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Panera Recalls Cream Cheese after Listeria Scare

No cinnamon crunch bagel for you. Unless you like it with butter.

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Mmmm, schmear. (Source: Brian Boucheron, Wikimedia).

Panera Bread has recalled all of its cream cheese products earlier today after concerns that they may be contaminated with listeria. According to USA Today, no illnesses have been reported yet, but the bakery-cafe chain decided to take precaution after some samples of cream cheese tested positive for the infectious bacterium.

Listeria causes listeriosis, a serious infection that is potentially fatal. It mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, adults over the age of 65, and anyone with a weaker immune system, according to the U.S. Center for Disease control. Approximately 1,600 Americans contract listeriosis each year, and 260 of those people die.

The most recent listeria-related recall prior to this was for soft cheese produced by Vulto Creamery. According to the FDA, Vulto found in March 2017 that large batches of its soft, wash-rind raw milk cheese was contaminated with listeria. Such a contamination is reportedly common, since listeria can grow in colder conditions than most other infectious bacteria. This means that refrigerated cheeses and milks are especially susceptible to listeria.

In accordance with FDA regulations, dairy producers regularly check for the presence of listeria, so no need to worry.

Carla is a recent graduate of Touro College in New York City, where she always wondered if being on the debate team was an acceptable replacement for athletics. She has previously worked for the Mayor's Office of New York, as well as ABC7 Eyewitness News. She will happily accept any job offers and can be reached via Twitter.

Food

Cheeseburger Happy Meals Will No Longer be a Thing

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In an effort to make their kids’ meals a tad bit healthier by reducing excess calories, sodium, and saturated fat, McDonald’s is making a few changes to their beloved Happy Meal and saying goodbye to staple items, including cheeseburgers and chocolate milk.

On Thursday, the fast food giant announced on Twitter that they will be cutting and changing items on their menu to will focus on, “nutrition criteria, simplifying ingredients, transparent nutrition information, recommended food groups, and responsible marketing.”

While diners can still request the “banished” menu items, McDonald’s believes that not listing the item will reduce how often they are ordered. In fact, according to the company, when soda was removed from the Happy Meal section of its menu boards in 2013, there was a 14% increase in the number of Happy Meals with water, milk, or juice as the choice of beverage.

We can expect to see several changes to the Happy Meal menu in the U.S. this year. The meals will have 600 calories or less, with only 10% of those calories coming from saturated fats and 10% from added sugar, and the meals are to have less than 650 milligrams of sodium. The six-piece chicken nugget Happy Meal will switched out with the kids sized fries, cutting the amount of calories and sodium in the serving of fries by half.

By June 2018, 100% of the meal combinations offered in the U.S. will be 600 calories or less, and all those combinations with be compliant with the new criteria for added sugar and saturated fat. However, 22% of the meals will not be compliant with the new sodium criteria, yet.

The evolution of the Happy Meal does not stop there. Currently, 28% of the Happy Meal combinations offered on the menu boards in 20 of McDonald’s major market meet the new criteria. By the end of 2022, McDonald’s aims to have at least 50% or more of the Happy Meals listed on menus worldwide follow the new nutrition criteria. These changes will result in an average reduction of 20% in calories, 50% in added sugars, 14% in saturated fat, and/or 17% in sodium, depending on each customer’s meal selection.

Even the Happy Meals toys are also going to be taking a hit. By 2019, children in more than 100 markets will have the option of choosing a book or a toy year-round with their Happy Meal.

“We recognize the opportunity that we have to support families as one of the most visited restaurants in the world, and remain committed to elevating our food, celebrating the joy of reading, and helping those in need through Ronald McDonald House Charities,” said McDonald’s president and CEO Steve Easterbrook in the press statement released Thursday. “Given our scale and reach, we hope these actions will bring more choices to consumers and uniquely benefit millions of families, which are important steps as we build a better McDonald’s.”

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Food

University of Wisconsin Students are NOT Happy About Freshmen Meal Plan

UW-Madison students blocked the school’s biggest dining hall in a protest yesterday.

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Some students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are really upset about the school’s meal plan for incoming freshmen. A group of students blocked access to the school’s largest dining hall yesterday in protest over a plan that will make it mandatory for incoming freshman living in UW residence halls to deposit a minimum of $1,400 into a meal plan account.

The Daily Cardinal reported:

Protesters read testimonies describing how the meal plan will negatively impact low-income students and those with dietary restrictions, as well as chanted slogans like “I can’t eat” before marching through the market area of the dining hall and eventually blocking the entrance to the market for about 15 minutes.

The plan was announced in December and is scheduled to billed to students on a quarterly basis, depending on the number of meals a students consumes.

Student Rena Newman was also upset that students were not informed of the policy in what she felt was a proper way, telling the Badger-Herald  “We didn’t find out about this policy through transparency. We found out through a news story after the policy had already been implemented.”

No student representative was part of the decision making process, by all accounts.

University officials said they were aware of the planned protest and welcomed the students views and respect their right to express them.

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Business

Dunkin’ to Stop Using Foam Cups by 2020

And it’s about time, too.

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There has always been something different about getting coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s a no-frill — but super tasty — alternative to Starbucks or your local brewer, with down home, no-frills feel.

And they serve their brew in those foam cups. Comforting and easy to grab, sure, but not very good for the environment.

Dunkin’ announced today that those polystyrene foam cups will be completely phased out from its stores globally by 2020, reducing the waste stream by millions.

Foam packaging of any kind decomposes very slowly, washes into waterways and can harm sea life and other creatures who depend on the water supply to live.

McDonald’s also said it will get rid of any remaining foam cups in the next few years as well, though they have already drastically reduced dependance on them.

So raise one to Dunkin’ for taking a step in an environmentally friendly direction.

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