Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bottle-feeding babies can lead to adult obesity

Bottle-feeding small babies can set them up for a life of heart disease and obesity, according to a new study.

At least 20% of adult obesity is caused by over-feeding in infancy, according to Professor Atul Singhal from the MRC Childhood Nutrition Research Centre at the Institute of Child Health in London.

While breastfed babies limit their own intake of milk because they have to work hard to get it, bottle-fed babies lie back and swallow what they are given. The danger, according to Singhal, is that they will be offered more than they need, building up an appetite for the future.

"When they are exposed to high-protein, high-fat foods, they are more likely to become obese," he said.

The message to parents and to health professionals is that – as long as a baby is healthy and born at full-term – a small infant should not be given extra food. Those who are at the bottom end of the growth chart should stay there, he says. Plump and bouncing babies are not necessarily the ideal.

Singhal is lead author on a study published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which has established scientifically for the first time something that has been observed in animals and humans before – that over-nutrition in early life leads to being overweight and associated problems in later life.

Singhal and colleagues followed up children who were involved in two studies from the 1990s when they were newborn babies. Some were given nutritionally enriched babymilk – now only ever given to weak, premature babies – and others were given standard formula.

Those who were given the extra nutrition had a fat mass by the age of five to eight that was 22% to 38% greater than those who were fed standard formula. Increased fat in childhood is a known risk for being overweight in adulthood.

"This study robustly demonstrates a link between early nutrition and having more fat in later life in humans – a finding suggested by previous studies and confirmed in many other animals. Our findings are strong, consistent, show a dose-response effect, and are biologically plausible," said Singhal.

But the implications of the study go beyond the use of enriched formula milk, to the over-feeding of any baby. "In public-health terms, it supports the case in the general population for breastfeeding – as it is harder to overfeed a breastfed baby," Singhal said.

He pointed out that formula milk is based on cow's milk – and that cows gain weight much faster than humans.

Not every woman can or wants to breastfeed, but Singhal hopes that this study and other work his team have been doing for the last 10 years will persuade parents and professionals that babies do not need feeding up. As long as the baby is healthy, he said, nobody should worry about his or her weight.

He did not want mothers to feel guilty about having a fat baby, he said, but they and healthcare professionals "need to recognise that there is such a thing as an overfed baby".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sugary Sports Drinks Lack Nutritional Value

Children who drink large amounts of flavored and sports beverages containing sugar may negatively impact their health even if they have an active lifestyle and adhere to a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, according to a new study published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers at The Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) examined the association between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, unhealthy and healthy foods and physical activity levels of 8th and 11th grade Texas students to determine the relationship between beverage consumption and other behaviors. Flavored or sports beverage drink consumption increased with levels of healthy food consumption and physical activity when compared to high soda consumption, which was associated with lower levels of these healthy behaviors.

“Children and parents associate these drinks with a healthy lifestyle despite their increased amount of sugar and lack of nutritional value," said Nalini Ranjit, Ph.D., principal investigator and assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the UTHealth School of Public Health. “Sports drinks have been successfully marketed as beverages consistent with a healthy lifestyle, which has set them apart from sodas. However they have minimal fruit juice and contain unnecessary calories."

As reported by Newswise, 28 percent of Texas children are consuming sugar-sweetened beverages three or more times a day. Among boys, the average daily consumption of soda increased from 8th to 11th grade while consumption of non-carbonated flavored and sports beverages remained steady. Soda consumption in girls remained steady from 8th to 11th grade and consumption of non-carbonated flavored and sports beverages declined substantially. Researchers found black children had lower soda consumption but considerably higher flavored and sports beverage consumption compared to Hispanic or Caucasian children.

“High levels of consumption of these beverages has the potential to increase weight gain," said Ranjit, “Drinking just one can of soda or other sugary beverage a day could lead to more than a 10-pound weight gain in a year."

The researchers also suggested children be limited to one glass of fruit juice a day because of the high calories. They urged children to drink water to replenish lost fluid and use sports drinks for extreme exercise. They also noted whole fruit is a better nutritional choice than fruit juice.


* Newswise: Sugary Sports Drinks Mistakenly Associated with Being Healthy

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HFCS Isn’t the Only Bad Guy

In the opinion of many consumers, high fructose corn syrup is a big, bad boogeyman that must be avoided at all costs. The disdain has reached such heights that food and beverage manufacturers have been busily reformulating products to replace high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with beet sugar or cane sugar in order to keep their products competitive. Even The Corn Refiners Association has tried to salvage the ingredient’s reputation by proposing that it be renamed “corn sugar."

In a recent column in The New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope takes a close look at HFCS, beginning with the statement that “most nutrition scientists say that consumer anxiety about the sweetener is misdirected" and that, really, consumers should be cutting back on both HFCS and sugar.

The article examines consumption of HFCS vs. other sweeteners, provides the HFCS stances of both the American Dietetic Association and the American Medical Association, and notes that even the Center for Science in the Public Interest believes the terror over HFCS is unwarranted.

A review of the studies that caused the hype, as well as the physiological effects of HFCS and sugar are also covered.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Processed Food is Unhealthy

See that title? Google it and you’ll get over 8 million hits. And, as you start the search, Google cheerfully helps with suggestions like “processed foods to avoid,” “…and obesity,” “…and cancer,” and the catch-all “…and health.” Eight of the first 10 hits follow the now-prevalent meme that processed food is bad.

Lately, the term “processed food” is mistakenly becoming synonymous with nutrition-devoid “junk food.” Or it’s unnatural and full of chemicals—with all the scary, negative connotations implying it’s unsafe.

Found on that Google search is something called CopperWiki, which defines processed foods as: “overloaded with hydrogenated oil, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and trans fats. Low in nutrients, processed foods’ main ingredients are nutrient-empty sugar, water, fat, flour, starch, artificial colorings and flavors. A diet based on processed food can lead to major illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other ailments.”

That vibe is everywhere. Nutrition education in schools is oversimplifying the issue, implying that anything in a package is a poor choice. In academia, a study widely reported on as “processed foods cause depression” identified two dietary patterns: “whole food,” described as one heavily loaded with vegetables, fruits and fish, and “processed food,” described as one heavily loaded with sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products. As if frying is only done in processing plants, vegetables are banned from offloading in the warehouse and no one overindulges on homemade cookies.

This disinformation not only doesn’t bode well for the food industry, it doesn’t bode well for the public. Look at the increasing number of people who think a 1:1 swap of sugar calories for HFCS calories will solve all their obesity problems. Or those that think pathogens only lurk in food-processing plants. While the increased scrutiny on nutrition is great, putting all processed food on nutritional par with a Twinkie is not.

The food industry is “at fault” for creating food people want—unhealthy as well as healthy. We are also at the forefront of solving the problem. No salt, preservatives or refined grains? We can do that, but likely with tradeoffs in price, shelf life or palatability. We’re food scientists, not magicians.

But, while “doing that,” we also need to make sure the facts aren’t drowned out by people who want to make headlines or sell a few books. If you’re engaged in a conversation or see a blog that promotes the “processed foods are bad” myth, speak up. Explain the nutritional facts about frozen veggies vs. that two-week-old broccoli wilting in the crisper. Talk about the advantages of calcium added to orange juice or folic acid added to breads. Don’t be afraid to mention that it’s interesting that people in China don’t seem to suffer from Chinese restaurant syndrome when ingesting MSG. Point out that drinking 6 or 7 cans of cola a day is a bad idea no matter what the sweetener. Mention that homemade chocolate cake is just as much of an indulgence as one wrapped in cellophane. Remind people of the widely held nutritional truism, “There are no bad foods; only bad diets.”

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the Food Safety Accountability Act of 2010

The Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday unanimously voted to send legislation to strengthen penalties for companies and individuals that knowingly violate food safety standards and endanger American lives by placing tainted food products on the market. The Food Safety Accountability Act is authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Committee.

The Food Safety Accountability Act increases criminal penalties for any individual or corporation that knowing distribute adulterated or misbranded food products. The legislation will make such an offense a felony, rather than just a misdemeanor. The bill establishes fines and prison sentences up to 10 years for violating food safety standards.

“The Justice Department must be given the tools it needs to investigate, prosecute, and truly deter crime involving food safety,” said Leahy. “The Food Safety Accountability Act will be an important step toward making our food supply safer. The Senate should pass this legislation without delay.”

Leahy is urging the adoption of the Food Safety Accountability Act following a recent national recall of eggs linked to hundreds of cases of salmonella poisoning across the country. The legislation is cosponsored by Judiciary Committee members Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Americans will spend an average of $20.29 each on candy

There will be no shortage of ghosts or goblins this Halloween as 148 million Americans partake in some sort of holiday celebration, spending considerably more than they did last year. According to NRF’s 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend $66.28 on costumes, candy and decorations, up from last year’s $56.31 and comparable to the $66.54 average spend in 2008. Total spending for the holiday is expected to reach $5.8 billion.*

“In recent years, Halloween has provided a welcome break from reality, allowing many Americans a chance to escape from the stress the economy has put on their family and incomes,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “This year, people are expected to embrace Halloween with even more enthusiasm, and will have an entire weekend to celebrate since the holiday falls on a Sunday.”

When it comes to how much money partygoers and trick-or-treaters will spend, costumes ($23.37) will take up the largest portion of a person’s budget. Americans will also spend an average of $20.29 on candy, $18.66 on decoration, and $3.95 on greeting cards.

This year’s data brings great news for retailers selling costumes: this year, the highest percentage of people in the survey’s history will dress up with four out of 10 people (40.1%) planning to don a costume, up from 33.4% in 2009. (An astounding 11.5 percent will dress up their pets as well.) Additionally, 33.3 percent of people will throw/attend a party, nearly three-quarters (72.2%) will hand out candy, 46.3 percent will carve a pumpkin, 20.8 percent will visit a haunted house and 31.7 percent will take their children trick-or-treating. Second only to the winter holidays in terms of plans to decorate, half (50.1%) of consumers celebrating will decorate their home or yard.

As is often the case, young adults will be most likely to participate in Halloween activities with 69.4 percent of 18-24 year olds saying they will dress in costume, the highest of any other age group. Young adults are also more likely than any other age group to throw or attend a party (55.4%) and visit a haunted house (38.6%).

While spending is expected to increase, three out of 10 (30.1%) consumers say the state of the U.S. economy will still impact their Halloween plans, with most of those respondents citing they would spend less overall (86.8%). Others say they will be buying less candy (45.1%), using last year’s decorations and not buying new ones (30.7%), using last year’s costume (18.5%) or making a costume (19.5%). Some plan to cut back on traditional activities such as visiting a haunted house (22.3%).

“Though Halloween spending will be much more robust than a year ago, consumers will still err on the side of caution,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Americans are excited about Halloween but are still being frugal and pinching their pennies where they can.”

NRF’s 2010 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the Halloween season. The poll of 9,291 consumers was conducted from August 31 – September 8, 2010. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kids Eating More Fruits, Vegetables. Teens Aren’t.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) released results of new research on fruit and vegetable consumption among children and teens. The data shows that, overall, fruit and vegetable consumption is up for kids under age 12, while teen fruit and vegetable consumption is declining.

Specifically, the research, conducted by NPD Group, showed that children under the age of 6 increased their fruit consumption by 11 percent from 2004 through 2009, while consumption for ages 6 to 12 increased by 7 percent. Children under age six consumed 3 percent more vegetables over the last 5 years, and 6 to 12 year olds consumed 2 percent more. Conversely, teen vegetable consumption decreased 6 percent, and fruit consumption decreased 2 percent.

"As president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), I'm pleased to see that at least our younger children are consuming more fruits and vegetables," said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D. "However, the decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption as children move into their teen years is troublesome. Is it because fruits and vegetables aren't available at school, or because it isn't 'cool' to eat them anymore, thanks to extensive marketing of less nutritious foods, or a combination of these factors and others? Regardless, we still have a long way to go to get consumption up to recommended levels. We applaud the efforts of parents and policy makers that have helped increase consumption among younger children; we simply encourage them to do more of it."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Many Faces of Soy

Soyfoods have been popular for hundreds of years in Asian countries, but they hit the spotlight in the United States just over a decade ago when FDA approved a health claim relating soy protein to heart health. Since that time, new research has outlined the potential health benefits associated with the consumption of soybeans, soy proteins, soybean oil and soy isoflavones.

The whole bean

Soybeans are legumes that are high in fiber, potassium and folate, and contain all of the essential amino acids, making soy protein a complete protein. In addition, soybeans contain antioxidant isoflavones and the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid.

Numerous epidemiological studies have looked at the association between soyfood consumption and disease risk in Asian populations. Collectively, the research indicates soy intake is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009; 89:1,155-1,163) and breast cancer in women (Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2006; 98:459-471; British Journal of Cancer, 2008; 98:9-14). However, clinical studies haven’t supported the breast cancer benefits noted in epidemiological studies. A plausible explanation for this discrepancy, and one voiced by some of the leading experts in the field, is that to derive protection against breast cancer, soyfoods need to be consumed during childhood and/or adolescence. What is especially noteworthy about this hypothesis is that the evidence suggests that consuming just one serving per day can reduce risk later in life by as much as 50% (Journal of Nutrition, 2009;139:796S-802S).

In addition to the epidemiological data on cancer risk, clinical trials indicate that soy protein lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 4% or 5% (Journal of Nutrition, 2009; 139:796S-802S). Since each 1% decrease in LDL lowers heart-disease risk by 1% to 2%, the effects of soy protein are significant. Furthermore, “when soyfoods replace higher-saturated-fat protein sources in the diet, soyfoods will further reduce cholesterol," notes Mark Messina, Ph.D., president, Nutrition Matters, Inc., Port Townsend, WA. “The overall effect is that soyfoods may reduce heart-disease risk by 10% or more. Plus, soyfoods may reduce heart disease risk unrelated to their effects on elevated cholesterol levels, which is just one risk factor for heart disease."

Soy protein particulars

Soy protein is a complete protein that boasts a high protein-digestibility corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS; a measure of the amino acids humans need combined with the digestibility of the protein). “Research indicates that soy protein’s satiating effect is similar to other proteins," says Michelle Braun, nutrition science specialist, Solae, St. Louis. “And though soy protein is on par with other proteins in producing satiety and aiding in weight management, it offers a clinically proven and unique advantage of reducing the risk of heart disease by reducing LDL-cholesterol levels. Therefore, incorporating soy protein into weight-loss diets is an effective way to improve satiety, aid weight control, improve diet quality and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease."

In addition to its effects on satiety, soy protein can be used for the maintenance, repair and recovery of muscle tissue in response to physical training. However, soy protein does not stimulate muscle protein synthesis to the extent that whey, milk proteins and egg do, presumably because soy has a lower leucine content (FASEB Journal, 2010; 24:97.5; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007; 85:1,031-1,040).

Focus on isoflavones

According to Messina, “much of the recent interest in the role of soy in disease prevention and health promotion is because, among commonly consumed foods, the soybean is essentially the only nutritionally relevant source of isoflavones. Isoflavones have estrogen-like effects, although they are different from the hormone estrogen." These isoflavones are associated with many of the positive benefits of soy, including the decrease in breast and prostate cancer risk, as well as a decrease in hot flashes in post-menopausal women. Furthermore, “the isoflavones in soyfoods have been shown to directly improve the health of arteries," he says. “And finally, although still speculative, clinical studies suggest isoflavones may improve skin health."

Label and health claims

Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 101.82, outlines the FDA-approved health claim for soy protein and risk of coronary heart disease. Issued in 1999, this claim describes the relationship between diets that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol and also include soy protein, and risk of coronary heart disease: “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of [name of food] supplies __ grams of soy protein."

To qualify for this claim, the food must be:

• Low in saturated fat and low in cholesterol as defined by CFR 101.62;

• Contain at least 6.25 grams of soy protein per reference amount customarily consumed;

• Meet the nutrient content requirement in CFR 101.62 for a low-fat food, unless it consists of, or is derived from, whole soybeans and contains no fat in addition to the fat inherently present in the whole soybeans it contains or from which it is derived.

Soyfoods are a healthy addition to the diet, adding nutrients and antioxidants. In addition, there’s something unique about soy for decreasing breast and prostate cancer risk, and also lowering one or more risk factors for heart disease. Stay tuned for future research uncovering the health benefits of soybean oil enhanced with the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid stearidonic acid and any potential benefits of the soy peptide lunasin in the fight against cancer.

Lower-income shoppers frequently shop but generally spend less per trip than average

Even in a challenging and rapidly changing marketplace, lower-income shoppers will generate $115 billion in incremental spending during the next decade. However, they are one of the most misunderstood, ethnically-diverse and underserved shopper segments in the United States. To help retailers and manufacturers truly grasp the behavioral and attitudinal differences across five key lower-income micro-segments, SymphonyIRI Group, Inc. is releasing its fourth annual research report, “The Lower-Income Shopper Report: Serving Lower-Income/Multicultural Shopper Micro-Segments.”

“Many retailers and manufacturers take a one-size-fits-all approach to reaching lower-income shoppers, but with a $115 billion opportunity at stake and increasing competition to win their share of wallet, a mass market view of these shoppers will not be enough to win their loyalty,” says Sean Seitzinger, partner, Symphony Consulting, SymphonyIRI Group. “Only those retailers and manufacturers that embrace a micro-segmentation strategy to truly understand the needs and wants of these varied, nuanced, and multicultural shopper groups will be able to serve them effectively and profitably.”

“The ‘Lower-Income Shopper Report’ exemplifies our continuing commitment to be industry leaders in providing actionable thought leadership to the CPG industry,” says Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) S. Davey, managing director, Symphony Consulting, SymphonyIRI Group. “Specifically, this report will help the industry better understand the current and emerging needs of lower-income shoppers, so that retailers and manufacturers can tailor their offerings for the varied lower-income/multicultural micro-segments.”

Lower-Income Micro Segments

The “Lower-Income Shopper Report” is built on a four-year history of shopper behavior across the following five lower-income/multicultural segments and examines what is important to each group and what it will take to be successful in serving their changing needs: Hispanic households, African American households, young households aged 25-34, older/senior households aged 65 and older, and households with children.

Shopping and Spending Trends

Lower-income consumers frequently shop but generally spend less per trip than average, often shopping with only a paycheck or pocket cash. African American lower-income consumers make the most retail shopping trips per year with 177 trips, seniors make 169, and Hispanics make 168. Lower-income households with children spend the most at $39.65 per trip, followed by younger households at $37.58.

Although lower- and higher-income shoppers both report careful trip planning, more than half routinely make unplanned purchases while in the store. At the same time, 49 percent of lower-income shoppers are much more likely to track their spending during the trip and make budget driven decisions on the fly versus 38 percent of higher-income shoppers.


During the past two years, half of lower-income shoppers report that they have decreased spending in discretionary areas, including home furnishings and furniture, in order to better afford essentials, such as food and healthcare. For example, spending on clothing and shoes has decreased by 43 percent, while spending on food and beverages and healthcare products has increased by 31 percent and 27 percent, respectively.

In selecting individual products in the store, lower- and higher-income shoppers are heavily influenced by promotional pricing and products for which they have a coupon. Higher-income shoppers are more likely to be influenced by past usage, television and print advertising, and recommendations from friends.

Private Label

Lower-income shoppers across the board are turning to private label products to save money; however, there are some nuances regarding private label attitudes. For instance, 29 percent of older lower-income households think name brands are worth the extra price versus 46 percent of African Americans, who appear to the be the most brand loyal micro segment.

In addition, 64 percent of younger households and households with children are willing to sacrifice quality to get a better price on a product versus 51 percent of older households. And, 70 percent of households with children will switch to another brand if it’s cheaper versus 60 percent of African Americans.

Needs, Wants and Satisfaction

When selecting a grocery store, older shoppers are very focused on each component of the store’s value proposition as well as store brand quality and helpful employees. For instance, 96 percent of older lower-income shoppers look for stores that offer good value for the money compared to 87 percent of Hispanic households and 86 percent of younger households. Interestingly, younger shoppers score lower on all criteria in selecting a store except for ethnic/specialty food variety, with 61 percent needing variety versus 48 percent of older households.

Looking at satisfaction levels across all micro segments, older households show the highest levels of satisfaction on nearly every criterion, while younger households indicate consistently lower levels of satisfaction, indicating opportunities for retailers.

Health, Wellness and Lifestyle

Fitting the diverse nature of lower-income households, their lifestyles and attitudes toward health vary broadly. For example, 76 percent of older households say eating healthy is important versus 65 percent of younger households. On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 41 percent of older households say projecting a good image is important versus 64 percent of African Americans and 62 percent of households with children.

When shopping for specific products, better-for-you attributes are important to all micro segments but with important variations. Older households are primarily focused on whole grains/high fiber as well as weight management attributes, while Hispanics place a higher relative importance on natural foods, super foods, and those enriched with protein.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Anti-Aging Ice Cream Explored

The prospect of an ice cream that makes people look younger was being explored Saturday as the makers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream teamed up with U.S. scientists to focus on developing products containing anti-aging antioxidants.

Global giant Unilever, which also produces the Bertolli range of Italian-style foods and Dove soap, will have exclusive rights to the scientists’ inventions, with a focus on products that contain antioxidants -- nutrients and enzymes believed to play a role in preventing the development of diseases.

The terms of the deal with Ampere Life Science, set up last year in San Jose, Calif., are secret, but work on the project will begin immediately and last at least five years.

Genevieve Berger, Unilever’s chief research and development officer, said, “I see the key benefits of this partnership with Ampere being a commitment to develop superior products across a number of categories and exclusivity that will potentially give us competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Study Claims Flu Shots Associated With Lower Risk of Heart Attack

Annual flu shots may protect against heart attacks, and the earlier in the season a shot is given the greater the protection, a new British study claims.

"The risk of getting a heart attack was reduced by 19 percent for those who had a vaccination in the past year," said A. Niroshan Siriwardena, a professor of primary and prehospital health care at the University of Lincoln.

The study, which drew some criticism from U.S. experts, was based on a review of the medical records of more than 78,000 people in England and Wales; roughly 16,000 of them were heart attack patients, and almost 8,500 of the heart attack patients had been vaccinated.

Dr. Kirk Garratt, associate director of the division of cardiac intervention at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the study found there were 19 percent fewer heart attack patients vaccinated in the previous year, not that there was a 19 percent reduction in heart attacks among the vaccinated.

If getting a flu shot could prevent 19 percent of heart attacks, it would have been noticed before now, Garratt added.

Another expert, Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale Medical School, cited similar flaws in the finding.

Referring to previous research about heart attacks and flu vaccine, Krumholz said it was already believed that a connection existed between vaccination and heart attack prevention. But the study's claim of a 19 percent reduction in heart attacks is not justified by the data, he added.

When asked about the criticism, Siriwardena said the study looked at "the likelihood of heart attack in vaccinated and unvaccinated patients, adjusting for other risk factors for heart attack."

"We expressed our results as risk of heart attacks," Siriwardena added, rather than vaccination rates among those who did or did not have a heart attack.

But Garratt said that statement was incorrect.

"This study did not measure risk of heart attack in vaccinated and non-vaccinated people. It measured rates of vaccination among heart attack patients and those without heart attack," said Garratt, noting it was a useful way to look for a connection between heart attacks and flu shots, but not to draw the conclusion drawn by the author.

Siriwardena stressed, however, that, "I think it is important again to say again that we found an association rather than proving cause-and-effect. We also found a greater association between reduction of heart attack and early vaccination."

Krumholz, who is also a cardiology professor at Yale, said that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending everyone be vaccinated in any event.

"The study is timely because we're trying to encourage people to get vaccinated," said Krumholz. "The findings reinforce the recent clear evidence that vaccinations are beneficial."

The American Heart Association and the Association of American Cardiologists both recommend flu shots for people who have heart disease or have a high risk of developing cardiovascular problems, Krumholz added.

The main theory about the benefits of flu shots, Garratt said, is that an infection can trigger a rupture of plaque inside arteries, causing a heart attack. Plaques are hardened fats and other substances that can build up on artery walls and cause blockages.

Flu also raises inflammation levels in the body, possibly setting the stage for a heart attack, Krumholz noted.

For the study, published in the September issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, information was taken from a medical record database covering about 5 percent of the population in England and Wales. Both study cases (heart patients) and controls were at least 40 and had at least five-and-half years of medical records before the study began.

The study matched about 16,000 heart attack patients, or cases, to about 63,000 controls by age, sex and other data that could affect the results. Each heart attack case had about four controls. The data was then analyzed after adjusting for other factors such as having additional cardiovascular risks, and how often the subject visited the doctor.

The study further looked at whether vaccinations helped prevent pneumococcal pneumonia, but found no protective benefit.

Krumholz said that was not surprising because pneumococcal infections are rare, compared to flu infections, and any impact of vaccination would be "diluted" by the small numbers.

More information

For more on flu shots for those with heart disease, go to American Heart Association

Blueberries Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Daily consumption of whole blueberries increases insulin sensitivity and helps reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes in both men and women, according to a new study published in the October issue of The Journal of Nutrition.

“To our knowledge, this is the first reported human study that evaluated the effect of daily dietary supplementation with bioactives in blueberries on whole-body insulin sensitivity in obese, non-diabetic, and insulin-resistant men and women with such precise metabolic techniques," wrote Dr. William T. Cefalu of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. “Our data suggested that the inclusion of blueberries in the diet of our treatment group as compared to a control group had favorable effects on factors related to the development of diabetes."

Previous research also have shined a spotlight on how eating antioxidant-rich wild blueberries offers numerous potential health benefits, including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing memory loss, lowering blood pressure, fighting wrinkles, boosting immune systems and fighting the effects of aging.

Nutrition Advisor Susan Davis, MS, RD remarked on the results of the Cefalu study: “Dr. Cefalu’s study breaks new ground in terms of how whole foods like blueberries may help prevent serious health conditions like Type 2 diabetes," she noted. “Study subjects consumed a smoothie every day. This is easily replicated at home. Including blueberries, but particularly wild blueberries, due to their higher concentration of anthocyanins, into your daily diet is a smart nutrition choice. Wild blueberries have so many wonderful properties in a perfect package. These little berries taste great; are easy to add to any meal; and store well in the freezer and retain their taste, texture and nutritional properties. What other food comes close?"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

CLA Helps Kids Maintain Healthy Body Weight

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may help children at risk of becoming overweight or obese achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.

In a double-blind placebo study, 53 children aged 6 to 10 at risk of being overweight or obese were evaluated on the effects of Clarinol CLA (supplied by Lipid Nutrition). One group consumed chocolate milk with 3 g of Clarinol (CLA group, n=28) and one group consumed chocolate milk with 3 g sunflower oil (placebo group, n=25) once a day for six months.

The percentage change in body fat measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry was smaller (P = 0.001) in the CLA group (–0.5 ± 2.1%) than in the placebo group (1.3 ± 1.8%). The change in abdominal body fat as a percentage of total body weight was smaller (P = 0.02) in the CLA group (–0.09 ± 0.9%) than in the placebo group (0.43 ± 0.6%). There were no significant changes in plasma glucose, insulin, or LDL cholesterol between groups. Plasma HDL cholesterol decreased significantly more (P = 0.05) in the CLA group (–5.1 ± 7.3 mg/dL) than in the placebo group (–0.7 ± 8 mg/dL). Bone mineral accretion was lower (P = 0.04) in the CLA group (0.05 ± 0.03 kg) than in the placebo group (0.07 ± 0.03 kg). Reported gastrointestinal symptoms did not differ significantly between groups.


* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effect of conjugated linoleic acid on body fat accretion in overweight or obese children

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eating a diet designed to combat high blood pressure may also help prevent kidney stones

Eating a diet designed to combat high blood pressure may also help prevent kidney stones, researchers report.

They examined the effects of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, dairy products, and whole grains, and low in sweetened beverages and red and processed meats.

For the study, the researchers analyzed urine samples over a 24-hour period of 3,426 people with and without a history of kidney stones. Despite similar fluid intake, people who followed a DASH-style diet excreted more urine than those who didn't follow the diet. The higher urinary output may be partly due to the higher food water content in a DASH-style diet.

The study also found that the urine of those on a DASH-style diet contained higher concentrations of citrate, an important inhibitor of calcium kidney stones.

Two components of the DASH diet -- low-fat dairy products and/or plants --appeared to have potent kidney stone-fighting properties, the study found.

The findings suggest that a DASH-style diet could help prevent kidney stones in people who have a history of developing them, the researchers said.

The study, whose authors reported no financial disclosures, appears in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"We believe our results provide a strong rationale for a randomized trial examining the effect of a DASH-style diet on kidney stone recurrence," Dr. Eric Taylor, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Maine Medical Center, said in a news release from the journal.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about kidney stones.

Friday, September 17, 2010

U.S. Restaurant Traffic Dips Again

The number of visits to U.S. restaurant declined again for the eight straight quarter with visits to restaurants declining by -1 percent in the quarter ending June 2010, an improvement over the -3 percent traffic loss in spring 2009. After four consecutive quarters of declines consumer spending at commercial foodservice this spring edged above a year ago spending, with a +1 percent increase.

NPD’s data, however, forecasts foodservice industry traffic to stabilize in the third quarter and begin to recover in the fourth quarter.

According to NPD, full-service restaurants experienced the weakest traffic, while visits to casual dining restaurants were down -2 percent and midscale restaurant traffic was down -3 percent. Quick service restaurants (QSR) experienced stable traffic in the second calendar quarter following five quarters of year-over-year declines.

Breakfast was the one area of traffic growth this spring with visits up +1 percent at total restaurants and +2 percent at QSR over a year ago, reflecting targeted marketing support by a few major QSR chains. Supper continued to post weak traffic trends, down -2 percent for the spring quarter across all restaurant segments. Lunch visits declined by -2 percent; with lunch visits at full-service restaurants especially weak.

“Although the traffic declines moderated this past spring, restaurant operators continued to battle for market share," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD’s restaurant industry analyst. “Throughout the recession, selected chains have been successful at increasing traffic by aggressively marketing new offers while also providing some low-priced options. One area that showed growth this past quarter came from the value menu, generally a very low price-point option for consumers

Thursday, September 16, 2010

An increased intake of 'good' potassium salts could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure

An increased intake of 'good' potassium salts could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure at the population level, according to new research. The favourable effect brought about by potassium is even estimated to be comparable with the blood pressure reduction achievable by halving the intake of 'bad' sodium salts (mostly from table salt).

Those are the conclusions drawn by Linda van Mierlo and her colleagues at Wageningen University, part of Wageningen UR, and Unilever in their investigation of the consumption of potassium in 21 countries. An article describing their findings appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

The risk of developing cardiovascular diseases rises as blood pressure increases. In Western countries only 20-30% of the population has 'optimal' blood pressure, with the systolic (maximum) pressure being lower than 120 mm Hg and the diastolic (minimum) pressure lower than 80 mm Hg. Blood pressure increases with age in most people. Men more often have a higher blood pressure than women.

Diet and lifestyle plays an important role in managing blood pressure. High intakes of sodium and low intakes of potassium have unfavorable effects on blood pressure. Therefore, reducing the consumption of sodium and increasing the consumption of potassium are both good ways to improve blood pressure.

The study carried out by food researchers from the Human Nutrition department at Wageningen University and from the Nutrition & Health department at Unilever demonstrates that the average potassium intake in 21 countries including the US, China, New Zealand, Germany and the Netherlands varies between 1.7 and 3.7 g a day. This is considerably lower than the 4.7 g a day, which has been recommended based on the positive health effects observed at this level of intake.

A hypothetical increase in the potassium intake to the recommended level would reduce the systolic blood pressure in the populations of these countries by between 1.7 and 3.2 mm Hg. This corresponds with the reduction that would occur if Western consumers were to take in 4 g of salt less per day. The intakes of both potassium and sodium are therefore of importance in preventing high blood pressure.

Earlier studies have shown that salt reduction of 3 g per day in food could reduce blood pressure and prevent 2500 deaths per year due to cardiovascular diseases in the Netherlands. In Western countries, salt consumption can be as high as 9-12 g a day whereas 5 g is the recommended amount according to WHO standards. Most household salt is to be found in processed foods such as bread, ready-made meals, soups, sauces and savoury snacks and pizzas. An effective way of increasing potassium intake is to follow the guidelines for healthy nutrition more closely, including a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, the use of mineral salts in processed foods -- by which sodium is partly replaced by potassium -- would contribute to an improved intake of both sodium and potassium.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The biggest rally in coffee prices in five years may be ending

The biggest rally in coffee in five years may be ending as the prospect of larger harvests spurs hedge funds to pare bets on higher prices, potentially cutting costs for J.M. Smucker Co., Kraft Foods Inc. and Starbucks Corp.

Supplies of arabica, the world’s most-grown coffee, will exceed demand by 6.67 million 60-kilogram (132-pound) bags in the year ending in September 2011, according to ABN Amro Bank NV and VM Group. That’s the most in nine years and more than six times this season’s expected surplus. Speculators including hedge funds cut their net-long position, or bets on higher prices, by 8.4 percent since Aug. 17, regulatory data show.

The rise in coffee coincided with surging food prices as flooding in Canada and drought across Russia and Europe ruined crops. Wheat as much as doubled since June, contributing to riots over bread costs in Mozambique, and a United Nations price-index of 55 foods advanced to its highest since September 2008 last month. No such shortages in arabica are forecast, with ABN Amro and VM Group anticipating a 7.4 percent increase in output to almost 86 million bags, the most since at least the season ended in 2001.

“You cannot justify the spike on the upside if you look at the supply situation,” said Christoph Eibl, co-founder of Zug, Switzerland-based Tiberius Group, which manages more than $2 billion in assets. “People who have been betting on coffee may lose. In the long run, fundamentals always overrule.”

Arabica Gains

Arabica rose as much as 50 percent since June 7 in New York trading, reaching a 13-year high of $1.9865 a pound on Sept. 8, partly on speculation that rainfall in Colombia, the second- biggest producer after Brazil, would damage crops. Colombian coffee output gained 55 percent to 615,000 bags in August, the Bogota-based National Federation of Coffee Growers said this month.

Coffee will average $1.52 a pound in the fourth quarter, or 20 percent less than now, according to the median in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts. Arabica for December delivery declined 0.65 cent, or 0.3 percent, to settle at $1.8915 at 2 p.m. in New York, declining for the third straight session.

Speculators accumulated a net-long position of 44,505 contracts by Aug. 17, Commodity Futures Trading Commission data show. That’s almost three times the five-year average and equal to 1.67 billion pounds of coffee. They cut that in two of the last three weeks, to 40,757 contracts by Sept. 7.

The last time prices rose this fast, in a rally ending in March 2005, arabica slumped 38 percent in the next six months. Futures traded on the ICE Futures U.S. exchange are anticipating a decline next year. Contracts from March 2011 are in backwardation, meaning that nearby contracts are trading at a premium to longer-dated ones, a sign investors may be more concerned about near-term supply.

Cutting Costs

Cheaper beans could help cut costs for companies including Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft, which raised U.S. prices twice since May on some types of Maxwell House and Yuban coffee. Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, said Aug. 17 that more spending on commodities, mostly coffee, would add about 4 cents a share to expenses in the year ending in September 2011.

Smucker, based in Orrville, Ohio, said Aug. 3 that it raised prices by an average of 9 percent for most of its Folgers and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee products. In a conference call with investors on June 17, Vince Byrd, president of Smucker’s coffee business, said the rally was being driven more by funds than supply issues. Arabica had already climbed about 20 percent by then. The company declined to comment further.

Shares of Seattle-based Starbucks are 12 percent higher this year in New York trading, while Kraft gained 14 percent and Smucker dropped 1.7 percent.

Commodity Demand

Higher prices for commodities including coffee, oil and natural gas helped strengthen the Colombian peso and Brazilian real against the dollar in the last 12 months. The peso rallied 11 percent against the U.S. currency, and the real is up 5 percent, trimming returns from dollar-denominated exports.

“The stronger peso takes a little of the shine off,” said Rupert Stebbings, head of the Medellin-based unit of Chilean brokerage Celfin Capital SA. “It’s eroding some of the gains, but this is a coffee price level they couldn’t have imagined.”

While harvests may expand, supply now is still tight, said Nestor Osorio, the outgoing executive director of the London- based International Coffee Organization. Declining inventory “makes the markets much more nervous and much more vulnerable,” he said.

Stockpiles in warehouses monitored by ICE Futures U.S. fell 35 percent this year to 2.01 million bags, the lowest level in more than a decade. This season’s arabica surplus will be 1.01 million bags, the smallest amount since the 2007-2008 season, according to ABN Amro and London-based VM Group.

Coffee Fungus

Problems with crops may also spill over into next season. Colombia’s harvest could decline next year after wet weather caused the worst outbreak of a plant-damaging fungus in a quarter century, Jose Sierra, who represents Antioquia, the nation’s largest coffee-growing province, said Sept. 1.

Speculators added 3,058 contracts to their net-long position in the week ended Sept. 7, the day before futures reached a 13-year high. Prices fell for two consecutive days after that, retreating 2.4 percent.

Prices may keep rising as supplies increase because demand will also climb, said Judith-Ganes Chase, a former Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst who runs a consulting firm in Katonah, New York. Global demand for arabica will expand 0.4 percent to 79.32 million bags in the 2010-11 season, the highest since at least the 2000-2001 season, ABN Amro and VM Group estimate.

Staple Foods

Unlike staple foods such as grains, coffee drinkers may not be willing to pay higher prices, said Raymond Keane, a coffee trader for Balzac Bros. & Co. in Charleston, South Carolina, which supplies the commodity to Kraft and Starbucks.

“There will be a point when consumers say: ‘This is it,’” Keane said. “Coffee is not an important ingredient of our diet. It is not wheat or rice. It’s dispensable.”

Speculation about Colombia’s crop is probably too bearish, said Abah Ofon, a Dubai-based commodity analyst at Standard Chartered Plc, the most accurate arabica forecaster tracked by Bloomberg in the first quarter. Ofon is forecasting a 1.5 million-bag increase in the country’s harvest, for a gain of 19 percent, and fourth-quarter prices of $1.45.

Brazilian production will rise to a bigger-than-expected 47.2 million bags this year, from 39.5 million last year, the Agriculture Ministry’s crop-forecasting agency said Sept. 9.

Arabica Prices

Roasters may also seek to substitute some arabica with robusta, used in instant coffee and espresso blends, said Keane of Balzac Bros. Arabica is trading at 2.6 times the price of robusta, compared with a two-year average of twice as expensive, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“We’ve seen some international companies ask for more robusta than they used to,” said Bui Hung Manh, head of the business department at Tay Nguyen Coffee Investment, Import and Export Co. in Buon Ma Thuot, Vietnam. “If arabica prices stay as high as they are now, more people will switch to robusta.”

The company is the biggest exporter in Vietnam, the world’s largest producer of robusta. The country will produce 20 million bags of robusta next season, a gain of about 8 percent, ABN Amro and VM Group estimate.

Robusta traded on the NYSE Liffe exchange in London rose to a 21-month peak of $1,838 a metric ton on Aug. 23, before slumping 15 percent.

“When the price trend reaches a crescendo, there are clear signs that an imbalance has built up,” said Peter Sorrentino, who helps oversee $13.3 billion at Huntington Asset Advisors in Cincinnati and correctly predicted the collapse in commodity prices in 2008. “Financial buyers are finally becoming wiser.”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hybrid Rice May Stamp Out Starvation

Speaking at the 21st Century Forum, agriculture scientist and inventor of hybrid rice Yuan Longping said he hopes to create a new version of hybrid rice that will yield about 15 tons of rice per hectare within the next 10 years. He noted the new hybrid rice would be able to eradicate world hunger and ensure food security worldwide.

"First, I wish that by 2012, my team and I can complete the Phase-III super hybrid rice, which is expected to yield 13.5 tons of rice per hectare. I hope I can live another 10 years until 2020. By then the yield will be improved to 15 tons per hectare," Yuan said at the 21st Century Forum in Beijing.

As reported by China Daily, hybrid rice in China has helped increase rice output and allowed 20 percent of the world's population to feed itself with just 7 percent of world's farmland. The second-generation super hybrid, which was released commercially in 2006, can yield 9 tons of rice per hectare on average.

About 29 million hectares of rice are planted every year in China, with an average output capacity of 6.3 tons per hectare. Hybrid rice accounts for about 57 percent of the total acreage, with an average output capacity of 7.2 tons per hectare.


* China Daily: Hybrid rice can 'feed the world'

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lactic Acid Fermentation Reduces Acrylamide

Norwegian researchers are using lactic acid fermentation to reduce the formation of acrylamide during industrial production of potatoes and coffee, which may help reduce the risk of cancer.

As reported by AlphaGalileo, the heating and cooking process causes acrylamide to be produced in bread, some types of crackers and sweet biscuits, deep-fried potato products and coffee. Dr. Hans Blom and his research team found a method that limits the formation of acrylamide during the production of potato products and coffee; Norwegian research company Zeracryl AS has patented the method.

“Our method is based on lactic acid fermentation," Blom said. “Acrylamide is formed as a reaction between the amino acid asparagine and simple sugars such as glucose and fructose. Put simply, the lactic acid bacteria remove these compounds and inhibit the formation of acrylamide."

The ongoing experiments show that 10 to 15 minutes immersion in lactic acid bacteria culture before cooking reduces acrylamide formation in the final product by roughly 90 percent.

Zeracryl will continue its work in the research project lactic acid fermentation as a tool to reduce formation of acrylamide in fried potato products and roasted coffee in cooperation with the international food conglomerate Nestlé, the Norwegian producers of potato products Hoff AS and Maarud, and the research institute Nofima. The project is supported by the Research Council of Norway's Food Programme and is scheduled to run until 2012.


* AlphaGalileo: Lactic acid bacteria to lower risk of cancer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Unprecedented high garlic prices show no signs of easing up

Unprecedented high garlic prices show no signs of easing up anytime soon, grower-shippers and importers said.

“In our 61 years of business, we have never seen such a market,” said Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing at Orlando, Fla.-based Spice World Inc.

Prices will likely stay at their current levels through the Chinese and California seasons, which don’t end until May, said Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc. South Hackensack, N.J.

“The perception is that Chinese garlic is the cheap item, but it’s three times higher than normal,” he said.

On Sept. 7, 30-pound cartons of netted 3s from China sold for $34 on the Los Angeles terminal market, up from $10-11 last year at the same time, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A 30-pound carton of white California garlic at the Atlanta terminal market on Sept. 9 was $53.50-54.50, $20 more than at the same time in 2009 and $30 more than in 2008.

Prices will likely stay at current levels until at least Chinese New Year Feb. 3, said Jim Provost, who imports garlic as president of West Grove, Pa.-based I Love Produce.

“Chinese garlic prices are at historically high levels we’ve never seen before,” Provost said. “It’s been a very unusual year.”

Fresh garlic prices in recent years have seen double-digit growth, largely due to shorter supplies and quality concerns from China, said Maria Brous, director of media and commodity relations for Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets Inc., which buys garlic from California, Argentina and Mexico.

“This year exports (from China) have come almost to a complete stop,” Brous said. “With less exports and an already tight market in the U.S., prices have increased across the board.”

According to the USDA, as of the second week of September, season-to-date imports of Chinese garlic have dropped 33%.

A garlic buyer for a large supermarket chain in North Carolina, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sept. 9 that not only does he expect high prices to stay, but they will likely increase.

“They (prices) just go up from here,” he said, attributing the high prices mainly to the market situation with Chinese garlic. “I don’t think they’re going down anytime soon.”

Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch is taking care of its long-term customers, said Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing. Beyond that, the company is struggling to meet continually growing demand.

“It’s hard to turn people down,” Ross said. “It’s definitely a year where you wish you would have planted a little bit more.”

There are several reasons for the extremely strong market, Hymel said, but at the top of the list is a big shortage from industry leader China.

China is especially short this season on the large sizes favored by U.S. and European customers, Auerbach said.

In addition to the smaller Chinese crop, growing worldwide demand for garlic also is playing a role in the strong markets, Auerbach said. California shippers, for instance, are seeing stronger demand from Mexico and other export markets, he said.

In the first half of September, Spice World was shipping product from California and China, Hymel said.

Hymel reported excellent quality in the domestic crop this season.

“Our California crop is excellent this year — one of the nicest in years,” he said.

The company will ship California-grown from cold storage well into 2011, and will add Argentinean product in January, Hymel said.

Auerbach, which also will add Argentinean product around the end of the year, hasn’t seen such anticipation for Argentinean garlic in some time, Auerbach said.

When the Argentinean deal winds down, Spice World will supplement its Chinese and California supplies with product from Mexico — first from central Mexico, then from the Baja peninsula, Hymel said.

Shipments from Argentina and Mexico could help shippers better meet demand, Ross said, but there are no guarantees.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Approximately 20% of consumers seek gourmet products

Consumers with caviar tastes but recession-induced tuna budgets are still finding reasons to purchase gourmet products, helped in part by savvy product introductions and marketing techniques from gourmet food purveyors, according to Gourmet, Specialty and Premium Foods, Beverages and Consumer Trends in the U.S., 8th Edition by market research publisher Packaged Facts. Approximately 20% of consumers seek gourmet products and a surprising 30% of consumers are willing to pay more for gourmet food products, according to the report

"Consumers who are passionate wine lovers do not switch from Chateau Lafitte Rothschild to jug wine because they are down on their luck. Instead, they start combing wine stores for the many excellent vintages that cost $10 a bottle or less. Likewise, consumers who have acquired a sophisticated taste for specialty coffee are not going to settle for cheap ground coffee, although they may have to make some tradeoffs to stay within their budget, even if that means forsaking their favorite coffeehouse drinks every morning," says Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Marketers, retailers and foodservice providers that are succeeding in this environment are finding ways to respond to the economic downturn -- not by ignoring it or reversing strategy, but by incorporating its impact on consumer behavior. For example, with more consumers cooking and eating at home, retailers can recapture food dollars from the restaurant industry, which currently accounts for about half of consumer spending on food and beverages. It is also an opportunity for gourmet/premium food and beverage marketers to develop tantalizing restaurant-quality products that help culinary-aware consumers bring the restaurant experience home.

Such visionary exploits by industry players helped total sales of gourmet/premium foods and beverages through all U.S. retail channels increase 4% to more than $67 billion in 2009, compared to sales of $65 billion the previous year. Packaged Facts projects the market will approach $87 billion within the next five years with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%. During the 2010-2014 period, the positive upscaling factors that are being dragged down by the still weak economy will gradually regain the upper hand, causing annual growth to rise from 4% in 2010 to 7% by the end of the forecast period.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Coffee prices hit a 13-year high on Sept. 8

Coffee prices hit a 13-year high Wednesday, extending a rally that has sent prices up about 43% in the past three months.

Coffee for December delivery settled up 2.25 cents at $1.9455 a pound Wednesday after hitting $1.9865 per pound earlier in the day. Trading volume was light, which can exaggerate price movements.

The impact of the months-long climb is leading to higher retail coffee prices on several major brands, including Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts and Millstone.

This week's rally appears to be largely due to speculative trading because fears have eased about weather and supply issues, said Spencer Patton, founder and chief investment officer for hedge fund Steel Vine Investments.

"It's really starting to create waves in the market," he said.

LATEST PRICES: Coffee and other commodities futures

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters plans to raise North American prices 10% to 15% next month on K-Cup portion packs for the Keurig Single-Cup brewing system.

Last month, the J.M. Smucker imposed an immediate average increase of 9% on most of its coffee products under the brand names of Folgers, Dunkin' Donuts, Millstone and Folgers Gourmet Selections.

Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino said Wednesday that the company still is planning to absorb the costs, but executives continue to monitor the situation closely.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., says he wants U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk to warn some major coffee growers in Brazil and Vietnam not to stockpile their crops. He said that could boost coffee futures contracts even more.

Other commodities settled on a mixed note.

In December metals contracts, gold slipped $1.80 to settle at $1,257.50; silver added 9.5 cents to $20.009 an ounce and copper rose 3 cents to $3.5005 a pound.

September palladium gained $3.90 to settle at $525.50 an ounce and October platinum rose $5.90 to $1,562.20 an ounce.

In energy trading, oil prices rose, mirroring an increase in the equities markets, as worries about European debt problems eased in wake of a successful auction of Portuguese government debt.

In October contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange, benchmark crude added 58 cents to settle at $74.67 a barrel; heating oil gained 0.74 cent to $2.0817 a gallon, gasoline rose 0.65 cents to $1.9394 a gallon and natural gas lost 3.8 cents to settle at $3.814 per 1,000 cubic feet.

December wheat sank 24.25 cents to $7.11 a bushel after a Canadian government agency said its harvest would bring in more wheat than expected.

December corn fell 3.75 cents to $4.6250 a bushel and November soybeans slipped 3.25 cents to $10.4875 a bushel.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Controlling Oxidation in Cheese

Light-induced oxidation is a frequently occurring problem in cheese products because it is often stored in transparent packages. This results in flavor defects in regular and lowfat cheeses and rejected products, so elucidating the causes and solutions would prove valuable to the dairy industry.

The storage conditions cheese is subjected to affects its oxidative stability. Both modified atmosphere and light exposure influence the formation of undesirable oxidation products and off flavors.

To examine the cause of photo-oxidation in cheese, Danish researchers at Aarhus University teamed up with scientists from Arla Foods to investigate the effect of fat content and availability of oxygen on light-induced oxidation in cheese. Theorizing that high fat content would increase lipid oxidation products during light exposure, while low fat content might increase the oxidation of proteins, they looked at two different model cheeses with 5.4% and 18% fat, packed in air and in vacuum.

They found that at lipid and protein oxidation in complex matrices such as cheese is a complicated process. Protein oxidation correlated to the fat content of the cheeses, and interaction between the lipid radicals and proteins seemed to influence the generation of dityrosine. The amount of protein oxidation compounds (dityrosine and dimethyl disulphide (DMDS)) and lipid oxidation products (lipid hydroperoxides, pentanal, hexanal and heptanal) were significantly reduced in vacuum-packed cheeses compared to those cheeses packed in air.


* Light-induced protein and lipid oxidation in cheese: Dependence on fat content and packaging conditions: Dairy Sci. Technol. 90 (2010) 565–577

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Low-Carb Diets Heavy on Meat May Raise Health Risks

A low-carbohydrate diet that derives fats and proteins from vegetable sources rather than meats is probably healthier, new research finds.

Comparing the two types of diets over two decades, researchers found that the low-carb, vegetable-based plan resulted in reduced rates of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and a lower rate of all-cause death overall.

"You can have the initial Atkins-type of low-carb diet, which is loaded with sausages, bacon, steaks, and you can have healthy versions of the low-carb diet with more vegetable- or plant-based protein and fat," said Dr. Frank B. Hu, senior author of a study in the Sept. 7 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"We looked at these two versions of low-carb diets and found that the impact of the two are drastically different," Hu said.

"Those who follow the animal-based low-carb diet have an increased risk of total mortality and cancer mortality in particular," said Hu, a professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

"It's the ratio that's important," said Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "This tells you that meat is the issue. Red meat is out."

Although several smaller, short-term studies have shown that the Atkins-type low-carb diets lead to weight loss, "there has been a lot of concern that a low-carb diet, which typically [incorporates] animal fat and animal protein, may increase the risk of chronic diseases," Hu said. These include type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Two studies are reported here, one that followed more than 85,000 women from 1980 through 2006 and one that followed over 44,500 men from 1986 through 2006.

Men and women on the animal-based low-carb diet had a 23 percent increased risk of death, a 14 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease and a 28 percent increased risk of dying from cancer, the study authors found.

Those on an "Eco-Atkins" diet, the ones that incorporated vegetable-derived fats and proteins, had a 20 percent lower death rate and a 23 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, the findings indicated.

For their part, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., issued a statement Tuesday saying that "the so-called 'low-carb' diet referenced in [this] research is not representative of Atkins."

The company pointed to a journal editorial comment on the study, written by experts at Duke University Medical Center. In their editorial, the researchers noted that "the participants in the highest decile [tenth] of low-carbohydrate diet score (that is, those eating the least amount of carbohydrate) actually had a moderately high carbohydrate intake."

According to Hu, plant-based low-carb diets get their fats mostly from vegetable oils, nuts and peanut butter, and proteins can come from legumes, nuts and whole grains instead of bacon and sausage.

Avocados are also a healthy source of fat, and soy and tofu are good sources for protein, Congro said.

Overall, the participants in the studies had a relatively low-carb intake compared to the carb-crazy U.S. population as a whole.

"People are just over-carbing," she added. "Cereal bowls look like bowls for a casserole. People eat granola bars all day. They get into carbs without even realizing it. Because heart disease is so prevalent, anything we can do to lower the risk, the mortality" is important.

"This study is one of the first to actually differentiate types of low-carb diets in relation to long-term health impact," Congro added.

An accompanying editorial pointed out that the design of the study may not have taken into account other variables, such as smoking and education levels, indicating the need for a large-scale clinical trial.

More information

Visit the Nutrition Center at the American Heart Association for more on a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Red Palm Oil Boosts Chocolate Antioxidants

Chocolate spread sounds good on its own, but chocolate spread with nutritional value sounds even better. Researchers at Alexandria University found that replacing butter fat with red palm olein (RPOL) in chocolate spread increased the spread’s nutritive value. The researchers wanted to formulate a functional chocolate spread, as well as test its sensory qualities and shelf life over a 6-month period.

For the study, the researchers formulated chocolate spreads with red palm olein replacing butter fat at 20%, 40%, 60%, 80% and 100% levels. Sensory evaluation revealed that chocolate spread formulated with 20% RPOL/80% butter fat was as well accepted as the control chocolate spread with 100% butter fat. The chocolate spread with 20% RPOL had 3.7 times the tocopherols and tocotrienols of the control chocolate spread, and 19.8 times the carotenes.

The chocolate spreads made with RPOL were also tested for stability at both room temperature and in refrigeration. Researchers found that the RPOL spreads could be stored at room temperature for 6 months without any deteriorative effects on sensory quality. However, antioxidant levels decreased as the storage period extended at both room temperature and in refrigeration.

The researchers noted that, although addition of RPOL increased nutritive value, it also increased total saturated fat content by 8.8 percent, and total polyunsaturated fat content by almost 45 percent.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Skinny on Fiber and Weight Management

Fiber is an essential part of our diet. It helps lower cholesterol, enhances digestive health, promotes bowel regularity and improves mineral absorption. In addition, certain kinds of fiber can help keep the pounds off.

Epidemiological as well as clinical trials indicate that fiber plays an important role in weight management. Epidemiological studies show that fiber intake is inversely associated with body weight and body fat (Nutrition, 2005; 21:411-418), and clinical trials indicate that both insoluble and soluble fiber, when added to a person’s diet while keeping energy intake constant, increase post-meal satiety and decrease subsequent hunger. Mean values for published studies show that increasing fiber intake an additional 14 grams per day for more than 2 days leads to a 10% decrease in energy intake and average weight loss of 1.9 kg over 3.8 months. Overweight and obese individuals may experience greater satiety and weight loss from the added fiber in comparison to lean individuals (Nutrition Reviews, 2009; 59(5):129-139).

While both insoluble and soluble fiber are beneficial for weight loss, they work differently within the body. “Insoluble fiber contains no calories and also provides physical bulk to the diet," says Jit Ang, senior vice president, research and development, International Fiber Corporation, North Tonawanda, NY. “Foods containing high levels of insoluble fiber tend to also provide more satisfaction from chewing, plus the feeling of satiety upon ingestion. All of these factors can help reduce the amount of calories consumed."

While insoluble fiber provides bulk, soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, which slows the movement of food through the intestines, thereby keeping a person full for a longer period of time. According to Ang, “this may also slow down the absorption of other nutrients, facilitating body cells to burn more sugar for energy, rather than storing fat. By regulating insulin levels—a vital function for diabetics and those with insulin resistance—hunger is controlled, and one will eat less as a result."

Naturally occurring fiber

Fiber is a unique natural component of many foods, notably produce and whole grains. However, studies examining whole-grain sources of fiber and weight control are inconsistent, partly due to variations in study design and because many studies do not account for initial pre-study fiber intake among participants.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The global market for food safety testing products is projected to reach $11.4 billion

Food safety has been a major challenge for countries all over the world. Pathogens such as E.coli, campylobacter, listeria, salmonella and several others are linked to various food borne illnesses, which affect several millions across the globe. Increased consumer preference for fresh, healthy and minimally processed foods pose major challenges to food companies in controlling food contamination. Various food safety testing processes and equipment are available in the market that are used for detecting microorganisms (pathogens), pesticide and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). With growing concerns for food safety, the market for food safety testing products has been witnessing steady growth over the past several years. Though the market has been temporarily affected by the global economic downturn, resulting in a slowdown in growth from the year 2008, demand for food safety testing products is expected to regain market recovery from the year 2011, and pick up momentum thereon.

Europe dominates the global market for food safety testing products, as stated by the new market research report on Food Safety Testing. The United States trails Europe in terms of sales, holding the second largest position in the global market. Federal regulations are compelling food processors in the region to test food products for hazardous material or microorganisms. In addition, the fact that consumers usually avoid buying products from food companies accused of selling tainted products prompts food processors to offer products that are free from any harmful organisms. Growth-wise, Asia-Pacific represents the fastest growing region for food safety testing, and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 6.6% during the analysis period.

Pathogen testing represents the largest segment in the global food safety testing market. By 2015, the worldwide market for pathogen testing products is projected to register a compounded annual growth rate of 4.2% over the analysis period. Meanwhile, GMO testing products represent the fastest growing segment. In terms of end-use segments, processed foods industry represents the largest end use market for food safety testing products globally. However, demand for food safety testing products from meat industry is forecast to register the fastest CAGR of 5.75 % over the analysis period.

The market has witnessed growing demand for testing devices with innovative biochip and microchip technologies, owing to their ability to detect the presence of new pathogen varieties in food particles. Biochips effectively detect the presence of food borne pathogens such as Listeria, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, E. coli, and others by imprinting different DNA molecules and antibodies on the same chip.

Key players profiled in the report include 3M Microbiology, AES Chemunex SA, Biolog Inc., Celsis International Plc., Charm Sciences Inc., Dupont Qualicon, FOSS, GeneScan Europe AG, Genetic ID, Neogen Corp., R-Biopharm AG, and Strategic Diagnostics, Inc.

The report titled “Food Safety Testing: A Global Strategic Business Report” announced by Global Industry Analysts Inc., provides a comprehensive review of the food safety testing market, impact of ongoing recession on the market, current market trends, different testing methods, end-use market coverage, new product introductions/innovations, recent industry activity, profiles of global market participants. The report analyzes market data and analytics in terms of value for regions including the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Latin America. Product segments analyzed include Pathogen testing, Pesticide Testing, GMO Testing, and other Testing products. End-use market coverage includes processed food, dairy, meat, and other markets.

For more details about this comprehensive market research report, please visit –

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Deliciously Frozen Probiotics—Ice Cream and Beyond

Given a choice between cultured buttermilk or a bowl of ice cream, most Americans would choose the latter. Buttermilk may be a healthier option, because it feeds us friendly bacteria that fortify our digestive system, but ice cream is infinitely more satisfying—even if we perceive it to offer us mostly flavor and calories.

Adding probiotic bacteria to ice cream and frozen desserts removes potential guilt and gives us reason to enjoy our favorite scoop. But for the manufacturer, adding these microscopic organisms requires a little know-how.

Probiotics: It’s alive

National Yogurt Association, McLean, VA, notes that probiotics are living microorganisms, which upon ingestion in sufficient number, exert health benefits beyond basic nutrition. “Probiotics need to be viable in order to have any nutritional value, and thus must be incorporated post-pasteurization," says Peggy Pellichero, senior food technologist—dairy team leader, David Michael & Co., Philadelphia. “Interestingly enough, the freezing process does not kill the organisms, it just puts them into a dormant state until consumed."

While the probiotics must be added after pasteurization so they won’t be killed by high temperature, there isn’t consensus as to which step they should be incorporated. “We generally recommend that they be added at the flavor vat," says Jon Hopkinson, Ph.D., senior applications scientist—frozen desserts, Danisco USA, New Century, KS. “Flavoring should not be added at exactly the same time, as concentrated flavors can damage the probiotic cell. Further, it would be good practice to avoid excessive mixing or air incorporation into the mix." Shear and oxygen exposure during manufacture can impact the survivability of probiotic organisms.

According to Mike Bush, vice president of business development, Ganeden Biotech, Inc., Mayfield Heights, OH, the most important part of the formulation process is finding the best possible way to add the probiotic within the manufacturing process where the highest amount of cell survival can be demonstrated.

“Because probiotic organisms can be extremely fragile, they need to be protected from extremes ranging from temperature and pH to pressure and rapid environmental shifts," says Bush. “One of the issues in manufacturing frozen products is the shift in temperature from cold to frozen. Many times, there are large losses when temperature shifts from the mixing temperature to freezing temperatures, and such shifts make many such applications cost-prohibitive."

Probiotics generally survive well in ice cream and frozen desserts, but care is needed. “Anything that can affect the formation of ice crystals in ice cream can affect the bacteria," cautions Hopkinson. “Slow hardening and heat-shock cycles can, therefore, affect the viability of the probiotics. In resale mixes that are frozen for distribution, it is very important that the freezing process be as fast as possible for the same reason."

The pH of the frozen dessert is important. “It would seem counterintuitive in light of recent frozen yogurt popularity, but very low pH product should be avoided," Hopkinson continues.

Bush notes that, since traditional probiotics tend to be more fragile than spore-forming strains, sometimes they require an extra step or change to the manufacturing process to increase viability. “The spore-forming probiotics do not require this," he says.

Spore-forming probiotics are hardier than other probiotics. “The use of such spore-forming organisms eliminates many of the inherent limitations found with non-spore-forming organisms and make difficult applications possible," Bush says. “For example, in frozen applications, the Bacillus coagulans spores simply remain dormant and are very stable through the end of the shelf life of the finished product." The company offers a strain of B. coagulans that is a spore-forming bacterium, meaning it builds a hardened structure inside the cell that protects the cell’s genetic material from extreme temperatures, pressure and low pH.

Lactic acid bacteria are among the hardiest of the non-spore-formers, because they naturally produce a protective layer of exo-polysaccharides. However, these secretions don’t completely envelop the bacteria, so they are only partially shielded.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Researchers Study Obesity Risk Factors

Researchers at South Dakota State University are using spatial analysis to investigate nationwide data to determine factors that influence the predisposition to obesity in various parts of the country. The findings, published in the June 29 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of obesity is high in much of the rural South United States, but low in the rural West and in New England states.

As reported by Newswise, the researchers used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) data from telephone surveys compiled annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The BRFSS data includes self-reported height and weight, as well as respondents’ answers to questions about their levels of physical activity, and about fruit and vegetable consumption.

“The advantage of using BRFSS compared to a variety of other data sources is that we can get wall-to-wall national coverage. They actually do sampling in every county across the United States," the researchers wrote. “So we can map things, first of all, and we can also use various spatial statistics to test hypotheses about what the environmental correlates of obesity, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption are at a national level as opposed to other studies that have been more localized."

Analysis showed that the rural South and parts of the Great Plains had low proportions of people who are physically active in their leisure time, while the rural West, New England, and the upper Midwest had high proportions.

Analysis showed the West Coast, New England and parts of the South had the highest proportions. But the Lower Mississippi Valley, the Great Plains and the Mid-Appalachian Mountain region had low proportions of adults consuming fruits and vegetables five times or more per day.

They noted current idea in research is that factors in society can set up “obesogenic environments"—

factors that discourage physical activity or encourage eating the wrong foods—give rise to obesity.

The researchers also plan to study whether distance from supermarkets could play a role in obesity. Preliminary analysis of data from the 48 contiguous United States revealed the probability of obesity increased with distance from supermarkets, while consumption of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day decreased. The research also showed clear differences between large metropolitan areas and sparsely populated rural areas.

“Sometimes people have to drive 25 or 30 miles to get to a supermarket or grocery store," the researchers wrote. “But big cities on the East Coast or West Coast have a high population density. If they have a large number of people, they have a large number of stores. So the distance to the supermarkets in general is much, much shorter compared to the distances to the supermarkets on the Great Plains."

Newswise: Research Explores Factors in Obesity

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables may help protect some smokers

Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables may help protect some smokers from lung cancer, a new European study suggests.

But, the researchers stressed that quitting smoking will do far more to reduce risk than "an apple a day" or having a salad for lunch.

In the study, participants who ate a diet that contained a diverse mix of fruits and vegetables appeared to have a 27 percent lowered risk of a common type of lung cancer, the researchers reported.

"First and foremost, the best way to reduce one's risk of lung cancer is to quit smoking. That is of paramount importance," said principal investigator Dr. H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, project director of cancer epidemiology at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands. "However, we realize that there are still millions worldwide who cannot and don't want to quit smoking. To just ignore them would be somewhat of a pity. This study shows there is a possibility of reducing one's risk even if one is a smoker."

Keep in mind that "wide variety" meant more than a banana with breakfast and a helping of peas and carrots with dinner. Think kale and spinach; berries and melons; cabbage, cauliflower and eggplant -- some 40 different fruits and vegetables in all.

The researchers analyzed data on more than 450,000 adults from 10 European countries. Participants filled out questionnaires about dietary habits and lifestyle, including occupation, medical history, tobacco and alcohol use and physical activity.

Over the course of nine years, 1,613 of the people were diagnosed with lung cancer.

Vegetable consumption was divided into eight categories: leafy vegetables; fruiting vegetables; root vegetables; cabbages; mushrooms; grain and pod vegetables; onion and garlic; and stalk vegetables. Vegetables did not include legumes, potatoes and other tubers.

The 14 fruits tracked included fresh, dried and canned fruits but excluded nuts, seeds and olives.

Participants were then divided into four groups, or quartiles, based on the diversity of their diet. Those in the highest quartile ate between 23 and 40 different types of fruits and vegetables during the prior two weeks. Those in the lowest quartile ate less than 10 different types of fruits and vegetables.

Smokers who ate the greatest variety of fruits and veggies were 27 percent less likely to get squamous cell lung cancer, which accounts for about 25 percent to 30 percent of all lung cancers, than smokers who ate the least variety.

"It is important to realize the risk reduction one can achieve by eating a greater variety of fruits and vegetables will be minor in relation to quitting smoking," Bueno-de-Mesquita stressed.

The study is published in the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. It should be noted that the study relied on "self reports" -- in which the participants described to the researchers their fruit and vegetable consumption. Such studies, while valuable, are not considered the "gold standard" of research -- a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

But what is it about fruits and vegetables that may ward off the changes in cells that cause tumors to grow?

There probably isn't one "magic" compound in the fruits and vegetables, Bueno-de-Mesquita said, but instead many compounds that interact with each other and the body in ways that aren't yet understood.

It can be dangerous to put too much stock in any one substance, he added. A study in Finland found smokers who took the antioxidant beta carotene and vitamin E supplements actually had an increased risk of lung cancer.

Previous research has also linked fruits and vegetables with lowered risk of cancer. A 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research report concluded that fruits probably protect against lung cancer, but there was no evidence that vegetables did.

But other research has suggested eating a variety of vegetables can reduce the risk of other types of cancers, including colorectal, gastric, breast, oral and pharyngeal cancer and squamous cell esophageal cancer.

Marjorie McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology at the American Cancer Society, said fruits and vegetables may help to protect against lung cancer, but every smoker should be working on quitting.

"Quitting smoking is far and away the most important way to lower the risk of lung cancer, but eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may further help lower the risk of several cancers," McCullough said.

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables can also help prevent obesity, which is a risk factor for certain cancers, she added.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on lung cancer.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Draft Guidance Expands Menu Labeling Requirements

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Aug. 24 released draft guidance on federal menu labeling requirements that would expand a new law's requirement on calorie counts on menu boards beyond restaurants with 20 or more locations to also include airlines, trains, supermakrket food courts, movie theaters and convenience stores classified as chains. FDA currently is seeking public comment on the proposed guidelines.

Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010, set new federal requirements for nutrition labeling for foods sold at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Establishments with 20 or more locations may be affected.

The draft guidance document describes implementation of certain provisions of the federal law. For certain restaurants and similar retail food establishments, these statutory provisions include posting the number of calories for standard menu items on menus and menu boards, providing additional nutrition information in writing, and posting clearly on menus and menu boards that such information is available upon request. These establishments also must post calorie information for self-serve items and foods on display.

FDA is aware that industry may need additional guidance from FDA and time to comply with the provisions of section 4205 that became requirements immediately upon enactment of the law. FDA expects to refrain from initiating enforcement action until after a time period established in the final guidance. FDA is interested in comments on the appropriate time period for enforcement after the issuance of final guidance. FDA anticipates issuing final guidance in December 2010.

“One of the most important things we can do when it comes to the nation’s health is to provide simple basic information to the American people so they can make choices that are best for them and their family," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said. “The menu labeling program will help Americans get the facts about food choices that are available to them in restaurants and vending machines so they know what is in the food and can make healthier selections."


* FDA: Draft Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding Implementation of the Menu Labeling Provisions of Section 4205 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010