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Fizzy soft drink sales drop for 8th straight year

Americans’ consumption of fizzy soft drinks, on the decline since 2005, fell last year to its lowest level since 1996. If it weren’t for increasingly popular energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull, the decline would have been worse.

The declines come amid heavy attention on soda’s role in obesity and related health problems. Most prominently, the city of New York tried to cap the sizes of high-calorie drinks, though that effort was struck down by a judge earlier this month.

The figures come from Beverage Digest, an industry newsletter that publishes a similar report every March.

The trade journal also found that the pace of decline for carbonated beverages has sped up. Sales volume fell 1.2 per cent last year, compared with a 1 per cent drop in 2011 and a 0.5 per cent drop in 2010. Without energy drinks, volume would have fallen 1.7 per cent.

A three per cent soda price hike helped revenue rise 1.8 per cent to $77.1 billion.

Despite the decline, carbonated soft drinks still make up the biggest category of nonalcoholic beverages.

Total drink sales rose 1 per cent to 15.4 billion cases. Fizzy soft drink sales amounted to 9.2 billion of those cases. Consumers are increasingly drinking more bottled water, tea and energy drinks.

The fastest-growing brands by volume were Monster, up 19.1 per cent; Red Bull, up 17 per cent; Dasani, up 9.1 per cent; Rock-star, up eight per cent; Fanta, up seven per cent; and Arizona, up 6.2 per cent.

The changes in behaviour haven’t changed who the dominant drink makers are, however.

The Coca-Cola Co., which owns Dasani and Powerade, saw its share of the beverage market steady at 34 per cent, while the share of PepsiCo Inc. slid to 26.3.


KFC are after your children

KFC launches bucket for children; consumer group slams kids meals



KFC’s new Li’l Bucket Kids Meals are launching at the chicken chain nationwide on the same day that consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest said nearly all kids meals “flunk nutrition.”

KFC’s new packaging involves a smaller, colorful bucket covered with interactive games. Kids can choose from among several varieties of chicken, sides and drinks.

Each container comes with a pouch of GoGo squeeZ applesauce, which looks a little bit like those plastic “flask on the fly” Pocket Shot booze bags that sparked controversy a few years back.

The Li’l Bucket costs $3.99 plus tax. At its most healthful – a grilled drumstick, green beans, CapriSun Roarin’ Water and the no-spoon applesauce – the bucket carries 210 calories, 4 grams of fat and 565 milligrams of sodium.

But kids also have other options, which include extra crispy chicken tenders, mac n’ cheese and milk.

KFC is based in Louisville, Ky., and is owned by Taco Bell parent Yum Brands. The chicken chain has more than 17,000 outlets in 115 countries.

Just as the Li’l Bucket was being rolled out across the country, the Center for Science in the Public Interest was releasing a report blasting the 97% of kids meals it accuses of not meeting nutritional standards.

Of nearly 3,500 meal possibilities, the CSPI said the vast majority are crammed with fried chicken fingers, burgers, French fries and sugary drinks – inappropriate options for 4- to 8-year-olds. The group says kids meals should stay under 430 calories, contain at least half a serving of fruit or vegetables and exclude super-sweet drinks.

Only sandwich chain Subway, with its Fresh Fit for Kids meals offering apple slices and low-fat milk or bottled water, seems to have emerged on the CSPI’s good side.

At 19 chains, including McDonald’s, Chipotle and Hardee’s, no combination of children’s options met the CSPI’s specifications, the group said.

Another organization, the Center for Consumer Freedom, promptly responded to the CSPI report, accusing it of playing a “blame game.”

“When it comes to childhood obesity, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is missing the forest for the trees,” J. Justin Wilson, senior research analyst at the CCF, said in a statement. “Childhood obesity is a result of a myriad of factors, not just restaurant offerings. Regulating kids’ menus to only offer quinoa salads isn’t going to make any measurable weight difference in America’s youth.”

Kids meals are on the decline, according to research company the NPD Group. As of 2011, traffic into eateries from families with kids is flat after several years of declines. Health concerns are also a factor.

“In addition to the economic factor, kids have become more sophisticated, and just like adults, they want to try new things, new foods,” said NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs in a statement. “Kids have a wider variety of foods and flavors available to them today than they have in the past.”,0,2066163.story

McDonald’s freaks out because young people don’t like them anymore

McDonald’s greatest fear is not rampant obesity. A recently leaked internal memo from the company indicates its executives are totally freaking out because McDonald’s didn’t make the top ten list of millennials’ favorite restaurants, despite being the No. 1 fast-food chain in the country. Apparently, America’s largest generation prefers healthier and more sustainable food options. Go figure. But don’t worry everyone, McDonald’s will be all right. They’ve got a great plan centered on fried chicken and lettuce swaddled in a tortilla. The company hopes its new McWrap menu item will draw in those young people who are looking for something fresh-looking and vaguely organic.



We are all guilty of distracted driving at some point in our lives, but did you know that doing it can land you in a whole lot of trouble, even a manslaughter charge?

“The main focus should be operating a vehicle and at time we our vehicles become our office or our dining facility,” said Adrian Quintero, with the California Highway Patrol.

Quintero says that is why they ticket so many distracted drivers: they want to prevent accidents like Thursday’s semi-truck tragedy.

The driver of the truck was reportedly eating a fast-food breakfast when he choked and lost consciousness, crossed the median and hit a BMW head on. Both vehicles exploded and two people are dead.

Law enforcement will be out in full force starting April 1 as a part of their zero-tolerance campaign, actively looking for distracted drivers.

“Maybe they are driving too fast, maybe they are driving distracted…

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Should there be a junk food tax?

A university researcher wants a junk food tax after finding people are eating twice the amount of salt they should be.

In response, the Bay of Plenty medical officer of health is urging locals to look at how much salt they are consuming.

The Otago University study, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, found New Zealanders were estimated to consume at least twice the recommended intake of salt.

The study’s lead author, associate professor Nick Wilson, said a tax on junk foods, which were high in salt, as well as sugar and unsaturated fat, would make it easier for people to make healthier food choices.

“The money from such a tax could then fund healthy school lunches and help pay for better health services for diseases caused by high salt, especially stroke and heart attacks.”

Professor Wilson said there had been progress on lowering salt in bread but it was not enough.

“That’s why regulating down salt levels as well as considering taxes on junk food are needed to achieve the big gains in health,” he said.

Bay of Plenty Toi Te Ora Public Health Service medical officer of health Neil de Wet told the Bay of Plenty Times people needed only about half a teaspoon a day and he agreed people were consuming more salt than needed.

“Salt enriches flavour and for that reason, it is often added to foods to make them more tasty and the reality is we are often consuming more salt than our body needs,” Dr de Wet said.

The body needs some salt to function well but too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and pose a significant risk of stroke and other cardio-vascular illnesses.

Salt is usually labelled as sodium chloride in foods. High-salt foods included sauces, packet soups, potato chips, sausages and processed meats.

Dr de Wet said it was not necessary to add salt because it was already included in many foods.


What do you think? Should there be a junk food tax? Leave a comment below

One in six (15 per cent) motorists have also crashed or had a near miss as a result of in-car eating

Admiral research has revealed two thirds of motorists eat when behind the wheel despite most drivers thinking it’s dangerous and should be illegal. Almost one in six (15 per cent) motorists have also crashed or had a near miss as a result of in-car eating. The survey of 2,000 motorists by Admiral has shown that while two thirds of drivers have eaten when driving, for one in twelve it’s commonplace with them doing so between five and ten times a week.

Admiral’s study also revealed three quarters (77 per cent) of British motorists believe eating when driving is dangerous and more than half (55 per cent) think it should be against the law to eat behind the wheel of a car. More shockingly the study found almost one in six (15 per cent) motorists have crashed or had a near miss as a result of eating behind the wheel.

Admiral managing director, Sue Longthorn, said: “Eating while driving is not specifically illegal in the UK but motorists can find themselves charged with careless driving if police don’t think they are in control of their vehicle as a result.

“Any activity that involves taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel will distract you from the job in hand, so if you’re going to eat in the car, you should always park up.”

Most motorists (26 per cent) snack between meals in the car but for many eating in the car is about proper meals too. 12 per cent said they eat breakfast, 9 per cent eat lunch and 4 per cent even eat their evening meal in the car.

The most common thing to be eaten behind the wheel is chocolate, followed by crisps and sandwiches, but ready meals and pasta also made it into the top ten of foods most often eaten in the car.

Some drivers admitted eating more unusual meals behind the wheel, including soup, Chinese takeaway, pavlova, pot noodle, roast dinners, sushi, burritos and even lobster.

While most people (27 per cent) who dine in the car said they park up to eat, large numbers of drivers are also eating on the move whether that’s on the motorway (22 per cent), on residential streets (17 per cent) or on country roads (9 per cent).

So why are Britain’s drivers eating on the move? Two fifths (41 per cent) eat in the car just because they’re hungry, a quarter (26 per cent) eat in the car to save time in the morning and 15 per cent say they eat in the car as it’s the only chance they get.

Sue Longthorn continued: “Things like pot noodles and pavlovas are extreme examples of what drivers have eaten in their car but no matter how small or manageable your food seems to be, it is still a distraction.

“Even reaching for a chocolate bar or opening a bag of crisps can be dangerous so if you’re hungry, always park up to eat.”

Fast Food Chains Quiet Down After Realizing Health Care Costs Will Be Negligible

Fast food restaurant owners, after loudly and publicly denouncing the Obama administration’s health care mandate, are now changing their tune after realizing the costs will barely be noticeable for the multi-billion dollar industry.

Among the litany of unhappy restaurant chain chief financial officers, Steve Hare of Wendy’s Co. initially estimated that each of the nearly 6,000 Wendy’s stores would be hit with a $25,000-a-year premium for health care costs. But, on March 14, Hare said at a conference that he drastically overestimated the costs – by 80 percent – and that the health care bill would only cost each store $5,000 per year.

“It is still going to be an additional cost that both the company and our franchisees will have to absorb, but we think it is going to be manageable,” Hare said.

The estimated costs have shrunken so much because Hare and other CFO’s believe many of their employees will forgo the health care plan offered by the restaurants. Most of the employees likely already receive health insurance from a family member or Medicaid, or they prefer to pay the $95 penalty for forgoing the insurance plan.

Popeye’s president estimates that only 5 percent of its employees will pay into the company’s health care plan because of its high deductibles and cost of $2.50 per week. Next year, the plan may cost as much as $25 per week.

“It’s just not affordable for employees,” Mr. Bower said.

The health care law requires any business with more than 50 employees to offer health care to those who work more than 30 hours per week. Among all industries, the restaurant industry has one of the highest rates of uninsured employees – only 40 percent are insured, as opposed to the 62 percent across all other industries.

Even those who strongly lobbied against the mandate, such as Dunkin Donuts Group Inc., are calling off the dogs. Nigel Travis, chief executive of Dunkin Donuts Group Inc., said the costs “are not as high as some people have said.” He went on, “We feel that without increasing prices, we can mitigate those costs very easily.”