Monday, January 31, 2011

Guidelines urge Americans to clean up their diets

Many Americans' diets are a train wreck loaded with junk food, fast food, sugary beverages and too few healthful foods.

So it's no surprise that the federal government's new dietary guidelines, being released today, recommend people get back on track and eat healthier by slashing sugar, salt and solid fats such as butter and stick margarine from their diets and eating more seafood, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

The latestDietary Guidelines for Americans, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, are designed to help people reach a healthy weight and reduce their risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

About two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in the USA are overweight or obese.

"We are saying to Americans: You really need to think about your diet because you want to live a good, healthy life and you want your children and grandchildren to have that same opportunity," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told USA TODAY. "You need to be conscious of what you eat."

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Salty Snacks Increase Asthma in Kids

Children who eat salty snacks more than three times a week have a nearly fivefold higher risk of having asthma symptoms, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The association was even more prominent in children who watch TV or play video games more than two hours per day.

The findings also revealed children who ate Mediterranean diet were less likely to have asthma symptoms, consistent with previous studies evaluating the association between the Mediterranean diet and asthma in children.

Researchers enrolled 700 children age 10 to 12 from 18 schools located in the greater area of Athens. Children and their parents completed questionnaires, which evaluated, among other things, dietary habits. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated using the KIDMED (Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for Children and Adolescents) score.

Overall lifetime prevalence of asthma symptoms was 23.7% (27.6% boys, 20.4% girls; P=0.03). Forty-eight percent of children reported salty-snack consumption (≥1 times/week). Salty-snack consumption was positively associated with the hours of television/video-game viewing (P=0.04) and inversely with the KIDMED score (P=0.02). Consumption of salty snacks (>3 times/week vs never/rare) was associated with a 4.8-times higher likelihood of having asthma symptoms (95% confidence interval: 1.50 to 15.8), irrespective of potential confounders. The associations of salty-snack eating and asthma symptoms were more prominent in children who watched television or played video games >2 hours/day. In addition, adherence to the Mediterranean diet was inversely associated with the likelihood of asthma symptoms.

"Since the prevalence of asthma is quite high in industrialized populations, and has continued to increase during the past years, future interventions and public health messages should be focused on changing these behaviors from the early stages of life, by informing parents, guardians, teachers and any other person that could teach children a healthier lifestyle," the authors said.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Boosting Broccoli’s Cancer-Fighting Power

The manner in which broccoli is prepared and consumed, as well as teaming broccoli with broccoli sprouts, may make the vegetable's anti-cancer effect almost twice as powerful, according to a new study published in Nutrition and Cancer.

"Broccoli, prepared correctly, is an extremely potent cancer-fighting agent. To get broccoli's benefits, though, the enzyme myrosinase has to be present; if it's not there, sulforaphane, broccoli's cancer-preventive and anti-inflammatory component, doesn't form," said Elizabeth Jeffery, a U of I professor of nutrition.

The findings suggest combining broccoli sprouts with broccoli powder enhances sulforaphane absorption from broccoli powder, which offers the potential for development of foods that modify the health impact of broccoli products.

"There is a way to boost that powder's effectiveness, though. Broccoli sprouts contain myrosinase in abundance. And broccoli powder often contains the precursor to sulforaphane without the enzyme that would boost its healthful benefits," said Jenna Cramer, co-author of the study.

The researchers hypothesized that myrosinase from the sprouts would enhance sulforaphane formation and absorption from the broccoli powder if the two were eaten together. They recruited four healthy men who ate meals that contained broccoli sprouts alone, broccoli powder alone or a combination of the two. Next, they measured levels of sulforaphane metabolites in the mens' blood and urine after feeding to look at the plasma and urine levels associated with cancer prevention. Three hours after feeding, a definite synergistic effect was noted between the powder and the sprouts.

"There was almost a twofold increase in sulforaphane absorption when sprouts and powder were eaten together. It changed the way the subjects metabolized the powder. We saw plasma and urine metabolites much earlier and at much higher levels than when either was eaten alone," they said. “This indicates that myrosinase from the broccoli sprouts produced sulforaphane not only from the sprouts but also from the precursor present in the broccoli powder."


* EurekAlert: Sprouts? Supplements? Team them up to boost broccoli's cancer-fighting power

Friday, January 28, 2011

FAO Offers Guide to Ease Impact of High Food Prices

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations published an updated guide to help policy-makers in developing country address the negative impacts of high food prices. The guide, “FAO’s Initiative on Soaring Food Prices: Guide for Policy and Programmatic Actions at Country Level to Address High Food Prices," advises countries to carefully examine the implications of high food prices and not to take any policy actions that might appear useful in the short term but could have harmful, longer-term effects or even aggravate the situation.

"The experience of the 2007-2008 food crisis shows that in some cases, hastily taken decisions by governments to mitigate the impact of the crisis, have actually contributed to or exacerbated the crisis and aggravated its impact on food insecurity," said Richard China, Director of FAO's Policy and Programme Development Support Division. "Export restrictions, for example, applied by some surplus food-producing countries, exacerbated the global food market situation during the 2007/2008 crisis. FAO strongly advises against such measures, as they often provoke more uncertainty and disruption on world markets and drive prices up further globally, while depressing prices domestically and hence curtailing incentives to produce more food."

The FAO guide emphasizes that there is no "one size fits all" solution that can be applied with the same chance of success in every country. The mix of policy and programmatic actions has to be specifically adapted to local conditions and agreed upon by key stakeholders in each country.

The report favors community seed production by farmer field schools, farmer groups or cooperatives, to enhance access to both traditional and improved seed varieties at the community level. The report urges countries to apply Integrated Pest Management, based on a thorough understanding of agro-ecosystems that will allow farmers to reduce the use of pesticides, as well as measures to reduce post-harvest losses and to adopt low-cost mechanical conservation agriculture.

The report also discusses instruments that can be used to target the food insecurity of the poor, such as safety net programmes based on food or cash transfers. The report mentions that it is extremely important to consider the interactions between safety nets and "development" interventions in order to build on potential synergies and to avoid having either type of intervention undermine the other.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Shoppers are increasingly visiting smaller grocery store

Tough economic times are driving more shoppers to compact grocery stores that offer fewer name-brand products but bigger savings than conventional supermarkets, food retailing analysts say.

Across the USA, limited-assortment grocers, including Aldi, Grocery Outlet and Save-A-Lot, are "very aggressively expanding," said Jim Hertel, managing partner at the Illinois-based Willard Bishop food retailing consultancy.

"As prices continued to increase, people started shopping for food in more-varied locations," said Phil Lempert, the Santa Monica, Calif.-based retailing analyst who publishes a weekly e-newsletter from "Certainly, all three are going to grow substantially in the next few years."

• Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi — the U.S. subsidiary of Aldi Group of Germany — has more than 1,135 stores in more than 30 states, and intends to open 80 to 100 more this year, according to company spokeswoman Julie Ketay.

• St. Louis-based Save-A-Lot, with more than 1,200 stores in 39 states, aims to double the size of the company within the next five years, bringing the total to 2,400 stores, company spokeswoman Chon Tomlin said.

• Berkeley, Calif.-based Grocery Outlet, with about 150 stores in six Western states, plans to add 15 stores this year, said Melissa Porter, vice president/marketing.

Hertel said the two bigger limited-assortment chains — Aldi and Save-A-Lot — offer about 80% of the items in conventional supermarkets.

Among other similarities he cited: They stock mostly private-label packaged foods, with a sprinkling of national brands thrown in when the price is right. Meat and produce sections are smaller than supermarkets', but sufficient for many shoppers. Stores of 20,000 feet or less and a bag-it-yourself policy help trim overhead.

The private-label focus brings prices "about 40% less than you will find in a traditional supermarket," Hertel said.

This fits the bill for a growing number of shoppers. In an August 2010 survey, 54% of responding consumers said they were buying more store brands. That's up from 46% in July 2009, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago-based market-research firm.

"Slightly more than one-third of consumers tell us they're struggling to afford groceries. That has increased 11 (percentage) points over the past six months," said Susan Viamari, editor of the Group's Times & Trends.

That could spell trouble for supermarkets.

In 2009, "Traditional supermarkets continued to lose market share as more consumers, looking for lower prices and savings during last year's economic slowdown, turned to limited-assortment stores, supercenters and dollar stores," Chad Fry wrote in the June Willard Bishop report.

The same report forecasts a 6.5% annual sales growth rate for limited-assortment grocers from 2009 to 2014, and projects traditional supermarkets' sales growth rate will slow to 0.2% over the same period. Shannon Patten, spokeswoman for Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets, said the company has seen "little impact from the competition around us."

Publix, with 1,035 stores in five states, offers Publix-brand products, "which meet or exceed national brand quality, while saving customers 15% to 30%," Patten said, adding there also are "plenty of buy-one-get-one-free deals."

Major discount department stores, including Walmart and Target, are also increasingly big players in the grocery market. Spokeswoman Kristin Jahnke said Target's Market Pantry label products typically are priced 10% to 30% below comparable national brands.

Carlos Espendez, 76, a retiree in Cape Coral, Fla., said he and wife Nilsa shop at Save-A-Lot.

"I like to spend my pennies wisely," Espendez said, adding that their frugality allows them to "give food to the poor" and to provide treats for children at their Catholic parish.

In Fort Myers, Fla., a less-than-month-old Save-A-Lot is drawing repeat business from people such as Isaac Church, 36, a day care center director with six children of his own.

"You can't beat the price of the cereal — 2 bucks," Church said on his trip to the Fort Myers Save-A-Lot on Thursday. Church added: "If they had more fresh seafood, it would be perfect." He expects he'll shop both at Save-A-Lot and at a Walmart Supercenter in the future.

Since the national economic downturn, any stigma in some shoppers' minds about discount grocery shopping has lessened, Hertel said.

"Watch the parking lots," Hertel said. "You'll see a lot of late-model cars, even what we would categorize as luxury marques."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

7.6 Million Americans Suffer Food Allergies

Approximately 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, or about 7.6 million Americans, have food allergies, with the highest rates found in children, non-Hispanic blacks and males, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Interestingly, data also revealed black male children are 4.4 times higher than others to have food allergies.

Food allergy rates were highest (4.2 percent) for children aged 1 to 5; the lowest rates (1.3 percent) were found in adults over age 60. The prevalence of peanut allergies in children aged 1 to 5 was 1.8 percent and 2.7 percent in children aged 6 to19. In adults, the rate was 0.3 percent. The odds of patients with asthma and food allergies experiencing a severe asthma attack were 6.9 times higher than those without clinically defined food allergies.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research was the first to use a nationally representative sample, as well as specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) or antibody levels to quantify allergic sensitization to common foods, including peanuts, milk, eggs and shrimp.

"This study is very comprehensive in its scope. It is the first study to use specific blood serum levels and look at food allergies across the whole life spectrum, from young children aged 1 to 5, to adults 60 and older," said Darryl Zeldin, M.D., acting clinical director at the NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and senior author on the paper. "This research has helped us identify some high risk populations for food allergies."

In addition to the identification of race, ethnicity, gender, and age as risk factors for food allergies, the researchers also found an association between food allergy and severe asthma.

"This study provides further credence that food allergies may be contributing to severe asthma episodes, and suggests that people with a food allergy and asthma should closely monitor both conditions and be aware that they might be related," said Andrew Liu, M.D., of National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, and lead author on the paper.


* NIH: Children, males and blacks are at increased risk for food allergies

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Front-of-Package Labels on Kids’ Food Misleading

Results of a new Prevention Institute study reveal labels on the front-of-packaging labeling on many children’s foods are misleading. In fact, 84 percent of the products examined failed to meet basic nutritional standards of food packages for kids.

The study was released last week by the Strategic Alliance for Healthy Food and Activity Environments. The study examined front-of-package labeling on 58 “Better-for-You" children’s products that manufacturers tout as nutritious. The nutritional content was compared against nutritional criteria derived from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the National Academies of Science. The findings revealed:

* 57% of the study products qualified as high sugar, and 95% of products contained added sugar.
* 53% were low in fiber.
* 53% of products did not contain any fruits or vegetables; of the fruits and vegetables found, half came from just two ingredients—tomatoes and corn.
* 24% of prepared foods were high in saturated fats.
* 36% of prepared foods and meals were high in sodium.

“Chronic diseases like diabetes are skyrocketing, and children are predicted to have a shorter life span than their parents. Parents want healthy food for their kids," said Prevention Institute’s Executive Director Larry Cohen. “They need food labels that reveal what's really inside, instead of emphasizing one healthy aspect to trick them into buying something fundamentally unhealthy. Mandatory front-of-package labeling guidelines will move us closer to food packages parents can trust."


* Prevention Institute: New study finds front-of-package labels misleading

Monday, January 24, 2011

Plant-Based Proteins

Protein is a key trend that continues to gain steam. It’s essential for building and repairing all body tissues, and may help with weight loss and maintenance. And plant-based proteins can both fulfill consumers’ protein needs and allay eco-friendly consciences.

Proteins can provide 22 amino acids, but only eight are essential. Without adequate intake of the eight essential amino acids, the body will break down muscle tissue to meet its protein needs. A protein that contains all eight essential amino acids is considered a complete protein. All animal proteins are complete, whereas only some plant sources are complete. Nutritionally speaking, though, plant proteins can meet our protein needs while providing additional health benefits.

Protein efficiency ratio (PER) and, more commonly, protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) are used to compare protein source,. PER is determined by feeding growing young animals a test protein for 28 days and measuring weight gain. However, PER can vary among different species or even within a given species, and this measure does not take into account the protein required for tissue maintenance (“CRC Desk Reference for Nutrition," 2nd Edition, 2006). In addition, PER overestimates the value of some animal proteins and underestimates the value of some vegetable proteins for human growth (Food Technology, 1994; 48:74-77).

PDCAAS is an internationally used measure that takes into account the protein’s ability to supply the essential-amino-acid requirements of humans corrected for its digestibility (the amount of protein that is absorbed) and its ability to supply the FAO/WHO amino acid requirements for 2 to 5 year olds. The PDCAAS is calculated based on the essential amino acid present in the lowest quantity; the highest PDCAAS score is 1.0 (Protein Quality Evaluation, FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 51, 1991; Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition, Report of a Joint WHO/FAO/UNU Expert Consultation, Geneva, Switzerland, 2007).

Soy versatility

Soy protein concentrate and soy protein isolate are complete proteins with a PDCAAS of 0.99 and 0.92, respectively. In addition to providing all eight essential amino acids, soy is packed with phytochemicals (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2010; 58:8,199-8,133).

According to Michelle Braun, nutrition science specialist, Solae, St. Louis, soy protein offers the unique health advantage “of helping reduce the risk of heart disease, by lowering total and LDL-cholesterol levels, when 25 grams per day is consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol." In addition, soy protein, when taken after a bout of resistance training, can effectively stimulate the process of muscle protein synthesis (Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 2009; 12:66-71).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

95% of Americans Don’t Get Enough Whole Grains

Only 5 percent of Americans get the three full daily servings (at least 48 grams) recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to the recently released General Mills Whole Grain Check-up. The findings also reveal 61 percent of Americans believe they get enough whole grain in their diet, a revelation that may point to a general lack of education in America regarding whole grain.

General Mills conducted the study to better understand American attitudes around whole grain and the gap between the amount of whole grain Americans should be eating and what they are actually consuming.

“With the average person getting a little more than half of a serving of whole grain each day, America’s whole grain gap is a concern," said Susan Crockett, Ph. D, RD, FADA, vice president, Health and Nutrition, and director of the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition at General Mills. “As part of a healthy diet, whole grain can help with diabetes and weight management, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Ready-to-eat cereal is the leading source of whole grain and packs in vitamins, minerals and key essential nutrients—without packing on calories."

According to the study, 92 percent of Americans know whole grain is important in their diets, and approximately half of respondents specifically shop for whole grain products. However, the study suggests some consumers may be confused about whole grain. For example, only 55 percent of respondents knew how to correctly identify whole grain on a food label. Additionally, 28 percent didn’t understand the difference between “whole grain" and “enriched grain."

Results also showed 81 percent of respondents associate whole grain with breakfast, and 46 percent of consumers think of bread as their primary source of whole grain.

Thirty-five percent cited taste as a barrier to getting more whole grain; 27 percent said price is a barrier; and 24 percent said lack of convenience keeps them from consuming more whole grain.

Seventy-one percent of respondents 55 years old or older believed they are getting enough whole grain, while that number dropped to 47 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds. Results also showed 58 percent of women believing they get enough whole grain in their diets, compared to 64 percent of men.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

About 44% of grocery shoppers believe store brand products are of better quality

The private label market has enjoyed sales growth in recent years that isn’t likely to decrease in the near future. Private label companies continue to introduce better-for-you products and more attractive packaging, all while being easier on consumers’ pockets. Their efforts seem to be working, since recent Mintel research found that 44% of grocery shoppers believe store brand products are of better quality today than they were five years ago.

Moreover, 39% of respondents who identify themselves as the primary grocery shopper of their household say they would recommend a store brand product. Meanwhile, 34% say they don’t feel like they’re giving anything up (such as flavor or prestige) by using store brands. Only 19% believe it’s worth paying more for name brand products.

“With the exceptions of drinks and personal care products, most consumers believe that private label options are of equal quality to nationally-branded products,” says Fiona O’Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel. “The lack of perceived difference can be attributed, in part, to the fact that many retailers have introduced premium private label products in recent years that rival their branded counterparts in flavor and nutritional value, as well as the packaging design and shelf placement.”

In fact, 62% of consumers believe there’s no difference in quality between name and store brand dairy products. Similarly, 61% say there is no difference when it comes to canned or shelf-stable food products and 56% think private label and name brand household cleaners are of equal quality.

“Private label brands are overcoming the stigma once associated with ‘generic’ products,” adds Fiona O’Donnell. “Even though the recession has ended, and consumers may be in a better position financially to return to name brands, it’s likely that many will continue to buy store brand staples that are of equal quality.”

According to Mintel, 60% of primary grocery shoppers usually or sometimes purchase private label bread or baked goods and 58% usually or sometimes purchase store brand cheese.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Menu Labeling Doesn’t Influence Eating Behavior

New research published in the February issue of the American Journal for Preventive Medicine suggests a 2009 mandatory menu labeling law in Seattle that requires restaurant chains with 15 or more locations to disclose calorie information at the point of purchase do not change consumer’s behaviors when it comes to choosing fast-food items.

Researchers at Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Graduate Medical School and the public health department of Seattle and King County found, in the 13 months after the legislation went into effect, food-purchasing behavior at the Taco Time locations in King County was identical to that in Taco Time locations where menu boards remained unchanged.

"Given the results of prior studies, we had expected the results to be small, but we were surprised that we could not detect even the slightest hint of changes in purchasing behavior as a result of the legislation," said lead author Eric Finkelstein, PhD, associate professor of health services at Duke-NUS. "The results suggest that mandatory menu labeling, unless combined with other interventions, may be unlikely to significantly influence the obesity epidemic."

As part of health care reform, the federal government plans to initiate a nationwide launch of mandatory nutrition information at the point of purchase for fast-food chains with 20 or more outlets.

Finkelstein said that the lack of effects at Taco Time may be because the restaurant was already identifying the healthier options via "Healthy Highlights" logos on the menu board before the legislation went into effect.

"A simple logo identifying which foods are healthiest may be all it takes to convey that information to those consumers who wish to choose a healthier alternative," he said. "The additional information appears not to have made a difference."

Finkelstein pointed out that the obesity epidemic continued to increase after the nutrition facts panel was required nationally for pre-packaged foods. He suggested that further studies should be done to quantify which sources of information are most likely to encourage consumers to switch to healthier options.


* Duke School of Medicine: Mandatory Menu Labeling Didn't Change Behavior at One Fast Food Chain

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blueberries Lower Hypertension Risk by 10%

Individuals who eat blueberries at least once a week have a 10-percent lower risk of developing hypertension than people who don’t eat them, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings suggest the flavonoid anthocyanin is the key to lowering high blood pressure.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia and Harvard examined data from the Nurses' Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that included 47,000 adult males and 134,000 adult females over a 14-year period. None of the participants had hypertension at the beginning of the study. Participants completed health questionnaires every two years, and their dietary intake was assessed every four years. Incidence of newly diagnosed hypertension during the 14-year period was then related to consumption of various different flavonoids.

The findings revealed 35,000 participants developed hypertension. They found that tea was the main dietary contributor of flavonoids, followed by blueberries, orange juice, apples, red wine and strawberries. When the researchers focused on dietary intake of anthocyanins they found an 8-percent difference in hypertension risk among the highest and lowest consumers of the compound. Protection from hypertension was even greater among participants under age 60.

"Our findings are exciting and suggest that an achievable dietary intake of anthocyanins may contribute to the prevention of hypertension. Anthocyanins are readily incorporated into the diet as they are present in many commonly consumed foods. Blueberries were the richest source in this particular study as they are frequently consumed in the US. Other rich sources of anthocyanins in the United Kingdom include blackcurrants, blood oranges, aubergines and raspberries," the researchers said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

U.S. Obesity Costs $270 Billion Annually

The obesity epidemic continues to put a staggering $300 billion strain on healthcare costs in the United States and Canada, according to a new study released Jan. 10 by the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

The study examined the economic costs of overweight and obesity caused by increased need for medical care, and loss of economic productivity resulting from excess mortality and disability. Data revealed the total economic cost of obesity reaches $270 billion in the United States and $30 billion in Canada.

Researchers and actuaries reviewed nearly 500 research articles on obesity and its relation to mortality and morbidity, focusing primarily on papers published from January 1980 to June 2009. They also divided the $300 billion finding into four specific causes of economic costs. Total cost of excess medical care caused by overweight and obesity cost $127 billion; economic loss of productivity caused by excess mortality cost $49 billion; economic loss of productivity caused by disability for active workers cost $43 billion; and economic loss of productivity caused by overweight or obesity for totally disabled workers cost $72 billion.

"Overweight and obesity have been shown to increase the rate of several common adverse medical conditions, resulting in this extraordinary economic cost to society. We can't stand back and ignore the fact that overweight and obesity are drivers of cost increases and detrimental economic effects. It's time for actuaries, the employer community and the insurance industry to take action and help consumers make smart, healthy decisions," they said.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tea, Coffee, Milk Top Healthy Beverages

Tea, coffee and low-fat or chocolate milk are some of the healthiest beverages for nutrition, health and workout recovery, according to a recent article published in Food Technology magazine.

As reported by Newswise, tea is an antioxidant-rich beverage containing more polyphenols than many fruits and vegetables. Besides being rich in compounds that combat cell-damaging oxidative stress, tea has a chemical makeup that includes enzymes, carbohydrates, protein, and lipids. Oxidative stress is a molecular imbalance that interferes with the body’s ability to detoxify harmful compounds leading to cellular damage and is associated with chronic health problems such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer. Research indicates that tea strengthens the body’s immune system, reduces buildup of plaque on arterial walls, and aids in the control and prevention of diabetes.

Coffee also is loaded with polyphenols and has a higher content of antioxidants than green or black tea and other beverages. New research suggests coffee consumption can lower cardiovascular risks and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 50 percent. Coffee also appears to have a positive effect on neurological diseases with coffee consumption possibly reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent research findings detail the benefits of whole, low fat and chocolate milk when it comes to overall nutrition, bone density, weight loss, muscle-building and more. Other research indicates that when consumed after resistance training, both unflavored and chocolate-flavored versions of reduced-fat milk, improve muscle development, enhance strength and increase fat loss.


* Newswise: Looking for a Healthy Beverage? Get Back to the Basics

Monday, January 17, 2011

High-Oleic Soybean Oil for Healthier Foods

A project partially funded by the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean checkoff have discovered two high-oleic soybean varieties that ultimately could help the U.S. soybean industry regain most of the oil market share it lost when some food companies replaced hydrogenated soybean oil as an ingredient to reduce trans fats in their products.

According to USB, the oil from high-oleic soybeans is healthier than partially hydrogenated vegetable oils because it requires no hydrogenation, a process that leads to trans fats. High-oleic oil also contains about 25 percent less saturated fat than soybean oil processed from commodity U.S. soybeans and is healthier than high-stability fats and oils, such as palm, that contain high levels of saturated fats.

“If we can improve the health profile of a food ingredient without people having to make any changes in their lives, we can potentially improve the health of all consumers," said USDA scientist Kristin Bilyeu. “High-oleic soybean oil will be in high demand from the food industry. I think it will be an obvious choice for food companies. It has no negative attributes."

Two QUALISOY partners continue to develop new high-oleic U.S. soybean varieties. Pioneer’s Plenish high-oleic soybeans may be grown under contract in the U.S. in 2011, with commercialization anticipated in 2012 upon full regulatory approval and field testing. Monsanto could have its Vistive Gold varieties available for planting in 2013 pending regulatory approvals.

“This high oleic trait is needed in the food industry," said Jason Bean, chair of USB’s production research program and a soybean farmer from Holcomb, Mo. “Farmers take a lot of pride in providing an abundance of healthy, nutritious food. With high-oleic soybean oil, we’re helping the food industry meet consumer demand for healthier oil."


* United Soybean Board: Soybean Checkoff Helps Fill Order for Food with Healthier Oils

Sunday, January 16, 2011

American Heart Association Calls for Salt Reduction

The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging Americans to reduce their sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day because of the harmful effects of sodium, including elevated blood pressure and increased risk of stroke, heart attacks and kidney disease.

AHA also is asking health professionals, the food industry and the government to intensify their efforts to reduce sodium. The association also supports improved food labeling that helps consumers understand how much sodium is in their diet and consumer education in restaurants to help consumers choose lower-sodium options.

AHA said sodium consumption is more than two times higher than the recommended upper limit of 1,500 mg daily, with 77 percent of that consumption coming from packaged, processed and restaurant foods.

“Americans deserve the opportunity to choose how much sodium is in the food they eat. By supporting measures that will reduce sodium in the overall food supply, we are giving consumers freedom to select foods that could allow them to meet sodium recommendations and improve their ideal cardiovascular health," said Ralph Sacco, M.D., president of the American Heart Association.


* American Heart Association: Population-wide reduction in salt consumption recommended

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The percentage of U.S. consumers purchasing organic products held steady

For the third straight year, the percentage of US consumers purchasing Organic products has held steady in the 38-39% range, reports Shelton, CT-based marketing research and consulting company, TABS Group, Inc. ( While there has been no growth in the buyer count of Organic products since last year, there was a considerable shift in outlet patterns towards Mass Market and away from Natural Foods.

"We still see many fallacious reports that the number of consumers purchasing Organic products is growing; our research does not support that conclusion. The annual incidence of these products has gone from 38.4% to 38.0% to 38.6% from 2008, 2009 and 2010, respectively," stated TABS Group, Inc. President and Founder, Dr. Kurt Jetta. "What is very interesting, however, is that there were big shifts in the Outlet where consumers report that they purchase these products most often. The big winners were Traditional Grocers (41.0% to 44.1%) and Target (1.8% to 4.1%), while the losers were Wal-Mart (18.6% to 12.4%), Trader Joe's (11.5% to 10.7%) and Other Natural Foods (6.2% to 4.6%). Total Natural Foods fell from being the most preferred outlet by 26.8% in 2009 to 24.4% in January 2011, a 9% drop."

This was the first year that Organic Chicken and Red Meat were included in the survey, and the reported purchase rates were 13.4% and 6.4%, respectively. The inclusion of these two categories had only a modest impact on over Organic penetration, pushing the incidence from 38.6% to 39.8%. Stated another way, less than 10% of the Organic Meat users were incremental to the Organic product sector.

"When we see a consistent penetration over three years combined with the fact that adding more categories does not increase that penetration, we conclude that there is a well-entrenched consumer base for Organics. There is little hope of increasing that base any time soon," claimed Dr. Jetta. "Any growth in Organics from one outlet must, therefore, necessarily come at the expense of another channel."

Fresh Fruits continues to be the highest penetration category for Organics with 27% of consumers. This is followed by Fresh Vegetables (26%), Eggs (17%), Milk (16%), Chicken (13%), Skincare (7%), Red Meat (6%), Frozen Vegetables (6%), Haircare (5%), Frozen Fruit (4%), Ice Cream (4%), and Cosmetics (3%). Skincare and Haircare are the only two categories that registered consecutive years of annual gains, while Milk and Ice Cream showed declines in consecutive years.

While Organic products showed growth in Traditional Grocers, likely due to major increases in Organic SKU counts, Dr. Jetta still expressed skepticism that the category warranted major shelf space and investment by these outlets. "I am concerned that Grocers will be unduly encouraged by these numbers. It takes 20 times more outlets (1900%) to establish an 80% sales advantage, so I still don't see where the economics make sense for a major investment in the category for Supermarkets."

"By contrast, if I were a Natural Foods store owner, I would expect that mainstream Grocers will continue to expand Organic offerings and support, and I would be quite concerned at this competitive threat. Natural Foods retailers - particularly the small independents - need to consider whether they are taking these consumers for granted. Organic Foods consumers are the lifeblood of the Natural Foods channel."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Married individuals are 58% more likely to buy food and beverage products online than single individuals

Despite shopping in general being down, online shopping has increased. 73 percent of shoppers who are buying more online are NOT shopping more -- they are just shopping differently. This was revealed in The Checkout, a newsletter that compiles data from the ongoing shopper experience study currently underway by The Integer Group ® and M/A/R/C ® Research.

"The number one reason why people decide to purchase online is to get a better deal. This is no surprise. When shoppers hunt for a singular item online, they search for a good price, attractive shipping options, and then they buy," said Randy Wahl, executive vice president, M/A/R/C Research.

While younger generations (18-24 year-olds) appear more comfortable shopping online, they continue to stick with 'safe' purchases in categories that historically, are purchased online (electronics, clothing, books and music). The surprise comes from the boomer shopper segment. When considering the somewhat newer CPG online shopping world (health, beauty, food, beverage), it's the older shoppers making these purchases. Although Gen Y may be increasing their overall online shopping (more than twice as many compared to 50-64 year-olds), they are not as quick to adopt when it comes to experimenting with making purchases in new categories. This behavior also seems to surface with marital status—married individuals are 58 percent more likely to buy food and beverage products online than single individuals.

"Categories that require hunting for multiple items at once, like food and beverage or health and beauty, introduces a new online buying mentality," said Craig Elston, senior vice president, Integer. "The concept of completing standard grocery shopping online is still new for most of us, and manufacturers and e-tailers need to understand that there are conventions ingrained in shopper behavior that they must disrupt."

Overall, the majority of shoppers still have trouble adapting to the world of online CPG. In the food and beverage category, nearly half of shoppers are currently saying they "haven't and never will" buy this category online.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Functional Food, Beverage Sector Rising

Research and Markets released its “The Future of Targeted Functional and Wellbeing Food and Drinks" report that examines the growth, drivers and future market size of the functional food and drinks market, evaluating and identifying the key ingredients that will take it forward.

The global consumption of functional foods and drinks increased by a compound annual rate of more than 6 percent between 2003 and 2008, and growth is predicted to continue over the next three years. In fact, nutraceuticals/functional food and drinks have had an influence in the development of the food and drinks industry over the past five years.

According to the report, increased health awareness and consumer confidence coupled with an aging population has driven demand for products that improve the quality of life, have specific health benefits and can be used by consumers to self-medicate. Findings reveal demand from the older generation will dramatically increase over the next four decades. Demand for foods that offer health benefits and promote disease prevention, including bone and joint health, brain and mental health, digestive health and heart health, will become more important in order to avoid the long-term costs.

Key analysis includes how changes in consumer demographics affect functional food and drinks market development; key emerging ingredients for functional food and drinks; current market trends and how will they develop over the next five years; how changing health claims regulations affect the functional food and drinks market; and possible applications for new ingredients.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Study Debunks Mediterranean Diet Heart Benefits

New research published in the January 2011 issue of International Journal of Clinical Practice debunks popular thinking that individuals who follow a Mediterranean diet are healthier after the findings revealed alarmingly high cardiovascular risk factors similar to those found in the United States and the United Kingdom among those who adhered to the diet.

As reported by AlphaGalieleo, researchers followed a random selection of 2,270 adults attending a healthcare centre in Malaga, Andalucia, a region with one of the highest rates of cardiovascular disease in Spain. Participants ranged from 18 to 80, with an average of just under 44 years; 50.3 percent were female, and 58 percent had low educational levels. More than 60 percent were overweight or obese, and 77 percent did not get enough exercise. According to the researchers, 28 percent smoked, 33 percent had high blood pressure, 7 percent had diabetes, and 65 percent had high cholesterol levels. Just fewer than 30 percent of the patients had three or more cardiovascular risk factors that could be modified by changes to their lifestyle or diet.

“Most of the cardiovascular risk factors increased with age, with the exception of smoking and low levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, and we noted some differences between the sexes," said Dr. Ricardo Gómez-Huelgas from the Internal Medicine Department at Hospital Carlos Haya, Malaga.. “We also found that a low education level was associated with a high prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and this association was significant when it came to smoking, obesity, abdominal obesity and high levels of fatty molecules."

The researchers noted men had a higher prevalence of smoking, high blood pressure, high levels of fatty molecules and impaired fasting glucose than women; and obesity increased with age. In fact, 84 percent over age 50 were overweight or obese, and 82 percent had abdominal obesity, compared with 61 percent and 56 percent for the study as a whole.

“We found high rates of obesity, abnormal lipid and fat levels and hypertension in the study group. And the high rates of smoking and sedentary lifestyles in young women raises fears for a large increase in cardiovascular deaths in this group in the near future. There are also issues around public health messages for people with lower education levels who tend to have higher risk factors," Gómez-Huelgas said.


* AlphaGalileo: Spanish heart risk study challenges image of healthy Mediterranean diet and lifestyle

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Resveratrol Triggers Anti-Obesity Hormone

A diet high in resveratrol-rich grapes may increase a beneficial fat hormone and may help curb obesity-related complications, according to a new study published in the Jan. 7 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Researchers at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio found resveratrol stimulates the expression of adiponectin, a hormone derived from cells that manufacture and store fat. Adiponectin and resveratrol display anti-obesity, anti-insulin resistance and anti-aging properties.

“Results from these studies should be of interest to those who are obese, diabetic and growing older," the researchers said. “The findings should also provide important information on the development of novel therapeutic drugs for the treatment of these diseases."

Higher levels of adiponectin produced by resveratrol may be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even cancer, he added.


* UT Health Science Center San Antonio: Grape ingredient resveratrol increases beneficial fat hormone

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fruits, Veggies Reduce Arthritis Risk

Individuals who consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce their risk of hip osteoarthritis (OA), according to a new study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. The findings also suggest garlic has a protective effect.

Researchers at King’s College London conducted a cross-sectional study in a large population-based volunteer cohort of twins, determining OA using plain radiographs and adjusting for age, BMI and physical activity. They also conducted in vitro studies examining the effects of allium-derived compounds on the expression of matrix-degrading proteases (MMPs) in SW1353 chondrosarcoma cells.

The dietary analysis (food questionnaires) revealed a specific pattern of dietary intake, that high in fruit and vegetables, showing an inverse association with hip OA (p=0.022); consumption of non-citrus fruit (p=0.015) and garlic alliums (p=0.029) had the strongest protective effect—alliums contain diallyl disulphide, which was shown to inhibit cytokine-induced MMP expression.

They concluded the data show a diet high in fruits and vegetables have a protective effect against radiographic OA, independent of lifestyle factors such as BMI. They further reported the action of garlic compounds on MMPs represents a possible mechanism of action.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Global Food Prices Continue To Soar

Global food prices reached a record high in December 2010, outpacing 2008 levels that prompted riots in 61 countries, according to a new “Crop Prospects and Food Situation" report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

FAO economist Abdolreza Abbassian warned prices of corn, wheat and other grains may increase drastically due to by the unpredictability of current weather, given the already high price levels and low supply of some grains.

"There is still room for prices to go up much higher, if for example the dry conditions in Argentina tend to become a drought, and if we start having problems with winterkill in the northern hemisphere for the wheat crops," he said.

The FAO food price index, which measures monthly price changes in a basket of foods including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 215 in December 2010—an increase for the sixth consecutive month and the highest since 1990.

According to the report, sugar, cereals and oil were the driving force in the price increase. Droughts in Russia and "many other unexpected developments that hit crops around the world" also added to the rise. The cost of food was up 25 percent in December 2010 from the same time the previous year. The year-on-year rise compares with the 43 percent jump in food costs in June 2008. Record prices for fuel, weather-related crop problems, increasing the demand from the growing Indian and Chinese middle classes, and the push to grow corn for ethanol fuel all contributed to the crisis that year.

FAO estimated that global food production will have to increase at least 70 percent by 2050 as the world population expands to 9.1 billion from about 6.8 billion last year.


* Bloomberg: UN Food Price Index tops records dating to '90

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Western Diet May Increase Breast Cancer, Metastases

Elevated fat and cholesterol levels found in Western diets may increase the risk and metastases of breast cancer, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Pathology.

Researchers at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson examined the role of fat and cholesterol in breast cancer development using a mouse model. The results showed mice fed a Western diet and predisposed to develop mammary tumors, can develop larger tumors that are faster growing and metastasize more easily, compared to animals eating a control diet.

The researchers used the PyMT mouse model to determine the role of dietary fat and cholesterol in tumor development. The model is believed to closely parallel the pathogenesis of human breast cancer. PyMT mice were placed on a diet that contained 21.2 percent fat and 0.2 percent cholesterol, reflective of a typical Western diet. A control group of PyMT mice was fed a normal chow that had only 4.5 percent fat and negligible amounts of cholesterol.

The findings revealed tumors began to develop quickly in mice fed the fat/cholesterol-enriched food. In fact, the number of tumors was almost doubled, and they were 50 percent larger than those observed in mice that ate a normal diet.

"The consumption of a Western diet resulted in accelerated tumor onset and increased tumor incidences, multiplicity, and burden, suggesting an important role for dietary cholesterol in tumor formation," the researchers said, adding there was a trend toward an increased number of lung metastasis in mice fed the fatty diet.

Next, the researchers studied the levels of several biomarkers of tumor progression and found a signature of a more advanced cancer stage, compared to tumors that developed in the control group. Plasma cholesterol levels in experimental mice that developed tumors also were significantly reduced compared to a group of mice with no predisposition to develop tumors that also was fed a cholesterol-rich diet.

"This suggests that tumor formation was responsible for the reduction in blood cholesterol levels observed in our animals," they said.


* Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson: High Dietary Fat, Cholesterol Linked to Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

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Friday, January 07, 2011

More evidence olive oil and veggies help the heart

It's no secret that eating well is good for both body and mind, so it may not come as a surprise that a new study finds women who eat more olive oil and leafy vegetables such as salads and cooked spinach are significantly less likely to develop heart disease.

A group of Italian researchers found that women who ate at least 1 serving of leafy vegetables per day were more than 40 percent less likely to develop heart disease over an average of eight years, relative to women who ate two or fewer portions of those vegetables each week.

Women who downed at least 3 tablespoons of olive oil daily - such as in salad dressing - were also 40 percent less likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, compared to women who ate the least olive oil.

It's not exactly clear why specifically leafy vegetables and olive oil may protect the heart, study author Dr. Domenico Palli of the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute in Florence told Reuters Health. "Probably the mechanisms responsible for the protective effect of plant-origin foods on cardiovascular diseases involve micronutrients such as folate, antioxidant vitamins and potassium, all present in green leafy vegetables."

Folate reduces blood levels of homocysteine, Palli explained, which is thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by damaging the inner lining of arteries. Other studies have shown people who eat more potassium have lower blood pressure, which can protect the cardiovascular system. Virgin olive oil may be particularly effective at lowering heart disease risk because of its high level of antioxidant plant compounds, he added.

This is not the first study to link olive oil or vegetables to good heart health. Most famously, the traditional Mediterranean diet -- rich in vegetables and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts, but low in saturated fat from meat and dairy -- has been tied to a decreased risk of heart disease.

Mediterranean-style eating has also been credited with lowering risk for some cancers, diabetes, and, more recently, with slowing brain aging (See Reuters Health story of December 29, 2010).

Cardiovascular disease is a major killer, responsible for 30 percent of all deaths worldwide and the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

To look more closely at the role of foods in protecting against heart disease, Palli and colleagues reviewed dietary information collected from nearly 30,000 Italian women participating in a large national health study. Researchers followed the women, whose mean age was 50 at the beginning of the study, for an average of 8 years, noting who developed heart disease.

In that time, the women experienced 144 major heart disease-related events, such as heart attack or bypass surgery, the authors report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Women who ate at least one daily serving (about two ounces) of leafy vegetables - such as raw lettuce or endives, or cooked vegetables like spinach or chard -- had a 46 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than women who ate at most two portions per week.

Consuming at least an ounce of olive oil per day lowered their risk by 44 percent relative to women who consumed a half-ounce or less daily, the authors found.

The women's intake of other types of vegetables, such as roots and cabbages, and their consumption of tomatoes or fruit did not seem to be linked to their risk for major heart events.

Both fruits and vegetables have been associated with heart benefits in past studies conducted elsewhere in Europe and in North America. The authors caution that the apparent lack of positive effect from high fruit consumption in their results may have something to do with a different attitude toward fruit in Italy. It is cheap, varied and easily available, so eating a lot of fruit is a widespread habit but it does not necessarily signal that the rest of someone's diet is as healthy, the authors wrote.

Another issue with the study, Palli noted in an e-mail, is that women had to report how much they ate of various items, and some may not have remembered their diets accurately, or may have changed their eating habits during the study period. In addition, people sometimes over-estimate their healthy behaviors, believing they eat healthier than they really do.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The single-cup coffee market, which excludes instant, generated almost $200 million worth of U.S. sales in the 52 weeks

Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, will miss out on a surge in home-brewing unless it can break a 13-year-old deal that ties its fortunes to Kraft Foods Inc.’s slow-selling Tassimo machine.

Under the terms of the deal, Starbucks can’t put its coffee in the Keurig Home Brewer, according to a complaint from Kraft filed in federal court in White Plains, New York. Kraft’s brewing system has 2.6 percent of the grocery market; Keurig, which dominates the U.S. market for machines that make single cups of coffee in a minute or less and is owned by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., has 71 percent.

As Americans replace traditional coffeemakers with Keurig brewers, they’re forsaking ground coffee, cutting into Starbucks’ grocery sales, said Mitch Pinheiro, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC.

“Starbucks is losing its addressable market by the day,” Philadelphia-based Pinheiro said in a telephone interview.

In November, Starbucks Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz announced plans to terminate a deal under which Kraft distributes Starbucks coffee products to U.S. grocery stores.

Kraft says Starbucks can’t end the deal unless the world’s largest coffee chain compensates Kraft for the “fair market value” of the packaged coffee business. On Dec. 6, Kraft filed a complaint in the U.S. Southern District of New York, seeking to prevent Starbucks from taking any further action toward ending the partnership.

Starbucks fell 77 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.48 at 4:30 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares increased 39 percent last year.

New Technology

In 1998, when Starbucks and Kraft first agreed to work together, the single-cup brewer was a relatively new technology. The machines use disposable cups or pods of ground coffee to dispense a cup of coffee. Starbucks was selling coffee pods that fit into a conventional espresso machine (the company has since stopped selling the machine and still sells pods), and Keurig sold brewers solely to offices.

When Keurig prepared to enter the home-brewing market in 2002, it sought investments from coffee companies, said Nick Lazaris, who was CEO at the time. Canadian coffee company Van Houtte Inc. invested $10 million in Keurig, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, the first brand to sell its coffee in Keurig pods, acquired a 41 percent stake in the company for $14 million (it bought the rest of Keurig for $104 million in 2006).

Starbucks, which at the time was focused on acquiring chains and opening stores worldwide, didn’t invest in Keurig.

‘Like Intel’

While Nestle, Kraft and Procter & Gamble Co. all got into the coffee pod business, Keurig grabbed the biggest market share in the U.S. by positioning its $250 brewer as a gourmet product and by giving consumers lots of choice, Lazaris says. Today Keurig brewers sell for about $100 and up.

Though competitors sold just a few brands of coffee, Keurig licensed its K-Cups for dozens of specialty coffee purveyors, such as Tully’s, Van Houtte and Timothy’s, and let different manufacturers make Keurig-style brewers, earning a royalty off each sale. It also included a special K-Cup that consumers could fill up with their own favorite ground coffee.

“We wanted to be like Intel,” former CEO Lazaris said in a telephone interview, meaning Keurig would be a technology present in multiple brands. It prevented consumers from “feeling cornered,” Lazaris said.

‘Share Erosion’

In the 52 weeks ending Oct. 31, the single-cup market, which excludes instant coffee, generated almost $200 million worth of U.S. sales, according to SymphonyIRI Group, a Chicago- based firm that tracks supermarkets. While that is 5.2 percent of the overall coffee category, single-cup coffee sales are growing 28 times as fast as the overall coffee market.

Even before publicly announcing his intention to pull out of the Kraft deal, Schultz had privately expressed his concerns to the Northfield, Illinois-based food maker.

“We cannot accept the continued share erosion and lack of progress we are experiencing down the grocery aisle,” Schultz wrote to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld in an e-mail provided to Bloomberg News by Starbucks.

Determined to expand its grocery business, Starbucks has been putting its marketing muscle behind its own single-serve product, Via Ready Brew. A soluble powder sold in individual packets, Via requires no brewer and is simply dissolved in hot or cold water.

‘Grand Scheme’

For the 12 months ending in October, Via generated $16.8 million worth of sales in U.S. groceries, according to SymphonyIRI. During the same period, Green Mountain K-Cups alone rang up $72 million in U.S. grocery sales.

“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t look like Via is going to make a great deal of impact on the coffee category” in the U.S., said Jim Hertel, managing partner at Willard Bishop, a Barrington, Illinois-based retail consulting firm.

Starbucks expects Via to turn a profit in 2011, Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said during a Nov. 4 investor call, with the biggest opportunities overseas. Including sales in both Starbucks retail locations and grocery stores, the company sold $135 million worth of Via worldwide in the past year, Alstead said.

Starbucks’ agreement with Kraft limits exclusivity only to grocery stores, meaning the company can sell any single-serve system in its own stores or with specialty retailers such as department stores, Alan Hilowitz, a Starbucks spokesman, said in an e-mail today. Hilowitz declined to provide the contract, citing a confidentiality agreement.

“We are looking forward to providing Starbucks customers with more ways to enjoy Starbucks coffee, one cup at a time,” Hilowitz said via an e-mailed statement on Dec. 29.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Sweeping Food Safety Reform Signed into Law

President Obama on late Tuesday signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the largest overhaul of U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years. The legislation makes sweeping improvements to the security and safety of our nation’s food supply by giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to order product recalls, requiring food manufacturers to keep more detailed food safety plans, allowing FDA greater access to food company records and other provisions.

FDA will work with a wide range of public and private partners to build a new system of food safety oversight focused on applying the best available science and good common sense to prevent the problems that can make people sick.

According to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, foodborne illness strikes 48 million Americans, hospitalizing 100,000 and killing thousands each year.

All food processors will be required to evaluate the hazards in their operations, implement and monitor effective measures to prevent contamination, and have a plan in place to take any corrective actions that are necessary. FDA also will have much more effective enforcement tools for ensuring those plans are adequate and properly implemented, including mandatory recall authority when needed to swiftly remove contaminated food from the market.

FDA will establish science-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables to minimize the risk of serious illnesses or death, and will set standards for the safe transportation of food. FDA will for the first time have a congressional mandate for risk-based inspection of food processing facilities.

The bill calls for the FDA to inspect at least 600 foreign food facilities within a year of enactment, and double its number of foreign inspections in each subsequent year for five years. The measure would require inspections every three years for U.S. manufacturing and processing plants the FDA views to be at a high risk for contamination, and every five years for all other domestic facilities. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), 50,000 foreign and domestic food facilities would be inspected in 2015 by FDA or federal, state, local or foreign officials acting on FDA’s behalf.

The legislation significantly enhances FDA’s ability to oversee the millions of food products coming into the United States from other countries each year. Hamburg said among the improvements is the requirement that importers verify the safety of food from their suppliers and the authority for the FDA to block foods from facilities or countries that refuse our inspection. FDA also will work more closely with foreign governments and increasing its inspection of foreign food facilities. FDA’s new import tool kit will have a huge impact on food safety given that an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, including 60 percent of fresh fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood.

Finally, the legislation calls for the strengthening of existing collaboration among all food safety agencies whether they are federal, state, local, territorial, tribal or foreign. The legislation also directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to improve training of state, local, territorial and tribal food safety officials and authorizes grants for training, conducting inspections, building capacity of labs and food safety programs, and other food safety activities.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Food and Beverage Trends That Shaped 2010

As the country began extricating itself from economic doldrums in 2010, which dishes and drinks did savvy food marketers and restaurant operators introduce or innovate to satisfy consumer needs?

According to the "Culinary Trend Mapping Report," a bi-monthly journal from Packaged Facts and the Center for Culinary Development (CCD), overall themes included Back to the Basics, Artisan Upgrades, Healthful Eating, and Regional and Global Flavor Adventure.

"Culinary Trend Mapping Report" pinpointed two handfuls of trends that shaped the food landscape and fueled foodie enthusiasms in 2010, using CCD's signature five-stage Trend Mapping® technique, where Stage 1 represents the emerging trend phase in fine dining or regional restaurants, while Stage 5 represents full "trickle down" to mainstream grocery store shelves and quick-service restaurants. Looking back, the following are 10 of the top food trends for 2010:

* Gourmet-On-The-Go (Stage 1): Street food was on fire this year, made by cooks and chefs of all stripes. One notable subset was fine-dining chefs serving upgraded street food either in restaurants or from refurbished carts and taco trucks, while foodie entrepreneurs made specialized, high-quality cuisine available on the go.

* "Fine Fast" Sandwich Shops (Stage 1): These gourmet sandwich shops took the art of sandwich-making seriously. They were often helmed by fine-dining chefs and featured high-quality, artisan and locally sourced ingredients, as well as a wide range of housemade condiments and toppings.

* Boutique Booze (Stage 2): Boutique booze was all the rage in 2010, from bars that specialize in a single type of liquor to festivals that celebrate spirits made by independent producers. Local liquor outlets have benefitted from newly flexible blue laws and the legalization of liquor tastings in stores and at factories, as well as the growing consumer enthusiasm for all things handmade and artisan.

* Condiments, Preserved Foods & Heirloom Produce (Stage 2): A rising number of passionate people took food back to its roots, literally. They grew produce from heirloom seeds, revived the art of home canning and made condiments and preserved products of all kinds. This resulted in new thriving DIY communities as this new wave of artisans found outlets for their products at craft and farmers markets, online and at specialty retail stores.

* Parisian Macarons (Stage 2): This delicious and multi-hued Parisian pastry, composed of two ground-almond meringue cookies bound with buttercream, ganache or jam filling, is like a couture Oreo -- light and tasty, satisfying, and adaptable to variations. Perhaps trying to take on the supremacy of the cupcake, macarons were found this year in a wealth of high-end bakeries and gourmet-food retailers -- and became a staple of food photography.

* Bahn Mi & Bao (Stage 2): Bao (a Taiwanese pork-based sandwich, served on a white flour bun) and banh mi (a Vietnamese sandwich featuring grilled meat or pâté served on French bread) perfectly marry the novel with the familiar, appealing to consumers who love sandwiches but are searching for flavor adventure. Both bao and banh mi made waves in 2010 in urban centers like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, as well on the street from a myriad of street food trucks and carts.

* Butchery (Stage 3): Butchers stole the headlines this year, acting as unexpected emissaries of the heritage meat and artisan trends that came together to renew popular demand for handcut meat. With the upsurge in production and consumption of high-quality meat, young and aspiring foodies flocked to butchery demonstrations, ready to get their hands bloody (literally) to feel closer to the sources of their food.

* Agave Nectar (Stage 3): Agave nectar became the much-talked-about sweetener in 2010, stealing a bit of stevia's thunder. No wonder: it fits well with consumer desires for a plant-based sweetener, its low glycemic index maintains blood sugar levels, and because it is sweeter than sugar, consumers can use less of it. A syrup that can be easily added to products ranging from beverages to baked goods to sauces to confections, agave nectar has demonstrated its versatility in the 300+ agave-bearing products already on the market and available in retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

* Eggs All Day (Stage 4): More than ever, the egg is being placed front and center as a food that is inexpensive, healthful (protein-rich or low-fat if only egg whites), and adaptable, whether for a sandwich or wrap, to accompany a salad, on a pizza, mixed with pasta...and the list goes on. Though reinventing the egg might seem like reinventing the wheel, many Stage 4 women's magazines have innovated on breakfast's most basic food to generate new ideas for home chefs.

* Better Burgers (Stage 5): Building better burgers became a nationwide obsession in 2010, whether it meant adding exotic toppings, using grass-fed and locally sourced beef, or finding the perfect bun. Many fine dining restaurants have added dressed up versions on their menus while chain restaurants responded to customer demand for better quality meat by using Angus and Kobe-style American Wagyu beef for their burgers.

As these culinary trends for 2010 show, Americans continue on their determined but multi-pronged quest for new eating experiences and meal-time solutions that mesh with their values and more sophisticated tastes. As they look for new foods and beverages to meet their flavor, nutrition, convenience, and budgetary needs, new opportunities for marketers to meet these demands emerge. With strategic thinking and an in-depth understanding of the underlying consumer drivers behind the current trends, foodservice operators and grocery manufacturers can stock the kitchen and set the table of the future.

Monday, January 03, 2011

FDA ends Rock Hard Extreme and Passion Coffee sexual enhancement pills

The FDA has advised consumers not to buy or drink Rock Hard Extreme pills and Passion Coffee packets because the undeclared sexual enhancement drug inside both drinks are unsafe for a certain male population.

Rock Hard Extreme and Passion Coffee are sold and promoted as dietary supplements for sexual enhancement. The FDA is weary of a what it calls a "growing trend" of products marketed as dietary supplements or conventional foods with hidden drugs and chemicals.

Rock Hard Extreme and Rock Hard Coffee are sold at websites ( and possibly in some retail stores.

FDA lab analysis found that both Rock Hard Extreme and Passion Coffee have an undeclared ingredient sulfaildenafil which is similar to sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra.

Viagra is an FDA approved prescription drug for erectile dysfunction, but the undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and could lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Men with diabetes,high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrates. The FDA is advising consumers to immediately discard both products and consult a health care professional if any negative side effects have resulted from consumption of Rock Hard Extreme or Passion Coffee.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Raspberries Kill Breast, Colon Cancer Cells

Antioxidants in red raspberry extract have been shown to destroy stomach and colon cancer cells; however, the extracts may have an even more pronounced effect on breast cancer cells, according to a new study published in Nutrition Research.

Researchers at the Department of Nursing at Clemson University assessed the relative roles of low pH and high antioxidant levels in the killing of three cell types by an aqueous extract from Meeker red raspberries. They treated stomach, colon and breast cancer cells with berry extract and with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and ascorbic acid solutions of the same pH. They found a dilution of 7.5-percent ascorbic acid solution, of the same pH and slightly higher antioxidant concentration than the berry extract, killed less than 10 percent of the stomach and colon cancer cells. However, the berry extract at this same dilution killed more than 90 percent of these cells.

They also found antioxidants played a more significant role in the killing of breast cancer cells, with approximately 50 percent of the killing attributable to antioxidant effects.

The researchers concluded the antioxidant effect of raspberries plays a minor role in the killing of certain gastrointestinal cell types, but its role in inactivating a breast cancer cell line is much more significant. They further noted no evidence of apoptosis was observed, and caspase activation did not contribute to cell killing by the extract.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Fatty Acids in U.S. Milk

Milk can be a significant source of dietary fats. Many factors can influence its fatty-acid composition, especially the cow’s diet. The last survey of U.S. dairy milk fatty-acid composition was 25 years ago, in which timeframe there has been a substantial change in dairy feeds as well as analytical methods. A new study from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, gives a picture of the current composition of retail milk in the United States.

Whole dairy milk contains 3.25% fat with more than 60% of that being saturated fats. The exact composition of milk has grown in interest as consumers are increasingly aware that food components—including dietary fatty acids—might influence human health maintenance and disease prevention.

The study, “Survey of the fatty acid composition of retail milk in the United States including regional and seasonal variations,” published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Dairy Science, looked at samples of fluid milk from 56 different U.S. milk processing plants every 3 months for a year to include any seasonal and geographical variations. The researchers selected plants that represented 50% or more of the fluid milk produced in that area.

Analysis of the milk showed that that saturated fatty acids comprised 63.7% of total milk fatty acids with palmitic and stearic acids representing the majority (44.1% and 18.3% of total saturated fatty acids, respectively). The milks’ unsaturated fatty acids comprised 33.2% of the total fatty acids, and consisted mainly of oleic acid (71.0% of total unsaturated fatty acids). These amounts were comparable to those of the 1984 milk survey. Trans fatty acids made up 3.2% of total fatty acids; the main trans isomer being vaccenic acid, which was 46.5% of total trans fatty acids. Cis-9, trans-11 18:2 conjugated linoleic acid represented 0.55% total milk fatty acids, and the major n-3 fatty acid (linolenic acid, 18:3) was 0.38%. There were some statistical differences for some fatty acids occurring due to seasonal and regional effects, but the scientists noted that they were minor from an overall human nutrition perspective because the fatty-acid profile for all samples were numerically similar.

The authors concluded that results demonstrate that U.S. milk’s fatty-acid profile is remarkably consistent across geographic regions and seasons from the perspective of human dietary intake of milkfat. This data adds to an earlier study (“Survey of the fatty acid composition of retail milk differing in label claims based on production management practices,” Journal of Dairy Science, Vol. 93, No. 5, May 2010, pp1918-1925) that found the fatty acid composition of conventional milk and milk labeled rbST-free or organic had no meaningful differences that would affect public health, and that all milks were similar in nutritional quality and wholesomeness.


* “Survey of the fatty acid composition of retail milk in the United States including regional and seasonal variations,” : A.M. O’Donnell-Megaro, D.M. Barbano and D.E. Bauman, Journal of Dairy Science, Volume 94, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 59-65, doi:10.3168/jds.2010-3571