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Today Burger King made a shocking announcement.
The fast-chain has permanently banned 120 artificial ingredients from its food nationwide.
Now, Burger King is surely not the first to do this. Chipotle did this ages ago. Panera has its No No List. Subway banned the "yoga mat" chemical, azodicarbonamide, in 2014, after a blogger named the Food Babe rose a stink (man, simpler times).
What's shocking about this announcement isn't that Burger King took the step to (finally?) remove 120 artificial ingredients, but that its menu housed 120 artificial ingredients to begin with.
So, which ingredients did Burger King ban? According to information sent along by a press contact, here's the list:
Allura Red, Aluminium ammonium sulphate, Aluminium potassium sulphate. Aluminium sodium sulphate, Aluminium sulphate, Aluminum, Amaranth, Ammonium Glutamate, Ammonium Sulphate/Ammonium Sulfate, Anoxomer, Astaxanthin, Azodicarbonamide (ADA), Azorubine, Carmoisine, Benzoate and all Benzoates. Benzoic Acid, Bleached Flour, Brilliant Black BN, Black PN, Brilliant Blue FCF, Brown FK, Brown HT, Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), Butylhydroquinone, Calcium benzoate, Calcium Disodium EDTA, Calcium Glutamate, Calcium Guanylate, Calcium hydrogen sulphite, Calcium Inosinate, Calcium Lactate, Calcium Propionate, Calcium Ribonucleotides, Calcium Sorbate, Calcium sulphite, Canthaxanthin, Citrus Red, Disodium EDTA, Disodium Guanylate, GMP, Disodium Inosinate, IMP, Dodecyl gallate, Erythosine, Ethoxyquin, Ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate, Fast Green FCF, Glutamic Acid, Green S, Guanylic Acid, Hexamethylene tetramine, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Indigotine, Indigo Carmine, Inosinic Acid, Latolrubine BK, Magnesium Glutamate, Methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, Monopotassium Glutamate, Monosodium Glutamate, Octyl gallate, Orange #1, Orange #2, Orange B, Parabens (all), Partially Hydrogenated Oils/Artificial Trans-Fats, Patent Blue, Polysorbate 20, Ponceau 4R, Potassium Benzoate, Potassium Bisulfate, Potassium Bromate, Potassium Guanylate, Potassium hydrogen sulphite, Potassium Inosinate, Potassium Lactate, Potassium metabisulphite, Potassium Nitrate (added only), Potassium Nitrite (added only), Potassium propionate, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium sulphates, Propionic acid, Propyl Gallate, Propyl-p-hydroxybenzoate, Propyl-p-hydroxybenzoate sodium salt, Quaternary Ammonium Chloride combination, Quinoline Yellow, Red #40, Red 2G, Rose Bengal B, Silver nitrate and hydrogen peroxide solution, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium ethyl p-hydroxybenzoate, Sodium hydrogen sulphite, Sodium Inosinate & Disodium Inosinate, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Metabisulfite, Sodium methyl p-hydroxybenzoate, Sodium Nitrate (added only), Sodium Propionate, Sodium Ribonucleotides, Sodium sulphates, Sodium sulphite, Sorbic Acid, Sudan Red, Sulfites (added as ingredient in formulation), Sulfur Dioxide, Sunset Yellow FCF, Orange Yellow S, Tartrazine, TBHQ, THBP, Titanium Dioxide, Trihydroxybutyrophenon, Vanillin/Artificial Vanilla, Violet #1, Yellow #1, Yellow #2, Yellow #3, Yellow #4, Yellow #5, Zeaxanthin
If (for whatever reason) you read through that list thoroughly, you'll notice that BK is removing a bunch of food colorings, 12 types of sodium, artificial trans fat (although it's unclear as to if they've just done that recently, given that the FDA deemed trans fat no longer "Generally Recognized as Safe" in 2015), and azodicarbonamide (WHERE YOU AT FOOD BABE?)
Burger King's rationale, according to their press release, which rings of Hemingway-esqe prose: "We firmly believe that real food doesn’t have to compromise on taste, so there have been no compromises to the authenticity of every crunch, sizzle, and Mmmm our guests expect from their BK favorites."
The chain stops short of calling this move a toward healthier food, but the message is implied: Do you see how shiny our crown looks? That's our new health halo!
"The marketing tactic of banning artificial flavors and colors doesn’t necessarily make burgers and fries all that much healthier," says Abby Langer, R.D., author of Good Food, Bad Diet.
"In fact, many of the ingredients on the list, such as MSG, vanillin, bleached flour, glutaminc acid, and astaxanthin are completely harmless," Langer says. "Burger King is still fast food that’s mostly ultra-processed."
Burger King also announced today a slew of celebrity-endorsed meals from Nelly, Anitta, and Lil Huddy.
Because this is a thing now.
To further prove our point, here's the nutrition numbers on Huddy's meal combo of a hand-breaded Spicy Ch’King with cheese, 4 piece mozzarella sticks, and a 16oz chocolate shake.
All told the meal comes to...
1,999 calories, 59g protein, 228g carbs (8g fiber, 126g sugar) 96g fat
That's an under-estimate, too, because there's no way to find the nutritional numbers online for the slice of cheese Lil' Huddy adds to his chicken sandwich.
It's a whopper of a meal, indeed, with way too many calories, sugar, and empty carbs to possibly call it healthy.
But at least he's not also ingesting the yoga mat chemical ... right?
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