Tuesday, June 9, 2009

But, Does It Go Far Enough?

Last month Burger King announced it has added new “kids’ meal options” as part of its commitment to the BK Positive Steps program and to meet the company’s nutrition criteria for advertised kids’ meals. The new meals include:

  • A two-pack of BK Burger Shots (bite-sized burgers topped with mustard, ketchup and two crunchy pickles, Fresh Apple Fries, caramel dipping sauce and Minute Maid apple juice).
  • A hamburger served with Fresh Apple Fries, caramel dipping sauce and Minute Maid apple juice.
  • A four-piece Chicken Tenders meal with reduced sodium, Fresh Apple Fries, caramel dipping sauce and Hershey’s fat free milk.

The company has identified more than 350 Burger King meal combinations that provide 650 calories or less. The company has eliminated all trans fat cooking oils and ingredients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Puerto Rico and Canada. It has instituted a “sodium commitment” of 600 milligrams or less for BK Kids’ Meals.

So these are positive steps—and as far as they go, should be applauded. But do they go far enough? Questions I would ask?

  • Does the ketchup list high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient?
  • Are fresh apple fries really fresh apples? Why are they fried? Why is caramel dipping sauce considered a “healthy choice?”
  • Does Minute Maid apple juice have added sugar? Does it have high fructose corn syrup?
  • Are the Chicken Tenders skinless? Are they fried or grilled? Are they highly processed chopped and formed pieces of chicken with added binders?
  • Is a sodium commitment of 600 milligrams or less enough of a commitment when the FDA and USDA state that an individual food that has the claim “healthy” must not exceed 480 mg sodium per reference amount? The Food and Nutrition Board recommends only 400 mg per day for children between 6 and 9 years of age.

When we consider the epidemic of childhood obesity, and that this generation of children may be the first in America to have shorter life expectancies than their parents, the new Kids’ Meals may still not be such a good choice even if they are labeled, “healthy.” Let’s define what healthy really means. What do you think?

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