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An Analysis of Burger King's New 'Healthy' Meal for Kids

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: fast food, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The media is applauding a recent announcement by Burger King introducing new healthy menu items designed to appeal to kids. Apparently the term 'healthy' is relative. While it may be a baby step in the right direction, one is left thinking, "Gee, Burger King, is this really the best you can do?"

The new menu items are part of a pledge to take more action in promoting children's nutrition. In making the pledge to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Burger King joins 11 other food and beverage companies claiming to be committed to advertising that promotes healthy dietary choices and lifestyles to children 12 and under.

Featured on the new menu are Kraft macaroni and cheese, apple slices, and chocolate milk. While the macaroni and cheese is probably right on a par with a burger, the apple slices and milk certainly shine compared to french fries and soda. But before you decide to head for Burger King, let's take a closer look.

Believe it or not, Kraft used to make real cheese. The company wanted to supply America with low cost, easily prepared cheese products, but like all real food, the cheese was perishable. So the laboratories at Kraft came up with a processed cheese formula based on milk solids that wouldn't spoil. They called it American Cheese. But the American public said "Yuck".

Undaunted, Kraft took its shelf stable creation to the U.S. Army and convinced them to buy 6 million pounds of the stuff. After a steady diet of it, the soldiers home from World War I wanted it on their dinner tables. During World War II when times were tough and food was rationed, Kraft introduced packets of dried, grated American cheese. The reception again was underwhelming until a clever salesman tied packets of the processed cheese to boxes of macaroni and convinced store owners to sell it as a single item. Kraft saw what a hit it was, manufactured its own boxes of macaroni with the cheese packet inside, and Kraft Dinner was born.

If times had been better, those little boxes might have been rejected and never become an American tradition. Now Burger King is intent on passing the tradition on to your kids. So what's in it?

* Enriched Macaroni Product (durum wheat flour, wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mono-nitrate [vitamin B1], riboflavin [vitamin B2], folic acid),

* Cheese Sauce Mix (whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, salt, calcium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate, and less than 2% of citric acid, sodium phosphate, lactic acid, milk, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, cheese culture).

A 70 gram prepared serving contains:

* Calories - 410

* Calories from Fat - 30

* Total Fat - 3.5g

* Saturated Fat - 2.0g

* Trans Fat - 0g

* Cholesterol - 15mg

* Sodium - 540mg

* Total Carbohydrate - 48g

* Dietary Fiber - 1g

* Sugars - 6g

* Protein - 9g

* Vitamin A - 0%

* Vitamin C - 0%

* Calcium - 10% RDA

* Iron - 10% RDA

Here are enough high glycemic carbohydrates to give anyone a real insulin spike. Enough of those spikes and you are on the road to diabetes. There's plenty of salt to ensure water retention sending you on your way to high blood pressure and heart disease. There's a meager amount of protein along with preservative and food coloring to start you on the way to ADHD and Alzheimer's disease, and the cheap version of vitamin B1 that contains colon cancer promoting nitrate.

The raw red apples are skinless, cut to look like french fries and served in the same containers as fries, accompanied by caramel dipping sauce. In a recent interview, a Burger King executive says they are a product innovation that sends a message to kids that better-for-you foods can be fun and taste good.

The 2.4 ounce serving of Apple Fries has 35 calories, compared to a small serving of Burger King french fries that has 230 calories and 13 grams of fat, according to the Burger King website. The apples are grown in the U.S., cut and packaged in a sterile environment, and treated with a pre-wash that contains lemon to keep them from turning brown. They don't tell you what else the pre-wash contains.

Not bad, except when you realize that the bulk of the nutrition of an apple is contained in its skin.

The chocolate milk is Hershey's 1% white or chocolate in re-sealable 8-ounce plastic bottles. A serving of the sugar sweetened milk contains:

* Total Fat (Saturated) - 2g

* Cholesterol - 10mg

* Sodium - 125mg

* Total Carbohydrate - 12g

* Dietary Fiber - 0g

* Sugars - 12g

* Protein - 8g

Many nutritionists including those at the Weston Price Foundation report that the fat in whole milk is critical to the growth and development of a child's brain and central nervous systems. The medium and short chain fatty acids in milk fat contain vitamin A, necessary for proper bone development and healthy teeth, vitamin D, critical for proper calcium absorption, vitamin E, and iodine for healthy thyroid functioning. Diets low in medium and short chain fatty acids have been linked to failure to thrive.

Nice try, Burger King, but you're way off the mark. You are sending our children a message that says only junk food is good. Any attempt at nutrition has to be packaged and presented as junk food. It has to be loaded with sugar and salt, and a delicious red apple is not acceptable until it is accompanied by dipping sauce.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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