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Consumers may associate the term caramel coloring on an ingredient label with the caramel they may make themselves in their kitchens by cooking down sugar in a pot on their stoves. It’s not the same thing. Caramel coloring is an artificial food coloring that lends a brown hue to the foods and beverages in which it is included. It’s commonly found in colas and other dark-colored sodas like root beer, but it’s also included in a variety of different food products. It’s a controversial ingredient and it’s more than a little complicated.

For years, caramel coloring has been debated as a possible carcinogen. The FDA now says it is taking a new look at caramel coloring after Consumer Reports said it found higher than expected levels of a potentially cancer-causing agent in some sodas.

The group said its tests of soft drinks using caramel coloring show some contain higher-than-necessary levels of a compound called 4-methylimidazole or 4-MEI.

The FDA says there’s no evidence the compound is unsafe as used, but a spokeswoman said the agency would look closer after the Consumer Reports complaints.

“The FDA has studied the use of caramel as a flavor and as a color additive in foods for decades,” the agency said in a statement. It said it would test a variety of foods, including sodas, for 4-MEI, but added, “Currently, the FDA has no reason to believe that 4-MEI, at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel colors, poses a health risk to consumers.”
But California does classify the chemical as a possible carcinogen and Consumer Reports says its tests of certain sodas showed higher than allowed levels in some bought in California.
And it says companies should remove the chemical if there’s any doubt.

“This is about coloring food brown,” Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist who heads Consumer Reports’ food safety and sustainability center, said in a telephone interview. “We think of this as an unnecessary risk. It’s a food additive — we should know that it is safe.”

And Pepsi, maker of some of the drinks Consumers Reports tested, says the consumer group is mistaken.

“We have serious questions about Consumer Response’s conclusion,” Pepsi spokeswoman Aurora Gonzalez said in an email.

She said the soft drink maker had lowered levels of 4-MEI in its products. “PepsiCo abides by the law everywhere we do business. When the regulatory requirements changed in California, PepsiCo moved immediately to meet the new requirements in California. We also decided to voluntarily apply those same standards in the rest of the country, and we are on track to complete that rollout by February 2014,” she said.

Pepsi also questioned how Consumer Reports decided that some soft drinks exceeded the limits set by California.

The group said other brands of soft drink appeared to have lowered their levels of 4-MEI to acceptable ranges.

Rangan said she did not know whether the re-formulated drinks were safer, but she was glad the levels of 4-MEI were reduced.

“How they are tweaking that formulation, we don’t know,” she said. “Are they doing something else? We don’t know. We are not privy to that information,” she added. “We don’t even know which caramel coloring they are using, exactly.”

That’s because there are four different types of caramel coloring: plain caramel, a type that reacts sugar with sulfites, a type that reacts sugars with ammonium and one that reacts sugars with both ammonium and sulfites (that’s the one used in most sodas). The last two types are considered the most controversial. Both of these contain the known carcinogens 2-MEI and 4-MEI. But manufacturers aren’t required to list which type they are using in any product.

FoodFacts.com has never understood how potentially cancer causing chemicals are allowed in our food supply. We are well aware that soda is not the only product category containing caramel color. Suggesting that avoiding the ingredient is as simple as avoiding darker-hued sodas like cola just doesn’t tell the whole story. This is absolutely an ingredient that deserves further scrutiny from the FDA. We believe in transparency in our food supply. The fact that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the type of caramel coloring they are using doesn’t sit well with us and it shouldn’t make consumers happy either. If we can’t achieve a ban for the more dangerous types of the ingredient, we should at least be made aware of the specific content of the coloring used.

http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/24529324/fda-checks-into-caramel-coloring-after-consumer-reports-study

Posted in caramel coloring, Carcinogenic Chemicals, Carcinogens, FDA | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re not fast food fans. FoodFacts.com has detailed the long lists of controversial ingredients and copious amounts of fat, salt and sugar contained in the majority of fast food options available to consumers. Nutritional benefits and fast foods are not synonymous. While major chains have added salads to their menus in hopes of finding an audience of more health-conscious consumers, a little digging will tell anyone that even those salads leave something to be desired. And if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, those are your only options at some of those restaurants. And McDonald’s is one of them.

McDonald’s introduced a veggie burger in the early 2000′s, but it failed to gain a following. But health and wellness author and activist Kathy Freston, believes it’s time for that veggie burger to make a comeback.

She has collected more than 90,000 signatures for a petition urging McDonald’s to debut a vegetarian burger. Adding some publicity wattage to the campaign are celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Simmons, Pamela Anderson and Alicia Silverstone, who have supported the effort on social media.

It remains to be seen whether McDonald’s will listen the way Taco Bell did when an Arkansas man embarked on a decidedly less health-conscious Facebook campaign to marry Doritos chips with Taco Bell tacos. The resulting Doritos Locos Tacos have been one of the chain’s best-selling products ever.

Will McDonald’s consider the petition? A spokeswoman didn’t reveal much: “In our experience, menu items at McDonald’s are most successful when enough customers choose to select them,” she said in response to questions. “It allows us to ensure freshness of ingredients and overall quality of the food item. We’ll continue to evolve our menu to meet the changing preferences of our customers.”

Those healthy eaters haven’t been going to McDonald’s very much. The chain has rolled out a number of salads in recent years, but the company has said that salads make up only 2% to 3% of U.S. sales.

Ms. Freston, a vegan, said she wouldn’t eat salads at McDonald’s either, because they’re not filling. A non-beef protein patty, she said, would leave people feeling satiated. Ms. Freston, a regular talk-show guest who has penned several bestsellers, said she was motivated to start the petition on Change.org because she travels a lot and would love to pop into a McDonald’s to find something she could eat.

She points out that rivals like Burger King, Subway and Denny’s offer vegetable-based protein patties and that Chipotle has recently added tofu as an option to its burritos. She says McDonald’s recent admission that it has lost relevance with consumers could be rectified, in part, by becoming more vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.

“They’re not only not getting the new customers who are health-minded, they’re losing customers to competitors,” says Ms. Freston, who has been tweeting her plea but says she hasn’t gotten a response from McDonald’s.

McDonald’s restaurants in Canada began offering vegetarian snack wraps in August. “People always ask for the veggie burger. So this we’re going to surprise them,” McDonald’s Canada CEO John Betts was quoted as saying at the time.

In the U.S., for now, McDonald’s says vegans and vegetarians can customize orders to be made without meat. Ms. Freston doesn’t think that goes far enough. “I hope they know McLettuce won’t do the trick! I would love to meet with McDonald’s because they seem to mistakenly believe that a healthy plant-based option means eating a tortilla with lettuce,” she says.

We do need to point out that the veggie burger offered at Burger King is not the healthiest choice. A quick look at the ingredient list tells a story of numerous controversial items with an unhealthy dose of sodium. So we’re not quite sure that a similar effort from McDonald’s would tell a different story.

But in fairness to vegetarians everywhere who might like additional choices, this does appear to be an idea that McDonald’s should be willing to get behind. They may find that in 2014, a veggie burger might be more enthusiastically embraced than it was at the beginning of the new century. Times change and staying relevant requires the ability to change right along with them.

If you’d like to add your voice to Kathy Freston’s position, click here to sign: https://www.change.org/petitions/mcdonald-s-it-s-time-for-a-healthy-meatless-option

http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2014/01/29/attention-mcdonalds-the-people-demand-mcveggie/

Posted in fast food, McDonald's, Vegetarian Diet, Vegetarian Options | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For many people (some of us here at FoodFacts.com included) some of their fondest childhood memories include sitting at the kitchen table with a big glass of milk and three or four Oreo cookies sitting on a plate. Those memories are being created right now for millions of kids. Will they dunk the whole cookie? Will they twist the cookie apart, eat the cream and then dunk the separated cookies? It’s fun … and it tastes pretty good, too. Of course, FoodFacts.com has to intrude on those memories and remind us all that the ingredient list for Oreos does leave something to be desired.

Oreos has introduced new flavors to its line of cookies over the years. We have Mint Oreos, Peanut Butter Oreos, and Lemon Oreos, to name just a few. And yesterday, Oreos released two new, limited-edition flavors to its library. We can now indulge in Cookie Dough Oreos and Marshmallow Crispy Oreos. They’ll be available for six to eight weeks and have been getting a lot of attention around the internet.

While the reviews have been mixed, the majority are positive.

It appears that Marshmallow Crispy Oreos took their inspiration from Rice Krispies Treats. Those taste-testing the new cookies prior to their release were happy with the flavor. Many felt that the filling was too sweet, but it does appear to be authentic to the name. And the crisped rice in the filling was happily received.

Cookie Dough Oreo reviews were definitely of the mixed variety, although most agreed that the filling didn’t live up to its name. Flavor descriptions ranged from maple syrup to caramel to coffee – but not cookie dough.

FoodFacts.com set out to find the ingredient list and nutritional content for the new limited-edition Oreo flavors, but we came up empty handed. While they are pictured on the Oreo.com site, neither Cookie Dough or Marshmallow Crispy Oreos are listed on the corresponding product site as of yet (www.snackworks.com). That’s where we would find the nutrition and ingredient data. Given the absence of the facts, we can only go with what we know about some of the other flavors.

Two Peanut Butter Oreos (the noted serving size) contain 140 calories, 6g of fat, 1g of saturated fat and 11 grams of sugar. The ingredient list details both high fructose corn syrup and the artificial flavor vanillan.

Similarly, two Mint Oreos contain 140 calories with 7g of fat, 2g of saturated fat and 13 grams of sugar. The ingredient list for this flavor contains high fructose corn syrup, vanillin and a few artificial colors.

So since we’ve been left to our own devices with both Cookie Dough and Marshmallow Crispy Oreos, we’re assuming similar nutrition data. There may be more sugar since the reviews included comments about the sweetness of both flavors, but we can’t say for sure. What we can say is that both the Peanut Butter and Mint flavors are rated F according to our health score. Given that rating, we’ll probably pass these up — unless, of course, Oreos chooses to disclose the information at some point during the next six to eight weeks and it appears to be different than some of the other flavors for which we have the data.

http://newsfeed.time.com/2014/01/23/oreo-launches-two-new-flavors-and-theyre-both-delicious/

http://www.businessinsider.com/cookie-dough-oreo-review-2014-1

Posted in nutrition, nutrition facts, nutrition facts label, Oreos | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We spend a lot of time here at FoodFacts.com talking about ingredients. Our site highlights controversial items in our food supply and explains what makes those ingredients a concern for our health. But there are ingredients that we won’t find listed on any label that are just as controversial for our health and safety as those that are. And those ingredients can typically be traced to fresh poultry and livestock products all over America. And they’re coming from antibiotic feed additives used for livestock and poultry.

Between 2001 and 2010, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly reviewed the safety of 30 penicillin and tetracycline antibiotic feed additives approved for “nontherapeutic use”. Nontherapeutic use refers to using antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent disease in typically crowded, often unsanitary conditions in livestock and poultry. The Natural Resources Defense Council obtained the previously undisclosed review documents from the FDA as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the agency and subsequent litigation made necessary by FDA’s failure to provide any of the requested documents.

The FDA’s scientific reviewers’ findings show that none of these products would likely be approvable as new additives for nontherapeutic livestock use if submitted today, under current FDA guidelines. Eighteen of the 30 reviewed feed additives were deemed to pose a “high risk” of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the food supply, based on the information available. The remainder lacked adequate data for the reviewers to make any determination and their safety remains unproven. In addition, the FDA concluded in their review that at least 26 of the reviewed feed additives do not satisfy even the safety standards set by FDA in 1973.

The FDA has not revoked any of the antibiotic additive approvals or required any drug manufacturer to resubmit a product for a new safety assessment following the agency’s reviews, though two were voluntarily withdrawn by their makers.

The significance of these findings extends far beyond the 30 antibiotic feed additives reviewed. The FDA data indicate that the types of antibiotics in the reviewed additives — tetracyclines and penicillins — together make up nearly half of all the antibiotics used in animal agriculture. Other feed additives with these same antibiotics, including generics, that are approved for similar uses would likely pose a similar risk of promoting antibiotic resistance. This risk was recognized by the FDA in 1977 when it proposed to withdraw approvals for animal feed additives containing penicillin and most tetracyclines.

The use of tetracyclines and penicillins in animal feed is part of a larger problem of antibiotic overuse. Approximately 70 percent of all sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States are for livestock use. Scientists have demonstrated that nontherapeutic use of antibiotics to raise livestock promotes drug-resistant bacteria that can migrate from livestock facilities and threaten public health. These bacteria can spread resistant traits to other bacteria, and some of these shared traits also can confer resistance to antibiotics used primarily in human medicine.

Late last year, the FDA announced a plan to phase out some antibiotics that promote weight gain. But that proposed phase out was planned as voluntary, not mandatory, and to date nothing’s been done.

We’ve all heard reports about antibiotic resistance and probable consequences — superbugs that can infect populations that may not respond to antibiotics, or more probably, everyday infections that are treated with antibiotics successfully now that could become resistant over time becoming tremendous medical problems. All the while, our livestock and poultry are fed antibiotics that can contribute to those reports. All for the sake of “bigger food.” It’s definitely time for the FDA to take action and put an end to this potential threat to the health of Americans.

http://www.nrdc.org/food/saving-antibiotics/antibiotic-feed-FDA-documents.asp

Posted in Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, Antibiotics, FDA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FoodFacts.com can’t wait! We’re busy planning the party. We’re sure many of you are too. Unfortunately many of the traditional Super Bowl foods we all know and love are laden with calories, fat and sodium. And we just couldn’t resist putting a healthier spin on some of those favorites. We think you’ll find them to be just as flavorful and satisfying as the old standards.

Buffalo Wings are standard Super Bowl fare. The restaurant-style wings we’re all familiar with are pretty unkind to our diets. They’re deep-fried. And the typical serving (two wings) contain an average of over 850 calories, 62g of fat, 25.6g of saturated fat and 1418 mg of sodium Let’s be honest, no one stops at two wings. So here’s our take on lighter Buffalo Wings:

What you’ll need:
2 pounds chicken wings split at the joint
¼ cup good quality hot pepper sauce

What you’ll do:
Put the wings in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the wings to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
While the wings are boiling , preheat your broiler
Drain the wings and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Broil about 6” from the heat source for 5 or 6 minutes, then turn and cook another 5 minutes
The skin should be browned and blistering.
Remove from the broiler and place in a large bowl
Drizzle with the hot sauce and toss to coat

The serving size for this recipe is 4 to 5 wings. Each serving contains 240 calories, 12g of fat and 710 mg of sodium.

How about some blue cheese dressing for those wings? The average blue cheese dressing will cost you over 240 calories and over 25 g of fat for just two tablespoons. Try this instead.

You’ll need:
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon 2% milk
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper

What you’ll do:
Whisk together the yogurt, milk mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne. Fold the blue cheese in gently and add salt and pepper. Refrigerate the dip overnight.

For two tablespoons, this dip has 91 calories and 8 grams of fat. That’s a sizeable difference!

Let’s not forget about those loaded nachos with beef, beans, cheese and hot peppers. A typical serving of nachos like these runs over 800 calories, with over 50 grams of fat, with over 20 of those grams attributable to saturated fat. That’s pretty bad, considering the serving size is only 4 to 5 chips worth.

Our version is a lot lighter. And while they’re not loaded the way the restaurant versions are, they’re quite flavorful and spicy.

What you’ll need:
36 organic baked tortilla chips
1 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack Cheese
1 14.5 ou can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 plum tomatoes chopped
½ red onion finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

What you’ll do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray
Spread the chips in a single layer on the sheet
Sprinkle with cheese
Cover with remaining ingredients
Bake 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted

A serving size here is 9 nachos (so double the serving size for the traditional loaded version). That serving will contain only 222 calories and 1 gram of fat.

So now that we have some healthier options lined up for game day, we can turn our attention to other important issues. Like which of the new commercials will win our favor this year … and how incredible do you think that half-time show will be?

Have a great Super Bowl Sunday!

Posted in healthy eating, Healthy Habits, Healthy Lifestyle, healthy snacks, Super Bowl Sunday | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you’re like millions of American consumers, you’re visiting your favorite Starbucks each morning — right along with plenty of other devoted Starbucks coffee lovers. And while you’re there, you may be ordering a breakfast food item. Starbucks is actively trying to promote their foods right along with their coffee. But we all know there’s usually a crowd, and you’re usually waiting to pick up your order. FoodFacts.com thinks plenty of people would be happy to avoid all that, wouldn’t they?

Starbucks has already put the latest technology to work in their stores with two very popular mobile apps that allow you to pay via your smartphone. And now they’re preparing to incorporate mobile ordering into those same apps.

Yesterday, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz confirmed plans to allow customers to place orders through Starbucks’s mobile app and pick them up later. “I can tell you that we understand the value that that will create for our customer base,” Schultz said. He added, “You can assume that over time we will lead in this area.”

Pre-ordering would make sense for Starbucks as the coffee giant increasingly focuses on food, which is its fastest-growing segment. ”Everything we’ve seen so far encourages us that we’re just beginning to go after what is a big, big food opportunity,” CFO Troy Alstead said yesterday. Food is more complicated to prepare than coffee and can slow down service in Starbucks stores. “We’re definitely looking to increase the speed of our lines,” spokeswoman Linda Mills told Quartz today.

Some restaurant chains, like Chipotle, already allow mobile pre-ordering. Starbucks’s big advantage in this area would be that so many customers—over 10 million—already use its mobile app to pay for their orders.

But there are plenty of complications to consider. Will the company prioritize pre-orders, or in-store orders? The company wants to make buying coffee and food as easy and fast as possible, but not if it comes at the expense of sales. Which is probably why Starbucks is being so deliberate about the program’s careful development.

When Starbucks has all the complications ironed out, you’ll be able to use their app to avoid their lines. Order before you go, pick it up and pay. It will help save time (and any annoyance associated with waiting) and help you get to your favorite coffee a lot more easily than you may be used to.

http://qz.com/170492/starbucks-is-getting-ready-to-let-you-order-coffee-before-you-get-to-the-store/

Posted in Mobile Ordering, Starbucks, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a mantra around here … ALWAYS read nutrition labels. How can you know what you’re eating unless you do? But while you’re consistently reading those labels, odds are you sometimes have some questions regarding the information they’re trying to impart.

That idea hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition labels as we know them today have read exactly the same way for the last 20 years. The FDA says that knowledge about nutrition has evolved over the last 20 years and nutrition labels need to evolve along with our knowledge. 20 years ago, we were all hyper-focused on fat. Remember all those fat-free products lining our grocery store shelves back then? And 20 years ago, we weren’t quite as focused on serving sizes as we are today.

As the agency considers revisions, nutritionists and other health experts have their own wish list of desired changes.

The number of calories should be more prominent, they say, and the amount of added sugar and percentage of whole wheat in the food should be included. They also want more clarity on how serving sizes are defined.

“There’s a feeling that nutrition labels haven’t been as effective as they should be,” says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren’t intuitively familiar with.”

For example, he says, most of the nutrients are listed in grams, the metric system’s basic unit of mass. Jacobson says people don’t really understand what a gram is.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says 20 years ago “there was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated.” Since then, health providers have focused more on calories and warned people away from saturated and trans fats more than all fats. Trans fats were separated out on the label in 2006.

The nutrition facts label “is now 20 years old, the food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed,” says Taylor, who was at the agency in the early 1990s when the FDA first introduced the label at the behest of Congress. “It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”

The FDA has sent guidelines for the new labels to the White House, but Taylor would not estimate when they might be released. The FDA has been working on the issue for a decade, he said.

There’s evidence that more people are reading the labels in recent years.

According to an Agriculture Department study released this month, a greater percentage of adults reported using the nutrition facts panel and other claims on food packages “always or most of the time” in 2009 and 2010 compared with two years earlier.

The USDA study said 42 percent of working adults used the panel always or most of the time in 2009 and 2010, while older adults used it 57 percent of the time during that period.

One expected change in the label is to make the calorie listing more prominent, and Regina Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said that could be useful to consumers. Her group represents the nation’s largest food companies.

It’s not yet clear what other changes the FDA could decide on. Nutrition advocates are hoping the agency adds a line for sugars and syrups that are not naturally occurring in foods and drinks and are added when they are processed or prepared. Right now, some sugars are listed separately among the ingredients and some are not.

It may be difficult for the FDA to figure out how to calculate added sugars, however. Food manufacturers are adding naturally occurring sugars to their products so they can label them as natural – but the nutrition content is no different.

Other suggestions from health advocates:

- Add the percentage of whole wheat to the label. Many manufacturers will label products “whole wheat” when there is really only a small percentage of it in the food.

- Clearer measurements. Jacobson of CSPI and others have suggested that the FDA use teaspoons instead of grams on the label, since consumers can envision a teaspoon.

- Serving sizes that make sense. There’s no easy answer, but health experts say that single-size servings that are clearly meant to be eaten in one sitting will often list two or three servings on the label, making the calorie and other nutrient information deceptive. FDA said last year that it may add another column to the labels, listing nutrition information per serving and per container. The agency may also adjust recommended serving sizes for some foods.

- Package-front labeling. Beyond the panel on the back, nutrition experts have pushed for labels on the package front for certain nutrients so consumers can see them more easily. The FDA said several years ago it would issue guidelines for front of pack labeling, but later said it would hold off to see if the industry could create its own labels.

Tracy Fox, a Washington-based nutrition consultant, says clearer information is needed to balance the billions of dollars a year that the food industry spends on food marketing.
“There’s a lot of information there, it’s messy,” she says. “There may be a way to call out certain things and put them in context.”

FoodFacts.com certainly believes that better nutrition label information can lead us all to making better food choices — and can lead to manufacturers taking greater care when producing food products. Transparency in labeling is so important. We all deserve to understand the actual serving size of every product we purchase. We all deserve to understand the sugar content of the foods we’re eating. And we’d all have a more precise knowledge of our foods if nutrient content was expressed in teaspoons here in the U.S. We’re looking forward to seeing the changes that the FDA will put forward that will help us become more educated, aware consumers!

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fda-says-nutrition-facts-label-will-get-makeover

Posted in health awareness, healthy eating, Healthy Habits, Healthy Lifestyle, nutrition labeling, Nutrition Labels, Nutritional Awareness | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First lady Michelle Obama has made a lasting impact in the lives of Americans with her Let’s Move! initiative. Her work to ensure that all children grow up and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams have focused on making healthy choices easier for all American families. Our First Lady has turned a much-needed spotlight on the issue of childhood nutrition. FoodFacts.com has been especially impressed by and grateful for her choice of this particular issue and for her dedicated work to get this important message out to the American people.

Today, our First Lady joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and Subway along with Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, and Justin Tuck at a local Washington, DC, Subway Restaurant, to announce a three-year commitment by the chain in support of her Let’s Move! initiative to promote healthier choices to kids, including launching its largest targeted marketing effort to date. In addition to strengthening its already nutritious menu offerings to kids, Subway will launch a new series of campaigns for kids titled “Playtime Powered by Veggies,” aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and will set new standards for marketing products to families.
“I’m excited about these initiatives not just as a First Lady, but also as a mom,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Subway’s kids’ menu makes life easier for parents, because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice.”

Subway Restaurants’ commitment answers the First Lady’s call last fall at the first ever White House Convening on Food Marketing to Children, where she urged the private sector to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthier products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.

“Subway restaurant’s commitment today builds on the brand’s already strong track record of offering healthier choices to kids, for which it has been lauded by families and health advocates alike,” said PHA Board Chair James R. Gavin, III, MD, PhD. “The new and significant investment it is making today will not only help make fruits and vegetables fun for kids, it will also offer busy moms and dads easy, healthy choices for their families when they’re on the go.”

“Ending childhood obesity is a cause that has been near and dear to Subway since we introduced the Fresh Fit for Kids Meals in 2007,” said Suzanne Greco, vice president of R&D and Operations for the Subway brand. “With this partnership with PHA, we will now reach millions of kids as part of a healthier eating education campaign, making it our largest outreach campaign to date. From a sign on each restaurant’s door that says ‘Playtime Powered by Veggies’ to a video collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, we will build upon our ongoing efforts to create even better choices for families. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the industry when it comes to speaking to children and their families. Now we are letting everyone else know what that standard is.”

As part of its commitment, the Subway restaurant chain will:

-  only offer items on its kids menus that meet strong nutritional guidelines informed by federal standards for the national school lunch program, including offering apples as a side and low-fat or non-fat milk or water as a default beverage.

-  deliver $41 million in media value in the next three years to market healthier options to children and families, with a specific focus on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. This is the brand’s largest kid-focused marketing campaign to date, and includes general marketing, in-store merchandising, television, social and digital media and public relations.
-  focus all kid-focused in-store merchandising and marketing on only the healthier options available in its restaurants. This includes training materials which will be updated to teach Sandwich Artists to encourage kids to choose apples.

Playtime Powered by Veggies. We can’t wait to see this campaign in action. We’re thrilled to see Subway putting the First Lady’s initiatives to work and answering her call to the private sector to promote healthier choices for our children. And we’re hopeful that Subway’s efforts will motivate other chains to make similar commitments to the lives of our kids!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/23/first-lady-michelle-obama-announces-commitment-subway-restaurants-promot

Posted in Food Marketing to Children, healthy eating, Healthy Habits, Healthy Lifestyle, Subway | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We live in a very calorie-driven food world, motivated by consumers who appear to care more about calorie counts than content. It’s evident everywhere. Processed diet foods claim millions of fans, even though the majority of product ingredient lists and nutrition facts are pretty poor. Canned soups are relied upon as low-calorie, “healthy” lunch choices, when the remainder of the story contained in their ingredients is far from positive. And fast food is no exception to this rule. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon, especially when it comes to breakfast. With products touting turkey sausage and egg whites served on whole grain breads and muffins, all too often, their accompanying ingredient lists tell a completely different tale.

Now, 7-Eleven has introduced a brand new egg white breakfast sandwich that’s under 200 calories and costs just $1.99. Sounds like a dream come true for the calorie-crazed.

According to 7-Eleven, the sandwich offers consumers fluffy egg whites, lean Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese on a whole wheat English muffin. Sounds healthy enough.  Here at FoodFacts.com most of us are in agreement that 7-Eleven’s prepared breakfast sandwiches may not be the freshest offerings available. So we’re pretty skeptical about that “fluffy” egg white claim. They go on to say that their customers can even request to have their breakfast sandwiches toasted, or they can heat them up in an in-store microwave  in some locations. And sometimes, the sandwiches are in a small heated case, so they’re already warmed. Regardless of which option consumers choose, said sandwiches aren’t being prepared to order and may or may not have been sitting around for awhile. For some of us here, that’s somewhat off-putting. But we know there are many out there who don’t share that opinion.

The best we could do here was the nutrition facts that are readily available. The new sandwich contains just 180 calories, while boasting 13 g of protein, 5 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat and 580 mg of sodium. And for those that are incredibly calorie conscious, those are pretty good numbers. When you consider that the 7-Eleven English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich with Egg, Sausage and Cheese weighs in at 390 calories, 25 g of fat, 9 g of saturated fat and 750 mg of sodium, the new egg white offering is definitely a leaner option.

“Our primary task was to create a great-tasting breakfast sandwich for people looking for a better-for-you alternative,” said Kelly Buckley, 7-Eleven vice president of fresh food innovation. “We have fresh-cut fruits, salads, yogurt parfaits and healthy, low-calorie sandwiches, and we wanted a breakfast option that fell into that better-for-you category without sacrificing taste and quality.”

“Many people are looking to make better choices, but not at the expense of flavor, quality, convenience or value,” Buckley said. “Eating away from home adds extra challenges for those looking for healthier food options. We wanted to remove that dilemma for the morning crowd who prefers a hot breakfast that is low-calorie, low-fat and high-protein.”

Honestly, the problem for us (as you may have guessed) is that we can’t get an ingredient list just yet. We’re trying, but it doesn’t seem to be available. So we’re not quite ready to say that this new sandwich is a better choice and can’t attest to the quality of this trimmed-down product. And while 180 calories, less fat and sodium are all admirable, it’s hard for us to weigh in until we can have a clear idea of the ingredients used to create this breakfast.

Sorry 7-Eleven, we’ll have to save that “Oh, thank Heavens” exclamation until we have a clearer concept of what’s really in this new hot or toasted or warm breakfast.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-eleven-introduces-low-cal-143000335.html

Posted in 7-Eleven, breakfast, Breakfast Sandwich, healthy eating | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When you feel a headache coming on, you’re most likely going to reach for acetaminophen, motrin or aspirin. You might try taking a nap. Or if you have sinus troubles, you may take an over-the-counter medication designed to help ease your congestion. But there are more natural ways to take the pain away. Next time, try some of these ideas and you may just beat the headache as a result!

Coffee
Caffeinated coffee can actually combat headache pain. While many think this remedy is unfounded, it really isn’t. Caffeein can reduce the size of blood vessels that have expanded to cause a headache. It can work. But you’ve got to drink that coffee cautiously. Since coffee is a natural diuretic, drinking too much can dehydrate your body and make your headache worse. Drink a cup, not a mug and wait to see if it’s had the desired effect.

Watermelon
When we dehydrate, one of the unpleasant side effects can be a headache. Rehydration can often reduce or eliminate the pain. But water isn’t the only thing you should reach for. Watermelon is a water-rich fruit, but it also contains magnesium, which has proven to be effective for headaches as well.

Baked Potatoes
Did you know that a lack of potassium can be responsible for chronic headaches? While the first food we think of in terms of rich potassium sources is a banana, there are some foods that will give you an even bigger potassium boost. Baked potatoes contain 725mg of potassium each. A banana contains 465. Try a baked potato for your next headache.

Almonds
Much like caffeine works to constrict blood vessels that have expanded during a headache, almonds can relax blood vessels. This is considered to be a preventative effect. So if you include more almonds in your diet, you’ll experience less frequent headaches.

Salsa
Sinus headaches can be particularly painful and frequent during certain seasons of the year. Congestion is the culprit here and many who experience sinus headaches will say that the pressure and pain can be intense and unique. To target congestion, spicy foods like salsa can actually help to clear congestion and reduce pressure. But you’ve got to make sure that it’s a spicy salsa, not mild. It’s the hot ingredients that do the trick.

Spinach
Spinach isn’t just full of iron, it also contains magnesium and potassium, proven to help relieve headache pain. So you can ease your pain by eating the vegetable, or you can incorporate it into juices or smoothies. It will work just as well.

These simple foods are a great way to help your headache heal naturally, without having to rely on over-the-counter medications. If you’re prone to headaches, there can sometimes be unpleasant effects from taking those meds often. Little things like a strange taste in your mouth, or dried out nasal passages, fatigue or the inability to sleep are all fairly common. FoodFacts.com hopes you’ll try some natural approaches that will help the pain without the problems!

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/6-best-headache-healing-foods.html/?a=viewall

Posted in headache, health, health tips, Healthy Habits | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment