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Milk Producers Urge FDA To Enforce Legal Definition Of “Milk”

March 22, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has filed a citizen petition with the FDA proposing that plant-based brands that do not match dairy counterparts nutritionally should use the term imitation (e.g., imitation milk); while those that do match dairy nutritionally should use terms such as substitute or alternative (e.g., yogurt alternative). The NMPF said dairy milk is a key source of nutrients, including vitamin D, a nutrient in milk that has virtually eliminated the disease known as rickets. The Federation says the FDA’s decades lack of enforcement of laws that limit the term milk to the lacteal secretions of cows has allowed marketplace chaos to grow exponentially. The Plant Based Foods Association, however, argues that requiring a disparaging word such as imitation on labels would violate the First Amendment. Moreover, the NMPF is trying to solve a problem that does not exist: consumers are not confused, and they are not being misled.[Image Credit: © Lisa Redfern from Pixabay]
Elaine Watson , "Plant-based 'milks' should be labeled as 'imitation,' 'alternative,' or 'substitute' products, says NMPF petition", FoodNavigator-USA.com, March 22, 2019, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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USDA, FDA To Jointly Regulate Cultured Meat Products

March 21, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Federal agencies USDA and FDA will share regulatory oversight duties for culture meat production to ensure food safety and correct labeling practices. The FDA will oversee cell collection, cell banks, and cell growth and differentiation. During the harvest stage, regulation will shift to the USDA’s FSIS, which will oversee the production and labeling of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. The USDA said consumers trust the USDA mark of inspection to ensure safe, wholesome and accurately labeled products. The U.S. Cattlemen s Association (USCA) said it was encouraged by the joint regulatory oversight of cell-based meats, and pleased that FSIS will have pre-market labeling authority. The association, however, reiterated its stance that the term meat, and more specifically beef, refers to products derived exclusively from the flesh of a bovine animal harvested in the traditional manner. [Image Credit: © Pexels from Pixabay]
Ashley Williams , "USDA and FDA agree joint regulatory oversight of cultured meat", GlobalMeatNews.com, March 21, 2019, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Kansas Scientists Hope To Relieve Hunger Worldwide, While Helping State Farmers

March 19, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Kansas State University grain science professor Sajid Alavi and his team of five scientists are looking for ways to better use the 21 million acres of Kansas row crops – corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum – to feed malnourished children overseas and give Kansas agriculture an economic boost. Funded by the USDA, the researchers have taken their fortified food project to Tanzania to benefit local children by growing more sustainable crops. The team’s ready-to-eat fortified dry foods and meals give malnourished children more calories and nutrients. However, the researchers want to create a new formula using sorghum that not only feeds more children, but also benefits Kansas farmers. Sorghum is easily grown in Kansas, needs less water, insecticides and herbicides, and has a high caloric value.[Image Credit: © Vijaya narasimha from PIxabay]
Olivia Bergmeier, "Sorghum grain provides answer for food shortages, K-State researchers say", The Collegian (KSU), March 19, 2019, © Collegian Media Group
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Even Organic Foods Can Be Tainted With Packaging Chemical Perchlorate

March 19, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Only 40 synthetic compounds are approved for use in organic food products, but a new report finds that choosing organic at the grocery store doesn’t always prevent exposure to harmful chemicals. One important “additive” approved by the FDA 14 years ago for use in packaging is the chemical perchlorate. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate has been contaminating a growing amount of food – infant formula, rice-based baby cereals, and dairy products – since 2005, and has had an enormous impact on the health of fetuses and young children: it is associated with significant declines in IQ, among other effects. The EWG and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have asked the FDA to ban the chemical in food and have talked to food companies about testing food products for perchlorate. Some states are also considering whether to take action.[Image Credit: © Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.com]
Rachel Cernansky, "The Dangerous Food Additive That’s Not on the Label", Civil Eats, March 19, 2019, © Civil Eats
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Legislation Would Require “Maine Raised” Meat And Poultry To Be Exactly That

March 18, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers in Maine hoping to support the state’s poultry and cattle farmers are being misled by meat labeled “Maine Raised,” a phrase that suggests that food animals were raised and slaughtered locally. It is legal in the state for businesses to import animals from other states, slaughter them, and sell the meat as “Maine Raised,” usually at prices lower than actual Maine-raised meats. But a bill introduced by a legislator who happens to own an organic vegetable farm would require livestock such as beef, pork, or lamb be born and raised solely in the state. Poultry must be raised in the state from no later than seven days after hatching before it could be labeled and advertised as Maine raised. The legislation was well supported during recent hearings, and could soon make its way out of committee for a vote in the state House and Senate.[Image Credit: © Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay]
Julia Bayly, "Why 'Maine Raised' meat may not mean what you think it does", Bangor Daily News (Maine), March 18, 2019, © Bangor Publishing Co.
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Genetically Engineered Salmon: Appearing Soon At Your Local Grocery Store

March 13, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA has lifted a ban on genetically engineered salmon, clearing the way for its appearance in grocery stores. The company AquaBounty may now import its AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs to a land-based facility in Indiana, where the salmon can be grown for food. The fish have been genetically engineered to grow faster than farm-raised Atlantic salmon. But Native American tribes, food groups, and environmentalists are concerned that there is no requirement that the gene-manipulated fish be labeled as “genetically engineered.” Instead, they can be labeled “bioengineered,” a less-loaded term that can appear on packages as a symbol that says “BE” or a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it's genetically engineered. "So it's quite a bit more burdensome,” according to a Center for Food Safety attorney. The FDA first approved genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat in 2015.[Image Credit: © AquaBounty Technologies, Inc]
Courtney Flatt, "Concerns raised over genetically engineered salmon", The Daily Astorian, (Oregon), March 13, 2019, © The Daily Astorian
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Big Upper Midwest Food Distributor SpartanNash “Cleans Up” Its House Brands

March 13, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Fortune 400 food distributor SpartanNash, which operates a chain of retail grocery stores in the upper Midwest and serves U.S military commissaries, is responding to customer preferences by accelerating a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency. “Our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table," a spokesman said. In response, SpartanNash has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in its Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, removing synthetic colors, MSG, and other ingredients. Another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019. According to the company, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists, and clean, easy-to-read labels. [Image Credit: © SpartanNash Company]
Russell Redman , "SpartanNash comes ‘clean’ with private brands", Supermarket News, March 13, 2019, © Informa USA, Inc.
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“Natural” Claim Continues To Lure Shoppers, Despite Lack Of Definition

March 13, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
A Label Insight-sponsored survey of 1,000 adult consumers finds that using the word “natural” on food packaging will motivate as many as 53 percent of Americans to make a purchase. Natural is generally accepted to mean the absence of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color additives in products that are minimally processed. Fifty-one percent of shoppers were swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Sixty-three percent of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to 46 percent of Generation X and 41 percent of Millennials. Other ingredients Americans are concerned about include: high fructose corn syrup (57 percent of older adults) and sugar (all ages). And shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised: "antibiotic free" (34 percent); "free range" (26 percent); "grass fed" (25 percent); and "pasture-raised" (17 percent) are the key terms. Oddly, free range and pasture-raised are synonymous.[Image Credit: © Label Insight, Inc.]
"New Survey from Label Insight Reveals Which Loosely-Regulated Marketing Claims Motivate Shoppers to Buy", PR Newswire, March 13, 2019, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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New Term For Restaurants To Digest: “Flexitarian”

March 5, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Food and beverage tracker Technomic reports that specialty diets are getting more diverse and restaurants need to begin thinking of ways to serve, not only vegans and vegetarians, but “flexitarians.” Also known as “semi-vegetarians,” flexitarians eat mostly plant-based diets, but also mix in occasional dairy foods and meats. The eating style works for those who want to eat healthier but are willing to leave room for a feast including meat or seafood once in a while.  "This desire for flexibility highlights the fact that dietary lifestyle choices are often not all-or-nothing decisions for consumers," a Technomic analysts says, adding that accommodating flexitarian customers by carrying a range of protein options or allowing them to build their own dishes is “a good start” for restaurants. Of 1,700 consumers surveyed, Technomic found that half eat a vegetarian or vegan dish at least once a month. [Image Credit: © Winsight, LLC.]
Amanda Yeager, "Report: It's time for restaurants to add 'flexitarian' to their lexicon", Baltimore Business Journal (Maryland), March 05, 2019, © American City Business Journals
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Foodservice Companies Adjust To Consumer Demands For “Clean Label’

March 1, 2019: 12:00 AM EST


Foodservice operators, including restaurants, retailers, and suppliers, say they are working hard to meet emerging consumer demands for “clean label” foods that feature simpler ingredient lists. Health-conscious consumers have become wary of foods containing artificial flavors or preservatives and “processed" or “chemical-sounding" ingredients. They also have grown to conflate the terms “natural," “healthful" and “wholesome." But no single “natural" term has emerged as the one Americans most associate with health, says researcher Technomic. Terms now found on menus and food products include: “preservative-free," “no artificial sweeteners," “unprocessed," “antibiotic-free,” “hormone-free," “organic," “clean," “GMO-free," “grass-fed," and “real." [Image Credit: © Ken's Foods, Inc.]
"Keeping it 'real' with clean labels", Restaurant Hospitality (Penton), March 01, 2019, © Informa USA Inc.
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Miss. Law Bars Cultured Protein From Being Labeled Meat

March 1, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill prohibiting the labeling of animal cultures, plants, and insects as meat. The Senate bill passed unanimously in the state House of Representatives on February 28. The representative who handled the bill in the House said the legislation won't prohibit anyone from producing the products, but will prohibit labeling it as meat in Mississippi. A state senator said: "If it's not meat, it can't be labeled as such." Engineered animal protein and plant-based protein products, such as the Impossible Burger, are a growing trend in the U.S., raising concerns among lawmakers about accurate labeling. Other states that have either passed, or are considering, similar legislation include Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Virginia. The Mississippi bill will take effect July 1.[Image Credit: © Free-Photos from Pixabay]
Jimmie E. Gates, "Dems, GOP agree: If it's not meat, don't call it meat in Mississippi", Mississippi Clarion Ledger, March 01, 2019, © www.clarionledger.com
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Natural Sweeteners Are Replacing Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners In Beverages

February 28, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
American shoppers are overwhelmingly – 73 percent – concerned about food and beverage packaging claims, according to a recent survey. The top claim is low sugar (tied with low sodium), with 35 percent of survey respondents identifying it as significant. The second significant claim is no artificial ingredients Beverage formulators are exploring the use of sugar with other sweetening ingredients or creative combinations of other naturally sweet ingredients, such as steviol glycosides, juices, flavors, and taste modulators. Among the companies and brands experimenting with natural sweeteners are: Blossom Water (Mass.), using natural fruit, flower essences, and stevia; Petal (Chicago) sparkling water, sweetened with organic agave and sugar; Teatulia (Denver) organic Tea Soda, brewed with fruits, herbs, and sugar; and Bitter Love (Maine), whose shelf-stable, RTS beverage is sweetened with fruit juice, and contains a blend of ashwagandha root, gentian, artichoke, and artemisia plant extracts.
Donna Berry, "Navigating natural sweetener solutions in beverages", Food Business News, February 28, 2019, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING COMPANY
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Still No “Singular Definition” Of “Clean Label”

February 28, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The Hartman Group, a food and beverage industry trends analyst, says there really isn’t “any one singular definition” of the term “clean label”, but a handy rule of thumb might be: foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Essentially that means foods that are “fresh, real, and less processed,” said a Hartman Group analyst. An Ingredion study found that consumers value ingredient lists almost as much as price as they look for products free-from additives and artificial ingredients. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. consumers find it important to recognize the ingredients used in the products they buy (up from 66 percent in 2011). Other considerations becoming important in food choice and clean label include specific health claims, the manufacturer/brand, and country/region of origin. Consumers’ most accepted ingredients include natural flavors, natural colors, flour, vegetable oil, and sugar.[Image Credit: © Robert Owen-Wahl from Pixabay]
Mary Ellen Shoup , "How to define clean label? 'There isn’t any one singular definition,' says Hartman Group", FoodNavigator-USA.com, February 28, 2019, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Dairy Co-op Demands That FDA Enforce Rules Regarding “Milk” Labeling

February 18, 2019: 12:00 AM EST

Wisconsin’s Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative has demanded that the FDA “no longer turn a blind eye to misleading labeling” of plant-based beverages as “milk.” In comments submitted to the agency, Edge called on the FDA to "take immediate action" to enforce existing regulations that define dairy foods as originating from cow's milk. The enforcement is “long overdue and increasingly important,” the co-op said. The FDA has asked for public input to help determine customers' understanding of the labeling and differences between dairy products and plant-based non-dairy products and the effects on purchasing decisions. The FDA says the input could affect any industry guidance it might issue.[Image Credit: © Edge]
"Farmer Group: Time to End 'Anything Goes' Dairy Labeling of Plant-Based Products", Dairy Business, February 18, 2019, © DairyBusiness, LLC.
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EPA Plans To Regulate Toxic Chemicals Found In Drinking Water

February 15, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month announced plans to set a maximum drinking water contaminant level for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a man-made substance found in food packaging, cleaners, water-repellent fabrics, Teflon-coated cookware, and cleaning products. The contaminants are also found in firefighting foams, which have seeped into groundwater sources that reach millions of drinking taps. The process could take months at least, and critics say the move is a stalling tactic to protect industry interests, given the health risks known. The chemicals have been linked to reproductive and developmental conditions, as well as liver and kidney, and immunological effects. They also contribute to low infant birth weights, thyroid problems, and some cancers. By the end of the year, the agency will propose a regulatory determination, which is the next step legally required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.[Image Credit: © ImagesBG from Pixabay]
Ledyard King, "Critics scoff at EPA plan to regulate tap water toxins", USA TODAY , February 15, 2019, © USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.
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Pulse-Based Peatos Snack Beards The Lion – Er, Cheetah – In Its Den

February 13, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
A Los Angeles-based start-up believes it is offering a more healthful alternative to the current orange-colored puffy snacks – read Frito-Lay Cheetos – that Americans love so much.  Peatos from World Peas Brand have replaced the traditional corn or potato base with a pulse (peas) base and have “cleaned up” the seasonings – all while maintaining “the explosive flavor and vibrant colors.” Peatos are a crunchy puffed snack that contain twice the protein (four grams) and three times the fiber (three grams) of competitor Cheetos. They are made with non-GMO ingredients, have no artificial flavors, no synthetic colors, and no added MSG. PepsiCo, parent company of Frito-Lay's Cheetos, last May sent a cease-and-desist letter to World Peas after Peatos began hitting store shelves. According to reports, PepsiCo said Peatos (tiger image) "is confusingly similar to and dilutes the Cheetos (cheetah image) brand." [Image Credit: © Werner Weisser]
"Junk Food Gets a Makeover as Consumers Nationwide Embrace World Peas Brand Peatos' “Better Than Junk Food” Crunchy Puffs", Business Wire, February 13, 2019, © Business Wire
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USDA Issues Final GMO Food Labeling Rule

February 8, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
It took nearly three years, but the USDA in December issued the final rule implementing the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) signed into law by President Obama in 2016. The NBFDS pre-empted state and local genetic engineering labeling requirements. The rule takes effect on February 19; implementation will be phased in over the next three years. The NBFDS requires food manufacturers, importers of food labeled for retail sale in the U.S., and some U.S. retailers to disclose foods and ingredients produced from foods that are or may be bioengineered. Disclosure can be through text, a symbol, electronic or digital link, or text message. For example, the text disclosure can say “bioengineered food” or “contains a bioengineered food ingredient” for a multi-ingredient food. [Image Credit: © BryanCave.com]
Bryan Cave , "Bioengineered Food Disclosure Rules Finalized, Require Disclosure of 'Detectable' GMOs", Bryan Cave Law Firm, February 08, 2019, © BryanCave.com | A Global Law Firm
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Dangerous Chemicals Found In Foods Produced, Sold By Grocery Chains

February 5, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Environmental organization network Friends of the Earth said that its testing found store and name-brand foods produced and sold by the top four U.S. food retailers contain residues of toxic pesticides linked to a range of serious health and environmental problems. The foods were purchased in 15 cities across the country by Friends of the Earth and a number of allies, including Environment Texas. Oat cereals, apples, applesauce, spinach and pinto beans from Kroger, Walmart, Costco, and Albertsons stores contained detectable amounts of glyphosate – key ingredient of the herbicide Roundup – organophosphates and neonicotinoids. The average level of glyphosate found in cereal samples (360 parts per billion) was more than twice the level set by scientists at Environmental Working Group for lifetime cancer risk for children. The average level of glyphosate found in pinto beans (509 ppb) was more than 4.5 times the benchmark.[Image Credit: © Friends of the Earth]
"New Study: Multiple Dangerous Pesticides Found in Food Made and Sold by Kroger, Walmart, Costco and Albertsons", Friends of the Earth , February 05, 2019, © Friends of the Earth
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PETA Billboard In Calif. “Debunks Myth” Of Cage-Free Eggs

February 4, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has erected a billboard in San Diego, Calif., that it claims “debunks the myth of cage-free eggs.” The billboard followed the release of PETA video footage showing a packed chicken shed at Hilliker's Ranch Fresh Eggs, Inc., in Lakeside, Calif. The company had been publicized as a model of the future of cage-free egg farming in the state and touted by its owner as “Chicken Disneyland.” “’Cage-free' means absolutely nothing to the hens stuffed on top of each other in filthy warehouses and made to overproduce eggs until their bodies give out and they're killed,” said PETA Director Danielle Katz. According to PETA, constant exposure to noise and severe crowding in the sheds can lead to distress, excessive adrenal hormone production, and suppression of the immune system. The billboard will remain up for four weeks.[Image Credit: © People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals]
"This Is Cage-Free Billboard Now Up In Wake Of Prop 12 Passage", PETA, February 04, 2019, © People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
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Could A West African Grain Become The New Quinoa?

February 2, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
A Senegalese farmer who raises a small, nutty grain known as fonio believes it could someday become a staple across Africa and eventually around the world. A Senegalese chef in New York City also believes fonio has a bright future. Pierre Thiam is on a mission to raise fonio's profile at home and abroad, believing it can generate much-needed income for West African farmers, though they struggle to make money from it now. Cultivated in Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and other parts of the sub-Saharan region, fonio – dubbed "the new quinoa" – is gluten-free, high in protein and amino acids, and easy to cook. The drought-resistant, fast-growing plant also has the potential to help ease hunger linked to the negative impacts of climate change.[Image Credit: © Yolélé Foods Inc]
Emmanuelle Landais, "The world's latest superfood?; Fonio, a gluten-free West African grain, has the potential to become the 'new quinoa'", Thomson Reuters Foundation, February 02, 2019, © Thomson Reuters
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State Bills To Bar Non-Meat Products From Deceptive Labeling Gather Steam

January 26, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
The Pew Charitable Trusts reports that several states are considering legislation similar to a recent Missouri law that bars non-meat products, such as those made from tofu or vegetable sources, from being labeled as if they are made from beef. State legislators in Virginia, Nebraska, Tennessee, and Wyoming have introduced bills to stop what they say is deceptive labeling of non-meat products. The Nebraska bill aims to prevent companies from labeling plant-based, insect-based or lab-grown products as "meat." The Wyoming bill would outlaw "misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry." Under the Virginia bill, a product would be deemed "misbranded" if it "purports to be" meat while containing no meat, unless it contains the word "imitation" on the label. Beef producers generally back the bills, while vegetarians and producers of plant-based food oppose it.[Image Credit: © Free-Photos from Pixabay]
"'Fake Meat' Battle Spreads to More States", PEW Charitable Trusts, January 26, 2019, © The Pew Charitable Trusts
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Clean Label Egg Wash Replacer Now Available To N.A. Commercial Bakeries

January 20, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
California-based baking ingredients producer Pak Group has developed a product to help commercial bakeries consistently achieve the ideal glaze while still claiming products are clean labels. Bellarise Shine is a gluten- and dairy-free vegan egg wash replacer made from water, sunflower oil, pea proteins, dextrose and modified starch. It is non-GMO, vegan, dairy-free, and removes allergens from bread labels. The company says it is suitable for use in a wide range of applications, including croissants, brioche, buns and patisserie. The product will also help bakers avoid the highly variable cost of eggs, the company says. Bellarise Shine, which took the company a year to develop, is available now for customers in North America.[Image Credit: © PAK Group]
Gill Hyslop , "Bellarise develops clean label egg wash replacer for North American bakers", BakeryAndSnacks.com, January 20, 2019, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Market For Citrus Essential Oils Expands Rapidly

January 18, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
An analysis by Fact.MR finds that citrus essential oil sales increased by 3,000 tons between 2017 and 2018. The oils are used in industrial and other applications, including aromatherapy, cosmetics, health care, and food and beverages. Citrus essential oils manufactured using grapefruits are expected to witness relatively faster momentum, as chemical constituents of grapefruit are sought by various industries. Grapefruit-derived citrus essential oil sales are expected to grow twice as fast as their counterparts in 2019. Purported health benefits of grapefruit essential oils include weight loss, improved immunity, and alleviation of stress. With the oils approved as safe for consumption by regulatory authorities, food and beverage companies have continued to incorporate them as a “clean label” ingredient into multiple products. Their antimicrobial and antifungal properties have opened up new avenues for citrus essential oils in the packaging industry, and as a natural preservative. [Image Credit: © silviarita]
"Citrus Essential Oil Demand in F&B Growing as Scramble for -Clean-Label' and -Green' Ingredients Intensifies", News release, Fact.MR, January 18, 2019, © GlobeNewswire, Inc.
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Israeli Company Uses Zero-Waste Process To Make Plant-Based Yogurt

January 15, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Israel’s Yofix Probiotics Ltd. has launched a dairy-free, soy-free yogurt alternative line using a clean-label formula involving a few natural ingredients. The yogurt is traditionally fermented and contains live probiotic cultures, plus the prebiotic fibers that feed them. The products, available in three fruit flavors, use no cow milk and, unlike almond or cashew, do not require a great amount of water. The production process is carefully designed to ensure zero waste: all raw materials used in production remain in the final product. The company plans to launch globally, and will also debut plant-based dairy substitutes for milk, yogurt drinks, cream cheese, coffee creamers, and ice cream. [Image Credit: © Yofix Probiotics Ltd.]
"Yofix Launches Clean-label, Plant-based Yogurt Alternative", PR Newswire, January 15, 2019, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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Professor’s Research Helps Candy Firm Mars Achieve Its “No Artificial Dyes” Goal

January 14, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Candy company Mars Inc. has patented an Ohio State professor’s method of extracting the natural pigments – anthocyanins – that give red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables their colors. Three years ago, Mars announced a "five-year effort" to remove all synthetic dyes from its products. Before research by Monica Giusti's lab, there was no method of anthocyanin extraction that produced the specific blue pigment of blueberries. Though anthocyanins are difficult to work with, her research helped the company reach its natural dye goal. Giusti's work is allowing companies such as Mars to incorporate real nutritional value into foods that are typically perceived as unhealthy. "The real beauty is that the pigments that we extract from nature tend to be those phytochemicals that make plants good for us," Giusti said.[Image Credit: © The Lantern: Ohio State University (Columbus)]
Lydia Weyrich , "Ohio State researcher develops natural dye, making M&Ms healthier", The Lantern: Ohio State University (Columbus), January 14, 2019, © The Lantern
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Australia Sees Profit Potential In Legume Known As Lupins

January 9, 2019: 12:00 AM EST



A growing number of companies in West Australia are capitalizing on the nutritional benefits of the legume seed of the lupinus genus, the popular flowering plants known as lupins. The seeds are gluten-free, low carb, and rich in protein, amino acids, and prebiotics (i.e., fiber). An example of the phenomenon is a former chef who has been making lupin granola for almost three years. He buys lupin flakes, mixes them with nuts, grains and seeds, and roasts them in a slow oven, creating a nutritious, tasty granola. The lupin granola is used as a base in protein bars and slices, and there's a chia pudding topped with it. Eighty-five percent of the world's lupins are grown in West Australia.[Image Credit: © Coastal Crunch]
Jenne Brammer, "Lupins gain traction as human food", The West Australian (Perth, Australia), January 09, 2019, © The West Australian and Seven West Media (WA)
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C-Stores Add Healthful Snack Options To Their Product Lineups

January 8, 2019: 12:00 AM EST

Saddled for many years with a reputation as purveyors of junk foods, many convenience stores (C-stores) are now offering more healthful food and snack options, including produce, all-natural snacks and organic items. The industry is gradually adapting to a trend toward clean and transparent labeling that reveals where the food came from and tells the story behind it. According to industry observers, C-stores have an array of clean products to choose from (e.g., snacks like KIND bars and RXBARs, and SmartPop! popcorn). Consumers know they can find these options in grocery stores, so they now expect them in C-stores.[Image Credit: © U.S. Food and Drug Administration]
Tammy Mastroberte, "How C-stores Can Answer the Call for Clean Label Foods & Beverages ", Convenience Store News, January 08, 2019, © EnsembleIQ
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Blockchain Technology May Deliver Believability In Food Labeling

January 8, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Food businesses use a lot of marketing and packaging gimmicks to convince consumers to buy their products. A large majority of Americans say they’ve felt tricked by the gimmickry. So how to build faith in food?  One solution would be to adopt a blockchain-based system that would provide a more accurate and trustworthy version of product labels, especially when it comes to claims about organic or non-GMO. Blockchain technology increases transparency and accountability in food supply chains and sets industry-wide standards. Manufacturers and wholesalers are already using it to track food. In the U.S., Walmart is working with IBM to streamline and improve its food safety system. European retail giant Carrefour is tracking chicken, eggs, and tomatoes from farms to grocery store shelves, and plans to expand that system to all their fresh products.[Image Credit: © felixioncool from Pixabay]
Samantha Radocchia, "Know What's GMO: Why Blockchain Will Build Faith In Food Labels", Forbes, January 08, 2019, © Forbes Media LLC
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“Certified Non-GMO” Seems A Meaningless, Even Fraudulent, Marketing Claim

January 7, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Because “distrust and fear sell,” marketers are getting away with charging premium prices for grocery items certified as “Non-GMO,” even though most of them never have or ever could contain genetically modified organisms. The “standard bearer” for the movement is the Non-GMO Project, which has stamped more than 50,000 products as GMO-free. But only ten GMO plant types are commercially available: apples, potatoes, corn, canola, alfalfa, soybeans, rainbow papaya, cotton, sugar beets, and summer squash. An egregious example of the marketing silliness is a 10-pound bag of The Good Earth Non-GMO Project Verified clumping cat litter, which sells for $18.99 on Amazon. Ten pounds of standard Arm & Hammer clumping cat litter costs about $5.30 at Walmart. That, according to the Missouri Farm Bureau, is “not just outrageous, it is deliberately misleading and fraudulent.”[Image Credit: © Fancycrave.com from Pexels.com]]
Eric Bohl, "GMO-Free Marketing is Deliberately Misleading Consumers", Missouri Farm Bureau, January 07, 2019, © Missouri Farm Bureau
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Natural Antioxidants May Someday Replace Synthetics As Food Preservatives

January 4, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers increasingly want clean labels: no synthetic-sounding ingredients, only natural alternatives. Now Penn State scientists have discovered that a natural antioxidant found in grain bran could preserve food longer and replace synthetic antioxidants used by the food industry, once the kinks are worked out. The researchers studied compounds called alkylresorcinols (AR), produced by wheat, rye and barley to prevent mold, bacteria and other organisms from growing on the grain kernels. They extracted and purified ARs from rye bran, then studied how well ARs were able to preserve omega-3-rich oils in emulsions. Though not yet as effective as synthetic antioxidants like butylated hydroxytoluene, the researchers say they worked well enough to provide hope for the future.[Image Credit: © $uraj tripathi from Pixabay]
Carolyn Trietsch, "A 'bran' new way to preserve healthy food with natural ingredients", Penn State University, January 04, 2019, © The Pennsylvania State University
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Obsession With Healthful Food Is A Real Eating Disorder

January 1, 2019: 12:00 AM EST
A little-known syndrome discovered two decades ago may win the distinction of becoming the eating disorder of the modern era. Orthorexia nervosa is defined as an unhealthy obsession with healthful eating. It often starts with a desire to eat "clean" whole foods in their natural state, but then hardens into a rigid eating style that can crowd out other activities and relationships. Though not yet recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), that will eventually change because it “is affecting a huge segment of the population,” according to one nutrition expert.[Image Credit: © silviarita from Pixabay]
Jancee Dunn, "Is Orthorexia the Eating Disorder for the Digital Age?", Vogue, January 01, 2019, © Condé Nast
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Maine Lawmaker Knocks USDA’s GMO Labeling Scheme

December 24, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Maine Democratic congresswoman Chellie Pingree, an organic farmer, says the USDA’s new standard for labeling genetic engineered food is "an insult to consumers." Genetically engineered food is often called genetically modified or "GMO" food by advocacy groups that support mandatory labeling. The USDA said last week that new labeling rules require "food manufacturers, importers, and certain retailers to ensure bioengineered foods are appropriately disclosed." Pingree says use of the unfamiliar term "bioengineered" will confuse consumers, and the USDA is essentially launching "a marketing campaign aimed at putting a positive spin on GMO food." She promises to fight the new standard as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which oversees USDA funding.[Image Credit: © Congresswoman Chellie Pingree]
Patrick Whittle, "Maine rep says new GMO labels aren't consumer friendly", Bangor Daily News, December 24, 2018, © The Associated Press/Bangor Publishing Co.
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ShopRite’s Partnership With Perdue Produces Antibiotics-Free Fried Chicken

December 19, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
East Coast grocery chain’s partnership with Perdue Farms has led to the introduction of an eight-piece grab-and-go fried chicken item that promises “no antibiotics, ever” (NAE). The relationship with Perdue has also produced rotisserie chicken, roaster breast, and roaster leg quarters. The fried chicken is the company's newest style of NAE poultry that is hand-breaded, raised cage free and made fresh throughout the day. According to ShopRite, the products are priced at or below most conventional rotisserie and fried chicken offerings. ShopRite is the registered trademark of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative based in New Jersey and the largest supermarket cooperative in the U.S.[Image Credit: © Wakefern Food Corp, Inc.]
Kristen Brissette, "ShopRite Introduces No-Antibiotics-Ever Fried Chicken", The Shelby Report, December 19, 2018, © The Shelby Report
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Food Label Transparency Trend To Gather Momentum This Year

December 18, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute finds that a majority of shoppers have transparency on their minds when grocery shopping: 86 percent would feel a higher sense of trust for food manufacturers and retailers that provided access to complete, “easy to understand” ingredient information. One solution is to use new methods like Smart Label, from Label Insight, to provide that information. According to Label Insight, transparency initiatives led by retailers will continue to spread in 2019. “Retailers will move beyond health and wellness as brand positioning by leveraging new approaches to data and omnichannel integration,” the data insight company said.[Image Credit: © Label Insight, Inc.]
Mary Ellen Shoup, "Label Insight: Transparency trends to gain steam in 2019", FoodNavigator-USA.com, December 18, 2018, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Antibiotic Use Declining In Meat Industry, But Still Dangerously High

December 18, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Though use of antibiotics important to human medicine is dropping in the livestock industry it is still dangerously high, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The FDA reported recently that such sales dropped 28 percent between 2009 and 2017. But the latest numbers also show the beef and pork industries remain high users of these drugs at 5.1 million pounds and 4.5 million pounds in sales respectively in 2017, compared to 590,000 pounds in the chicken industry. The NRDC called the downward trend “real progress,” but warned that “the American meat industry continues to have a drug problem.” A positive sign is that major beef buyer McDonald's announced it will reduce use of the drugs across its global beef supply chain, offering hope it will spark a wave of change.[Image Credit: © Natural Resources Defense Council]
"Antibiotic Sales For U.S. Meat Production Drop, But Use Remains High ", News release, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), December 18, 2018, © Natural Resources Defense Council
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Report: The Emergence Of “Clean Packaging”

December 18, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
A report based on an online survey on packaging trends finds that “clean packaging” is the next step following clean label and clean processing. Evergreen Packaging says need to make their packaging protect taste, freshness, and nutrients; align with ingredients; be responsible; and share values. Consumers felt that packaging should protect flavor: packaging like steel cans, aluminium cans, and plastic bottles were most cited as altering product flavor. In terms of consumer values, the environmental responsibility interests of many grocery shoppers go much deeper than the package itself and the label information. In addition to environmentally-friendly products and packaging, many shoppers expect brands and retailers to demonstrate social responsibility as a company.[Image Credit: © Daniel Albany from Pixabay]
Carol Wiley, "2019 Food Packaging Trends: Clean Packaging", Food Industry Executive, December 18, 2018, © Food Industry Executive
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Carcinogenic Synthetic Flavors Ordered Removed From Food Products

December 13, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA has ordered the removal of six artificial flavors from food products because they cause cancer in animals at doses far higher than what a person would consume. The six flavoring substances include synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The substances are being removed under the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The food industry has two years to comply, though the FDA believes the ingredients are safe in the trace amounts they are used. Neither the FDA nor the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association responded when asked for examples of products the six ingredients are used in. But they noted that the compounds have natural counterparts in foods like basil, coffee, grapes and peppermint, and that the action does not affect the naturally derived versions.[Image Credit: © U.S. Food and Drug Administration]
"Artificial flavors are mystery ingredients", Chicago Sun-Times, December 13, 2018, via The Associated Press, © The Associated Press
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Consumers Expect Colors – Artificial Or Not – In Their Foods

December 11, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Colors are important to food companies because, apparently, they’re important to consumers. Though big food companies like McDonald’s and Kellogg have promised to get rid of artificial dyes, they continue to use – or have reinstated – colorings because consumers want them. General Mills, for example, eliminated artificial colors from Trix, it added them back in last year after consumers demanded a return to the “classic” look. The cheddar cheeses sold by Boar’s Head, Cabot, Kraft, and Tillamook contain annatto, a plant extract commonly used for color.  Because salmon buyers expect salmon to be pink, farmed salmon is often fed synthetic astaxanthin, a version of a naturally occurring compound. It makes economic sense: darker salmon commands an extra 50 cents to $1 per pound when offered next to lighter salmon.[Image Credit: © Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay]
Candice Choi , "Artificial dyes fading, but food will still get color boosts", Associated Press, December 11, 2018, © The Associated Press
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McDonald’s In The Vanguard Of Movement To Reduce Antibiotics In Beef

December 11, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
With a nudge from the Natural Resources Defense Council, McDonald's announced it has told its beef suppliers around the world to cut back on the use of antibiotics beginning in 2019. Implementation will begin with pilot projects in ten markets around the world, including in the U.S. McDonald’s is the first big burger chain to launch such a policy, though other fast food leaders – Chipotle, Panera, Subway – have either cut antibiotic use in their beef supplies or have committed to do so. A spokesman for the NRDC said: “Nobody in the world sells more burgers than McDonald's, and their actions can shape the future of the industry.” Forty-three percent of medically important antibiotics sold to the U.S. livestock industry go to the beef sector, compared to only six percent for chicken.[Image Credit: © McDonald's]
"McDonald’s Commits To Reducing Antibiotic Use In Its Global Beef Supply", Natural Resources Defense Council , December 11, 2018, © Natural Resources Defense Council
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Irish Food Ingredient Company Licenses Enzyme That Reduces Acrylamide

December 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
The chemical compound acrylamide, a cumulative neurotoxin formed in brewed coffee and in starchy foods heated to high temperatures, such as chips and French fries, is being targeted by governments with regulations limiting its use and adding warning labels on foods and beverages. In the meantime, Irish food ingredient  company Kerry has signed a licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience Corp. to manufacture the company’s non-GMO acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme, Acryleast. The enzyme reduces acrylamide by up to 90 percent across food and beverage products, including biscuits, crackers, French fries, crisps, coffee, and instant food. According to Kerry, it is a clean label solution that requires minimal changes to the manufacturing process and has no impact on taste, aroma, or texture.[Image Credit: © Kerry Inc]
Katy Askew, "We anticipate great demand : Kerry and Renaissance BioSciences ink partnership on acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme", FoodNavigator.com, December 07, 2018, © William Reed Business Media
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Beverage Trends For 2019: A Health And Wellness Teme

December 5, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
The predominant trend in the beverage industry in 2019 is meeting consumer demand for products that support mental, physical, and environmental health, according to beverage developer Imbibe. The trend is reflected in the array of ingredients featured in reformulated and newly-developed beverages, including collagen, MCT oil, mushrooms, and functional botanicals. Functional beverages will contain superfood ingredients like turmeric, activated charcoal, matcha, melatonin, and aloe vera. Demand for overall wellness will be seen in product launches that Improve sleep, energy, cognitive function, beauty, weight loss and gut health, and oral or cardiovascular health. Look for more products containing cannabidiol (CBD), as well as more plant-based products, like coffee creamers and “milks.” Color and functionality merge in ingredients like blue algae, beet, matcha, butterfly pea flower tea, and purple tea – all “Instagram-friendly.” Other sub-trends: globally-inspired flavors, interest in textures, and concern for sustainability. 
Beth Newhart , "2019 beverage trends: Top predictions for the coming year", Beverage Daily, December 05, 2018, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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Gluten-Free Fans Should Consider Flours Made With Cassava, Teff

December 5, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Consumers with celiac disease who need to avoid gluten and others who are trying to eliminate gluten from their diet should look into using flour made from the root vegetable cassava or the African grain teff.  As consumers explore regional African and Latin American cuisines in the upcoming year, they may begin experimenting with cassava and teff flours.  A gluten-free eatery in Chicago bakes cheese into cassava flour, a staple in Ecuador, to make a cheese bread that is served at the restaurant. And the owner of an Ethiopian restaurant in Falls Church, Va., says that naturally gluten-free teff is a staple in her country. Meaza Zemedu says that in Ethiopia, they use teff to bake muffins, cakes, and bread.[Image Credit: © Brett Hondow from Pixabay]
Rasha Ali, "African, S. American foods go against grain", USA TODAY, December 05, 2018, © USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.
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House Lawmakers Urge FDA To Clearly Label Foods Containing Allergen Sesame

December 3, 2018: 12:00 AM EST

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) has sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of colleagues to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb urging the agency to require the clear labeling of sesame products because of the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies, and the risk of accidental exposure and allergic reactions under current regulations. According to Shea-Porter, sesame is the ninth most common food allergy among American adults and children, ranking just behind milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. However, allergic reactions to sesame can be even more severe than reactions to these eight allergens, the letter stated. Shea-Porter is the founder of the House of Representatives Asthma and Allergy Caucus.[Image Credit: © US Govt.]
"Shea-Porter Urges FDA to Label Sesame Products", Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), December 03, 2018, © US Govt.
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Once Considered Only Fit For Animals, Sorghum Makes Its Way Into The U.S. Diet

November 29, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Gluten-free fans take note: sorghum, a whole grain commonly used for animal feed and ethanol production, is starting to make its way into the human diet.  An abundant crop in the U.S. – the largest producer in the world – sorghum is known for its natural drought tolerance and versatility but is also nutritious and gluten-free. It has been introduced into a variety of popular American foods, including Kind bars, Kellogg's cereals, and Ronzoni pastas as an “ancient grain.” Research has shown that some types of sorghum are rich in antioxidants that may help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some neurological diseases.[Image Credit: © Vijaya narasimha from Pixabay]
Kristen Hicks-Roof and Diannette Osorio, "Sorghum finding its way into U.S. diet", Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), November 29, 2018, © GateHouse Media, LLC
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Lawsuits Claim AriZona Ice Tea Misleads Consumers About Ingredients, Labeling

November 29, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
AriZona Ice Tea’s parent company is being challenged in two federal lawsuits filed in New York courts that could achieve class-action status over issues related to ingredients and labeling. One suit accuses the company of “deceptively” labeling its drinks as having no preservative, despite containing the preservatives citric or ascorbic acids. The second suit accuses AriZona Beverages USA LLC and affiliate Beverage Marketing USA Inc. of misleading consumers about the amount of sugar and number of calories in their beverages by using a serving size of eight fluid ounces on its labels instead of the actual 16-ounce container size. Both lawsuits seek jury trials, unspecified monetary damages, legal costs, and court orders demanding that the company change its practices. AriZona Beverages did not respond to requests for comment.[Image Credit: © AriZona Beverages USA LLC]
Ken Schachter, "2 lawsuits over labels; AriZona Beverages is being challenged on 'no preservatives' and serving size", Newsday (New York), November 29, 2018, © Newsday
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The Science Of Tasty Whole Wheat Bread Marches On

November 18, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
The mission of wheat geneticists and other grain professionals at the Washington State University Bread Lab is to breed wheat for whole wheat flour that actually tastes good and that people would actually want to eat, not just satisfy a dietary recommendation. Breeding wheat for flavor is something of a new concept. Wheat breeders usually aim for traits like right height for mechanized harvesting, right texture for mechanized baking, and high yield. In their search for flavor, the Bread Lab researchers have identified one new wheat – Skagit 1109 – that makes a reliably tasty whole wheat bread called the “Approachable Loaf.” A group of 40 bakers, millers, breeders, and others met this summer to test-bake the loaf they've been discussing and fine-tuning for the last two years – with satisfying results.[Image Credit: © Pezibear from Pixabay]
Veronique Greenwood, "Science Makes Bread Taste Better", The Boston Globe, November 18, 2018, © skagit1109
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Some Very Popular Breads Feature Candy-Like Levels Of Added Sugar

November 9, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Added sugars should account for no more than ten percent of the average daily calorie count – about 2,000 – for Americans. It’s easy to consume those 200 sugar calories, however, if you eat bread made by companies like Martin’s, Dave’s Killer Bread, Vermont Bread, Wonder Bread, the Cheesecake Factory, Udi, Pepperidge Farm, Arnold, and others. Two slices of Martin’s Potato Bread, for example, deliver more sugar (six grams versus 4.7 grams) than a Twizzler. A slice of Dave's Killer Bread’s Raisin' the Roof has six grams of sugar. The Cheesecake Factory's "Famous 'Brown Bread” has about the same amount of sugar as a nibble of its cheesecake. A sandwich made with Freihofer's 100 percent Whole Wheat Bread has the same amount of sugar as a Jolly Rancher. And so on. [Image Credit: © Sornram Srithong]
Allie Lembo , "12 breads that have more sugar than candy", Business Insider, November 09, 2018, © Insider Inc.
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Lonza Now Offers Clean-Label Colors For Its Vegetarian Supplement Capsules

November 7, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Greenwood, S.C.-based pharmaceutical and biotech ingredient supplier Lonza is now offering diet supplement manufacturers its plant-based Capsugel Vcaps Plus in a range of clean label colors. The vegetarian capsules have been around for a while, but coloring the shell has previously required an E-number. The new food-colored capsules, labeled as natural colorants in the U.S., allow manufacturers to create bright-colored supplements that also appeal to consumers looking for supply chain transparency and a “natural” claim. The capsule shell is made using plant-based hypromellose (HPMC) and water only, without any preservatives. The first of Lonza’s clean label solutions is the Vcaps Plus Purple Carrot capsule, following the successful introduction of the Vcaps Plus Blue Spirulina capsule in Europe earlier this year. [Image Credit: © Lonza]
"Lonza Adds Color to the Clean-Label Experience ", Lonza, November 07, 2018, © Lonza
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Consumer Food Choices Change As Perceptions Of What’s Healthful Change

November 1, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers are increasingly taking on a more personalized, holistic view of health, making food and beverage choices – e.g., natural, organic, high-protein, functional – based on their personal definition of health. But they may still reconsider restaurant orders if they think an item has too many calories. These views have implications for restaurants, especially as some are now required to post calorie counts and consumers increasingly rely on foodservice for meals. Other key findings: 40 percent of consumers say their definition of health has changed over the past two years; 66 percent look for calorie counts on restaurant menus; and 34 percent are likely to order dishes made with vegetables instead of carb-rich items.[Image Credit: © Winsight, LLC.]
"Consumers increasingly making food choices based on personal definition of health ", PRNewswire, November 01, 2018, © PR Newswire Association LLC
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Functional Beverage Company Karuna Revamps Recipes, Packaging As It Seeks Wider Distribution

October 19, 2018: 12:00 AM EST
Year-old beverage start-up Karuna is launching a redesigned brand and hopes to expand distribution over the next 12 months. The line features revamped formulation and packaging designed that highlights the products’ functional benefits, wholesome ingredients, and gut health-boosting prebiotics. The company’s six SKUs, which debuted last year in St. louis-area Whole Foods Market locations, have different ingredients to emphasize unique needs reflected in the flavor names: Boost, Focus, Pro-Fit, Empower, Rejuvenate, and Detox. Boost, for example, is a coffee blend made with black sesame and coconut. Other product ingredients include turmeric, coconut, cacao, chestnut, pear, oats, flaxseed, banana, cinnamon, black soybean, quinoa, flaxseed, mango, goji berry, lemon, red dates, grape, kiwi, watermelon, aronia berry, and mung bean sprouts. Each $3.99 12 oz. bottle – from 45 to 150 calories per bottle – is USDA certified organic and Non-GMO project verified.
Brad Avery , "Karuna Aims to Balance Flavor and Function with Rebranded Line", BevNET.com, October 19, 2018, © BevNET.com
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