How Your Favorite Fast Food Meals Are Changing
by, TIME Magazine*
Chains from Taco Bell to Pizza Hut are throwing out the additives and embracing the natural ingredients
Are the days of pink slime, antibiotic-fed chicken and other fast food controversies over?
Taco Bell and Pizza Hut announced that they will begin to nix all artificial colors and ingredients from their food. The restaurants, both owned by Yum! Brands, are the latest in a string of fast food outlets shaking up their menus to prove to increasingly health-conscious customers that what they’re eating is, in fact, “real food.”
But are these changes actually making your favorite fast food meals different? Here’s a look at five of the nation’s favorite guilty pleasures, and how exactly they’re changing:
1. Taco Bell’s Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme
The nacho cheese on Taco Bell’s most popular item will lose its artificial food coloring — Yellow No. 6 — as the chain strips out all artificial ingredients from its menu. Some of the tastes in the taco’sseasoned beef, which Taco Bell’s menu says may contain artificial flavors, will also be replaced with natural flavors.
It’s arguable that customers may not notice the difference in taste from artificial to natural flavoring, but that’s not to say the move won’t have an impact: For decades, experts have blasted artificial colors and ingredients for their links to health problems, such as hyperactivity in children, allergic reactions and even cancer.
2. Pizza Hut’s Cinnamon Sticks
The pizza chain’s popular sweet snack contains an anti-foaming agent called dimethylpolysiloxane, according to its ingredients statement. Small amounts of the artificial ingredient can be found in the oil used by several fast food chains in order to prevent splattering oil while cooking.
For years customers have noted how the scary-sounding silicone compound is used in Silly Putty. However, the additive has been deemed safe by the FDA, and numerous studies show no link between dimethylpolysiloxane and decreased health. Even so, it’s likely to be stripped from Pizza Hut’s menu.
3. McDonalds’ 20-piece Chicken McNuggets
The box of golden-brown nuggets — only $4.99 in many stores — is one of countless chicken dishes at McDonald’s that’ll be affected by the company’s announcement in March to stop sourcing chickens raised with antibiotics.
The direct harm to humans of eating antibiotic-fed meat is still up fordebate, but the FDA has long argued that excessive, unnecessary antibiotic use could eventually lead to antibiotic resistance, putting humans at risk for drug-resistant diseases. It’s not been proven either that naturally-raised meat tastes better, or even that different.