have.”

However, the authors of the research, so point out that other studies have suggested that antioxidants have been linked to lower risks of cancer and other disease. These findings are the opposite of a similar study done by Stanford scientists two years ago. That research found few differences in nutritional content of conventionally and organically grown food. They concluded that the small differences they did find were not likely to have any influence on the health of consumers who chose organic, which is usually significantly more expensive.

The Stanford study confirmed the pesticide findings in this new research, finding that the level of pesticide residue are several times higher for conventionally grown produce but this research said the findings were of little significance since all the levels were mostly below safety limits.

For the most part, organic farming eliminates all conventional pesticides and chemical fertilizers. These growing practices mean healthier soil but often produce less at harvest. The Organic Trade Association estimates organic food sales in the United States in 2013 were $32.3 billion, just 4% of the total market.

The debate over whether organic produce has more nutritional value has been hotly contested, naysayers insisting that organic is just a marketing ploy so that companies can charge more.

Alan D. Dangour, a researcher for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, “The other argument would be, if you just eat a little bit more fruits and vegetables, you’re going to get more nutrients.” Dangour was the leader of a published review in 2009 that stated no nutritional differences of any significance between organic and conventional produce.

Sometimes, it is difficult to quantify these kinds of differences since the factors can vary widely from different places where the food is grown, or even year to year. Differences in things like weather can influence the nutrients found in food. But, even if the differences do exist, it would be difficult to determine what, if any, effect they would have on consumer health.

In the new research, the international team of scientists didn’t conduct any field work or laboratory work of their own. They compiled information from 343 previous studies and performed a meta-analysis to try and find out significant pieces of information. Some of the studies included recorded many different measurements while other only had a handful. Some looked at a few samples of food and others looked at food samples over several years. If properly done, the meta-analysis can produce greater information than the average of the included studies.

Overall, for all studies, organic crops were found to contain 17% more antioxidants than conventional crops. For some kinds of antioxidants, the different was even greater. For example, flavanones were 69% higher in organic produce. For some compounds, very high levels can be harmful but the organic produce was well below these levels.

The research also found that organic grains have lower levels of cadmium, a toxic metal that can sometimes contaminate fertilizers. There was no other differences in other toxic metals such as lead or mercury.

Even with the differences, it is leading to questions from the scientific community over why it matters. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said, “After that, everything is speculative. It’s a really hard question to answer.”

Nestle indicated that she mainly buys organic to avoid pesticides and its benefit to the environment. She states that if they are more nutritious, great but it is hard to say how significant that bonus is.

FoodFacts.com understands that right now the nutritional benefits of organic food may be difficult to quantify. We’re also fairly sure that the benefits reviewed here are a plus for our health, even if they can’t currently be gaged. So while the arguments may rage on, we’re still certain we know what we’d rather be eating. We hope that everyone else is too.

http://www.shape.com/blogs/weight-loss-coach/organic-food-has-more-antioxidants-fewer-pesticides

Dunkin’s newest summertime treat … the Frozen Oreo Coffee Coolatta

1398160875255It had to happen sooner or later, after all there are Oreos featured in hundreds of different products. Ice cream, ice cream cake, pudding, cheesecake, cereal, cake frosting … Oreos are everywhere. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Dunkin Donuts latest Coolatta features the Oreo.

On the Dunkin website, the new Coolatta flavor is promoted as “The Best of Both Worlds. The perfect blend of everything that’s delicious in the world. Our signature Frozen Coffee flavor with delicious OREO® cookie pieces mixed in. Just what your taste buds ordered.” O.k. maybe it’s what someone’s taste buds ordered, but what about someone’s healthy lifestyle?

Let’s find out.

Right away, it’s easy to notice that the nutrition facts for the new Dunkin Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta leave a lot to be desired. The facts listed are for the medium size of the beverage (the most common size sold for frozen drinks). It’s also for the skim milk version, because we’re being kind.

Calories:           440
Fat:                   4.5 g
Sugar:              83 g

That’s right, 83 grams of sugar in the medium-sized drink — or to be more specific 20.75 teaspoons of sugar in just one Frozen Coffee Oreo Coolatta. Imagine that for a moment if you will; someone adding 20.75 teaspoons of sugar into a 24 ounce beverage. That’s almost a teaspoon of sugar per ounce. A bit much for us.

Here are the ingredients:

Frozen Coffee Base: Water, Frozen Coffee Concentrate (Water, Sugar, Coffee Extract, Caramel Color, Natural and Artificial Flavor); Skim Milk; Oreo® Chocolate Base Cake Cookie Crumbs: Unbleached Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Canola Oil, Cocoa processed with alkali, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Leavening (Baking Soda and/or Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Chocolate, Vanillin (an Artificial Flavor).

So for 440 calories, we would be enjoying caramel color, natural and artificial flavors and some high fructose corn syrup.

FoodFacts.com can definitely find a better use for 440 calories during any given day. So for us, this is one of many Oreo-laden treats in which we won’t be indulging.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/beverages/frozenbeverages/coffee1/oreo_frozen_coffee_coolatta.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Oreo&DRP_SIZE=Medium&DRP_DAIRY=Skim+Milk

How about some chicken with your salt? While concerns about salt intake are on the rise, so is the sodium content of KFC meals

kfc-chicken-mealWe consume too much sodium. That’s not exactly big news. We hear about it fairly consistently. You would think that with all that news, it might make sense to find that food manufacturers and fast food chains are lowering the amount of sodium in their products and menu items. Not so, apparently.

With an increased concern about the role high sodium levels play in high blood pressure, kidney disease and other health issues, a number of restaurant chains have been attempting to cut back on the salt in recent years. A new review of meals from 17 of the nation’s most popular fast food and family eateries shows that most chains are slowly reducing the amounts of sodium in their food (though it’s still very high), while a small number of others have actually gone the other direction.

A new survey from the Center for Science in the Public Interest looks at a total of 136 meals from the 17 restaurant chains to see whether the sodium levels in those meals changed between 2009 and 2013.

While there is no hard-and-fast number on recommended sodium intake, both the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control say that 1,500mg a day is a good number for those looking to avoid high blood pressure.

The CSPI study found that 79% of the adult meals surveyed were still above that 1,500mg line, with seven meals — mostly from family restaurants — containing more than three days’ worth of sodium.

In general, sodium levels have fallen, but not by much. According to the CSPI, the overall sodium reduction between 2009 and 2013 was only 6%, or 1.5% per year. Kids’ meals only dropped by 2.6% during the four-year period, and much of that was due to restaurants replacing french fries with fruit options.

The biggest names in fast food are also responsible for the biggest reductions in sodium. All of the meals surveyed at Burger King, McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell demonstrated some level of sodium reduction.

Of that group, Subway’s efforts to cut salt were the most effective, reducing sodium levels nearly 28%, followed by Burger King at 27%. BK’s cheeseburger kids’ meal had the most substantial decrease in sodium (44%), going from 1,200mg to 840mg.

On the opposite end of the survey are those popular eateries where sodium levels actually went up.

While Wendy’s and Sonic were each able to reduce the sodium on 50% of their surveyed meals, increases in other menu items resulted in a net increases in sodium of 2.7% and 1.3%, respectively.

But that was nothing compared to KFC, which only reduced sodium on 14% of one of its seven meals in the CSPI survey. While the reduction for that particular meal was significant (22%), four of the six other meals had double-digit percentage increases in sodium, resulting in a whopping 12.4% net sodium increase for the chicken chain.

The biggest single meal sodium increase also came from KFC, where the kids’ meal with a grilled chicken drumstick, corn on the cob, string cheese, and Capri Sun juice drink resulted in a 52% increase from the 2009 version of the meal. The not-horrible news is that the sodium level for this meal is still under the 1,200mg daily intake figure recommended for children.

The FDA puts no limits on sodium content in food, which some public health advocates believe is a mistake. The CSPI points to the restaurant industry’s slow and inconsistent efforts to reduce sodium as evidence that regulation is needed.

“For far too long, the FDA has relied on a voluntary, wait-and-see approach when it comes to reducing sodium in packaged and restaurant food,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “If chains like KFC, Jack in the Box, and Red Lobster are actually raising sodium levels in some meals, FDA’s current approach clearly isn’t working.”

According to this fascinating survey, You can consume an entire day’s worth of sodium in one KFC fast food meal. That’s just too much for FoodFacts.com. And it should be too much for millions of consumers as well. We’re not exactly sure how many of those millions think to find out about the sodium content of their food choices at KFC before they sit down for their meal. We are pretty certain that all of them leave much thirstier than they were before they walked through the doors — not to mention a higher risk for a whole host of health issues.

http://consumerist.com/2014/07/02/while-other-restaurant-chains-cut-down-on-sodium-kfc-meals-have-been-getting-saltier/