Taco Bell and KFC Win Physicians Committee’s SICK Award
The Physicians Committee gave KFC the Social Irresponsibility toward Consumers and Kids (SICK) Award for reintroducing its infamous Double Down, which contains 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1,380 milligrams of sodium. The sandwich features bacon, cheese, and sauce between two fried chicken filets.
In May, the Physicians Committee released a report detailing how the extreme amounts of fat, sodium, and cholesterol in the Double Down can lead to heart disease and hypertension. During the product’s initial 2010 launch, Physicians Committee dietitians wrote to the chairman of Yum! Brands, Inc., which owns KFC, requesting that the Double Down receive a warning label about its high fat content.
Although customers can opt to have the sandwich with grilled chicken instead of fried, it is still a nutrition nightmare. When scientists with the Physicians Committee examined KFC’s grilled chicken, they discovered that the products contain heterocyclic amines, carcinogens that can cause a variety of cancers. The Double Down also contains bacon, which is linked to colorectal cancer.
A 2013 report from the Physicians Committee on the Five Worst Contaminants in Chicken indicates that the Double Down may have one more unexpected ingredient—feces. Because of processing methods, chicken carcasses often marinate in water contaminated with feces. The fecal matter cannot be removed from the chicken by washing or cooking.
The Physicians Committee has also slammed Taco Bell with the SICK Award for the chain’s heavy-handed marketing of its new cholesterol-laden breakfast items—the A.M. Crunchwrap and the Waffle Taco. Taco Bell may be trying to win the fast-food breakfast battle, but its customers are losing the war on heart disease and obesity.
Taco Bell’s sausage A.M. Crunchwrap weighs in at 710 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat, 46 grams of total fat, 135 milligrams of cholesterol, and 1,150 milligrams of sodium. This far exceeds the amounts most adults should consume in a single meal. With 115 milligrams of cholesterol, the sausage Waffle Taco starts the day off on the wrong foot. Taco Bell has directed its marketing efforts toward a young adult audience, despite the steady increase in obesity, diabetes, and hypertension rates among this population. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that from 2001 to 2009, there was a 30 percent increase in type 2 diabetes in people ages 10 to 19. Other research indicates that most adolescents already have the beginnings of blocked arteries, a condition only worsened by consuming meals high in fat and cholesterol.
Traditional Mexican ingredients—such as beans, rice, and salsa—are cholesterol-free and high in fiber. Even though many of the menu items at Taco Bell are customizable, the chain has opted to feature items with dangerous levels of fat and cholesterol, rather than promote the “Fresco-style” customization that swaps cheese and sour cream for pico de gallo.
The Physicians Committee presents the SICK Award to companies that carry out large marketing campaigns to promote unhealthful foods that can harm consumers and worsen the epidemic of diet-related diseases.