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Taco Bell to push healthful alternatives to burgers

IRVINE Calif. Taco Bell plans to run print ads that tout how the items on its newly expanded Fresco reduced-fat menu stack up against “popular hamburgers,” the chain indicated Friday.

The expanded Fresco lineup is being showcased in part to “broaden our appeal beyond our usual target demographic of young males,” said David Ovens, chief marketing officer for brand parent Taco Bell Corp., based here.

The print ads, themed “It’s your choice,” will appear in women’s and fitness publications and will complement in-store promotional materials and online ads, according to the 5,600-unit chain.

The new Fresco Menu lists nine items that are made with Taco Bell’s Fiesta Salsa instead of cheese and sauce. Taco Bell is stressing that each of the menu items contains fewer than 9 grams of fat. Because the salsa — a mix of tomatoes, cilantro and onions — contains only 5 calories per serving, the Fresco items also are presumably lower in calories.

The items range in calorie counts from the Fresco Crunchy Taco, with 150 calories, to the Fresco Zesty Chicken Border Bowl, with 350 calories. Also offered are Fresco versions of the chain’s Burrito Supremes, burritos and soft tacos.

“Our customers told us that there are a limited number of lower fat choices in fast food,” Ovens said in a statement. “With the new Fresco Menu, we’re offering the tastes, textures and aromas our customers love, all with menu items that are lower in fat grams.”

At a meeting earlier in December, parent company Yum! Brands Inc. had alerted investors that Taco Bell would expand and tout its Fresco options. Executives also indicated at that time that the chain would follow the lead of many other quick-service operations by adding premium beverages such as smoothies.

Yum, based in Louisville, Ky., also owns the Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver’s and A&W All American Food brands.

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