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We took note the other day of an Eater report that "Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack, the upscale burger chain that has staked its success on the willingness of fast food consumers to spend a few dollars more for higher quality ingredients and better-compensated workers, has made good on its promise to hike prices in 2016, raising menu items anywhere from a couple of pennies to a quarter. The increases will help the billion dollar company continue its policy of paying staffers above local minimum wages, which are rising to $10 and beyond throughout the country, and which are pushing up food and beverage prices at restaurants everywhere."

MNB reader Walter Peaseley responded:

Where did the people who are calling for higher wages think the money was coming?

These positions are stepping stones. (High school, college, in between jobs or to get out of the house when retired.) The people in management are a different story and make more than minimum wage.

I'm not sure that I heard anyone objecting to the increases.

But let's be clear. Not all these jobs are stepping-stones. And even people in high school and college are seeing their expenses go up even as wages remain stagnant.

There's no way that students today can do what I was able to do - work in retail and pay my own way through private high school and college. Tuitions were a lot lower in the seventies. But they still have car payments, have to buy clothes, food, and, of course, computer equipment ... and expecting them to survive on the minimum wage may be unreasonable.

And remember ... Meyer is raising the wages himself. This isn't government-mandated.

So what's the problem?

Regarding the Chobani-Dannon contretemps over ingredients and which ones are "fit for consumption," MNB reader Jerome Schindler wrote:

Chobani has responded by "asking that a New York U.S. District Court declare that its campaign is neither false or misleading."

As the saying goes, there are two chances that a U.S. District Court will agree to render any such declaration - slim and none. Dannon will have to bring a Lanham Act suit.  That will take a couple of years and help a gaggle of lawyers send their kids to college.

Personally I thought the Chobani ad was misleading beginning with the allegation that there are things in Dannon Yogurt that are "bad stuff".

In regard to potassium sorbate, Chobani says "That stuff is used to kill bugs."  When consumers read "bugs" they probably are thinking "insects" and therefore think potassium sorbate is an insecticide.  Potassium sorbate inhibits the growth of mold.*  Mold is a fungus.  

Chobani then picks on Sucralose stating "that stuff has chlorine added to it."  When consumers think of chlorine they probably think of bleach.
Some, maybe all, of the ingredients in Chobani also contain the element chlorine.

Looking online I see the following ingredient list for Chobani Simply 100 yogurt: Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei), Chicory Root Fiber, Strawberries, Water, Banana Puree, Evaporated Cane Juice, Natural Flavors, Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Monkfruit Extract, Fruit And Vegetable Juice concentrate (For Color), Stevia Leaf Extract, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

I do not question the safety of the "natural" sweeteners monkfruit extract and stevia leaf extract but neither has been as extensively studied for safety as has Sucralose.

Chobani uses the term "cane juice extract" to hide the fact that they add sugar.   FDA has repeatedly stated that the term evaporated cane juice is misleading.  Evaporated cane extract is just a variant of that term.

As the saying goes, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Wow. I took chemistry in 1971 and barely passed it then.

Another MNB reader wrote:

I haven’t been in the food business for a while, but my product being described as “fit for consumption” in this day and age doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

Speaking of fit for consumption, MNB user Ralph Madden had some thoughts about Blue Bell's new listeria problems:

Being a native Kentuckian raised on a dairy farm, I'm somewhat familiar with problems in handling dairy. I don't condone Blue Bell's apparent lack of precautionary measures but do applaud their corrective actions. I just hope they aren't trivializing this latest discovery.

But, when it comes to their ice cream, I have to's a winner!

KC's View: