GOOD

Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Will Dump Artificial Ingredients

Two of the nation’s greasiest fast food chains are going on a diet.

Photo via Wikimedia

While Chipotle uses free-range meats and Just Salad uses ... salad, Taco Bell has been a little late in joining the healthy fast food movement. Just recently, however, the chain as well as its sister company, Pizza Hut, announced that they would begin to phase out all artificial ingredients from their menu. Soon, additives and ingredients including trehalose and soy lethicin will be removed to make way for “actual food.”

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If you head to McDonald's in the U.K. you might hear an new question coming from behind the counter: Would you like a book with those fries? That's right, move over cheap toys, pint sized British consumers of McDonald's Happy Meals will now get a book instead. The fast food giant has partnered with publisher Dorling Kindersley and bookseller WH Smith and plans to distribute over 15 million books to kids over the next two years. The move makes McDonald's the largest book distributor in the U.K.

Kids will get a combination of fiction and nonfiction texts, including texts on science and technology topics. And, along with the book that comes with the Happy Meal, kids will get a certificate they exchange for a book at their local WH Smith bookstore.

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America Has the Saltiest Fast Food in the World

American Chicken McNuggets are more than twice as salty as British ones.


We're number one, America—when it comes to our ability to pump as much salt into our food as humanly possible! A new global study of fast food found that U.S. pizzas, burgers, fried chicken, and fries are packed with even more salt than the fast foods exiting drive-through windows elsewhere in the world.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, examined the salty offerings of six fast food chains—Burger King, Domino’s, KFC, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, and Subway—in six countries—Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The U.S. fast food industry consistently delivered more salt per gram than the (still very salty!) fast-food average. America has got the saltiest pizzas in the world. The salt levels in our "savory breakfast items" are comparatively ridiculous. McDonald's Chicken McNuggets sold in the United States contain two and a half times more salt than do British McNuggets. (Impressively, our fast food salads contain only an average amount of salt).

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Does Banning Toys Make Fast Food Healthier?

With or without the promotional tie-in, most kids prefer french fries to apple slices.


In 2006, the 10 biggest fast-food chains in the U.S. spent $360 million on kids' toys, then placed them in 1.2 billion meals consumed by children under the age of 12. Children who eat at America's major fast-food restaurants have 3,039 possible combinations of kids' meals to choose from. Of those, only 15 options meet national nutrition requirements for children under the age of 15.

Lawmakers have responded to this state of affairs by taking a paternal approach to fast-food purveyors: They're taking away their toys. In 2010, Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area became the first in the U.S. to ban the sale of kids' toys in meals that don't meet its nutritional standards. Last year, the city of San Francisco followed suit. The state of Nebraska and New York City have considered similar bans. But does snatching up toys actually make kids' meals healthier?

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Have It Your Way: The Evolution of the Kids' Meal

Fast food restaurants attempt to make Happy Meals seem a little happier.


In 1979, McDonalds sold its first Happy Meal in the United States. By pairing deep-fried, sauce-slathered foods with an unending parade of new toys, McDonalds exploded America's junk food audience. Fast-food joints spent the next three decades competing to capitalize on the kid market, then trying to make that look less bad.

In recent years, that dance has gotten trickier. Parental and government concerns over the aggressive marketing of fast food to kids have reached a boiling point. McDonalds has responded by downsizing its fries and letting kids choose white or chocolate milk instead of soda. Jack in the Box stopped pairing toys with its kids' meals. Burger King rolled out apples cut to look like french fries. This month, the King upped its feel-good game: it is now pairing its kids' meals with kid-friendly charitable donations.

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Calorie Counting: When Nudge Comes to Shove

If we're serious about the obesity problem a gentle nudge, like providing calorie information, may not be enough.

The students walk into Duke University's version of Panda Express to place a lunch order. They are asked if they would like to downsize their order. A third take the offer. Then, calorie counts go up on the menu, and the researchers repeat the offer to see if more information about their meals encourages students to eat healthier. Again, a third downsize their meals. Even with calorie counts on display, people didn't change their order.

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