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March 1, 2014 

Taco Bell Breakfast

This undated product image provided by Taco Bell, shows the company's new waffle taco.


Food and beverage

Taco Bell fires volley in breakfast wars

Egg McMuffin, meet the Waffle Taco.

It’s less than a month until Taco Bell launches its national breakfast menu on March 27. And the chain says breakfast will be available until 11 a.m. – a half-hour later than McDonald’s offers its Egg McMuffins.

Here’s what the company says you can expect out of a “Waffle Taco:” a waffle wrapped around a sausage patty or bacon, with scrambled eggs and cheese, served with a side of syrup.

If that’s not your thing, the company will have other offerings on the menu, all of which are intended to be easy to hold and eat on the go. They include:

•  A.M. Crunchwrap – scrambled eggs, a hash brown, cheese and bacon, sausage or steak in a flour tortilla.

•  Bacon and Egg Burrito – Bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla

•  Sausage Flatbread Melt – A sausage patty topped with cheese wrapped in a flatbread and grilled.

“We can turn the breakfast conversation into a two-horse race,” Taco Bell President Brian Niccol said in an interview, noting that Taco Bell intends to be a “strong No. 2” after McDonald’s.

A McDonald’s executive seemed “unfazed” by Taco Bell’s plans, according to a report by The Associated Press. However, the breakfast leader said last week that it is in the early stages of looking at whether it can extend its breakfast hours.


Dove defends armpits in N.J. ad

Don’t worry, New Jersey. You are not alone. Dove has got your back with a new billboard campaign it is launching.

“Dear New Jersey,” says the billboard, which features a woman wearing a white tank top and raising an arm to display her underarm. “When people call you the ‘Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.”

The billboard promotes a new line of deodorant, Dove Advanced Care, that has moisturizers to help beautify underarms, and is part of a broader advertising campaign that encourages the flaunting of that part of the body and discourages pejorative uses of the word “armpit.”

The North American headquarters of Unilever, which owns Dove, is in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and Matthew McCarthy, the senior marketing director of antiperspirants and deodorants at Unilever, said consumers would understand that the billboard – set to appear in July – is not a put-down. “The message that we want to get out there is that the armpit is not a bad thing, and that we stand for caring for the armpit,” he said.

Jen Drexler, senior vice president of the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” said despite Dove’s long-running “Real Beauty” campaign that has confronted unrealistic beauty standards, the brand risks becoming part of that problem.

“This is just giving women something else to be anxious about,” Drexler said. “Women do not think about how beautiful their underarms look and they couldn’t pick their underarms out of a lineup, so Dove is saying, ‘We’ve invented the problem, and now we’re solving it for you,’ which is a classic approach for beauty brands.”

Medical technology

Proposed ‘designer babies’ technique comes with plenty of concerns

Genetic experts cautioned that it could take decades to confirm the safety of an experimental technique, meant to prevent children from inheriting debilitating diseases, that would create babies from the DNA of three people.

The Food and Drug Administration heard from supporters and opponents of the provocative technique at a two-day meeting last week, as the agency considers whether to greenlight testing in women who have defective genes linked to blindness, organ failure and many other inheritable diseases.

Preliminary testing in animals suggests that combining the DNA of two parents with that of a third female donor could allow prospective mothers to give birth to healthy children. But even experts in the field warned that researchers would have to follow the offspring for many years to see if they are truly healthy.

“The end of the experiment will come decades later,” said Michigan State University’s Keith Latham, in a presentation before the FDA and its advisory panel. “It’s going to take us that long to figure out the health of the progeny produced from these procedures.”

The FDA explicitly framed its public meeting as a “technical” discussion on the feasibility of safely testing the artificial fertilization technique in humans. In a statement read at the outset, FDA staffers acknowledged the “ethical and social policy issues related to genetic modification of eggs and embryos,” but said such issues were “outside the scope of this meeting.”

Despite such disclaimers, more than a half-dozen public speakers urged the FDA to block any human testing of the DNA-swapping technique due to unknown medical, ethical and societal impacts. Several argued that it could be a slippery slope toward “designer babies” – allowing parents to customize traits like eye color, height and intelligence.

The Associated Press and New York Times contributed.

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