What’s in Fast-Food Fish, Beef, and Chicken? It’s Not Always 100% Meat

  • Beef, chicken and fish products in fast food restaurants are not always made from 100% meat.
  • They may contain other additions, such as B. organized plant protein or soy products, which make them cheaper to produce.
  • Health experts say this type of processed meat is not as healthy as unprocessed meat.
  • If you’re concerned about the quality of meat served at fast food restaurants, health experts recommend checking the ingredient list on your menu, which may offer unprocessed options as well as plant-based alternatives.

Recently, The New York Times delves into one of the big questions of our time:

Is the fish product used in Subway’s popular sandwich actually tuna or… something else?

Reporter Julie Carmel’s investigative report is in response to a class-action lawsuit filed in California in January against the fast-food giant. The lawsuit says the brand’s tuna sandwiches are “completely free of tuna ingredients.”

The lawsuit went viral, even garnering some sympathy on Twitter from pop star Jessica Simpson, who herself questioned the origins of sea chickens (chicken or tuna?).

The headlines surrounding the tuna confusion add to a long-running debate about what exactly is in the meat we consume at fast-food restaurants.

How healthy are the highly processed foods you ordered from McDonald’s or Subway? Are they what they say they are?

The truth about fast-food meat

In an emailed statement to The New York Times, a Subway spokesperson wrote, “The allegations in the complaint filed in California are simply not true.”

“Subway offers its restaurants 100% cooked tuna mixed with mayo for use in freshly made sandwiches, wraps and salads for our guests to enjoy,” they added.

For her part, Carmel sent samples of Subway tuna sandwiches to a commercial food testing lab. The results are a bit uncertain.

Labs found “absence of amplifiable tuna DNA” in the samples she sent and they were unable to “identify” the “species” present in the sandwich product.

A spokesperson for the lab told The New York Times that two conclusions can be drawn from this: Either the tuna product is “highly processed” and therefore unable to identify tuna with certainty, or “there is nothing like tuna.” Sample sent.

Carmel cited a previous Inside Edition report showing positive tuna in samples taken from three subway stations in Queens, New York City.

Amber Pankonin, MS, LMNT, registered dietitian, provided additional background information to F00d1.

When asked if allegations that Subway may be selling questionable meat products were common practice in the fast food industry, Pankonen replied: “It really depends on who their suppliers are and where they are Something on the menu.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires fast food brands with more than 20 U.S. locations to publicly disclose their nutritional information, she said.

“Some fast food chains may use textured plant protein or soy products as fillers for beef burgers or tacos,” she explains. “If you’re concerned about this, I suggest you search for ‘100% beef’ in the menu description and check for allergen information.”

Pankonin has directed Food1 to obtain ready-made information that you can easily access if you are concerned about what food you might be eating at a fast food restaurant.

This includes official FDA food labeling guidelines and publicly available beef sourcing information from well-known brands such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell.

Dana Hunnes, PhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian at UCLA Medical Center, reiterated to Pankonin that it really depends on the specific product.

She told Food1 that “it’s very difficult to ‘fake’ products that look exactly the same,” such as mince burgers.

“However, with chicken nuggets, i.e. chicken nuggets, the issue may become more obscure because the product often contains many other ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, starches, glucose, that may obscure alternative meat products or actually It adds more weight than ‘chicken’ or the so-called meat itself,” adds Hunnes, author of the forthcoming book “Recipes for Survival.”

Do fast foods provide nutritional benefits?

What is the nutritional value of meat fast food products?

Hunnes said she typically counsels people to limit or avoid meat consumption, adding that a plant-based diet is generally better for overall health.

However, if you eat meat products, she says “pure meat” is better because you’re eating “raw meat,” which is in some ways healthier than “raw meat.” Processed meat products. ‘”

Many restaurants, even fast food restaurants, are offering more plant-based alternatives, she said. Their personal opinion is to care more about these offers, they are better for the overall environment.

Just by looking at the menu label requirements, Pankonin says it’s now easy to get nutritional and allergen information for your favorite fast food items. She says you should avoid items that may contain potential allergens.

“In terms of nutrition, products with fillers can be very similar,” she adds, again stressing that it really depends on the restaurant and its supplier.

So how healthy is fast food meat? There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

“They [fast-food meat items] may perform differently in terms of cooking preparation and taste acceptance. With fillers added, the product may contain more moisture or flour, which can affect cooking and quality. And depends on how much is used fillers, it affects the taste of the product,” Pankonin said.

She added that for fast food restaurants, “standardized products can provide consistency in estimating nutritional information.” That’s compared to shopping at home and making a burger from scratch; it all depends on “the meat used and the part of the preparation.”

“When I advise people what to order at a fast food restaurant, it really depends on what their health goals are and if they have any food allergies. I can help them evaluate calorie and nutritional information, look at certain menu items fit into their overall eating plan,” Pankonin said.

If you’re worried about fast-food meat headlines, what are some good menu choices at your favorite fast-food restaurants?

​“Some of the plant-based alternatives are going to be progressively better than real meat in terms of health. I say progressive because they’re still a processed food and they’re going to contain salt,” says Hunnes.

“But in a sense, they’re better for health because their fats come from plants, which are generally better than animal fats, and they may also have fiber, which meat doesn’t,” she said.

Pankonin reiterates that it’s all about your dietary and health preferences.

“Again, I think it depends on the health goals and if you have any food allergies. For example, if someone is allergic to soy, they should be educated about meat fillers and avoid some plant-based options on the menu,” she says.

An alternative to your own kitchen

If you’re making a burger in the comfort of your own home and want to cut down on fat or calories, for example, you could try making a “burger mix” by adding “ground beef and vegetables like onions,” and mushrooms, says Pankonin. “

She says some breakfast suggestions include things you can make ahead and freeze.

Try the breakfast sandwich with a whole-wheat English muffin, an egg, and a slice of cheese. Instead of grabbing your favorite breakfast sandwich before heading to the office, this might be an easy option.

She also said no-bake recipes are a great way to cut down on kitchen time. Also, panconin packaging that can be stored in a cooler and taken to a family picnic or canteen is a great option.

On top of that, she says you can’t go wrong with a deli board.

“They’re basically adult lunches, and I love them,” she said. “These are super easy to put together and can be a great alternative to fast food. No board, just pack it in a bento box and lunch is ready.”

While it might seem cheaper to go to a fast food restaurant and order four burgers, four fries and four sodas for $20 for a family or a group of friends, it actually does more damage to your overall health, says Hunnes Much higher and “you can pay it on the backend”.

“But since most people don’t think that far when choosing their meals, if it’s just a matter of money and time, you can certainly make something similar, healthier and even cheaper at home,” Hunnes said .

Plant-based meat brands like Impossible or Beyond Burger cost just $9 to $11 a pound, she said. One pound can feed four people. Wheat rolls are only $3, about $8, lettuce, tomato, and onion are $4, and soda is a little more, say, about $1 more.

Total? Homemade burgers cost about $17.

“It’s actually cheaper and healthier to make at home,” adds Hunnes. “If you want to use real meat, it’s probably cheaper because most ground beef is probably $5 a pound.”

Overall, we may not have solved the 2021 tuna conundrum, but a few things are clear.

Always research the dietary and nutritional background of the foods you consume, assess whether they contain allergens, and possibly consider making cheaper, healthier options for yourself and your family.