KFC doubles down on controversial bun-less sandwich

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Next Monday Kentucky Fried Chicken will roll out the controversial Double Down “sandwich” nationwide. If you recall from last summer, KFC created online buzz when the bun-less sandwich only consisting of two white meat chicken breast fillets with a filling of bacon, Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese with Colonels Sauce was test marketed in Rhode Island and Nebraska.

Outrage over the existence of such a high caloric beast came from many quarters, myself included, who believe that the fast food company is only contributing to the nation’s obesity crisis, especially in communities of color where access to healthy food is lacking. With the national roll out, KFC is getting ahead of another potential PR disaster by getting out all the facts about the Double Down.

Yesterday, I spoke to KFC spokesman Rick Maynard on the restaurant chain’s side of the story. According Maynard, customers have the option of getting the grilled or fried version of Double Down. The fried version has 540 calories, while the grilled version has 460 calories. The fried Double Down has the same amount of calories as a McDonald’s Big Mac and fewer calories than a Burger King Whopper (670 calories).

Of course, this doesn’t mean the sandwich itself is good for you. According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, the US government currently recommends that the daily sodium intake for adults should not exceed 2,300 milligrams, and an entire meal should contain no more than 600 milligrams. The fried and grilled sandwiches alone contain 1,380 and 1,430 milligrams of sodium respectively. In addition, both versions of the sandwich contain nearly half the amount of fat an adult should consume in one day on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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“The great thing about our menu is that it is wide ranging and there is a tremendous selection of healthy food,” Maynard said. “Customers can make the choice of what they want to eat.”

He was referring to some of the sides dishes on the menu that customers can select with the sandwich, including green beans and corn on the cub – both of which contain zero grams of trans fats.

However, with all this said, this doesn’t mean I am going to a KFC anytime soon. Let’s be honest here; most of the menu will put you in an early grave. However, the key words Maynard said here are that customers do have a choice to select the less harmful options on the menu if they have to eat there. They can also make the choice to not eat there at all and find a restaurant that serves healthier foods.

Yes, it is true that unhealthy food disproportionately finds its way into vulnerable communities, and policy changes need to be made to address those issues. Nonetheless, there also needs to be a serious conversation about taking more personal responsibility and educating all Americans about making better lifestyle choices.

It’s great that first lady Michelle Obama and British chef Jamie Oliver are taking on the challenge of making Americans rethink their eating habits, but Americans don’t need to look no further than their hospital bills to understand the gravity of our collective health problems. The fact that this country spends $147 billion on obesity related health problems should really send shock waves in all directions.

Do you really want KFC to dictate what the American diet looks like? Now is the time to make the choice.