Archive for January, 2015

Wendy’s Removes Soda Option From Kids’ Meal

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Wendy’s is the latest fast-food chain to remove the soda option from kids’ meal menus.

That means when parents drive through a pick-up window, they won’t see soda as an option on the menu board, but if they decide to order one, they won’t be turned down.

The fast-food chain is the most recent to cave to pressure from children’s health advocacy groups. McDonald’s made a similar commitment to drop soda from Happy Meals in 2013, after partnering with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a group aimed at fighting childhood obesity.

The Center for Science in Public Interest released a statement Thursday saying that Wendy’s was removing the soda option from menu boards and kids’ meals.

The statement said they hoped Wendy’s would also offer healthier choices including, “whole grain rolls, offering more fruit and vegetable options, reducing sodium across the menu, and dropping Frostys from the children’s menu.”

Unlike some fast-food chains, Wendy’s default drink choice was never soda, Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy’s said in an e-mail to USA TODAY Network.

“When ordering a kids’ meal, the customer is asked what beverage they prefer,” Bertini wrote. “The change is the kids’ meal beverage options which are shown on our menu boards.”

Bertini says the fast-food company began displaying images of “healthful beverage options,” including 1% white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100% juice.

He says the kids’ meal soft drink option no longer appears on the chain’s menu boards, inside the restaurants, at the pick-up windows or on the mobile app in the U.S. and Canada.

While soda is no longer the default drink, it still remains one of the most profitable items for fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s, according to Jesse Bragg, media director for Corporate Accountability International.

Bragg says nothing will be solved until the marketing practices that draw kids to fast food is curbed.

“It’s incredibly difficult to enforce on a local level in the fast food industry,” Bragg said.

For children’s health advocates the battle is far from over. In the soda wars, other restaurants such as Subway, Arby’s and Chipotle do not offer soda on the kids’ menu.

But, one of the giants is still left standing — Burger King.

“Two down, one to go,” says Howell Wechsler, chief executive officer of Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

An email statement from Burger King said the company is, “currently in the process of analyzing the removal of fountain drinks from our kids’ menu boards.”

California Foie Gras Ban Overturned

Friday, January 9th, 2015

A law banning the sale of foie gras in California was overturned Wednesday by a federal judge, paving the way for the item to return to restaurant menus in the state.

California Senate Bill No. 1520, which was signed into law in September 2004 and went into effect in July 2012, banned the sale of any product made by “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.”

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that the law interfered with federal regulations that govern poultry products. Wilson made the ruling when hearing a lawsuit filed on behalf of foie gras producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras of Ferndale, N.Y., as well as another foie gras producer and restaurateurs.

“The federal government regulates foodstuffs and has preemption over state law. It’s as simple as that,” said Rick Bishop, Hudson Valley Foie Gras’ director of marketing.

Chefs who had been lobbying to have the law overturned said they were thrilled by the ruling.

“It’s a good day for chefs and consumers in California,” said Ken Frank, chef and owner of La Toque restaurant in Napa, Calif., on Wednesday, adding that he planned to serve foie gras on the dinner menu that evening.

“My sous chefs are angling to get their favorite version [on the menu],” he said.

The Humane Society of the United States, an animal welfare group, condemned the ruling.

“California lawmakers conducted a serious-minded debate about farm animal welfare in 2004, passing a bill to phase out the cruel force-feeding of ducks and the sale of foie gras if it comes from that inhumane process,” HSUS president Wayne Pacelle said in a press release. “The state clearly has the right to ban the sale of the products of animal cruelty, and we expect the 9th Circuit will uphold the law, as it did in the previous round of litigation.”

He added that the HSUS was asking the California attorney general to appeal the ruling.

Foie gras is made by placing tubes in the throats of ducks or geese and pouring in corn, resulting in enlarged livers that are sold as a delicacy.

Animal welfare activists widely condemn the process as cruel, while foie gras advocates say the practice, which dates back to ancient Egypt, simply speeds up the liver fattening that wild waterfowl do naturally in preparation for long-distance migrations.

Bishop of Hudson Valley Foie Gras said the company has managed to keep other states from banning foie gras production by inviting legislators and others to their facilities.

“If people came to the farm and saw what we do, they’d see that it was not bad,” he said, adding that legislators from Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York had visited the farm and decided not to ban foie gras.

“We’re just proud farmers, and we’re very proud of this victory,” he said.