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Filipino Cuisine Set To Become A National Sensation, If Only You Could Find It

May 11, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A celebrity chef quoted in People magazine, as well writers in other publications, have declared the next big food craze: Filipino cuisine. The reason is that Filipino dishes, influenced by Asian, Spanish and Mexican cooking, are still somehow “adventurous and new”. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to find. Sacramento food writer Chris Macias had a hard time tracking down Filipino restaurants in his town, despite a large Asian, including Filipino, population. Most of the Filipino eateries are small mom-and-pop businesses, many serving their specialties cafeteria style. Finding more upscale Filipino cuisine requires a visit to the Bay area, where restaurants serving “modern Filipino fare” are more numerous.
Chris Macias, "Filipino food: The next big thing in Asian cuisine?", The Sacramento Bee, May 11, 2014, © The Sacramento Bee
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Schools Seek Slower Enforcement Of Healthful Lunch Mandates

May 5, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Schools trying to provide healthful school lunches are feeling the blowback from disgruntled students who, for example, mostly turn up their noses at the nutritious whole grain pastas that are available. The problem is, beginning in the fall, U.S. schools are required to provide whole grain rolls, biscuits, pizza crust, tortillas and even grits in the cafeterias. So schools are asking Congress and the USDA to rescind or slow down some of the requirements because, they say, there just aren’t enough  products on the market that kids like. The School Nutrition Association has asked lawmakers and regulators to require only that half of foods be whole grain-rich. They also want the 2017 sodium requirements postponed and the fruit and vegetable requirement eliminated.
Mary Clare Jalonick, "Schools seek changes to healthier lunch rules", Yahoo! News, May 05, 2014, via Associated Press, © The Associated Press/Yahoo!
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Developers Of Lab-Grown Meat Products Face A Tough Market

April 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The founder of a company developing lab-engineered meat and leather products – a.k.a., cultured, test tube, in vitro or, less charitably, “frankenmeat” – recently conducted taste tests of his “steak chips” at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. Tasters seemed to like the stuff, one comparing it favorably to “a thin piece of beef jerky”. But entrepreneur Andras Forgacs and others like him face an uphill battle for market acceptance. A recent Pew survey found that four out of five Americans – increasingly picky eaters paying closer attention to food sources and ingredients – said cultured meat was neither natural nor appealing and they would not eat it.
Brandon Griggs, "How test-tube meat may be the future of food", KSPR, April 30, 2014, © CNN NewSource/Schurz Communications Inc.
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USDA Reports Continued Stability In Per Capita Wheat Flour Consumption

April 30, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
After a long period of decline in per capita wheat flour consumption – and stagnating growth in total usage – in the early years of this century, per capita consumption in the U.S. has taken a turn for the better, according to the USDA. Per capita disappearance of wheat flour – total wheat flour divided by the average monthly population – in 2013 was about 135 lbs., up a little from 134.4 in 2012, and about the same as in 2009 and 2010. In light of these numbers, World-Grain.com says, “it is tempting to declare” the past five years “as one of the longest times of steadiness in per capita consumption [of wheat flour] in modern history”.
World Grain Staff, "Per capita US flour disappearance steady", World-Grain.com, April 30, 2014, © Sosland Publishing Co.
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Celebrity Chef Goldman Unveils “Cake-In-A-Jar” To Satisfy Decadent Tastes

April 29, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The idea of making meals in a jar – breakfasts, soups, salads, pasta dishes, etc. – has been floating around for awhile, and lots of recipes are available. Now a celebrity chef has dreamed up a meal-in-a-jar in the dessert category: layers of buttercream cake hand-packed into Mason jars. TV personality Duff Goldman’s Cake-In-A-Jar is shipped in 2-pack, 4-pack and 6-pack sizes with a personalized note from the chef himself. The cakes are available in four flavors, including vanilla topped with vanilla buttercream, confetti with vanilla buttercream, chocolate with chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips and marble with chocolate and vanilla buttercream. Six-packs range in price from $42 to $60.
"Duff Goldman Launches Cake-In-A-Jar At Duff's Cakemix In Los Angeles ", News release, Duff's Cakemix, April 29, 2014, © Duff's Cakemix
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Online Organic Food Company Offers Internet Shopping, Home Delivery

April 28, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Entrepreneurs in the burgeoning online food delivery business admit their stores won’t totally replace the brick-and-mortar variety. But, they say, online stores will succeed because they offer more options for shoppers. The man who runs Door to Door Organics – the shop online plus home delivery operation will reach $40 million in sales this year – says people still need to run to the grocery store for things, but they won’t spend as much time there. Chad Arnold sees millennials as the target market because they already buy a lot online – “why not food”? The company operates in five states, but serves ten, offering locally-sourced organic meat, dairy and fresh produce. The free-delivery, no customer commitment formula is working very well so far.
Elaine Watson, "Door to Door Organics: Millennials are buying pretty much everything else online. Why not food?", Food Navigator-USA, April 28, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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In The Game Of Healthy Nutrition, Snacks Provided At Youth Sports Events Strike Out

April 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Children who participate in organized youth sports like baseball usually benefit from the increased physical activity, social interaction and other positive health behaviors. But they are also increasing their risk for being overweight or obese because of the constant exposure to junk food, U.S. researchers report. The observational study tracked foods consumed by players (boys ages 8 to 12) and family members during 12 games at a youth baseball field in North Carolina. Most of the snacks provided at concession stands were high-calorie food items like French fries, candy and cookies. Most beverages were sugar-sweetened. The findings suggest that Little Leaguers may be leaving the ball park having consumed more calories than they expended.
Irby, Megan B. et al., "The Food Environment of Youth Baseball. Childhood Obesity", Childhood Obesity, April 24, 2014, © Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
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More Younger Consumers Admit They “Got Milk”, Thanks To Enhanced Protein Content

April 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Consumption of liquid milk has been dropping in the U.S. since the 1940s. The number of consumers who drank milk three or more times a day fell from 13 percent in 1977-78 to four percent in 2007-08, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. But the fluid milk market may be turning around, thanks to a “flurry of innovation in the cow’s milk sector” that is addressing America’s burgeoning interest in functional foods. Market researchers find that protein- and calcium-enriched milks have attracted consumers aged 15 to 34 looking to boost protein intake. Examples of the new product trend include a Swedish milk that boasts 50 percent more protein, a Japanese milk that claims 1.8 times the protein in regular milk, and an American milk that promises 30 percent more protein and 30 percent less sugar.
Tom Vierhile, "Focus: Could flurry of NPD revive liquid milk sales?", Just-Food, April 24, 2014, © just-food.com
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Vermont’s GMO Food Labeling Legislation Likely To Be Challenged

April 23, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to sign a bill passed by the legislature that requires food labels to clearly state the GMO ingredients in foods produced in the state. The law, which would go into effect on July 1, 2016, includes the requirement that products with GMO ingredients cannot claim to be “natural”. However, meat and dairy products from animals fed GMO feed need not be labeled GMO. And the law does not apply to medical foods or restaurant foods. While the law was welcomed by anti-GMO groups, some legal experts say it is highly likely it will face a 1st Amendment challenge.
Elaine Watson, "Vermont GMO labeling bill heads to governor's desk. But can it withstand a First Amendment challenge?", Nutra Ingredients-usa.com, April 23, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Vitamin D Deficiency Among Seniors Linked To Cognitive Decline

April 22, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study adds to the mounting evidence that vitamin D deficiency in seniors is associated with cognitive decline over time. The researchers looked at 2,777 well-functioning adults aged 70 to 79 whose cognitive performance was measured at the start of the study and again four years later. Vitamin D levels were measured at the 12-month follow-up visit. Low vitamin D was associated with worse cognitive performance on one of the two cognitive tests used. The researchers were careful to point out they could not determine a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but there was enough associative data to support a campaign to increase vitamin D supplementation among the elderly.
Valerie K. Wilson et al., "Relationship Between 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and Cognitive Function in Older Adults: The Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. ", Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, April 22, 2014, © Wilson et al.
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Study Associates Drop In Salt Intake With Fewer Heart Disease Deaths In U.K.

April 21, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
An analysis of data from 31,500 health surveys conducted in the U.K. over eight years finds a connection between a drop in salt consumption and in heart disease deaths. Between 2003 and 2011, daily salt intake fell by an average of 1.4 g, or about 15 percent. During the same period, stroke deaths fell by 42 percent and coronary heart disease deaths fell 40 percent. In addition, risk factors for cardiovascular disease also fell, including average cholesterol, blood pressure, and smoking. Average weight (body mass index) rose, and fruit and vegetable consumption rose slightly.
F. J. He et al., "Salt reduction in England from 2003 to 2011: its relationship to blood pressure, stroke and ischemic heart disease mortality. ", BMJ Open, April 21, 2014, © He et al.
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Writer Lists Top Functional Food Trends Of 2014

April 21, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Americans who once relied heavily on nutritional supplements are switching to fortified and functional foods, according to a food writer who studied industry reports to compile a list of functional food trends. One report found that 90 percent of adults made a strong effort to consume more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, herbs/botanicals and include more fish/oil/omega-3s in their diets. Probiotics are playing a key role in efforts to maintain a healthy digestive system and boost the immune system. Other trends: interest in recognizable and natural ingredients; Hispanic interest in functional foods; emphasis on protein eating; and reliance on functional foods to prevent heart disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and type 2 diabetes.
A. Elizabeth Sloan, "The Top Ten Functional Food Trends", Food Technology, April 21, 2014, © Institute of Food Technologists
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The Simple Bundt Cake – On The Rise Again

April 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A new dessert trend might be on the rise – if a Tulsa, Okla., baker has her way. The Bundt cake – baked in the familiar ring-shaped pan invented by Nordic Ware – is at the same time easy to make and versatile. The revival of the Bundt cake seems to have a lot to do with baby boomer nostalgia for the 1960s, when the cakes became popular after someone’s creation won a Pillsbury Bake-Off. Though basically simple, Bundt cakes can be as fancy as desired, filled with cream centers, glazed, covered with sprinkles, or soaked with flavorings – the “perfect last-minute dessert for anyone”, says Susan Bohannon, a founder of the T-Town Cake Club.  
Nicole Marshall Middleton , "Bundt cakes are back: Try new recipes and an old favorite", Tulsa World, April 20, 2014, © BH Media Group Holdings, Inc.
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Advisories To Pregnant Women About Persistent Contaminants Are Mostly Ineffective

April 17, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Canadian and Swedish researchers have found that advising pregnant women about the potential dangers to infants of exposure to quickly eliminated contaminants in fish – e.g., mercury – are generally effective. But advisories don’t work well when it comes to “persistent organic pollutants”: chemicals such as DDT and PCBs banned long ago but still in the environment and the food chain. Persistent pollutants can remain in the body for years, even decades because the human body has a difficult time eliminating them. Women who stop eating fish shortly before or during their pregnancy may only lower their child's exposure to persistent pollutants by 10 to 15 percent.
Matthew J. Binnington et al., "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Consumption Advisories: Modeling Prenatal, Postnatal, and Childhood Exposures to Persistent Organic Pollutants. ", Environmental Health Perspectives, April 17, 2014, © Binnington et al.
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Food For Thought: High-Protein Could Help Bakers Compete With Gluten-Free

April 17, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The debut of high-protein breads took place in Germany, but is now spreading around the world. Adding more protein to breads would allow baking companies to claim greater satiety, and to offer a nutritional benefit that would help them compete with the gluten-free and low-carb phenomena. According to a Euromonitor analyst, bakeries could benefit from a combination of high-protein and gluten-free that would appeal to health-conscious consumers, especially in the U.S. A key consideration in the success of higher-protein breads is getting the flavor profile just right.
Kacey Culliney , "High-protein bread could bake up a storm: Euromonitor", Bakery and Snacks, April 17, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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The South’s “Groom’s Cake” Is Catching On Outside Of The Old Confederacy

April 17, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The so-called “groom’s cake” – a century-old Southern tradition – is probably the only thing the groom has a say in at weddings. And it may originate Down South, but one Houston-area baker says it is catching on around the U.S. as friends share photos of their receptions online. The groom’s cake is an opportunity for the bit player in the nuptial extravaganza to express himself, usually by showcasing his alma mater. But the cake also typifies the groom’s personality, showing his love of sports, music, fishing, hunting, cars, etc., according to one baker. Pete Hobi of Alphorn Bakery recently created an edible version of the 100,119-seat Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin. “An ambitious feat,” Hobi said: the cake fed 400 wedding guests.
Craig Hlavaty, "Groom’s cakes are big business during wedding season", Houston Chronicle, April 17, 2014, © Hearst Newspapers, LLC
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Dietary Supplement Use Is More Prevalent Than Reported By National Surveys

April 14, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) have tended to underreport use of dietary supplements in the U.S., according to a study, because they often ignore occasional and seasonal use. In fact, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of adult Americans could be supplement users, and more than half (53 percent) are regular users. One of the researchers called dietary supplement usage “a mainstream practice”. Supplement users do not use these products as a way to avoid eating right or exercising, researchers said. In fact, they are “health conscious individuals trying to do all the right things to be healthy”. They said the NHANES surveys are faulty because they capture usage only in the 30 days prior to the respondents’ interviews.
Annette Dickinson et al., "Consumer Usage and Reasons for Using Dietary Supplements: Report of a Series of Surveys", Taylor & Francis Online, April 14, 2014, © Informa UK Limited
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Blueberries Gaining Ground On Competitor Snack Fruits Strawberries, Cherries, Grapes

April 12, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Euromonitor says that though grapes remain the most popular berry for snacking – they outsold cranberries/blueberries by 30 to one (by weight) in 2013 – cranberries/blueberries are catching up quickly. Between 2008 and2013, global fresh grape volume sales rose 14 percent, while cranberries/blueberries sales rose 32 percent. Blueberries especially have blossomed in consumer appeal, thanks to their status as a “super fruit” in terms of nutrients, but also to their simplicity and convenience for snacking. The top five markets driving cranberry/blueberry growth in 2013 were Australia, Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Venezuela. The U.S., the world’s largest market for cranberries/blueberries, was stagnant thanks to saturation.
Simone Baroke, "Blueberries the Most Dynamic Fruit in 2013", Report, Euromonitor International, April 12, 2014, © Euromonitor International
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Dieters, Who Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Shun “Diet” Foods And Beverages

April 10, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Once fixated on calories and weight loss, dieters have taken a new tack. They still want to lose weight, but they don’t want to feel deprived. They’re tired of foods that provide only short-lived satisfaction. They’re thinking that eating foods with more protein or fat will keep them from binge eating later, even if they might be higher in calories. The trend is seen in so-called diet foods: sales of Special K cereal are down seven percent since 2012; sales of Nestle's Lean Cuisine dropped 27 percent in the past four years; and sales of Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi fell seven percent in 2013. All of these brands are making adjustments to their product lines to counter the trend.
Candice Choi, "Dieters move past calories, food makers follow", The Big Story, April 10, 2014, © The Associated Press
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In A Time Of Food Scarcity Around The Globe, European Retailers Waste Megatons Of Produce

April 6, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
To demonstrate the magnitude of produce wastage by European retailers, Feeding the 5000 and partner organizations prepared free lunches in Brussels on April 1 with edible food about to be discarded for frivolous reasons. Tons of produce from as far away as East Africa were used to prepare the meals. In Kenya farmers were found to be trashing 40 percent of what they grew because of  “unfair and unnecessary trading practices” of European supermarkets. Waste handlers who collect unwanted edible produce must guarantee in writing that none of the “green waste” will be used to feed people. Produce is discarded because European retailers have cancelled a forecast demand at the last minute, or because the produce has not met “ultra-fussy cosmetic standards”.
"Fill bellies, not bins!", News release, EurActive, April 06, 2014, © EurActiv.com PLC
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Several Functional Ingredient Benefits Of “Spread” Derived From Rice Bran Oil

April 2, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
USDA food scientists have developed a way to produce a semisolid material from crude rice bran oil that food manufacturers can use as a stable and healthful functional ingredient in cooking oils and baked goods. The material, termed a “spread” by the researchers, is rich in phytosterols that can be used to boost antioxidants in cooking oils and extend their useful life by making them oxidatively stable. Sensory studies showed that the spread can substitute for some of the butter or margarine in bread or granola. “This spread might be suitable for further development into a functional food that is allergen-free, trans-fat free, and high in antioxidants,” the researchers concluded.
Erica L. Bakota et al., "Evaluation of a rice bran oil-derived spread as a functional ingredient", Wiley Online Library, April 02, 2014, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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“Slow Food” Movement Expands Its Horizons As It Grows Locally

March 25, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The “slow food” movement, which began with the idea of revitalizing food varieties and flavors in an era of industrialized food, has broadened its focus in recent years. The Slow Food organization itself, with chapters in 100 countries, is now about sustainability, local community and connecting. The 13-year-old Austin, Texas, chapter, for example, comprises artisans, farmers markets, urban farms and locally-driven cafes. It advises the city council on getting city government, nonprofit organizations, and food and farming businesses talking about sustainable growing, sourcing and eating. The end result is that “people become more connected with local food sources that align with our values”, according to Slow Food Austin’s communications director.
"Slow food movement speeds up sustainable eating", USA Today, March 25, 2014, © USA Today/Gannett
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U.K. Ramps Up Program To Reduce Salt Intake

March 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The British government has launched a major initiative to get consumers and the food industry to further reduce salt consumption. The goal of the initiative, spearheaded by the Department of Health, is to reach a long-term target of no more than six grams of salt per person per day. Health officials said 53 percent of Britons “rarely or never” think about salt content when buying food, though 86 percent know that eating too much salt is unhealthy. The initiative calls for revising the 2012 salt targets for the food industry by the end of the year; catering and take-out businesses to set new maximum salt targets for foods like sandwiches and chips; and food companies to provide more low-salt options.
"Government Drive To Help Cut Salt Consumption By A Quarter", News release, The Food & Drink Innovation Network, March 24, 2014, © Food & Drink Innovation Network
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Consumers Who Understand The Nutritional Benefits Accept Marine-Derived Functional Foods

March 24, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A study conducted by scientists at Ireland’s functional seafood research program found that while consumers were acquainted with the health benefits of eating fish and seafood, they were not familiar with “functional foods”. Once the nutritional science was explained, consumers were receptive to the idea of bioactive ingredients from seaweeds and crab shells being incorporated into foods such as bread and yogurt. Consumers viewed marine-derived functional foods and ingredients positively, as long as correct terminology and language were used to communicate the benefits. The researchers said marketing campaigns that apply “careful use of language” will play a major part in further consumer acceptance.
"Language is Key in Communicating the Potential Benefits of Marine-Derived Functional Foods and Ingredients", News release, Teagasc, March 24, 2014, © Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority
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Euromonitor Sees Major Role For Stevia As Soft Drink Sugar Replacement

March 21, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A Euromonitor analyst says that reformulation of one in five soft drinks by replacing sugar with stevia would result in significant reductions in annual calorie consumption. By replacing the sugar with stevia in just 20 percent of carbonated beverages, a person who drank two 12-oz. cans a day would reduce the annual intake of calories by 6,132. Analyst Diana Cowland says that cutting the sugar in half of carbonated beverages would result in a drop of 10,147 calories a year for a person drinking two cans a day. Replacing sugar with stevia in beverages is the “best opportunity for manufacturers” to help people reduce their sugar and calorie intake – “an area of high interest to consumers and manufacturers alike”.
Diana Cowland, "Reformulation of carbonated drinks could slash more than 6,000 calories per year", Food Navigator, March 21, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Supplements Are Not The Only Viable Source Of Healthful Vitamin E

March 21, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Vitamin E has been shown to improve age-related diseases and conditions, like Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. That fact, and the growing proportion of older people in the world, led Swiss vitamin supplier DSM to recently call for a substantial increase in the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin E. But supplements are not the only viable source, Euromonitor says. The two most common food sources are gamma-tocopherol – found in corn oil, soybean oil and margarine – and alpha-tocopherol, found in wheat germ oil, sunflower and safflower oils, as well as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. According to Euromonitor, in 2012 nearly 1,500 tons of vitamin E were consumed in food and drink products, of which 40 percent came from oils and fats.
Diana Cowland, "Increasing Vitamin E Intake: No Need to Rely Solely on Supplements", Euromonitor International, March 21, 2014, © Euromonitor International
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China’s Lax Food Safety Enforcement Drives Western Retailers To Take Action

March 20, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Inadequate government oversight of the food processing industry in China has forced Western food retailers like Walmart and Carrefour to take inspection matters into their own hands.  Walmart, for example, is boosting supplier inspections after a recent donkey meat recall – the meat turned out to contain fox DNA – and now conducts more DNA tests of meat in China than it does anywhere else in the world. The company expects to spend $16 million over three years to increase food safety in China after being stung by previous scandals there. The FDA is beefing up its inspection presence in China as well. The best solution, however, would be for the Chinese food processing industry to take more responsibility in food safety and for the government to strengthen its enforcement of standards.
Liza Lin , "Keeping the Mystery Out of China's Meat", Bloomberg Businessweek, March 20, 2014, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Eating More Pasta To Save Money At The Grocery Store? Try Asian Flavors For Variety

March 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Economizing consumers who are spending more of their food budget on pasta, but are a little tired of Italian-style, tomato-based dinners, might want to try Asian recipes. Food writer Ellen Brown says it’s a great way to save money while boosting vegetable content of meals. Asian food markets (and larger grocery stores) will have the necessary ingredients: egg noodles or spaghetti, toasted sesame oil, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms, rice paper pancakes, fresh ginger, scallions, snow peas, baby bok choy, thin Japanese eggplants and shallots. The key to Asian cooking? Slice thinly ahead of time and stir fry quickly.
Ellen Brown, "Cost-Buster Cooking: Asian-flavor pasta is flavorful, fast and fun", The Providence Journal, March 19, 2014, © The Providence Journal Co
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Foodservice Traffic Up And Down Around The Globe

March 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Foodservice traffic fell slightly in Canada, Italy, Spain, China and the U.S. in the last calendar quarter of 2013, mainly because of “challenging economies” and “low consumer confidence”, according to researcher NPD Group. The opposite was true for Russia, Great Britain and Australia, where foodservice traffic rose in the same period, due to nice weather, improved economies and “a burgeoning foodservice market”. (Traffic in Russia rose a healthy seven percent.)  NPD said quick service restaurants, on-premises dining, and chains powered growth in the strongest markets. Many markets were held back by a weak quick service segment.
"Russia, Great Britain, and Australia Lead in Foodservice Traffic Growth in Last Quarter of 2013", NPD Group, March 19, 2014, © The NPD Group, Inc.
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The Healthy Lifestyle Choice Drives Consumers To “Free From” Foods

March 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Research from Packaged Facts shows that food products labeled fat-free, sugar-free, salt-free, gluten-free, etc. – the “free from” product segment – is growing in popularity among consumers even though they are not under doctor’s orders to avoid certain ingredients. American and other consumers are making healthy lifestyle choices rather than medical or religious choices when they buy “free from” products. Food manufacturers were quick to adapt to the trend: they’ve been reformulating products to get rid of fat, sugar and salt for years. But Packaged Facts says opportunities are still there for companies to become more active in producing ‘free from’ foods.
"'Free From' Food Product Trend Gains Popularity", Nutraceuticals World, March 19, 2014, © Rodman Media.
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Researcher Figures Out How To Gather Grocery Checkout Data To Target Public Health Interventions

March 16, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A researcher in Canada has devised a way to gather consumer purchase data from grocery store checkouts that public health agencies can use to determine where people tend to eat unhealthy foods and perhaps focus diet improvement interventions. It’s a public health issue because the direct health costs of diseases associated with obesity total $1.8 billion – a “huge toll both on lives and public finances”. Data gathered from store scanners in Montreal in 2008 and 2010 showed, for example, that for each $10,000 decrease in median personal income, there was a fivefold increase in estimated monthly sales of soft drinks.
Karen Seidman, "What you buy at grocery store now a clue for food researchers", Montreal Gazette, March 16, 2014, © The Montreal Gazette
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Innovation Breathes Life Into Moribund RTE Breakfast Cereal, Snack Bar Markets

March 14, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Ready-to-eat (RTE) breakfast cereals got a long-awaited sales boost in 2013 from granola-based – and other seed-packed cereals – and Greek yogurt products that were able to claim high protein content, a major interest of consumers concerned about weight management and muscle building. Other innovations and trends showing up on Datamonitor’s breakfast cereals and snacks radar: increased breakfast product portability, including hot cereals in lidded cups and resealable pouches; snack bars with “added value” (i.e., premium ingredients like nuts, fruits, ancient grains, etc.) and Greek yogurt bars; savory and spicy flavors; high-protein snack bars, including some with meat or alternative proteins; and, lastly, breakfast biscuits.
Tom Vierhile, "A Healthy Start with Cereals and Bars", Prepared Foods, March 14, 2014, © BNP Media
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Nut/Seed Snack Launches Rise, Due To Health Claims

March 12, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Market researcher Innova reports that nuts and seeds accounted for more than 37 percent of new snack launches in 2013, up from 32 percent in 2008. Savory and salty snacks continued to dominate the category with 63 percent of launches. The main reason for the increase in new nut/seed snacks is the growing perception that nuts and seeds are nutritious and convenient. A third of global launches – 60 percent in the U.S. – of nut/seed snacks in 2013 used health as a marketing theme. About 19 percent of nut launches made organic, natural or additive-/preservative-free claims. Other popular claims were fiber, protein and low-sodium.
"Innovative Positioning Drives Nuts Market Forward", Nutraceuticals World, March 12, 2014, © Rodman Media
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Plain Old Toast Gets A Makeover

March 12, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Toast as an entrée and appetizer is a food trend born in a coffee shop in San Francisco that spread rapidly throughout the city and across the U.S. It has caught on, for example, in Chattanooga, Tenn, according to food writer Anne Braly. The owner of local shop Niedlov’s Breadworks says restaurants in town buy his bread fresh daily and use it for appetizers and for meals like sourdough toast topped with pimento cheese, and toasted baguettes with beef tartare. A Minneapolis restaurant has a separate toast menu that features toppings like warmed camembert, grilled savoy cabbage and kale, salmon, mustard sauce and pickled cucumbers, and beef tartare.
by Anne Braly , "Side Orders: Toast becomes trendy", Times Free Press, March 12, 2014, © Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.
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FDA May Drop Some Stick Margarine Products From GRAS List

March 11, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA recently proposed removal of some processed food products – including stick margarines – containing partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) from the list of foods generally recognized as safe (GRAS) because they contain high levels of trans fats, a significant contributor to heart disease and cardiac deaths. The industry association representing margarine manufacturers has advised against that move because most margarine products contain no partially hydrogenated oils and “margarine is not a significant contributor of trans fats to the American diet”. The National Association of Margarine Manufacturers said soft spread margarine is the “healthiest buttery spread option”, especially compared to real butter that is high in unhealthy saturated fat.
"National Association of Margarine Manufacturers Asks FDA to Report the Facts: Margarine Products are No Longer a Major Source of Trans Fat", News release, NAMM, March 11, 2014, © NAMM
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Data Show Americans Love Eating Breakfast At Quick Service Restaurants

March 11, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Americans are eating more of their breakfasts in restaurants, but increasingly avoiding them for lunch and dinner, according to data collected by NPD Group. This is the fourth year in a row that U.S. consumers have increased their breakfast restaurant visits, about four out of five of which occur at fast-food outlets. Breakfast visits increased three percent to 12.5 billion, though midscale/family restaurants saw a three percent decline. The upward trend will continue: overall restaurant breakfast visits are forecast to grow by seven percent over the next nine years, with fast-food traffic expected to rise nine percent.
"Breakfast Restaurant Visits Grow While Lunch and Dinner Visits Decline, Reports NPD", Report, NPD Group, March 11, 2014, © The NPD Group, Inc.
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Economy Dampens Herbal Supplement Launches, But Industry Still Optimistic

March 11, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The economic slowdown has significantly dampened new herbal supplement launches, which peaked at 319 in 2008 but dropped to a mere 106 last year, according to the Natural Marketing Institute. There is still reason for optimism, mainly because herbal supplement users tend to be fanatics: they are loyal and they buy a lot of product, compared to the average supplement buyer. Thirty-six million American adults said they used  herbal supplements in 2013, up 33 percent from 2011. The higher usage may be due to another encouraging trend: the younger generation is much more likely to believe that herbs are safe and effective. Forty percent of millennials say herbal supplements are very safe and 35 percent believe them to be very effective, compared to19 percent and 8 percent respectively for “matures”.
Hank Schultz , "Future looks increasingly bright for herbal supplements, market researcher says", Nutra-ingredients USA, March 11, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Restaurants Hope Esoteric Grains Will Draw Diners, Boost Sales

March 10, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Sprouted grains are making their way onto restaurant menus, partly as a response to adverse market trends, but also to a growing consumer interest in esoteric ingredients. After a successful test, Panera Bread Co., is rolling out a sprouted-grain bagel made with rye, spelt and oat groats. Though it may seem like “hippie” food to older patrons, Panera and other chains see sprouted grains as an answer to a prayer. Competition has been stiffer recently, consumer spending has slowed. Restaurants have had to innovate to attract customers and energize sales. A market researcher calls sprouted grains a “good direction” for chain eateries because “grains have a very positive halo to consumers”.
Leslie Patton , "‘Hippie’ Grains Thrive as Panera Looks Beyond Whole Wheat", Bloomberg, March 10, 2014, © Bloomberg L.P.
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McDonald’s Hopes Mini-Pastries Will Give A Jolt To Its Breakfast Business

March 10, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s is testing a small pastry that it hopes will give its breakfast and snack time business a badly-needed shot in the arm. McCafé Petite Pastries are freshly baked layers of dough made with butter and either raspberry (110 calories) or cinnamon (160 calories) cream cheese filling. The pastries are priced at $1.99 for two, or $1.29 with a drink. They “fit nicely’ in the breakfast and snack time “dayparts”, growing time slots for fast-food chains. McDonald’s and other companies have felt competitive pressure from Starbucks and others that serve their own breakfast and snack foods. The result is a need to expand the menu and be more creative to boost sales.
Katherine Poythress, "Can pastries boost McDonald's breakfast sales?", The San Diego Union-Tribune , March 10, 2014, © The San Diego Union-Tribune, LLC. An MLIM LLC Company
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Careful Packaging Of High-Protein Foods And Drinks Is Key To Capturing Buyers

March 5, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A packaging innovation expert advises food companies to take a “holistic” approach to developing and packaging new products targeting consumers looking for high-protein snacks, beverages and food products. A holistic approach can ensure greater product differentiation on the shelf and accelerate the product purchase decision. The approach requires companies to closely examine consumer needs along with channel and supply chain alternatives early in the product development process. It is important to determine consumer purchasing drivers and motivations. With nearly 60 percent of American shoppers considering protein content when buying packaged food or drinks, it's important to remember that “packaging often brings the consumer the deepest brand experience,” says Lisa Baer.
Lisa Baer, "High-protein products: The new American superstars", Packaging World, March 05, 2014, © Summit Media Group, Inc.
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To Have And Have Not: Food Shoppers Prefer “Have Not” – Gluten, GMO, etc. – Research Finds

March 5, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The “have-not” theme is dominating consumer grocery preferences these days, according to MamboTrack Research. Brands claiming non-GMO were slightly more preferred in a consumer survey over organic. Also popular were brands proclaiming gluten-free. Eighty percent of those surveyed said they look for the non-GMO claim when they shop for food, with 56 percent saying it was “key to brand buying”. Fifty-two percent said they looked for organic, the first time non-GMO ranked higher than organic in consumer preferences.  "From non-GMO to gluten free to ABF (antibiotic free), shoppers are seeking transparency and reading labels focusing more on what's not in the products they buy," the researcher said.   
"Non-GMO Trumps Organic in 2014 Market LOHAS MamboTrack Survey", News release, MamboTrack, March 05, 2014, © MamboTrack
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Proposed FDA Changes In Food Labeling Worry Smaller Food Companies

March 5, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Nutrition-facts labeling on food items, first required by the FDA in 1993, is about to undergo a major transformation for the first time in years. Big food companies can easily absorb the costs of label changes. Not so for smaller companies. If ingredients aren’t analyzed or listed correctly – a costly, time-consuming job – they risk fines and lawsuits. Big food firms have been quiet so far about the proposals to require calorie counts in larger type and show added sugars. But small companies are agonizing over them. The owner of Tate’s Bake Shop in New York, for example, says new printing plates for labels would cost $100 per product, or $5,000 for the 50 varieties of cookies, bars, brownies and other desserts that come in different sizes, weights and flavors.
Rhonda Colvin and Annie Gasparro, "Nutrition-Label Proposal Stirs Up Small Companies", The Wall Street Journal, March 05, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Kellogg Expands Further Beyond Flake Cereals With High-Fiber Product Containing Pepita Seeds

March 5, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A new breakfast cereal – Fibrelicious muesli with pepita seeds – from Kellogg Australia marks the company’s entry into the so-called “superfood” market and a further expansion beyond flake cereals. A Datamonitor analyst says Kellogg is acknowledging consumer perception that traditional breakfast cereals high in calories and sugar are not a particularly healthy way to start the day. The fiber-rich whole grain oats muesli product joins Kellogg’s All-Bran product family and will be available in resealable pouches. The new product family should satisfy consumer interest in seeds and ancient grains like quinoa and chia. The analyst said the addition of the muesli option to the Kellogg line gives consumers “the ability to address [health and fiber content] with a brand that they trust”.
Annie-Rose Harrison-Dunn, "Kellogg muesli launch taps into ‘superfood’ trend", Bakery and Snacks, March 05, 2014, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Global Diet May Be Diversifying, But It’s Based Increasingly On A Handful Of Super-Crops

March 4, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
A scientist at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture says his analysis of 50 years of data shows that while diets around the world are diversifying, the foods eaten are increasingly Westernized and dependent on a small number of crops. The shift is due to increased international trade and urbanization – greater access to supermarkets and fast food, less time to cook, and no room for gardens. The upshot is that people are gradually eating fewer indigenous foods, like rice, sorghum and millet, and eating more of the “mega-foods”: corn, wheat, soybeans and palm oil. According to the study, people may be eating a greater variety of food products – the “standard global diet” – but it’s risky to base a global diet on just a handful of major crops.
Dan Charles, "In The New Globalized Diet, Wheat, Soy And Palm Oil Rule", NPR, March 04, 2014, © NPR
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Debate Rages In Diet Industry Over “Cleansing” Products And Regimens

March 3, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Physicians and nutritionists argue that the human body’s digestive system is already very efficient at removing harmful substances. But others – who are making millions of dollars selling detoxifying diets, diet books, supplements, juices, etc. – disagree, saying the liver, kidneys and colon are simply overwhelmed by the environmental toxins they have to deal with. And that’s the great debate in the $60 billion U.S. diet industry. Still, most gastroenterologists – acknowledging the confusion caused by the “jumble of science, pseudoscience and hype” of the cleansing industry – advise against the supplements, laxatives, enemas and irrigation devices sold to unclog the colon. For one thing, their use can lead ironically to constipation. Instead, eat more fruits and vegetables to keep the digestive system functioning normally.
Melinda Beck, "The Debate Over Juice Cleanses and Toxin Removal", The Wall Street Journal, March 03, 2014, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Organic Food Producers Say “Non-GMO” Foods May Be Cheaper, But They Are Not Equivalent To Organic

February 28, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Although one might expect that the “non-GMO” label on foods was more or less equivalent to “organic”, it’s not. In fact, the organic foods industry is very concerned that consumers are weighing the two claims on the pocketbook scale and organic, because it costs more, gets left on the shelf. Organic food costs more because it costs more to grow organically: without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Organic foods cannot legally contain GMO ingredients, but non-GMO does not necessarily mean organic. A spokesman for an organic foods producer said non-GMO labels "definitely" are diverting some consumers away from organic food. He called it "trading down”.
Dan Charles, "Why The 'Non-GMO' Label Is Organic's Frenemy", NPR, February 28, 2014, © NPR
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Remember The Ho Ho! Classic (But Not-So-Fresh) Snack Cakes Rise Again In Texas

February 28, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Texans who -- according to food writer David Kaplan -- eat more ”sugary goodies” than the average American, now have access to some iconic, though not 100 percent fresh,  baked snacks on a regular basis. The new incarnation of Hostess sells less-than-fresh (but not-yet-stale) Twinkies, Ho Hos, etc. at a discount in 1,500 Big Lots discount stores in the state. Meanwhile, discount shops are selling a popular East Coast brand of baked treat – Tastykake – also at or near their sell-by dates at a substantial discount. The cheaper snack cakes make them affordable by lower-income consumers, but that raises issues of unhealthy eating, obesity and diabetes.
David Kaplan , "Snack industry adapts as cravings shift", The Houston Chronicle, February 28, 2014, © The Hearst Corporation
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Taco Bell Tests A Possible New Menu Item – The Quesarito?

February 27, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Innovation marches on at Taco Bell. The company, which recently said it would unveil a breakfast menu this month, is now testing something called a quesarito for a limited time in Oklahoma City. A similar sandwich has been available only at Chipotle restaurants as an off-the-menu item. Taco Bell’s version is a beef burrito with rice and sour cream enveloped by a grilled quesadilla and packed with melted cheese. The company is testing prices ranging from $1.99 to $2.99.
Jenn Harris, "Taco Bell is testing the quesarito, a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla", Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2014, © The Los Angeles Times Company
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Walmart Hopes Its Technology Initiatives Will Help Grocery Shoppers Save Time And Money

February 26, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
WalmartLabs announced that it had acquired online grocery shopping and recipe grabber start-up Yumprint. The company’s Web site, iPhone app and browser extension allow customers to search for and save recipes from any Web site. WalmartLabs also announced it had launched a grocery delivery pilot project (Walmart To Go) in California and Colorado to see if customers would like being able to order groceries online and have them delivered to their homes or ready for pick-up at the local store for free.
Ben Galbraith, "Transforming Online Grocery Shopping with Yumprint", News release, WalmartLabs, February 26, 2014, © Walmart Stores Inc.
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Unilever Asks Eu’s FSA To Approve Further Uses For Its Cholesterol-Lowering Plant Sterol

February 19, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
Unilever has applied to the EU’s Food Safety Authority for permission to use a proprietary phytosterol – a plant sterol – as a cholesterol lowering ingredient in cooking, baking and liquid margarines. The FSA approved earlier Unilever applications to use the ingredient in its Flora pro.activ margarines and milk-type and yogurt-type foods. The company says that eating 1.5 to 2.5 g of plant sterols a day can lower blood cholesterol by seven to ten percent in two weeks. The new application may signal Unilever’s intention to broaden its Flora Cuisine cooking liquid product line under the pro.activ brand. Flora Cuisine is made from linseed, rapeseed and sunflower oils.
"Unilever Looks to Expand Phytosterol Esters to Cooking and Baking Margarines", Food Ingredients First, February 19, 2014, © CNS Media BV
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