‘Fast Food’ Becoming a Dirty Term in Restaurant Industry

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan 

NEW YORK — Fast food is becoming a dirty term.

As smaller players challenge fast-food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King, they’re fighting to set themselves apart by describing their food as “fast-casual,” ”fine casual,” ”fast crafted” and even “fan food.” That’s even though they follow the same basic format: People standing in a line to order and pay a cashier for their food.

The new phrases are being embraced as companies try to position their offerings as fresher or higher quality to distance further their menu items from the stigma that fast food is greasy, cheap and unhealthy.

Even traditional fast-food chains acknowledge they have an image problem. McDonald’s Corp. has said it wants to transform into a “modern, progressive burger company.” And Yum CEO Greg Creed has noted the need for the company’s Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut chains to redefine the meaning of fast food, which is seen as industrial and impersonal.

In the meantime, others are cooking up phrases to telegraph that they are anything but fast food.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Panera Bread Co. are widely referred to in the industry as “fast casual” chains, a term meant to convey that they serve dishes that are in line with what people might find at a casual, sit-down restaurant. Shake Shack, the New York City-based burger chain, took it a step further last year when it declared itself to be “fine casual.”

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Shake Shack explained: “Fine casual couples the ease, value and convenience of fast casual concepts with the high standards of excellence in thoughtful ingredient sourcing, preparation, hospitality and quality grounded in fine dining.”

Even Arby’s, whose food has been mocked on The Daily Show by former host Jon Stewart, is trying to change its image and has started calling itself “fast crafted.”

Chris Fuller, a spokesman for Arby’s, said the chain came up with description after holding “Brand Camp” meetings with employees around the country in 2014. Workers were given cards with the names of restaurant chains, and told to lay them out in order, with “fast-food” representing one end and “fast casual” representing the other end. Arby’s always fell somewhere in the middle, Fuller said.

As a result, he said the chain realized it offered the convenience of fast-food, but also offers “that made-for-your care” with its sandwiches.

When asked how he thought Stewart might react if he were still on The Daily Show, Fuller said: “I think he would come up with his own term, but I’m sure he would have some fun at our cost.”

Arby’s isn’t alone, of course. Del Taco says it considers itself to be “QSR-plus,” a reference to the industry term “quick service restaurant” that’s used to refer to fast-food. And Dairy Queen’s tag line is “Fan Food Not Fast Food.”

Allen Adamson, founder of BrandSimple Consulting, said the trend shows the term fast-food has become the “death star” of the industry.

Adamson noted there was a time when the idea of getting food quickly was a unique concept, but that restaurants can no longer rely on speed alone to attract customers.

“Everything can be fast today. What you want to communicate is something more desirable,” he said.

Written by Candace Choi of Associated Press

(Source: MSN)

Subway Transitioning to Meat Raised Without Antibiotics

Provided by Associated Press

Subway plans to switch to meat raised without antibiotics over the next several years after a coalition of advocacy groups planned to deliver petitions to the company’s headquarters Thursday calling for the change.

The sandwich chain had already said this summer that it would start switching to chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine by next year. Now it says it will serve chicken that receive no antibiotics starting in March 2016. It will also make the change to turkey starting sometime next year, with a transition expected to be complete within two to three years.

Pork and beef raised without antibiotics will follow within six years after that, or by 2025, the company says.

The announcement Tuesday comes as multiple groups including Natural Resources Defense Council, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Food Safety and food blogger Vani Hari had campaigned to get Subway to commit to buying meat produced without the routine use of antibiotics, and provide a timeline for doing so.

Livestock producers often give their cattle, hog and poultry antibiotics to make them grow faster and to prevent illnesses. The practice has become a public health issue, with officials saying it can lead to germs becoming resistant to drugs so that they’re no longer effective in treating a particular illness in humans.

Chipotle and Panera already say they serve meat raised without antibiotics, and McDonald’s said earlier this year it would make the switch for its chicken.

Kari Hamerschlag, a representative for Friends of the Earth, said a coalition of groups had notified Subway last week of their plans to deliver their petitions on Thursday to its headquarters in Milford, Connecticut, but had not heard back from the company. She said the groups have been trying to get a meeting with Subway since this summer, but that the company has not been responsive.

While other chains serve meat from animals that are given antibiotics, Hamerschlag said the groups singled out Subway because of its image and lack of transparency on the matter.

“We thought Subway was the most important one to target publicly because they claim to be this healthy fast food restaurant chain,” she said.

Hamerschlag did not immediately know whether the groups would still deliver their petitions Thursday.

Written by Associated Press

(Source: MSN)