Brought to you by Foodfacts.com:
Approximately 45 million low-income Americans are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which provides food stamps to purchase produce, meats, dairy, breads, and packaged foods. There has been much controversy over which foods should actually be allowed to be purchased with food stamps based on nutritional value. Currently, items such as sodas, candy, and chips are able to be purchased, despite seeing trends in the rising obesity epidemic which is largely seen in low-income communities.
Recently, the Yum! Corporation which owns Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver’s have been lobbying to have their fast food restaurants included within food stamp programs. They’ve caught on to the increasing use of food stamps during these rough economic years and would like to take full advantage of the opportunity.
What are people saying about this? Some anti-hunger coalitions are actually encouraging it! They’re reasoning, not everyone can get to a grocery store, so a fast food restaurant may be the optimal choice for some. At Foodfacts.com, we’re aware that many people are facing a tough financial time. However, we wouldn’t be so quick to recommend a 2 minute walk to get a KFC Double Down, when you may have some access to whole foods with proper nutritional value.
In good news, many public health organizations are rallying against this movement. They argue that the more revenue these fast-food chains bring in, the more health complications we see, and the higher price we pay later on. Try to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods as much as possible!
Foodfacts.com takes a closer look at what’s really in a some Taco Bell products. By simply looking at the Nachos Bell Grande at Taco Bell, some would think there are maybe 5 or 6 ingredients. There’s the sour cream, layers of nacho cheese, mountain of tortilla chips, some tomatoes, little bit of chive, and topped off with ground beef. In reality, this menu item contains about 125 ingredients; some of which aren’t ideal, and may possibly cause some hazardous health effects. At Food Facts we like to point out these controversial ingredients and help consumers become more aware of what’s REALLY in their food.
Let’s start off with autolyzed yeast extract, because many people may be unfamiliar with this ingredient, and coincidentally it is in all three featured products. This ingredient naturally contains glutamic acid, a flavor enhancer. Therefore, most types of yeast extract are used as food additives to help give flavor to different products. In autolyzed yeast extract, sodium chloride is added during the fermentation process to create monosodium glutamate, commonly referred to as MSG.
Most consumers are very familiar with MSG because it has received a great deal of attention in recent years. This ingredient can be found in salad dressings, mixed seasonings, snacks, chips, beef stocks, and much more. With the increased popularity of this product, came increased reports of migraine headaches, dizziness, nausea, and so on. In fact, all the symptoms of MSG can be categorized as “MSG Symptom Complex”, because there is a large variety of symptoms that may occur. Also, some people may also have intolerance to MSG, so be careful to check food labels for monosodium glutamate, yeast extract, and other hidden MSG forms.
The Burrito Supreme at Taco Bell is another menu-favorite. Aside from this item providing a hefty dose of the recommended daily value for sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol; it also contains a variety of controversial ingredients you may not be aware of. The one ingredient some may be curious about is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ. Not only is this ingredient a mouth-full, it is also a phenol used as a food additive to enhance storage life of different products. Although deemed safe by the FDA, certain studies have shown that high doses of TBHQ are not only carcinogenic, but may also cause damage to DNA and promote growth of tumors. Make sure to read food labels carefully for this food additive.
Crunchy tacos are a staple for the Taco Bell franchise. Although these more basic items contain less controversial ingredients, they still include hidden MSG and TBHQ. Their nutrition label also displays high amounts of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, which consumers should carefully monitor when eating at any fast-food restaurant.