Biscuit breakfast sandwich

Following my column last week about getting your walk on with your dog, and this column about vegetarian dog diets, it seems fitting that I discuss something that's been bothering me around human nutrition: Hardee’s new Fried Bologna Biscuit. The chain launched this item at participating locations in the southeastern part of the U.S. — no doubt betting that Southern taste buds would boost earnings.

Here are the ingredients: egg and cheese neatly folded atop a slice of Oscar Mayer® bologna, which is all tucked inside their Made from Scratch® biscuit. This unhealthy fried goodness nets a whopping 610 calories, 43 grams of fat, 230 mg of cholesterol and 1,620 mg of sodium. To my way of thinking, it's basically a heart attack in a biscuit.

For me, it’s not just about too many calories, too much salt and an enormous amount of fat. It’s the fact that we're talking about bologna for breakfast. Bologna at any time of the day is not my idea of nutritious food.

Why Ingredients Labels Matter

According to the label, here's what goes into making bologna: mechanically separated chicken, pork, water, corn syrup, contains less than 2% of salt, sodium lactate, flavor, sodium phosphate, autolyzed yeast, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate (made from sugar), sodium nitrite, dextrose, extractives of paprika, potassium phosphate, sugar, potassium chloride.

The "mechanically separated" chicken essentially means that it’s trash-bin leftover poultry — the tough stuck-to-the-bones-and-cartilage stuff.

Did you notice all that sugar? Sugar is added to certain food products to maintain moisture, such as in the case of chewy dog treats. For bologna, I counted four types of sugar. Who knew meat was a sugary snack?

I’ll bet all that sweetness helps to mask the nasty taste of inferior ingredients. Speaking of flavor, Oscar Mayer has that down pat. To keep it consistent roll after roll, they add a special proprietary “flavor” additive to keep your taste buds happy.

Take a Stand Against Unhealthy Fare

Finally, as a Southerner, I’m especially offended that Hardee’s chose to push this particularly deleterious delicacy in my neck of the woods. We’ve already got enough harmful fried foods.

At some point, corporations must accept accountability for shoving unhealthy choices our way. So here’s my prayer: Help us, lords of fast food chains, to mend our ways by manipulating our taste buds toward wholesome foods. Help us put down the frying pan and pick up the salad bowl.

It may not be your job or responsibility, but help us, nonetheless. We are weak, so we respond to your every marketing campaign and catchy slogan. Hear our cries as we watch our parents and grandparents suffer from the ravages of obesity. Help our health care system to avoid bankruptcy, thanks to the overwhelming costs of managing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I feel much better. If you agree with me, let restaurants, know about it. Post on their Facebook pages that you’re fed up with being fed garbage. If we demand healthier choices, they will sell them.

And don’t eat fried bologna for breakfast.