Fast Food's New Trend: 'Stealth Health'
Companies don't always tell us when our food gets healthier
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Jun 24, 2014 1:20 PM CDT
Boston Market removed salt shakers from tables in 2012.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

(Newser) – In the minds of customers, healthy food often means less-tasty food. At the same time, however, many clamor for healthier options. All this puts restaurants and food makers in a bind—and the solution, the Wall Street Journal reports, is "stealth health." This refers to companies secretly improving the healthiness of their offerings without telling the customers, at least not until they've already gotten used to the altered version. "When you tell people something's healthy, they think it doesn't taste good," says an exec at Boston Market.

In the fourth quarter of last year, that restaurant chain reduced sodium in several products; it finally told customers about it in February. Kraft didn't tell anyone when it cut trans fats from Oreos in 2006. And General Mills kept quiet about sodium cuts over six years in Hamburger Helper, using ingredients such as garlic to maintain flavor. "It takes multiple months, if not years, to get the right equation between taste and health," says a company health officer. But it all depends on the product and its audience: Fans of Progresso Soups, also made by General Mills, want to eat more healthily—so when sodium was cut in the soups, the company made sure customers knew. Like it or not, we may be seeing lower salt levels in our food soon: The FDA is readying new sodium guidelines, the AP reports.

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
Jul 1, 2014 10:53 AM CDT
Salt is one of the minerals that provide us with vital iodine, which is necessary for healthy thyroid function. In addition, sufferers of hypothyroid conditions tend to gain unhealthy amounts of weight that no amount of dieting seems to affect. In short, lack of salt brings about imbalance to the endocrine system, hormones and overall health. If these restaurant really wish to offer healthy foods, they might consider eliminating MSG. MSG increases appetite and leads to weight gain (it is used to study obesity in rats, who are fed MSG to make them fat). We all know that unhealthy weight leads to heart problems, diabetes, blood disorders and many other ailments. In addition, the human body has a very difficult time eliminating MSG, which becomes toxic in the digestive tract causing all kinds of havoc and inviting cancers and other diseases. Before restaurant presume to babysit the public and take away their right to choose salt usage, they might instead respect our freedom of choice. They are, after all, providers of meals....not health professionals or dicators.
Jun 27, 2014 6:10 PM CDT
Uh, just for the record: Salt consumption has been shown to have no negative impact on health except in those who already have hypertension, who really should avoid it. The rest of us can use as much salt as we wish.
Jun 27, 2014 5:14 PM CDT
Why the stealth health? I dunno Why has the American media ignored Association football, for 50 years? Because lying to the American people is an art that will pay you billion$ in returns.