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Posting Calorie Counts In Fast-Food Restaurants Doesn’t Change Eating Habits

November 15, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act mandated that restaurant chains with more than 20 locations nationwide post the calorie content of all regular food and drink items on their menus. The idea, of course, was to encourage healthier food choices. Is the strategy working? Not according to a study by New York University researchers. Posting calorie content does not change purchasing habits or decrease the number of calories customers consume, especially among lower-income and less-educated consumers. The researchers said “more robust interventional policies” should be considered in neighborhoods where obesity is most prevalent.
Brian Elbel et al., "Mandatory Calorie Postings at Fast-Food Chains Do Not Influence Food Choice", News release, study presented at the Obesity Society's annual scientific meeting, November 15, 2013, © Elbel et al.
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“On-The-Go” Society Demands Nutritious Meals – Especially Protein – In A Bottle

November 15, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The market for ready-to-drink protein-fortified meals is booming, according to beverage industry observers. Mintel reported recently that 74 beverages containing protein were released in the first six months of 2013, compared to only 49 during the same period of 2012. A Wisconsin company that supplies protein ingredients to the beverage industry says America has become an “on-the-go” society that demands nutritious food – including protein – in a quick, convenient format. Consumers are also looking for “wholesome and natural” ways to consume a balanced diet. The basic trend? Beverages are no longer around just to wash down a meal – they’ve become the meal.
Jessica Jacobsen, "Protein-fortified beverages carving out niche in beverage market", Beverage Industry, November 15, 2013, © BNP Media
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Coffee Reduces Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes, According To Studies

November 14, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A report summarizing the latest research on the health effects of coffee says basically that drinking a few cups of coffee a day does reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, although there is conflicting evidence on benefits of caffeinated versus decaffeinated coffee. The report said a couple of recent studies showed that drinking three to four cups of coffee a day lowered type 2 diabetes by 25 percent, compared to drinking none or fewer than two cups a day. One study said caffeine was probably not  responsible for the protective effect of coffee, while another found that regular but not decaffeinated coffee was much more protective against type 2 diabetes in women of all ethnic groups than in men.
"Good things in life: Can coffee help in type 2 diabetes risk reduction?", coffee&health, November 14, 2013, © Institute for Scientific information on Coffee (ISIC)
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Balancing Act: Fast-Food Restaurants Struggle To Fight Obesity, Keep Customers Happy

November 14, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
America’s fast-food chains are very aware of the need to fight the obesity epidemic – and avoid onerous government involvement in their businesses –  by reducing salt and fat content in their meals. But they’re also aware that customers are not particularly interested in being shocked by sudden, major changes in the flavor of their favorite foods, or by words like “low-sodium” and “diet”. So, restaurant chains experiment. They tweak, a little at a time. They are even working together, sharing ideas for reducing salt, carbs and sugar. But results are mixed. Big Macs – hugely popular calorie bomb sandwiches – are still on the McDonalds menu. And Au Bon Pain recently returned a 550-calorie cinnamon roll to its menu when customers turned their noses up at a reduced-sugar version.
Leslie Patton , "Fast-Food Chains Inch Toward Healthiness", Bloomberg/Businessweek, November 14, 2013, © Bloomberg/Businessweek
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There’s Gold In Them Thar Gluten-Free Hills, Say Grain Companies

November 13, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The gluten-free fad marches on, boosted by celebrity endorsements and anti-gluten books that seem to arrive weekly, proclaiming the destructive effects of gluten specifically and wheat generally. It doesn’t seem to matter to the 99 percent of Americans who do not have celiac disease -- or to the foodies who latch on to the latest anti-wheat diatribes -- that most dieticians say the trends lack scientific support. Meanwhile, grain companies are leaving the debate to their industry trade groups, while they mine the trends for profit. Though the USDA says wheat flour consumption has fallen to a 22-year low, Packaged Facts says the U.S. market for gluten-free foods will climb from $4.2 billion in 2012 to $6.6 billion by 2017, as bread and cereal makers, craft-beer brewers and eateries embrace the trend.
Matthew Boyle , "Gluten Takes a Beating From Fad Dieters and Grain Giants", Bloomberg, November 13, 2013, © Bloomberg L.P.
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Some Vegetable Oils Do Not Help Lower Cholesterol Levels

November 11, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Researchers who published a study on the content of vegetable oils urge the Canadian government to rethink its advice on the health benefits of corn oil and safflower oil. The two commonly used oils have been on a list of oils recommended because of purported cholesterol-lowering effects. But the researchers found that the two oils contain high levels of omega-6 linoleic acid, but almost no heart-healthy omega-3 α-linoleic acids. Labels on corn oil and sunflower oil products are allowed the claim: “a reduced risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels”. That claim is not warranted in the case of omega-6 linoleic acids, the researchers argue.
Richard P. Bazinet and Michael W.A. Chu, "Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids: Is a broad cholesterol-lowering health claim appropriate?", Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 11, 2013, © Canadian Medical Association
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Jail Bakery Boosts Vocational Training, Saves Money

November 8, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The Marin County (Calif.) jail has figured out a way to enhance its prisoner vocational training program while saving $41,000 a year. After investing $128,000 in remodeling the kitchen – primarily adding two new ovens – the jail’s inmate bakers now produce their own bread – 35,000 loaves a year at a cost of 35¢ a loaf, instead of the $1.45 a loaf the facility used to spend. Taste-testing was so successful that one jail official said she hoped the program would add cinnamon rolls and Christmas cookies to its product line.
Nels Johnson, "Marin County Jail bakery: 'Best thing since sliced bread'", Marin Independent Journal, November 08, 2013, © Marin Independent Journal
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Divorces Deserve A Cake As Much As A Wedding, Say Bitter Divorcées – And Bakers

November 8, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A fancy cake is a tradition as firmly entrenched in the wedding celebration as rings and flowers. But shouldn’t there be a fancy cake to celebrate when a marriage sours? More and more bakers – and divorcées – think so. One baker in South Africa reports that he has been asked to create a lot of unusual divorce cakes. Decorations for the “bittersweet” concoctions include torn-up marriage certificates and a ball-and-chain with the ball sawn off. Other examples gleaned from the Web include Barbie figurines holding a bloodied Ken head, a bride booting a groom in the behind, and a shovel-carrying groom standing next to a gravestone.
"Till cake us do part ...", Daily Dispatch (South Africa), November 08, 2013, © Daily Dispatch | Times Media Group
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Popular Food Bloggers Come Up Short On Nutritional Recipes

November 7, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers who analyzed the recipe recommendations of several popular food blogs found that many of the recipes were acceptable in calories, but excessive in saturated fat and sodium. The researchers noted that the meal photos on the six blogs were probably more attractive than the actual nutritional content of the foods. Another downside is that food companies sponsor the sites, so the recipes are actually advertisements for company products. “The public should be aware of the nutritional limitations of popular food blogs,” the researchers concluded. They recommended that dietitians help bloggers modify blog recipes and partner with bloggers “to improve the nutritional profile of recipes”.
Elizabeth P. Schneider et al., "Do Food Blogs Serve as a Source of Nutritionally Balanced Recipes? An Analysis of 6 Popular Food Blogs", Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, November 07, 2013, © Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior
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“Tearless” Onion Is Easier On The Eyes, Promotes A Healthy Heart, And Helps Weight Loss

November 6, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists in New Zealand have developed an onion that makes a “tearless” sulfur compound similar to that found in garlic. Consumers who use the new onion in recipes not only avoid the tears associated with regular onions, they may also be providing the heart-healthy benefits associated with garlic eating. The scientists found in lab tests that tearless onion extracts significantly reduced blood platelet clumping (reducing the risk of heart disease), and had about the same anti-inflammatory properties as the regular version. Preliminary testing in rats also showed that the tearless onion could help control weight gain, more so than regular onions or garlic.
Susan J. Thomson et al., "Inhibition of Platelet Activation by Lachrymatory Factor Synthase (LFS)-Silenced (Tearless) Onion Juice", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, November 06, 2013, © American Chemical Society
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Obesity At Time Of Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Linked To Greater Risk Of Mortality

November 5, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Overweight or obese men with prostate cancer are at a much greater risk of dying from the disease than men at a healthy weight at the time of diagnosis, according to a U.S. study. There is an even stronger mortality correlation between men with aggressive prostate cancer and obesity. Men who died from prostate cancer were 50 percent more likely to be overweight or obese at diagnosis compared to men who did not die of the disease. In fact, the researchers said, weight at the time of diagnosis was more strongly correlated with prostate cancer survival than many other factors studied by scientists in the past, including some prostate cancer treatments.
Reina Haque et al., "Association of body mass index and prostate cancer mortality ", Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, November 05, 2013, © Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity
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EFSA Issues Intake Recommendations For Vitamin C, Manganese

November 5, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The European Food Safety Authority has finalized recommendations regarding the intake of vitamin C and the mineral manganese. The agency proposed an average requirement (AR) of 90 mg/day of vitamin C, 80 mg/day for women. Adequate intake (AI) of manganese, an essential dietary mineral, of three mg/day was proposed for adults, including pregnant and lactating women. An AI of 0.02–0.5 mg/day was proposed for infants seven to 11 months. Scientific advice on dietary reference values forms the basis of nutrition policy decisions by the European Union.
"EFSA Publishes Reference Values for Vitamin C and Manganese", Nutrition Horizon , November 05, 2013, © CNS Media BV
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Tainted Enzymes From India Make Their Way Around The World; Product Recalls Likely

November 4, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Advanced Enzymes, an Indian manufacturer of enzymes used to make beverages, baked goods, animal feeds and dietary supplements, has been found to be the source of globally-distributed products contaminated with a powerful antibiotic. The discovery is likely to result in widespread recalls. Distributor and custom formulator Specialty Enzymes (Chico, Calif.), which bought product from the Indian company, then sold enzymes contaminated with chloramphenicol to a company in Japan, which then sold within the European Union. Specialty Enzymes also sold products in the U.S. The FDA discovered and traced the tainted enzymes; no one knows how or why the contamination occurred.
Hank Schultz, "Antibiotic-tainted enzymes find way into products in US, Canada, EU and Japan", Nutra-ingredients USA, November 04, 2013, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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“Hungry Girl” Enlisted By Potato Board To Change The Spud’s Image As A Fattening Food

October 28, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Lisa Lillien, known to America’s weight-conscious masses as “Hungry Girl”, has partnered with the U.S. Potato Board to change the image of the humble spud as a dieter’s worst food nightmare. Lillien has an audience of millions who either get her email newsletter, routinely visit her Web site, or watch her TV show on the Food Network or the Cooking Channel. Her message is that food should be tasty and nutritious, but low in calories. That message dovetails neatly with the USPB's new ad campaign, “Guilt-Free Potato Goodness,” battling the “myth that potatoes are fattening”. Potato-lover Lillien has a track record of reaching USPB’s target audience: women 25 to 54 with kids under 18 at home.
Karlene Lukovitz, "U.S. Potato Board Partners With Hungry Girl", MediaPost , October 28, 2013, © MediaPost Communications
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Turn Off The TV At Dinner Time To Combat Family Obesity

October 28, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Family meals and their rituals are an “underappreciated battleground” in the fight against obesity, according to U.S. researchers who looked at the link between family dinner rituals and body mass index (BMI) among 190 parents and 148 children. Parents participating in the study completed a questionnaire on the family’s mealtime habits; they were then weighed along with their children. Researchers found that a higher BMI among parents tended to correlate to frequently eating dinner while watching TV. Eating at the dinner table in the dining room or kitchen, however,  was linked to lower BMIs for both children and parents.
Wansink, B., & Van Kleef, E. , "Dinner rituals that correlate with child and adult BMI", Obesity, October 28, 2013, © Cornell University • Food and Brand Lab • Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
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U.K. Food Companies Promise To Cut Megatons Of Sat-Fats From Products

October 26, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The British government has wheedled new pledges out of food manufacturers and supermarkets to cut the saturated fat content of their processed foods and snacks. This despite a recent study by a cardiologist published in the British Medical Journal advising that the real problem in the rise of diabetes and heart disease is not saturated fat but excess sugar. Supermarket chain Tesco promised to remove 32 tons of fat from breadsticks and other products; Morrisons will reformulate its spreads to remove 50 tons of sat-fats; Sainsbury's will continue an ongoing program to cut sat-fats; Kraft snack unit Mondelez will reformulate belVita, Oreos and Barny cookies; and Nestlé pledged to extract 3,800 tons of sat-fats from KitKat bars.
Sarah Boseley, "Saturated fat to be cut in chocolate products, makers pledge", The Guardian, October 26, 2013, © Guardian News and Media Limited
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Bakers Bored With Wheat Flour Are Experimenting With A Broad Assortment Of Grains

October 23, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Florida food writer Amy Sowers surveyed chefs in the state, finding that there are a lot of options besides wheat flour when it comes to baking. Nuts, for example, can be ground up for flour: almond flour makes a good breading for chicken and fish. Coconut flour and flax seed meal are used by one chef to make nutritious vanilla protein bars. A café chef uses chickpea flour to make gluten-free coffeecakes, desserts and cupcakes; she also uses oat flour and fava bean, tapioca and sorghum flours in her bakery. Other possibilities: millet, soy and chia seed flours.
Amy Sowder, "A world beyond wheat and your typical flour", News-Press.com, October 23, 2013, © www.news-press.com/Gannett
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Swedish Government Is Convinced: An Atkins-Type Diet Is Healthier

October 23, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A meta-review of relevant clinical studies has prompted the Swedish government to recommend a lower-carb, higher-fat, and higher-protein diet – basically the Atkins approach to healthy eating. The study found that a carbohydrate-managed approach is more effective for long-term weight loss and maintenance than a conventional low-fat diet. It also showed that low-carbohydrate diets were both beneficial and safe for the highly-insulin resistant, carbohydrate-intolerant population, who need to keep carbohydrate consumption low over the long-term. The Atkins Diet offers a balanced plan that comprises lean protein, good carbs from fruits and vegetables, and a balance of healthy fats.
Nassib Bezerra Bueno et al., "Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials", Atkins, October 23, 2013, © British Journal of Nutrition
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A Sit-Down Meal Is Not On The Agenda Among Most Of Canada’s Diners

October 22, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Spending at Canada’s foodservice establishments rose two percent in the year ending in May 2013, but only because of an increase in the average check, not an increase in traffic, according to The NPD Group. Overall, Canadians who buy meals at quick service restaurants – 56 percent of foodservice traffic in the country – are basically looking for a speedy meal, not a sit-down dining experience. In fact, off premise dining – carry-out, drive-thru, and delivery – dominates Canadian foodservice visit choices. NPD advises restaurants to offer interesting menu items “and an overarching in-house experience” to reverse the trend and encourage on-premise eating. A successful experience would convince diners that “it is worth the time to sit down for a meal”.
"Cheque Increases, Not Visits, Feeding Canadian Restaurant Industry", NPD Group Blog, October 22, 2013, © The NPD Group, Inc.
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Local Grain Farmers Have Ready Buyers Among San Francisco’s Chefs

October 22, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Farmers in the San Francisco Bay area – including some who are relatively new to the field, so to speak – have begun to grow a variety of grains, a trend that is a definite benefit for restaurants, cafes and even breweries in the region. The farro, rye, golden flax seed and wheat grown by local farmers provides a steady supply of freshly-milled, whole grain flours, not only for breads and other baked goods, but also for beer. One of the grain farmers, who says he has “an emotional attachment to a field of grain”, likes the fact that the grain crops are flexible, able to feed people and animals, and “it keeps well”.
Diane Peterson, "Grains go local", The Press Democrat, October 22, 2013, © The Press Democrat
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Handheld Biosensing Device Could Help Prevent Spread Of Pathogenic Bacteria

October 18, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Scientists whose passion is early detection of pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella before it spreads have come up with a novel design for a real-time, hand-held biosensing device. The device is unique because it uses a magneto-elastic biosensor that is low-cost and based on wireless acoustic wave technology combined with a surface-scanning coil detector. The biosensors are coated with a bacteria-specific recognition layer containing particles of a virus that naturally recognizes bacteria. The new system – the U.S. creators are seeking a patent – is a handheld device that can be passed over food to determine if its surface is contaminated.
Yating Chai et al., "Design of a surface-scanning coil detector for direct bacteria detection on food surfaces using a magnetoelastic biosensor", Journal of Applied Physics, October 18, 2013, © AIP Publishing LLC
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Calcium Supplements Are Safe, But The Best Source Is The Diet

October 17, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
To combat osteoporosis, patients should maintain an adequate intake of calcium, but the source of the important mineral is essential to its effectiveness, In fact, say researchers at the University of California San Francisco who reviewed earlier studies, patients and health care practitioners should focus on getting calcium from the diet – e.g., food products fortified with calcium, plus kale, broccoli and bok choy – rather than from supplements. The researchers noted, however, that if patients cannot get adequate calcium from the diet, supplements are safe and not associated with cardiovascular problems, despite recent reports to the contrary.
Caren G. Solomon et al., "Calcium Supplements and Fracture Prevention", New England Journal of Medicine, October 17, 2013, © Massachusetts Medical Society
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With Men Spending More Time In Grocery Aisles, Food Companies Work To Grab Their Attention

October 16, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to recent grocery market research, food companies have caught on to the fact that men are spending a significant amount of time at the supermarket. A recent survey of 900 “meat eating” adult males found that nearly half (47 percent) – designated as “manfluencers” – do as much as half of the grocery shopping in their households. This means new opportunities for food companies to rebrand and sell products that men have traditionally shied away from. They are using larger portions, darker color schemes and man-appeal ad terms – “ultimate”, for example– to sell yogurt and Hamburger Helper, among other products.
Anne Marie Chaker, "Groceries Become a Guy Thing", Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2013, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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Doctors Report On Cases Of Severe Liver Damage After Consumption Of Weight Loss Supplements

October 14, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have reported on four cases of severe liver problems that occurred after consumption of weight loss supplements, an energy drink and an energy drink. In one case, a woman who had fasted for three weeks, then ingested SlimQuick for two days, suffered liver failure and underwent a liver transplant. Other case studies involved: a woman who entered the early stages of cirrhosis after taking black cohosh to ease menstrual symptoms; a man who developed liver failure after consuming three Rockstar Sugar Free energy drinks; and a woman who suffered liver injury after three weeks of drinking Ripped Fuel, an advanced weight loss supplement. Diagnosis of liver problems is difficult when weight loss supplements are involved because patients often fail to inform their physicians.
Dina Halegoua-De Marzio et al., "Herbal Weight Loss Supplements Energy Drink Associated With Liver Damage, Liver Failure", News release, case reports presented at the American College of Gastroenterology's annual scientific meeting, October 14, 2013, © American College of Gastroenterology
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Addictive Breakfast Cereal-Related Games Packed With Ads Target Kids

October 12, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Food companies have discovered a new form of advertising to catch -- and hold -- the attention of children. “Advergames” combine ads with video games that can be addictive and are easy to access on keyboards and smartphones. From the breakfast food aisle kids can find “Ice Block” from Froot Loops (Kellogg), “Crunchling Adventure” from Cap’n Crunch (Quaker Oats),  and Cookie Crip’s (General Mills) “Cookie Crisp City”. Slate writer Jason Bittel cites recent research (Michigan State Univ.) that analyzed advergames Web sites, identifying 439 products from 19 brands. Most of the products failed to meet government recommendations regarding salt, fat and added sugar content. “Clearly,” Bittel says, “advergames aren't going to disappear anytime soon, though a little bit of regulation could go a long way.”
Jason Bittel, "Advergames Show Why the Government Needs to Stand Up to the Food Industry", Slate, October 12, 2013, © The Slate Group, LLC.
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DNA Testing Finds Contamination Of Many Herbal Dietary Products

October 10, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A study using DNA barcoding to analyze the plant species found in samples of herbal supplements found that 59 percent were contaminated with plant species not listed on product labels. Worse, more than two thirds of the products tested contained plant species that were substituted for the plants listed on label. A third of the products also contained other species that may be filler or simply contamination. The U.S. study also found in some products plant species that were toxic, had side effects or had negative interactions with other herbs, supplements, or medications. The researchers suggested that the herbal industry use molecular diagnostic tools such as DNA barcoding to authenticate herbal products by testing of raw materials.
Steven G Newmaster et al., " DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products", BMC Medicine, October 10, 2013, © BioMed Central Ltd
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Growing Middle Class Meets Rising Food Prices: How Should Companies React?

October 8, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The global middle class is growing by 70 million people a year, and food prices are forecast to double over the next 20 years. Those two huge trends, Nielsen says, are joining to create a time of rising demand, economic pressure and “aspirationally driven” buying behavior. The researcher, whose data come from an Internet survey involving 29,000 respondents in 58 countries,  says companies looking to take advantage of this convergence of megatrends should keep in mind that the term “middle class” can’t be defined solely by income – parameters vary from country to country. Instead, they should measure consumer diversity, spending flexibility and the “demand landscape” to understand how to tailor goods and services to meet the needs of consumers in developed and developing markets.
"The Middle Class: State of Mind or Share of Wallet", Report, The Nielsen Company, October 08, 2013, © The Nielsen Company
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Defatted Wheat Germ Ingredient Adds Protein, Fiber, Vitamins To Baked Goods

October 7, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Flour miller Horizon Milling, a joint venture of CHC Inc., and Cargill, has unveiled a defatted wheat germ ingredient that bakers and snack manufacturers can use to make “full flavor grain-based foods that are rich in protein and fiber”. According to the company, the new product is a response to rising consumer demand for foods that are fiber-rich, whole grain-based and high in protein. Defatted wheat germ contains 26 percent protein, 15 percent fiber and many vitamins and minerals. Made from raw wheat germ from which the oil has been removed, it is shelf stable, available in a range of colors, and suitable for making bagels, breads, cereals, cookies, crackers, donuts, etc.
"Horizon Milling’s new defatted wheat germ delivers the perfect blend of protein, fiber, taste and texture", Cargill, October 07, 2013, © Cargill, Incorporated
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Milling Company Says Consumer Study Provides Insights On Whole Wheat Bread

October 7, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A multi-year research program that included a survey and subsequent taste test has helped flour miller Horizon Milling better understand the reasons people either like or dislike whole wheat bread. Horizon said the findings will help it improve and innovate whole wheat bread. The survey involved 1,400 consumers who were asked about their attitudes and behaviors related to pre-sliced packaged breads. Three hundred sixty adults and 170 school children then participated in a taste test involving 25 different whole wheat breads. One finding was that particle size didn’t have an impact on the liking of finished breads – i.e., a finer particle size didn't mean higher overall liking scores.
"Horizon Milling study identifies what attributes drive consumers to like or dislike whole wheat bread", News release, Cargill, October 07, 2013, © Cargill, Incorporated
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Efforts To Cut Funding Of The Cost-Effective Federal SNAP Program Are Ill-Advised

October 3, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. pediatricians warn that efforts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) targeted at low-income children and families are a wrongheaded way to deal with persistent budget and economic woes. In fact, doctors from the Boston Medical Center say, the SNAP program, once known as the Food Stamp Program, is one of the country’s most cost-effective and successful public health programs, “a vaccine against food insecurity and hunger” for young children at the most critical stage of development of body and brain. SNAP benefits for pregnant women are associated with decreased rates of low birth weight; for children, SNAP enhances intake of B vitamins, iron, and calcium; lowers the risk of anemia, obesity, poor health, developmental delays, etc.
Deborah Frank et al., "SNAP cuts will harm children in the USA", The Lancet, October 03, 2013, © Elsevier Ltd
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Problems From Folic Acid Deficiencies Are Passed To Future Generations

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A lack of folic acid in a parent’s diet can have a rippling effect through future generations, according to a study in mice. Folic acid deficiencies during pregnancy can lead to birth defects or low birth weight, though scientists are not sure why. For the study, mice bred with a mutated MTRR gene (important to folic acid metabolism) were mated with normal mice. Some of the fetuses developed abnormalities such as heart defects and spina bifida. Siblings without defects were then mated with normal mice, and the same problems occurred. This was repeated for two more generations, even though the mutation was not passed on in the DNA, but in the gene-switching system, an “epigenetic” phenomenon.
Nisha Padmanabhan et al., "Mutation in Folate Metabolism Causes Epigenetic Instability and Transgenerational Effects on Development", Cell Magazine, October 02, 2013, © Elsevier Inc
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Americans Think They Eat Nutritious Foods, But Actually Don’t

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Though four out of five Americans say they know a lot about nutrition, are eating adequate amounts of nutritious foods, they really aren’t. There is a wide gulf between perceptions of adequate nutritious intake and actual intake, according to research from the International Food Information Council. For example, 68 percent of those surveyed said they were consuming adequate levels of vitamin D, but only 32 percent actually were. Sixty-seven percent said they get enough fiber in their diet, but only five percent actually were. On the subject of functional foods (i.e., those that offer health benefits beyond nutrition), 90 percent agreed that such foods are available. But a third of Americans said they are not consuming enough of them, especially those containing omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, flavonoids or zeaxanthin, to realize any health benefit.
"Perception Does Not Equal Reality When It Comes to Knowledge About Nutrient Intake", International Food Information Council, October 02, 2013, © International Food Information Council
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School Districts And States With Policies On Sugary Party Treats Prove Effective

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Classroom parties can mean a lot of calorie intake for children over a school year, contributing to the childhood obesity problem. But a new U.S. study finds that school districts and states with policies/laws that discourage sugary foods and beverages are 2.5 times more likely to restrict those foods at school parties than schools without such policies or laws. Even though most policies were stated as recommendations, rather than requirements, policy and law were associated with increased school-level restrictions, which demonstrates the value of policy, the researchers concluded.
Lindsey Turner et al. , "Classroom Parties in United States Elementary Schools: The Potential for Policies to Reduce Student Exposure to Sugary Foods and Beverages", Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, October 02, 2013, © Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior
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Resveratrol Is Still Actively Beneficial Even After It Has Been Metabolized

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
British researchers have found that resveratrol, a beneficial compound found in the skin of red grapes, is not neutralized once the body has converted it into other compounds. The chemical  has been shown to have several health benefits, such as fighting cancer, protecting the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol, and protecting against deadly blood clots. But because it is metabolized very quickly, scientists had thought that levels dropped too quickly to make it usable in clinical trials. The new research shows that it can still be absorbed by cells after it has been metabolized into resveratrol sulfates.
Ketan R. Pate et al., "Sulfate Metabolites Provide an Intracellular Pool for Resveratrol Generation and Induce Autophagy with Senescence", Science Translational Medicine, October 02, 2013, © AAAS
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Natural Foods Manufacturer Commits To 100 Percent Non-GMO Food Line By End Of 2013

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Food industry researchers say that by 2017 30 percent of all food and beverage sales in the U.S. will be non-GMO foods. Indicative of that trend is a decision by natural foods manufacturer NOW Foods to make sure its entire food line – or 170 products – is non-GMO by the end of December. As of now, only 50 of its products are approved by the Non-GMO Project. The company said some suppliers, while supportive of the decision, are having trouble providing qualified products. A company executive said the switch to non-GMO could mean higher prices for some items because of limited availability.
Stephen Daniells, "NOW Foods: Our entire food line will be non-GMO by year’s end", Nutra-ingredients USA, October 02, 2013, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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Researchers Report On Beneficial Compounds In “Super Grain” Oats

October 2, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Oats contain a wide variety of biologically active, nutritious compounds, including carotenoids, tocols (vitamin E), flavonoids and a type of polyphenol known as avenanthramides, ingredients that support its reputation as a complex “super grain”, according to researchers from the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence. There are more than 25 avenanthramides in oats that all behave differently. Compared to compounds in grains like wheat and rye, oats may be more bioavailable and possess more anti-inflammatory properties. Avenanthramides, which are unique to oats, are widely used in skincare products because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects. In addition, oats and oat products that meet the minimum FDA level of beta-glucan can make the health claim for cholesterol-lowering benefits.
"New Research Emerging Around Role for Phytonutrients in Oats", Nutrition Horizon, October 02, 2013, © CNS Media BV
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Despite Healthy Changes, Restaurant Menus Still Feature High-Calorie, High-Sodium Entrées

October 1, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Though restaurant chains have unveiled healthier menus in recent years, the overall levels of calories and sodium have stayed pretty much the same, a U.S. study finds. The researchers reviewed restaurant Web sites for nutrition information over a year , finding that the many substitutions and reformulations of entrées led to no meaningful nutrition changes overall. Family-style restaurants reduced sodium among higher-sodium entrées, but not on average, and “entrées still far exceeded recommended limits”. Fast-food restaurants cut calories in children's menu entrées. A few restaurant brands made significant changes in calories or sodium, but the vast majority did not, the researchers concluded.
Wu & Sturm , "Changes in the Energy and Sodium Content of Main Entrées in U.S. Chain Restaurants from 2010 to 2011", Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, October 01, 2013, © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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Healthy Life Expectancy Should Be Message Of Food/Drink Products Targeting Over-65 Market

October 1, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The growing global population over age 65 is largely underserved by food and drink products that “reduce the signs of aging” and lengthen healthy life, according to Euromonitor. Products introduced targeting the 577 million people 65 or older address cardiovascular health, bone and joint health, and brain health. Global sales of cardiovascular health products reached $8 billion in 2012, a rise of 34 percent from 2007. Sales of bone health products reached $13.6 billion in 2012, but are likely to fall because Americans are turning away from dairy and juice. “Playing it safe”, bone health products will focus on lower-priced calcium and vitamin D products. Global sales of brain health and memory-positioned products were just $527 million in 2012.
Diana Cowland, "Lengthening Healthy Life Expectancy", Euromonitor report in Nutraceuticals World, October 01, 2013, © Rodman Media
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Dietitians, Bloggers Blast Dr. Oz’s Claims About Artificial Sweeteners

September 30, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
On a recent TV show, Dr. Oz cited studies showing that consuming artificial sweeteners actually increases the risk of weight gain and the risk of heart disease and diabetes. But a blogger refuted the claims, noting that numerous studies – and several  leading health advocates like the American Heart Association – say artificial sweeteners are not only safe, they do help people lose weight, thus reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The blogger – Katie C. – writes for the Calorie Control Council, an “international association representing the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry”.
Katie C., "The Dr. Oz Show Wrong About Low Calorie Sweeteners & Weight Gain", Blog, TheSkinnyonLowCal.com, September 30, 2013, © Calorie Control Council
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Mexican Research Spotlights Aflatoxin Contamination In Common Foods

September 30, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Award-winning research conducted in Mexico has found an array of popular foods contaminated with cancer-causing aflatoxins. The researchers discovered the naturally occurring contaminants in corn tortillas, rice, chili pepper, processed sauces, chicken breasts and eggs. Both cervical and liver cancer have been associated with aflatoxins, which are produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. To minimize contact with these substances, the researchers suggest properly storing food, and varying the foods one ingests.
Magda Carvajal Moreno, "Foods Toxins That Can Cause Cervical, Liver Cancer", News release, Investigación y Desarrollo (Mexico), September 30, 2013, © National Autonomous University of Mexico
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Independent Retail Bakers Are Being Swept Away By A Rising Tide Of Market Forces

September 29, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Concerned about eating a healthier diet, millions of bread and pastry lovers are avoiding independent retail bakeries, with devastating effect. In the Twin Cities, small independents are shutting down, as are larger chain outlets like Sara Lee/Taystee. According to the Retail Bakers of America, the number of stand-alone retail bakeries has plummeted from 30,000 in 1970 to 6,000 today. Industry experts point to a number of forces driving the trend, besides a growing health consciousness: consumer price sensitivity, a thinly spread retail market, consumer indifference to scratch-made baking and gluten sensitivity. "Retail bakeries are slowly going away," says one observer, "and there aren't as many bakers going into the business anymore."
John Ewoldt, "Competition, tight credit, diet trends force some Twin Cities bakeries to close", Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.), September 29, 2013, © StarTribune
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Food Security Problems Exacerbated By Rapidly Expanding Global Middle Class

September 27, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Thanks to rising disposable incomes in emerging market economies, the global middle class is expanding rapidly. Euromonitor predicts that by 2020 more than 1.5 billion households around the world will have disposable incomes over $10,000, using a measurement known as purchasing power parity. The growth in the global middle class is expected to drastically impact food consumption patterns as people shift from  staple foods toward more appetizing, nourishing and safe foods. This will impact global food demand and security, affecting businesses, consumers and the global economy. On top of that, weather-related disasters, population increases, rapid urbanization and deforestation are putting greater pressure on water and energy resources.
"Special Report: Rising Middle Class Threatens Global Food Security", Report, Euromonitor International, September 27, 2013, © Euromonitor International
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Insights Into Why The Functional Food/Beverage Market Is Booming

September 27, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Consulting firm Abunda says there are seven key drivers, or “consumer platforms”,  behind the booming – $176.7 billion – global functional food and beverage market. Nothing that “consumers don't think in terms of ‘functional foods’” but more in terms liking or disliking particular products, based on experience with it and a perception of concept simplicity. The seven consumer platforms include: lifestyle antidote (products that provide a health solution and are also flavorful); healthy, fast, convenient breakfasts; anti-aging cosmeceuticals that include topical products and dietary supplements; healthy snacks; energy and mood boosting nutraceuticals; trendy ethical and cultural foods; and foods that reflect concerns for the environment.
Maggie Hennessy , "What’s driving growth in functional food and beverages? A convergence of nutrition, convenience and taste", Food Navigator, September 27, 2013, © William Reed Business Media SAS
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McDonald’s Unveils More Nutritious Menu Options

September 26, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
McDonald’s announced it is adding healthier meal options on menus in 20 of its largest markets as it acknowledges the changing tastes of American consumers. The company, which is also looking to expand its customer base, said it would stop marketing less nutritious offerings to children, and would offer more fruits and vegetables on the adult-oriented selections. The 20 markets account for about 85 percent of sales, domestically and overseas. The company’s goal is to attract health-conscious consumers with meals that are lower in fat, salt or sugar content than its traditional burger-and-fries options.
Stephanie Strom, "With Tastes Growing Healthier, McDonald’s Aims to Adapt Its Menu", The New York Times, September 26, 2013, © The New York Times Company
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Pretzels Take America By Storm

September 26, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
The food industry has apparently decided that the American consumer’s craving for pretzels is boundless. According to researcher Mintel, a record 160 pretzel products were introduced in 2012, up from 60 four years ago. Successful entries in the market include Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, Dunkin’ Donuts Pretzel Roll Roast Beef Sandwich, Sonic’s Cheesy Bacon Pretzel Dog, and a slew of others. Another research firm says pretzel bread is the fastest-growing sandwich bread: between 2011 and 2012 there was a 36 percent rise on sandwich menus. The reason for pretzel mania, experts say, is not just its flavor: pretzels are lower in fat than other breads and pastries. Expect pretzels to show up in a widening variety of food products in the near future.
Bruce Horovitz, "Pretzel mania spreads from fast food to every food", USA TODAY , September 26, 2013, © USA Today
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"Healthy Snackers" Reveal Some Interesting Preferences

September 26, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
American consumers who prefer to eat healthy snacks look for good taste first of all, then low sugar and high protein, according to a study by market researcher Lab42. The survey also found that the vast majority of self-described healthy snackers – 86 percent – said snacks are important for losing or maintaining weight. Healthy snackers also said they are willing to pay a premium price for a healthy snack, especially “all natural” snacks (87 percent). Seventy percent said the word “organic” on a snack package meant the snack was healthy, while 64 percent felt the same about the words “all natural”.
"Research Reveals Purchase Decisions and Eating Habits of Healthy Snackers", Nutraceuticals World, September 26, 2013, © Rodman Media
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“Skinny Bitch” Author Provides 80 Vegan Recipes For Baked Treats In New Book

September 24, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
“Skinny bitch” vegan author Kim Barnouin has branched out into the world of baking, publishing a book with 80 vegan recipes for cakes, pies, cookies, savories, breads, cold treats and gluten-free items that are all dairy- and egg-free. “Skinny Bitch Bakery” lists simple rules for vegan baking, vegan baking substitutions, healthy sugar alternatives, and necessary vegan pantry staples. Barnouin says the baked goods made from her recipes are as light and fluffy as conventional products, but are healthier and “cruelty free”.
"Decadent Baked Goods for Holidays and Every Day Without Milk, Butter or Eggs", News release, HarperOne Books, September 24, 2013, © HarperOne Books
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Increasing Opportunities For Incorporating Whole Grains In Foods And Beverages

September 24, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
Opportunities to include whole grains in food and beverage products are on the rise, though there are technical problems to overcome. Experts advise manufacturers to be careful about the type of grains and processing techniques used. A major focus in the beverage industry is adding whole grains to smoothies. Jamba Juice partnered with Quaker Oats to create a beverage that delivers 16 grams of whole grains per serving. The key to getting the right texture is to reduce the particle size of the whole grains, though it can be an expensive process. Beyond beverages, whole grains are being tested in pretzels. ConAgra Mills, Inc. is developing a pretzel bread that has eight grams of whole grains per serving. The company incorporated Ultragrain white whole wheat flour at 30 percent of the flour.
Jeff Gelski, "Smooth transitions into whole grains", Food Business News, September 24, 2013, © SOSLAND PUBLISHING CO
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Scarcity Has A Profound Impact On The Brain, Resulting In Bad Decisions

September 21, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A Harvard economics professor makes the case that dealing with scarcity – of food, money, time, etc. – clogs the brain. People on diets tend to be so distracted by thoughts of calories that they end up making bad food decisions. The impact of scarcity on the brain extends beyond calorie counting. A similar impairment occurs whenever people must make do with less time or money. Poor people don’t make bad choices because they are inherently incapable. The real problem is “the mental strain that poverty imposes on anyone who must endure it”. As to dieting, the professor says the Atkins diet is probably popular because it simply bans certain foods: it doesn’t require mentally taxing calorie counting.
Sendhil Mullainathan, "The Mental Strain of Making Do With Less", The New York Times, September 21, 2013, © The New York Times Company
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Former Trader Joe’s Exec To Sell Low-Cost Meals Made From Nutritious – But Expired – Foods

September 21, 2013: 12:00 AM EST
A recent report from Harvard and the Natural Resources Defense Council said that more than 90 percent of Americans prematurely throw out food – as much as 40 percent of the food supply, or about $40 billion worth because businesses and consumer do not understand “use by” and “sell by” dates on packages. Former Trader Joe’s president Doug Rauch has decided to tackle the problem by taking wholesome food thrown out by grocers and use it to prepare low-cost, healthy meals for the “underserved” in American cities. The project, dubbed the “Daily Table”, is basically a food recovery program focusing mainly on fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared product, “stuff that's really not brand-driven”, Rauch says.
Scott Simon, "Trader Joe's Ex-President To Turn Expired Food Into Cheap Meals", NPR, September 21, 2013, © NPR
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