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Taco Bell's Social Loyalty Program; P.F. Chang's Sued Over Gluten-Free Prices

Five things to know this Wednesday.

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It's Wednesday, December 16, exactly 242 years after a bunch of Bostonians threw some perfectly good tea into the harbor to send a political message. So wasteful. If you care about fake food holidays, it's "National Chocolate Covered Anything Day." But you shouldn't care about fake food holidays, so let's move on.

In news that should pique your interest, Taco Bell is unveiling its brand-new loyalty program, Congress is allowing states to pass food-labeling laws, and P.F. Chang's is facing a class-action lawsuit over its gluten-free menu. Plus, there are a lot of strange dietary guidelines around the world, and comedian Bill Burr recently went on an impressive McDonald's rant.


Taco Bell Launches a Social-Centric Loyalty Program

Taco Bell

Taco Bell is once again trying to connect with Millennials. Already a champion of the taco emoji and hip young-person lingo, the Tex-Mex chain is launching a loyalty program that centers around use of its app and mentions on social media. Users earn puzzle pieces by ordering through the Taco Bell app or linking their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to the loyalty program, dubbed Taco Bell Explore. The company has created an algorithm that detects when its fans are "living mas" — aka posting about doing fun things. Rewards for loyal customers include food, gift cards, and experiences such as "a dedicated booth at their favorite [Taco Bell] restaurant."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


P.F. Chang's Sued Over Gluten-Free Price Hike

P.F. Chang's

A federal judge in California won't throw out a class-action lawsuit against P.F. Chang's. The Chinese chain is targeted over high prices for its gluten-free menu. Anne Marie Phillips sued P.F. Chang's last December because the chain charges $1 more for some gluten-free menu items compared to non-gluten-free versions. Phillips alleged the higher price is discrimination against her and other guests with celiac disease or a gluten allergy/intolerance. The judge previously dismissed the suit, but allowed Phillips to amend it and continue. The judge stated in his ruling, "The ultimate question is whether P.F. Chang's, in providing gluten-free meals, is providing different products or whether the price differential with regular meals is a pretext for discrimination against those with celiac disease. Accepting plaintiff's allegations as true, she has stated a plausible claim for relief."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Congress Allows for State-Based Food Labeling


Congress passed an omnibus spending bill without the inclusion of a rider that would have prevented states from implementing food-labeling laws. The Center for Food Safety applauded the move, which may result in more GMO labeling on food items found at the grocery store. "We are very pleased that Congress has apparently decided not to undermine Americans' right to know about the food the purchase and feed their families," Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center, said. "Adding a rider to the budget bill that would nullify state laws requiring labeling and even forbidden federal agencies from mandating labeling would have been profoundly undemocratic and nothing short of legislative malfeasance. We will remain vigilant over the coming days and into the next legislative session to ensure our right to know is protected."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Dietary Guidelines: Biscotti in Italy; Pudding in Canada

Food guide

Dietary guidelines in other counties make those issued by America's FDA seem pretty boring. Food groups in Italy include cookies and cured meats, Canada has chocolate milk and pudding, and the Japanese seem to shun fruits and vegetables in favor of grain-based foods. Leave it to the Swedes to come up with the dietary guide that likely makes the most sense. Sweden's guide has three simple categories: "more" (vegetables, fruits, fish, nuts, excercise), "switch to" (wholegrain, healthy fats, low-fat dairy products), and "less" (red and processed meat, salt, sugar, alcohol).

Image credit: Canada's Food Guide


Comedian Bill Burr Rants on McDonald's


Comedian Bill Burr knows his way around a good rant. In an appearance on The Tonight Show Tuesday, Burr had a discussion with host Jimmy Fallon and expressed some sympathy for McDonald's, which has seen its share of struggles in recent years. Burr feels bad for the chain "because they backpedaled," inviting criticism by adding salads to the menu in an attempt to appear healthier. "Everybody knows it's fattening," Burr declares. "You don't order 50 sandwiches, right? But they're a business. If you order it, they're going to give it to you." Take it from Burr, McDonald's, and be yourself.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons