Tag Archives: food facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New study debunks the concept of healthy obesity

obesity-460_784309cIn the last few weeks FoodFacts.com posted information from a study that claimed that for certain people obesity might not have long-term health implications. The concept of “healthy obesity” has become an actual theory among some researchers and some in the general population.

But now a new study shows that the idea may be quite misleading, since over time, healthy obesity often devolves into unhealthy obesity, and the markers of health naturally worsen over time. So “healthy obesity” may not be a steady state at all – it may just be a phase that will likely deteriorate in the future.

The researchers, from University College London, looked at data over a period of 20 years – longer than any study on healthy obesity had tracked health previously. Their first group consisted of 2500 people, 66 of whom were said to be “healthy obese,” based on their metabolic profiles, which included analyses of high-density lipoprotein (“good”) cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting glucose or use of diabetes medication, triglyceride (blood fats) levels, and insulin resistance.

Of those who started out in the “healthy obese” category, over the next two decades, more than half had moved into the “unhealthy obese” category – and just 6% had lost enough weight to move into the healthy non-obese category.

The researchers then looked at a larger group of participants, consisting of 389 “healthy obese.” After 10 years, 35% had become “unhealthy obese”; after 15 years, it had risen to 38%, and to 48% after 20 years. Just 10% of the original healthy obese had lost the weight to become “healthy non-obese” after 20 years. Which prompted the authors to suggest that the “natural course of healthy obesity is progression to metabolic deterioration.”

In other words, for most people, healthy obesity is just a phase that will likely give way to unhealthy obesity in the future.

This is not the first study to suggest that healthy obesity is somewhat of a myth, at least for most people. Earlier research had found that obesity of any kind, healthy or unhealthy, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and early death. What’s more, even shorter-term studies than the current one have shown that the good metabolic markers of the healthy obese do tend to deteriorate with time. “A few previous studies,” author Joshua Bell tells me, “using shorter follow-up times showed about one-third of healthy obese adults progress to unhealthy obesity. And our study with at least 10 years longer follow-up, indicates that this tendency gets stronger with time, with about half making this transition after 20 years….These results indicate that healthy obesity is often just a phase.”

Some of the healthy obese participants in the current study did remain so over time – even after 20 years, about a third of the participants still had good metabolic profiles. “However,” says Bell, “the tendency for these adults to progress to unhealthy obesity gets stronger with time… Healthy obese adults tend to get worse, not better.”

The takeaway message may be that for most people, weight loss really is the best bet: Even though markers may look good now, they may not be in 10 or 20 years’ time. A small subset of people may be obese into old age, but for the majority, obesity is linked to greater risk of a number of chronic diseases and mortality over the long term.

“Adults of any size can take steps to improve health by avoiding processed foods and embedding physical activity into daily life,” says Bell. “This can reduce harmful visceral fat, build muscle, and reduce inflammation even if weight is not initially lost. Our results stress the need to take a long-term view of healthy obesity, as healthy obese adults tend to progress to ill-health over time. Healthy obesity is still a high-risk state – the harmful effects may just be delayed.”

We’re not surprised to see the release of new information that contradicts the most recent study regarding “healthy obesity.” It’s a controversial concept so it’s possible we’ll be hearing even more conflicting information. The healthiest response to obesity is reversing the condition. We don’t need more information to figure out that concept for ourselves.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/01/06/is-healthy-obesity-a-real-thing-not-likely-study-says/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caffeine and ADHD: Why Dr. Pepper may actually help kids calm down

soda adhdSoda isn’t good for anyone. If you’re a consistent reader of the FoodFacts.com blog, you already understand our feelings regarding the consumption of nutritionally vacant, chemically concocted beverages. But research is determining that there are some actual benefits from caffeinated sodas — and caffeine in general.

New research has found the Dr. Pepper may be a good option to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus.

Parents of children with ADHD may have known for years that soda can help curb behaviors in ADHD children. A quick search of the Internet shows a plethora of parents’ blogs touting how beneficial Dr. Pepper has been for their ADHD child. However, are their views valid?

According to various doctors, it’s not necessarily the Dr. Pepper that helps but more likely the caffeine. Caffeine acts as a stimulant when introduced to the body.

In children with ADHD, that stimulant tends to act as a behavioral control. What is interesting about the brand Dr. Pepper is that it is one of the most caffeine-rich drinks available on the market. It contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, as well as phosphoric acid, a compound that interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc — minerals that children with ADHD need the most.

So perhaps there is a bit more behind Dr. Pepper than any other caffeine-enriched beverage for ADHD children. Still, it appears that the largest benefit comes from the caffeine that is contained in Dr. Pepper.

Caffeine and its effects have been well studied and documented over the centuries. One researcher found that mythology describes how modern man first came to observe the effects of caffeine when his goat herd ate a coffee bush and became energized, not sleeping all night.

As bizarre as that seems, most of us know that caffeine works as a pick-me-up for most people. It operates slightly differently in people with ADHD.

In the mid-1970s through about the mid-1990s, researchers discovered some connection with caffeine and tobacco consumption as methods of treating ADHD, but they were ruled out as poor approaches. Later research suggests that some forms of caffeine and nicotine may actually provide partial remediation of ADHD symptoms because they can compensate the body for lower levels of mental arousal to enhance performance — i.e. focus, in individuals with ADHD.
Conventional treatments already capitalize on the use of psychostimulant medications to improve focus, so why not caffeine and nicotine? A pharmacological study of caffeine use specifically to treat ADHD failed significantly in effect. While it may have provided some relief, the results were not significant enough to tout its use as a regular treatment option.

It has been determined that prescription drugs meant for ADHD treatments provide far more relief and behavior control than caffeine; however, it was noted that caffeine is better than no treatment at all. Furthermore, caffeine may be the best option for adults with mild to moderate ADHD — especially for those who refuse to take traditionally prescribed ADHD medications.

ADHD affects approximately 5 percent of school-age children worldwide, and characteristics include hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. These impairments cause not only behavioral issues in the family and social arena but can reduce academic achievements that carry over into adulthood. That obviously leads to a lower quality of life.

If you have or suspect your child suffers from ADHD, you should reach out to your primary care physician. They can properly assess and diagnose you or your child and offer an appropriate course of treatment. That treatment may or may not include pharmaceuticals because each ADHD diagnosis is different.

So, for some dietary changes to modify ADHD behaviors may include adding caffeine in some form to a child’s diet in careful and controlled amounts. For the rest of our kids, let’s all remember that they really do have enough energy without caffeine. They don’t need it and it’s far too easy for them to consume too much.

http://www.meadvilletribune.com/news/lifestyles/paging-dr-pepper-is-soda-a-treatment-for-kids-with/article_423a82a2-9556-11e4-83a9-ffe6670cc3a3.html

Overindulging in December may not be quite so bad. Arctic blasts can carry health benefits!

brown-fat_mainEvery winter holiday season, everyone talks about how they’ll be taking off the excess weight they will undoubtedly gain during the holiday season. Let’s face it, it’s our favorite food season, featuring all of our favorites in large quantities at every meal. So we’re alrealdy aware that we’ll be gaining weight. We give ourselves permission every year. But some may have noticed that the effects of their excesses may not be as damaging as they expected.

Those who overindulged during the holidays may want to get a shot of cold air to kick-start some extra fat-burning activity for the new year.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that exposure to cold temperatures increases levels of a newly discovered protein that is critical for the formation of brown fat, the type of fat in our bodies that generates heat. With extended exposure to chilly air, the protein, called transcription factor Zfp516, also helps the more abundant white fat in our bodies — the kind that stores excess energy — become more similar to brown fat in its ability to burn energy.

The researchers found that mice with boosted levels of the Zfp516 protein gained 30 percent less weight than control mice when both groups were fed a high-fat diet.

The new findings, published online Jan. 8 in the journal Molecular Cell, shed light on a type of fat that has drawn increased attention from researchers in the past five years.

“Knowing which proteins regulate brown fat is significant because brown fat is not only important for thermogenesis, but there is evidence that brown fat may also affect metabolism and insulin resistance,” said principal investigator Hei Sook Sul, UC Berkeley professor of nutritional science and toxicology. “If you can somehow increase levels of this protein through drugs, you could have more brown fat, and could possibly lose more weight even if eating the same amount of food.”

White fat, brown fat, good fat, bad fat
Unlike white fat, which stores excess energy, brown fat burns energy to keep us warm. Brown fat gets its hue from relatively high levels of mitochondria, the cell’s power station. In humans, brown fat was thought to be present only in infants, but stores of it were recently discovered in adults around such vital areas as the heart, brain, neck and spinal cord.

The study authors said that because we generally live our lives in controlled, ambient temperatures, our need for brown fat has decreased over time.
“It has been noted that outdoor workers in northern Finland who are exposed to cold temperature have a significant amount of brown fat when compared to same-aged indoor workers, but overall, the percentage of brown fat in adults is small compared to white fat,” said Sul. “We also know that obese people have lower levels of brown fat.”

The UC Berkeley team discovered that the Zfp516 protein activates uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1), found only in the mitochondria of brown fat and involved in the generation of heat.

“The amount of UCP1 produced by brown-like fat cells will be lower than that of classical brown fat, but since 90 percent of the fat in our bodies consists of white fat, finding a way to make that tissue more brown-like could have a significant impact,” said Sul.

Making white fat into brown-like fat
When the researchers disabled the gene for Zfp516 in mouse embryos, the embryos did not develop any brown fat. In another experiment, researchers found that mice with higher levels of Zfp516 protein were able to convert more white fat tissue into brown-like fat when exposed to cold air. After four hours in a room kept at 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit), the body temperature of the mice with the overexpressed Zfp516 protein was, on average, 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than a control group of mice with normal levels of the protein.

“That difference in body temperature is huge for the mice,” said study co-lead author Jon Dempersmier, a Ph.D. student in nutritional science and toxicology. “The brown-like fat, the kind converted from white fat tissue, is inducible by cold. Classical brown fat, the kind in babies and prevalent in rodents, always has a ton of UCP1 and mitochondria in order to perform thermogenesis.”

The mice with overexpressed Zfp516 protein also gained less weight than their unaltered littermates after both groups ate a high-fat diet for four weeks.

“This suggests that the transgenic mice were protected from diet-induced obesity,” said Sul. “This protein could become an important target for research into the treatment and prevention of obesity and obesity-related diseases.”

The study authors noted that there’s an active area of research in the relationship between brown fat and diabetes. Higher levels of brown fat are associated with greater sensitivity to insulin. Resistance to insulin leads to Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers noted that there are many steps between discovering the protein in mice and determining whether it can be useful in humans, but they said that having a clear target is an important development.

“Brown fat is active, using up calories to keep the body warm,” said Dempersmier. “It’ll burn fat, it’ll burn glucose. So the idea is that if we can harness this, we can try to use this in therapy for weight loss and for diabetes.”

So while we’re freezing during this arctic blast and we can hardly find a spot on the map of the U.S. that hasn’t been effected, FoodFacts.com suggests we all look on the bright side. If you’ve got any left over holiday weight hanging around, current weather conditions may just help you shed them before the weather warms up!!!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150108130055.htm

Another super benefit from a favorite superfood: avocado may improve cholesterol levels for the overweight and obese

Avocado on whiteAvocado is often referred to as a superfood. Packed with nutrition, avocados provide the healthy fats our bodies need as well as a long list of beneficial vitamins and minerals. They also add great taste and texture to a variety of dishes and are quite flavorful all by themselves. Avocados already put the “super” into “superfoods” … but today it got even better.

Eating one avocado a day as part of a heart healthy, cholesterol-lowering moderate-fat diet can help improve bad cholesterol levels in overweight and obese individuals, according to new research published in theJournal of the American Heart Association.

Researchers evaluated the effect avocados had on traditional and novel cardiovascular risk factors by replacing saturated fatty acids from an average American diet with unsaturated fatty acids from avocados.

Forty-five healthy, overweight or obese patients between the ages of 21 and 70 were put on three different cholesterol-lowering diets. Participants consumed an average American diet (consisting of 34 percent of calories from fat, 51 percent carbohydrates, and 16 percent protein) for two weeks prior to starting one of the following cholesterol lowering diets: lower fat diet without avocado, moderate-fat diet without avocado, and moderate-fat diet with one avocado per day. The two moderate fat diets both provided 34 percent of calories as fat (17 percent of calories from monounsaturated fatty acids/MUFAs), whereas the lower fat diet provided 24 percent of calories as fat (11 percent from MUFAs). Each participant consumed each of the three test diet for five weeks. Participants were randomly sequenced through each of the three diets.

Researchers found:
Compared to the baseline average American diet, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — the so called ‘bad cholesterol’ — was 13.5 mg/dL lower after consuming the moderate fat diet that included an avocado. LDL was also lower on the moderate fat diet without the avocado (8.3 mg/dL lower) and the lower fat diet (7.4 mg/dL lower), though the results were not as striking as the avocado diet.

Several additional blood measurements were also more favorable after the avocado diet versus the other two cholesterol-lowering diets as well: total cholesterol, triglycerides, small dense LDL, non-HDL cholesterol, and others.

These measurements are all considered to be cardio-metabolic risk factors in ways that are independent of the heart-healthy fatty acid effects, said Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., senior study author and Chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and Distinguished Professor of Nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, in University Park, Pennsylvania.

“This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real-world — so it is a proof-of-concept investigation. We need to focus on getting people to eat a heart-healthy diet that includes avocados and other nutrient-rich food sources of better fats,” Kris-Etherton said.

“In the United States avocados are not a mainstream food yet, and they can be expensive, especially at certain times of the year. Also, most people do not really know how to incorporate them in their diet except for making guacamole. But guacamole is typically eaten with corn chips, which are high in calories and sodium. Avocados, however, can also be eaten with salads, vegetables, sandwiches, lean protein foods (like chicken or fish) or even whole.”

For the study researchers used Hass avocados, the ones with bumpy green skin. In addition to MUFAs, avocados also provided other bioactive components that could have contributed to the findings such as fiber, phytosterols, and other compounds.

According to researchers, many heart-healthy diets recommend replacing saturated fatty acids with MUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids to reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because saturated fats can increase bad cholesterol levels and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Mediterranean diet, includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, and foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids–like extra-virgin olive oil and nuts. Like avocados, some research indicates that these not only contain better fats but also certain micronutrients and bioactive components that may play an important role in reducing risk of heart disease.

FoodFacts.com loves avocados. There is always a new way to add them to your diet. Mashed avocado is a great replacement for mayonnaise in tuna and chicken salad. Avocado vinaigrette is a wonderful – and easy to prepare – salad dressing. Sliced avocado is a great addition to sandwiches. You can mix avocado into mashed potatoes or cauliflower. We could go on. And so can you … These impressive new findings give us even more motivation to continue to incorporate this incredibly flavorful superfood into our healthy lifestyle!

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150107204818.htm

Attention Girl Scout Cookie Lovers: Meet the new gluten free Toffee-Tastic

mtc_toffeeHere at FoodFacts.com, we’ve devoted some blog space to the unfortunate state of our much-beloved Girl Scout cookies. We’ve actually apologized for that — but honestly, those adored, ever-anticipated treats have honestly not lived up to their highly esteemed association.

Luckily the Girl Scouts have been listening — not necessarily to us — but to the voices of consumers around the country. And their newest introduction is actually something we can talk about more positively — even if it is a cookie.

Toffee-tastic is the new gluten-free Girl Scout cookie you’ll be able to enjoy this cookie season. And honestly, for the first time in a long time, we can say that we might just indulge — a little, anyway.

So here are the facts for one serving (or two cookies) of the newest Girl Scout cookie — the Toffee-Tastic:

Calories:                        140
Fat:                                 7 grams
Saturated Fat:               4 grams
Sugar:                            7 grams

These nutrition facts are pretty typical for cookies. Just two though — hopefully that serving size will change. In our own experience, most folks eat three or four for a serving.

As you might imagine, though, it’s the ingredients that interest us most. So here are the Toffee-Tastic ingredients:

Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Sugar, Butter (Cream, Salt), Palm Oil, Brown Rice Flour, Butter Toffee Bits (Sugar, Butter (Cream, Salt), Corn Syrup, Soy Lecithin, Salt), Invert Sugar, Contains 2% or less of Salt, Soy Lecithin, Xanthan Gum, Baking Soda

If we were going to indulge in unnecessary calories from baked goods and didn’t have the choice of home cooked goodies, we could actually eat these cookies. We don’t often say that. But this time, we really can.

We often find that gluten-free products are actually more appealing than their mainstream counterparts. That’s certainly the case for Toffee-Tastic cookies. So if you’ve been off Girl Scout cookies since you started reading ingredient lists, you can take a second look here. Just make sure you consume the actual serving size so the numbers we reported above actually apply!

http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/meet_the_cookies.asp

Dunkin Donuts Introduces the Chocolate Croissant

dunkinchocolateWhen we think of chocolate croissants we tend to think of small, intimate cafes, steaming cups of cafe au lait and a leisurely, relaxed experience we can slowly savor. We don’t need to be in Paris, we can be down the street at a local coffee house. But that indulgent chocolate croissant does need to be part of a relaxing and flavorful experience.

So please forgive FoodFacts.com if we didn’t relate to Dunkin Donuts introducing their new Chocolate Croissant. For us, it removes the experience from the food. Plus this chocolate croissant is fast food so we’re suspicious about it.

For anyone who might find this new offering appealing, we thought we’d take a look.

Here are the nutrition facts from the Dunkin website:

Calories:                         320
Fat:                                 19 grams
Saturated Fat:                8 grams
Sugar:                            15 grams

If it makes a difference, the Chocolate Croissant is under 400 calories. So technically, you could start your day with this and not throw off every other meal you plan to eat. But you will be consuming more fat than you would if you started your day with two scrambled eggs. And you’ll be eating just about 4 teaspoons of sugar. We know there are items on the Dunkin menu that carry nutrition facts that are worse. But that doesn’t make the Chocolate Croissant an ideal breakfast or snack.

Here are the ingredients:
Croissant: Pastry: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Ascorbic Acid, Folic Acid, Enzymes), Water, Margarine [Vegetable Oils (Palm, Modified Palm, Canola), Water, Sugar, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D, Beta Carotene (Color)], Sugar, Yeast, Dough Conditioner (Flour, DATEM, Calcium Carbonate, Ascorbic Acid, Enzymes), Salt, Cellulose Gum, Wheat Gluten, Artificial Flavor; Chocolate Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Oils (Palm, Soy), Cocoa Powder processed with alkali, Corn Starch, Soy Lecithin, Artificial Flavor, Tocopherol (Antioxidant); Glaze: Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Contains less than 2% of the following: Pectin, Molasses, Sorbic Acid and Sulfiting Agents (to preserve freshness), Agar, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavor. May contain traces of Milk, Eggs and Tree Nuts (Almonds, Pecans).

Artificial flavor gets multiple mentions in this list. Even once is too much for us, so this is really unappealing. We’re also not fond of the use of sulfites.

We’re not going to get the experience we’re looking for with this Chocolate Croissant. We’re not excited about the nutrition facts and we’re less excited about the ingredients — not to mention we’re not going to enjoy that leisurely moment involving an actual French bakery creation and a steaming hot cafe au lait sitting by the window of a Dunkin Donuts.

http://www.dunkindonuts.com/content/dunkindonuts/en/menu/food/bakery/other/other_bakery.html?DRP_FLAVOR=Chocolate+Croissant

Fast food giants attempt to improve their image — and food — in the new year

fastfoodIt’s always gratifying to hear about food manufacturers adjusting their products because of consumer dissatisfaction. As we all become more educated about nutrition and healthy eating, we’re making our voices heard regarding the food products and ingredients we find unacceptable. FoodFacts.com is especially intrigued when we hear about fast food giants expressing their intention to improve the quality of their food.

As people express distaste for food they think is overly processed, McDonald’s, Taco Bell and other chains are trying to shed their reputation for serving reheated meals that are loaded with chemicals. That includes rethinking the use of artificial preservatives and other ingredients customers find objectionable.

“This demand for fresh and real is on the rise,” said Greg Creed, CEO of Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Recasting fast-food as “fresh” and “real” will be tricky, in large part because it’s so universally regarded as cheap and greasy. Another problem is that terms like “fresh,” “real” and “healthy” have nebulous meanings, making it hard for companies to pin down how to approach transformation.

One way chains are looking to redefine themselves is by purging recipes of chemicals people might find unappetizing. Already, packaged food and beverage companies have reformulated products to remove such ingredients, even while standing by their safety. PepsiCo, for instance, said it would remove brominated vegetable oil from Gatorade after a petition by a teenager noted it isn’t approved for use in some markets overseas.

And fast-food chains are indicating they want to jump on the “clean label” trend too:

- Last month, McDonald’s USA President Mike Andres outlined improvements the company is working on, including the simplification of ingredient labels. Without providing details, he said to expect some changes in early 2015. The remarks came after the company reported a 4.6 percent decline in U.S. sales for November, capping two years of struggling performance.

-Subway, a privately held company that does not disclose sales, started airing TV ads Thursday for its new chicken strips free of artificial preservatives and flavors. After suffering bad publicity, the company said earlier last year it would remove an ingredient from its bread that an online petition noted was also used in yoga mats. The ingredient, azodicarbonamide, is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and widely used as a dough conditioner and whitening agent.

-Chick-fil-A said in 2013 it would remove high-fructose corn syrup from buns and artificial dyes from its dressings. A couple months later, it said it plans to serve only chicken raised without antibiotics within five years.

- Carl’s Jr. last month introduced an “all-natural” burger with no added hormones, antibiotics or steroids. “We are obviously looking at other products on our menu to see which ones can be made all natural as well,” said Brad Haley, the chain’s chief marketing officer.

It’s not clear how far fast-food companies will go in reformulating recipes. But the nation’s biggest chains are facing growing competition. In the latest quarter, customer visits to traditional fast-food hamburger chains declined 3 percent from a year ago, according to market researcher NPD Group. Fast-casual chains – which are seen as a step up from traditional fast-food – saw visits rise 8 percent.

The ethos of wholesome ingredients is increasingly being embraced across the industry. But not without some challenges.

Dan Coudreaut, executive chef at McDonald’s, has noted the difficulties in changing recipes. In an interview last year, he said McDonald’s is looking at ways to use culinary techniques to replace the functions of certain ingredients.

“If you take (an ingredient) out, what are you giving up?” he said.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said there are likely many cases where artificial preservatives or colors could be replaced with natural alternatives without significant costs. Since their functions vary, he said companies would have to evaluate recipes product by product.

“Sometimes, food additives can be crutches or insurance policies. If a food is frozen, germs aren’t going to grow. But preservatives might be added just in case, or they may be used just because their supplier has been using it for so long,” he said, adding that such changes are “not a big deal” in terms of the overall health.

Michele Simon, a public health lawyer and author of “Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines our Health and How to Fight Back,” also said getting rid of additives here and there won’t be enough to change the way people think about fast-food.

“That’s just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” Simon said. “These companies have a fundamental problem in who they are.”

Fast foods push towards better products is based on consumer objections which have ultimately affected the bottom line of the major chains. Think about it as fast food attempting to get back into the good graces of their consumer base. So whether or not the decisions being made currently are bottom line driven, we’re still hopeful that they will ultimately mean better — or at least less bad — meal options for those who continue to choose to consume fast food.

https://www.yahoo.com/health/fast-food-resolution-transform-junk-food-image-106933896052.html