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ANDI Food Scores: Rating the Nutrient Density of Foods
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How nutritious is fast food? Use the nutrition tools below to search our database of fast foodmenu items. Interested in the nutrient content of your child's favorite kids' meal?

Use this tool to see how a fast food meal contributes to your child's unique daily calorie needs. Want to find out about the nutritional quality of fast food menu items? Use this tool to search for single menu items or to build meals. Use this tool to find items that meet special nutrition criteria for specific dietary needs or wishes, such as low in sodium, high in fiber, or foods within a specific calorie range.

Want to know more? Discover how nutrition scores were calculated, see how kids' meals and portion sizes compare to each other, and view complete nutrition information for each restaurant. What marketing techniques and practices do fast food restaurants use to target children? Use the marketing tools below to review the findings. How do fast food restaurants rank on specific types of marketing?

Learn about each restaurant's marketing strategy and find out how they rank in terms of marketing. What types of social media sites do fast food companies use to engage children? Use this tool to discover which fast food restaurants have the largest presence on social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Do fast food restaurants target specific groups?

Explore how children, teens, and minorities are being hit the hardest with advertising. Find out how fast food marketing is targeting children and teens from every angle: Learn more about food marketing practices, read about food marketing in the news, and see what researchers at the Rudd Center are doing to address the issue.

But I have never really had any solid information to back up my instincts. After digging into some food chemistry and food engineering tomes about natural and artificial flavors, I found the results very surprising.

A great deal of scientific engineering and design time goes into crafting flavors for processed foods. This specialized work is done by just professional flavorists who are responsible for the majority of flavors in nearly all food processed in the U. How a food tastes is largely determined by the volatile chemicals in the food. Chemicals that give food a specific smell are extremely important because smell makes up 80 to 90 percent of the sense of taste.

The difference between the two is small, and the companies that produce these secret mixtures are often exactly the same. The cost of the flavors in a food can be around half a penny per serving, but processed food is such a big market that flavoring has become big business too. Food products are flavored to increase sales by making mouthwatering tastes, making packaged food taste fresh, giving a processed food a bolder taste than a comparable natural food and making the taste short-lived so that you eat more.

In a interview with Morley Safer of 60 Minutes, two flavor scientists from Givaudan said that one of their goals was making food addictive. In our fruit flavors we're talking about, we want a burst in the beginning.

And maybe a finish that doesn't linger too much so that you want more of it. And you don't want a long linger, because you're not going to eat more of it if it lingers. So I see, it's going to be a quick fix.

And then-- Givaudan Hassel: And then have more. But that suggests something else? Which is called addiction? You're tryin' to create an addictive taste? That's a good word. There are other reasons to flavor foods. When foods are pasteurized for safety, many of the volatile chemicals evaporate or degrade. To make a product like orange juice taste fresh after pasteurization, these chemicals have to be restored. They dupe your taste buds and smell receptors into believing you are drinking fresh orange juice when it really may be rather old.

Flavors are complex mixtures that sometimes comprise more than chemicals. In addition to flavors themselves, these mixtures contain chemicals that have other functions. Solvents, emulsifiers, flavor modifiers and preservatives often make up 80 to 90 percent of the mixture. The main difference between a natural and artificial flavor is the origin of the flavor chemicals. Natural flavors must be derived from plant or animal material.

The actual chemicals in these two kinds of flavors may be exactly the same: The Food and Drug Administration defines natural flavors as substances derived from animals or plants and artificial flavors are those that are not. Most of these chemicals exist as natural flavors or can be extracted from them.

A natural flavor almost always costs much more than an artificial flavor. But are those artificial flavors safe? The flavor industry argues that artificial flavors undergo stricter safety evaluations than natural flavors. The truth is that safety evaluations for all food additives and flavor additives are not as thorough as they should be.

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