Consumer Reports Healthconvened two panels recently to taste 12 brands of chicken nuggets and two made of soy. The good news, according to the magazine, was that some common ground was reached between kid testers ages 6-17 and grownup trained testers; twoConsumer Reports"Best Buys" were identified. The bad news? “Those yummy chicken nuggets pack a wallop of fat and sodium while providing little nutritional value,” the report reads.

For example, Perdue Baked cites "whole grain breading" when in fact a single serving contains just one gram of fiber. Consumer Reports Health gave the Perdue nuggets a "Good" Rating for nutrition. Tyson's chicken nuggets use the claim "100% all natural," which is true; however, this brand of nuggets contains 17 grams of fat and 470 milligrams of sodium. Consumer Reports Health gave Tyson's nuggets a "Fair" Rating for nutrition.

"Busy parents who are trying to get dinner on the table really do have their work cut out for them. You want to feed the kids something they'll like -- and kids do like chicken nuggets -- but you don't want to overwhelm them with fat and sodium. The best you can do is keep an eye on those labels and try to round out the meal with some fruits and vegetables," said Gayle Williams, deputy editor, Consumer Reports Health.

Three brands earned a "Very Good" Rating for taste but on nutrition they all received a "Good" Rating. The top rated for taste, Market Pantry, (by Target) contains 500 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of fat (as Consumer Reports was going to press, Target told CR it was in the process of changing its formulation). Bell & Evans Breaded earned the next best score for taste, with 360 milligrams of sodium and 9 grams of fat. Runner-up Kirkland Signature Disney (Costco) contains 370 milligrams of sodium and 9 grams of fat. Consumer Reports Health gave the Market Pantry ($0.53 per serving) and Kirkland Signature ($0.48 per serving) brands its "Best Buy" designation. It's worth noting that while the Kirkland brand is cheap, consumers have to buy a 5-pound bag. The Bell & Evans was much pricier at $2.18 a serving.

Even the two soy based nuggets, Boca Original Meatless Chik'n and Morningstar Farms Chik'n contain a heaping of sodium. The Boca nuggets contain 500 milligrams and the Morningstar brand has 600 milligrams. The soy nuggets do have a slight nutritional advantage in that they contain more fiber -- about 3 or 4 grams compared with zero to 2 for most others. Only one of the 14 brands of nuggets tested, Health is Wealth, earned a "Very Good" for nutrition, but didn't pass muster with Consumer Reports' trained taste testers. "There's the rub--the brand may be more nutritious than others, but if your kids won't eat it, what good is it?" said Williams.

Source: Consumer Reports

Prosciutto recalled due to Listeria fears

Orlando Greco & Son Imports, a Carol Stream, Ill., establishment, is recalling approximately 822 pounds of prosciutto products that may be contaminated withListeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The problem was discovered by FSIS microbiological testing of imported product resulting in a positive sample for Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS was notified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that the implicated product was also distributed to an Importer of Record and further distributed, thus resulting in this recall. FSIS has received no reports of illness as a result of consuming this product.

The products subject to recall are various pound cases of "Prosciutto Boneless Casa Italia." The products were distributed to restaurants and retailers in Illinois and Indiana.

Source: FSIS

Washington slaughterhouse to pay $750,000 fine

Federal officials say a beef slaughterhouse in central Washington has agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act.

The AP reports that the slaughterhouse in Toppenish, south of Yakima, is operated by Washington Beef. Washington Beef is owned by AgriBeef Co., a privately-held company in Boise, Idaho.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency say the company also will install five new pieces of waste water equipment. EPA estimates the purchases and changes will cost about $3 million.

Source: Associated Press, The Seattle Times

Diners planning spending less per meal

U.S. consumers may be eating out more frequently, but they are planning on spending less on each meal. Consumers surveyed in a study released by AlixPartners said that they planned to spend about $11.60 per restaurant meal over the next 12 months, a drop of 21 percent from 2008 and 4 percent from 2009.

Restaurants, which have seen traffic stabilize after the recession spawned steep declines, also are bracing for higher food costs later this year, Reuters reports.

"Despite some stabilization of late, the restaurant industry is by no means out of the woods," said Andy Eversbusch, a managing director at AlixPartners and head of the firm's restaurant and food service practice. "Sales will continue to be pressured by growing price sensitivity among virtually all consumers, regardless of the types of restaurants they visit."

Lower food costs made it easier to offer discounts in 2009, and Adam Werner, a director at AlixPartners, told Reuters that this year will be another year of deals. However, not all restaurant operators may agree with that. Chili’s Grill & Bar parent company Brinker International announced in April that it would be lessening its dependence on discounts.

Source: Reuters