Thursday, March 31, 2011

Improved Economy Boosts Food, Beverage Sector

In its latest executive briefing, “The U.S. Food and Beverage Market: 2010 Performance and Outlook for 2011 and 2012," SymphonyIRI Group analyzed the food and beverage industry and predicts improved economic conditions and consumer confidence will help the U.S. food and beverage industry rebound in 2011 and 2012. That’s good news since the sector slowed to 0.6 percent growth in 2010 as compared to 1.3 percent in 2009.

“As the economy continues to improve, shoppers are more likely to remain with a set of brands and retailers that they know delivers the value they expect," said Dr. Krishnakumar (KK) Davey, managing director, Symphony Consulting. “It is important for these companies to invest in gaining the most detailed understanding of their shoppers possible. To succeed, these manufacturers and retailers must innovate by continuously introducing new products, packaging, pricing, merchandising and promotion strategies, and customizing these initiatives to highly-discrete shopper microsegments."

According to the report, U.S. food and beverage market will grow in the 1 percent to 1.5 percent in 2011 and 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent in 2012. The growth is significantly slower than the 3.6 percent to 3.9 percent CAGR anticipated for U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by Moody’s. Among surveyed shoppers, 38 percent anticipate their food and beverage spending will increase in 2011, while just 10 percent project their spending will decline.

“Because the economic recovery is, and will continue to be, uneven, CPG and retail leaders must identify and focus on market segments where growth is likely to occur over the coming months and years," said James Rushing, partner, Symphony Consulting. “While there are exciting opportunities for CPG and retail companies to attract new shoppers and increase shopper loyalty, there are still challenges ahead. Many shoppers expect their food and beverage spending to be flat or increase just slightly this year."


* SymphonyIRI: New Symphony Consulting Food & Beverage Industry Report Predicts Accelerating Market Growth in 2011 and 2012

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Consumer Spending Up, Rising Food Costs To Blame

New data released today from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed consumer spending rose 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent in February 2011, marking the eight straight month of increases. The data also attributed much of the increase to consumers paying higher prices for groceries and gasoline.

Personal income increased 0.3 percent in February, nearly consistent with private-sector forecasts of a 0.4-percent increase. Wages and salaries rose a favorable 0.3 percent. Personal income figures for both December and January also were revised upward.

“The good news in today’s report is that wages and salaries—an important and large component of personal income—are strong and rising," said U.S. Commerce Department Chief Economist Mark Doms. “Going forward, we hope to see even stronger growth in consumer spending as the economy expands thanks to key investments by this Administration focused on job creation and global competitiveness."


* U.S. Commerce Department: Personal Income and Outlays, February 201

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scientists find walnut as most nutritious nut

Walnuts contain more antioxidant than any other nut making it the most nutritious and healthy nuts, according to U.S. researchers.

The finding was presented at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Anaheim, California on Sunday. It was based on a study led by Joe Vinson, Ph.D., that compared antioxidants levels in walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans.

Aside from having twice as much antioxidants as the other nuts, walnuts can substitute for meat, vitamins and minerals, dietary fiber, the ACS study said.

Walnuts also are free from dairy and gluten and contain polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than saturated fat known for clogging arteries, the study added.

Eating small amounts of nuts or peanut butter regularly can decrease the risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems,

Read more:

Monday, March 28, 2011

CPGs Pledge to Reduce Packaging Waste

Food, beverage and consumer products manufacturers plan to eliminate 4 billion pounds of packaging waste nationwide from 2005-2020, according to a new Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) report.

The report, based on a nationwide survey of CPG companies, revealed more than 1.5 billion pounds already have been avoided since 2005, and another 2.5 billion pounds are expected to be avoided by 2020. The 4 billion pounds represents a 19-percent reduction of reporting companies’ total average U.S. packaging weight.

“Across the board, the food, beverage and consumer products industry has been vigilant in its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint," said Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO of GMA. “When it comes to eliminating packaging from the supply chain, we have already made significant progress, but we know we can do more. We look forward to meeting this goal to eliminate 4 billion pounds of packaging by 2020."

The 1.5 billion pounds of packaging avoided since 2005 includes more than 800 million pounds of plastic and more than 500 million pounds of paper. Packaging improvements have spanned most product categories, with no single category dominating. Companies reported that they achieved the 2005-2010 reductions through the success of more than 180 distinct improvement initiatives that included package redesigns and increased use of recyclable inputs.

“In eliminating this packaging from the supply chain, we are reducing a significant volume of waste that would otherwise end up in landfills, but the benefits go far beyond that. Companies are reporting that packaging improvements are enabling them to ship more units per truckload, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources such as water and energy," said GMA Senior Director, Energy and Environmental Policy John Shanahan.


* Grocery Manufacturers Association: Food, Beverage and Consumer Products Companies to Eliminate Four Billion Pounds of Packaging by 2020

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Demand for Healthy Products Driving Dairy Market

“What’s In Store 2011," the 25th anniversary edition annual trends report from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, is now available.

The report details consumer and industry trends affecting the dairy case, cheese case, bakery, and deli/foodservice supermarket departments, and includes 196 tables illustrating department sales, per capita consumption, consumer preferences, and random-weight, UPC, and private label sales data.

Current trends in the dairy are fortified, fiber-rich, fat-specific and organic products that health-conscious customers are seeking to keep to obesity at bay. According to the report, the yogurt category is predicted to grow through 2014 with full-fat yogurt taking a sizeable portion (64.5%) of the business because it offers an ideal method to ingest functional ingredients like probiotics and prebiotics that are preserved by the category's cold chain delivery.

Enhanced milks, such as those containing vitamins and minerals spanning from calcium to iron and zinc, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, are new fixtures in the dairy department. Low-fat and fat-free milks with vitamin E, and those packed with antioxidants and plant sterols, are ushering functional foods with specific health benefits into the daily lives of dairy consumers. Products that promote better gut health, improved immunity, heart, bone and nervous system health, and even beauty benefits are now commonplace in daily meals.

Hummus is leading growth in the flavored spreads and dips category. Small single-serve packages and exotic flavors like spinach artichoke are making this dip a new mainstay that is only increasing in popularity. With less fat, Greek yogurt is also moving into sour cream's traditional role as a base for dips for a healthier alternative. Cottage cheese has become a medium for increased fiber consumption, from servings that provide 20 percent of the recommended RDI to 100-calorie packs of fiber-enriched cottage cheese with fruit on the side.


* IDDBA: Healthful Dairy Products Drive Growth in Slow Market

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dieting Causes Irritability

Dieting may make a person irritable or angry, according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The finding suggest resisting cravings and being disciplined about eating can provoke aggressive behavior.

Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of California, San Diego conducted a number of experiments to compare the attitudes of volunteers who were on a diet with those who were allowed to eat what they wanted.

The researchers found that people who exerted self-control were more likely to prefer anger-themed movies, were more interested in looking at angry facial expressions, were more persuaded by anger-framed appeals, and expressed more irritation at a message that used controlling language to convince them to change their exercise habits.

In one experiment, they found people who chose an apple for a snack instead of a chocolate bar were more likely to watch movies with anger and revenge themes than milder films. In a second experiment, participants who displayed financial restraint by choosing a gift certificate for groceries over one for a spa service showed more interest in looking at angry faces rather than fearful ones. A third experiment found dieters had more favorable opinions toward public policy messages that used anger-framed appeals than they did toward a sad message. In the final study, dieters who chose a healthy snack over a tastier, less healthy snack were more irritated by advertising messages that included controlled language like “you ought to," “need to" and “must."

"Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger," the authors said.


* EurekAlert: Cranky? On a diet? How self-control leads to anger

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting Back to Ginger’s Roots

As one of the world’s most-popular spices, ginger’s usage is wide and varied, from the characteristic flavors in ginger ale to the essential sushi condiment. Ginger can not only be used as a culinary flavoring for foods and beverages, but it has also historically served as a medicinal agent for numerous ailments, particularly those associated with nausea and inflammation. Traditional Chinese medicine uses fresh ginger to alleviate fevers, headaches and muscle aches.

So it grows

Although it originated in Asia, ginger (Zingiber officinale) has spread throughout tropical and subtropical regions, including India, the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. China is a key growing region for ginger. Not long ago, Jiangsu was an important province for ginger-oil production. However, production has shifted to the Shandong and Anhui provinces, which are now responsible for 90% of China’s ginger manufacture, because the land and climate there are more suitable.

Although often called a root, ginger is a rhizome, a thick, fibrous, horizontal underground stem covered by a thin, brown-colored skin when mature. It is propagated from roots, not seeds. In the spring, farmers plant a small piece of root with a growth spur, which sends up green, leafy stalks that reach between 12 and 40 in. These end in a spike covered with small, aromatic yellow-green flowers. But the rhizome is the part of the plant used for the spice we know as ginger.

To harvest, farmers lift the entire root. Harvest occurs in fall, so cold weather means the root cannot be dried immediately. Some of the root is sold immediately to spice dealers, and the rest is stored in underground pits and covered with soil. Growers in Shandong, the biggest ginger-producing province in China, store ginger root in 32-ft.-deep pits supported by concrete cylinders. The root is retrieved from this underground storage and graded in the spring of the following year. Good-quality roots are used for the fresh-spice market or for replanting. If the root is unsuitable for selling dried, it is processed into oil.

The essentials of ginger

Ginger’s flavor is characterized by warm, spicy and woody notes, with slight citrusy notes. The key to ginger’s refreshing, pungent—yet warm—taste is its oleoresin, gingerin. Depending on the age of the harvested rhizome, ginger contains between 1% and 3% essential oil, which has a sweet, citrus aroma. The more-mature rhizomes produce a fuller aroma, flavor and pungency than their younger counterparts.

Ginger essential oil is derived from the powder of crude ginger flakes made from roots dried in the sun for one week. The powder is placed in large stills that hold 1,322 lbs. of powder. The yield from these stills is approximately 1.6%, so one charge produces about 22 lbs. of oil. The distillation uses steam generated by a coal-fired boiler for up to 24 hours to ensure key high-boiling components are extracted.

Ginger essential oil consists mostly of mono- and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. Some of the compounds present include a-pinene, camphene, B-pinene, 1,8-cineole, linalool, borneol, y-terpineol, nerol, neral, geraniol, geranial, geranyl acetate, B-bisabolene and zingiberene. Gas-liquid chromatography has been used to measure the varying levels of the main compounds in ginger essential oils from India and China. Ginger oils from these two sources are close in composition; however, Indian oils generally contain slightly higher levels of linalool and beta sesquiphellandrene than Chinese varieties. This might be a result of differences in the freshness or dryness of the root from which the essential oils were derived. The exact composition of ginger may also vary depending on geographic origin, maturity at harvest and climate.

One spice, many guises

In addition to essential oil, ginger can take many other forms. Over the years, ginger has shown itself to be a highly versatile spice and is used in different ways across the world.

Fresh ginger is an essential flavoring ingredient for many Asian dishes, where it confers a fresh, peppery flavor and spicy aroma. It can be minced, crushed, grated, sliced or chopped. Once cooked, however, fresh ginger is milder in flavor and less pungent. Fried ginger is often used in Chinese and Indian cuisines, in dishes such as stir-fries and curries.

More aromatic and less pungent than fresh, dried ginger is a spice commonly found in the West. It is often used in baked goods, most notably gingersnaps and gingerbread, as well as in puddings, preserves and soft drinks, including ginger ale and ginger beer.

Pickled ginger is a popular accompaniment in Asian cuisine. In Japan, ginger is pickled with vinegar (and known as gari and beni shoga), often dyed red or pink, and served with sushi.

Preserved ginger, or “stem ginger," is another form of ginger that is preserved in syrup and is most often added to cakes and puddings. However, it can be eaten on its own as a spicy treat, as can crystallized ginger (ginger cooked in syrup and rolled in coarse sugar).

Natural flavors can also be derived from ginger as distillates. This type of ingredient can impart the distinctive aroma of freshly grated ginger, but without the tingling heat associated with ginger oil.

The world over, ginger is considered a valuable spice for many purposes. Its characteristic aroma adds distinctive notes to a multitude of food and beverage systems.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Whole Grain Cereal May Help Control Blood Pressure

Eating breakfast cereal -- especially whole grain cereal -- may reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

"We found about a 20 percent decreased risk of developing hypertension in those who consumed whole grain breakfasts cereals at least seven times a week," said lead researcher Dr. Jinesh Kochar, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the VA Boston Healthcare System.

"Along with other healthy lifestyles, such as low sodium intake and physical activity, getting whole grain from this readily available source can cut down the risk of developing chronic hypertension," he added.

Findings from the study, which received no private industry funding, were scheduled for presentation Tuesday at an American Heart Association conference in Atlanta.

For the study, Kochar's team collected data on 13,368 male doctors who took part in the Physicians Health Study I, a landmark trial begun in 1982.

None of the men had high blood pressure at the start of the study, but during more than 16 years of follow-up, 7,267 men developed hypertension, the researchers found.

High blood pressure, which puts people at risk for heart disease and stroke, is a leading cause of death in the United States.

The men were separated into four groups based on their cereal consumption.

When researchers adjusted only for age, they found that the men who ate cereal at least once a week reduced their risk of high blood pressure 8 percent compared with men who ate no cereal. Consuming cereal two to six times a week lowered the risk 16 percent, and eating it seven or more times a week dropped the risk 25 percent.

When Kochar's group adjusted their findings to take into account smoking history, weight, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and history of diabetes in addition to age, the difference was still significant but smaller -- 12 percent for those eating two to six servings a week and 19 percent for men eating seven or more bowls.

The association with lower blood pressure was stronger for whole grain cereals than refined grain cereals, the researchers found.

Kochar speculates the effect is partly because of whole grain cereal's high fiber content. Whole grains are also a good source of micronutrients, and they increase insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, he said.

Commenting on the study, Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that "there has long been evidence that whole grain intake can lower blood pressure fairly acutely, and it is associated with lower blood pressure over time."

A number of mechanisms may produce this beneficial effect, he said. "They contain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that may directly relax blood vessels," Katz said. Another contributing factor is soluble fiber, "which helps lower blood sugar, lipid and insulin levels, and, in turn, lowers blood pressure," he added.

There's another obvious, but often overlooked explanation, Katz said: "Eating more whole grains means eating less of something else."

"When one considers the many high-sodium fast-food breakfast options, it may be as much what a bowl of cereal knocks out of one's diet, as what it puts in, that helps lower blood pressure and enhance health," Katz said.

More cereal might mean fewer scones and donuts, for example.

Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

More information

For more information on hypertension, visit the American Heart Association.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Comfort Foods Help Alleviate Loneliness

New research from the University of Buffalo reveals eating comfort foods like mashed potatoes, meatloaf and macaroni and cheese may affect a person’s mood and possibly alleviate loneliness.

The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science and are based on a series of experiments that evaluated the effect of food in keeping loneliness at bay. In one experiment, participants were asked to write for six minutes about a fight with someone close to them; others were given an emotionally neutral writing assignment. Next, some participants were asked to write about the experience of eating a comfort food while others were asked to write about eating a new food. The participants completed a questionnaire about their levels of loneliness.

The study revealed when people wrote about a fight with somebody close, it made them feel lonely; however, writing about comfort foods uplifted their spirits and made them feel good.

“We have found that comfort foods are foods which are consistently associated with those close to us," the researchers said. “Thinking about or consuming these foods later then serves as a reminder of those close others."


* Association for Psychological Science: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Comfort Food Fights Loneliness

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Early-warning diabetes test hope

Experts believe a simple blood test could spot diabetes up to 10 years before the first symptoms of the disease occur.

By looking at levels of five amino acids in the blood US researchers were able to correctly identify people who went on to develop type 2 diabetes.

Ultimately the Harvard team hope a test like this could be used to screen for type 2 diabetes, Nature Medicine says.

Early detection can help prevent related complications like blindness.
Risk prediction

Dr Victoria King, head of research at Diabetes UK, said: "Early diagnosis and effective management of type 2 diabetes are crucial in reducing the risk of developing diabetes complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

"Therefore finding ways to identify those who are at risk of developing the condition are important.

"This research, in future, could lead to ways to help us identify those at risk as well as giving us new insights into how and why type 2 diabetes develops."

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet.

In many cases the condition can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, Dr King said.

Aside from keeping an eye on a person's weight and blood sugar, doctors have had little else they can use to identify at risk individuals.

The test used in the study looks for levels of small molecules in the blood. Among the 2,422 health volunteers tested, 201 later went on to develop diabetes.

And the researchers found that the early blood tests readily identified these patients years before they developed any symptoms.

Those with the highest levels of amino acids in their blood were five times as likely to develop diabetes within the following 12 years of the study.

Dr Robert Gerszten and colleagues who carried out the work say more studies are needed before the test could be recommended for general use.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Black Elderberries Knock Out Flu Viruses

Black elderberry extract has been found to ward off influenza A and B viruses and bacteria associated with upper respiratory infections, according to a new study published online at BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Researchers at Justus-Liebig University analyzed a standardized elderberry extract (Rubini, BerryPharma AG) for its antimicrobial and antiviral activity using the microtitre broth micro-dilution assay against three Gram-positive bacteria and one Gram-negative bacteria responsible for infections of the upper respiratory tract, as well as cell culture experiments for two different strains of influenza virus.

The antimicrobial activity of the elderberry extract was determined by bacterial growth experiments in liquid cultures using the extract at concentrations of 5%, 10%, 15% and 20%. The inhibitory effects were determined by plating the bacteria on agar plates. The inhibitory potential of the extract on the propagation of human pathogenic H5N1-type influenza A virus isolated from a patient and an influenza B virus strain also was investigated using MTT and focus assays.

The researchers found a standardized elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in liquid cultures. The liquid extract also displays an inhibitory effect on the propagation of human pathogenic influenza viruses.

The findings suggest Rubini elderberry liquid extract is active against human pathogenic bacteria as well as influenza viruses.


* BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Inhibitory activity of a standardized elderberry liquid extract against clinically-relevant human respiratory bacterial pathogens and influenza A and B viruses

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dukan Diet: Newest Fad or Weight-Loss Answer?

It’s supposed to be the French version of the Atkins Diet and it’s making big waves – both in Europe and now in America, but one New York City-based dietitian said the Dukan Diet can be a dangerous choice – despite the fact that princess-to-be Kate Middleton and her mother are allegedly using the diet to shed pounds before Middleton’s big day.

“The Dukan Diet is not based on any scientific data, and seems to be a modified version of the Atkins Diet,” Tanya Zuckerbort, a Fox News contributor said.” This diet is protein-centric and highly restrictive in the initial stages, without much research to back it up.”

The Dukan Diet has been popular in France for years, and now Dr. Pierre Dukan is bringing his weight-loss plan overseas to North America. It consists of high-protein, low-fat meals—which is nothing new—but adds very large amounts of water and oat bran. The diet is cut into week-long cycles with some including vegetables. There is no fruit allowed, but wine and dessert are allowed for a certain number of days—thus appealing to the French.

And what about exercise? The requirement is very light, about 20 minutes a day, with no elevators allowed.

Zuckerbrot was concerned about the restrictions on fruits and vegetables in the plan.

“A diet consisting of high fiber carbohydrates, lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and a small amount of heart healthy fat is the key to looking and feeling your best,” she said.

Dukan’s book has already sold millions of copies worldwide and has been translated into 14 languages—but is it all just hype?

According to Zuckerbrot, the Dukan Diet already has a bad reputation in the world of dietitians.

“France’s National Agency for Food, Environmental and Work Health Safety pointed out the Dukan Diet as one of 15 imbalanced and potentially risky diets. The British Dietetic Association, has also listed the Dukan Diet as one of the five worst diets of 2011,” she said.

By eliminating key foods from your diet, Zuckerbrot said Dukan’s plan can create a nutrition deficiency as well as high cholesterol and even kidney problems.

The bottom line with this diet, is it will more than likely come and go with the rest — there is just not enough variety, Zuckerbrot added.

“You will initially see weight loss on the Dukan Diet, but this eating plan is not sustainable. Also a diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates is expensive. This diet is just that, a diet, not a healthy maintainable lifestyle,” she said.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Energy drink sales rise along with concerns

Sales of energy drinks and shots are soaring, just as medical concerns are increasing about the popularity of the high-caffeine drinks among young people.

Energy drinks had 13.3% dollar sales growth in 2010 and received a "significant boost" from energy shot sales at convenience stores, says a report out this month from market research firm SymphonyIRI Group. This beat the other top 10 consumer packaged goods categories in grocery, drug, mass merchandise and convenience stores, excluding Walmart.

"Energy drinks have been one of the shining stars of the beverage universe over the last decade, with heady, double-digit growth," says Gary Hemphill of Beverage Marketing.

American Beverage Association science chief Maureen Storey says energy drinks are no worse than coffee. A 16-ounce cup of Starbucks' Pike Place coffee has 330 mg of caffeine. That size of latte has 160 mg — the same as a 16-ounce can of the energy drink Monster Energy, which bills itself as "a killer energy brew" that "you can really pound down."

The Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of caffeine in soft drinks to 71 mg for 12 ounces but doesn't regulate the caffeine in energy drinks, coffee or tea.

Barbara Crouch, head of Utah's poison control center, says people typically don't "gulp" coffee like they do energy drinks and shots. This leads them to accumulate higher concentrations of caffeine more quickly, which can cause anxiousness, palpitations and "more significant heart-rhythm disturbances." She also worries about young athletes drinking them because they are dehydrating.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which started coding for energy drinks this year, received 340 reports about energy drinks from January through March 3. Most were minor. A recent report in Pediatrics warned about links between caffeine in energy drinks, high blood pressure, increased alcohol consumption and even addiction among young people.

Reports of people, including teens, with serious medical problems after consuming energy drinks are on the rise.

Monica Hassell, whose 27-year-old husband, Antonio, died of a heart attack that she says was caused by his heavy use of 5-Hour Energy shots, is suing the manufacturer, Living Essentials. Company spokeswoman Elaine Lutz would not comment on the litigation but says 5-Hour Energy is a "safe and effective dietary supplement."

Jim Shepherd says his 15-year-old son Brian died in 2008 of an "acute arrhythmic event" after drinking a sample handed out by Red Bull at a paintball tournament in Canada.

He says he's collected 12 reports from others about the drinks. They are now among more than 80 "adverse reactions" — about half "serious" — involving energy drinks in a Health Canada database.

"Caffeinated energy products should not be available to minors," says Shepherd. "Energy shots, with their prominent position in stores and concentrated form, pose the worst potential threat of energy products."

Friday, March 18, 2011

FDA: Radiation From Japan No Risk to U.S. Food Supply

While radiation fears from the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan have many countries in Asia screening food imported from Japan for signs of radiation, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement saying there is no current risk to the U.S. food supply.

FDA is closely monitoring the situation and working with officials in Japan to continue to ensure that imported food remains safe. The agency does not have concerns with the safety of imported food products that have already reached the United States and are in distribution.

FDA is collecting information on all FDA-regulated food products exported to the United States from Japan, including where they are grown, harvested or manufactured, so it can evaluate whether they may pose a risk to U.S. consumers in the future. FDA also will develop a monitoring strategy that may include increased and targeted product sampling at the border.

According to the FDA, foods imported from Japan make up less than 4 percent of foods imported from all sources. (Food products from Canada and Mexico each make up about 29 percent of all imported foods.) The most common food products imported include seafood, snack foods and processed fruits and vegetables. Dairy products make up only one-tenth of 1 percent of all FDA-regulated products imported from Japan.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Food Companies Provide Aid to Japan

U.S. food companies, along with a host of international relief organizations, are responding to the devastation caused by the March 11 deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan.

The Kraft Foods Foundation donated $200,000 to the Red Cross days after the earthquake and tsunami devastated the country. The company also committed to donating food and funds Japan's long-term recovery efforts, and all donations made by Kraft Foods employees in the United States and Japan to the Red Cross will be matched by the Foundation.

“Every second, every dollar counts in the wake of a disaster," said Nicole Robinson, vice president of the Kraft Foods Foundation. “We’re grateful that our Japanese colleagues are unharmed, and deeply saddened by the devastation these natural disasters have caused. As the world’s second-largest food company, it’s our responsibility to give back in times of crisis. We’re proud to partner with the Red Cross as they support all the people of Japan in rescue, rebuilding and relief efforts."

Coca-Cola has pledged ¥600 million in cash and product donations to the relief effort. The contribution includes more than 7 million bottles water, tea and sports drinks. Coca-Cola Japan and its 12 bottling partners will provide the beverages to national and local government authorities and other community groups for distribution. The system also has activated free dispensing of products from selected vending machines.

Starbucks Coffee Co. and Starbucks Coffee Japan will contribute ¥100 million to aid immediate humanitarian and relief efforts in partnership with the American Red Cross and Japan Red Cross.

“We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to respond to the crisis. Our hearts go out to people across Japan, including our partners (employees) who have been impacted by this horrible tragedy," said John Culver, president, Starbucks Coffee International.

McDonald’s Corp., which has 3,302 restaurants in Japan, announced a $2-million donation that will be International Federation of the Red Cross.

“The devastation in Japan has stunned and saddened the global community, and we’re reaching out to help with this contribution," said Jim Skinner, McDonald’s CEO. “We send our best to everyone affected by this disaster, including our employees and our customers."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dogs Keep You Moving, Make For Healthier Adults

A new study has found that dog owners are generally healthier than those who do not have dogs, due to them being more physically active.

Having a dog can be a wonderful experience in a person’s life and a new study has supported the idea that dog owners are also healthier people.

Researchers at Michigan State University found that owning a dog makes a person more active, usually from walking the dog outdoors daily or multiple times a week.

The study found that dog owners averaged about 30 minutes of exercise a day and averaged at least five days a week – compared that to the fact that only 1/3 of non dog owners could fit into that criteria.

The study also found that people who own dogs are also more likely to exercise (other then walking their dog) and for longer periods of time then people without a dog.

Public health departments recommend at the minimum 150 minutes of exercise a week, a number that less then ½ of Americans reach with any sort of consistency, but owning and walking a dog appears to be a good way to better reach that goal – and lead to a healthier life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fatty Fish Reduces Macular Degeneration in Women

Women who consume a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to a new study posted online in the Archives of Ophthalmology. The finding suggest eating one or more servings of fish per week was associated with a 42-percent lower risk of age-related macular degeneration.

Harvard researchers reviewed food questionnaires from 38,002 women enrolled in a heart disease and cancer prevention trial called the Women's Health Study. None of the women had been diagnosed with AMD prior to the start of the study. Data revealed older women were more likely to consume higher amounts of both omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), as well as omega-6 fatty acids arachidonic acid and linoleic acid.

Over the course of a 10-year follow-up, 235 cases of age-related macular degeneration were reported. In analyses that adjusted for age and treatment assignment, women who consumed the most DHA compared with women who consumed the lowest amount had a 38 percent lower risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. Similar results were observed for higher intake of EPA and for higher consumption of both types of acid together. Women who ate one or more servings of fish every week had a 42-percent lower risk of AMD than those who consumed fish just once a month or less. According to the researchers, most of the lower risk was linked to fish diets composed mainly of canned tuna and dark-meat fish

For omega-6 fatty acids, higher intake of linoleic acid but not arachidonic acid was associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration; however, the association was non-significant after adjustment for other risk factors and fats.


* Archives of Ophthalmology: Dietary -3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake and Incident Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Women

Monday, March 14, 2011

Potato Protein for Weight Management

Cyvex Nutrition released SolaThin™, a weight-management ingredient suited for use in supplements and beverages. It is a potato-protein extract consisting of several low molecular weight proteins, including protease inhibitor PI-2. The company's vegetable-sourced offering contains no added compounds and features more than 90-percent protein, PI-2 included, to promote satiety and weight management.

"With approximately 60 million U.S. adults considered to be overweight, SolaThin provides manufacturers with 20 years of university-affiliated research that confirms its ability to safely promote weight loss with no observable side effects," said Matt Phillips, president and CEO of Cyvex Nutrition.

PI-2 enables the release of cholecystokinin (CKK), a naturally occurring peptide clinically shown to produce a feeling of gastric fullness, and thus can help reduce food consumption up to 20-percent in reported results. SolaThin is highly stable and active, and GMO-free.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

25% of Americans Worry About Feeding Families

Results of a new nationwide survey reveals one in four Americans worry about having enough money to put food on the table in the next year and many Americans are unaware of how serious hunger is in their own communities.

The online survey, initiated as part of Tyson’s “KNOW Hunger" campaign, also found two-thirds of those surveyed rated hunger as a more serious problem nationally than in their own community. While more than one-third indicated they have a direct connection to hunger, 59% were surprised to learn the parents of hungry children in the United States typically have full-time jobs.

Other key survey findings include:

* 91% of Americans are committed to the principle that no one should go hungry in the United States.
* 89% believe hunger impacts the physical development of infants/toddlers.
* 53% believe that children often eat cheap, unhealthy foods so families can pay rent.
* 51% believe that seniors often have to choose between paying for medical prescriptions or food.
* 54% of Americans say more should be spent to address hunger compared to other problems.
* 73% see a major hunger relief role for the federal government.
* 80% see a major role for local organizations/leaders.


* Tyson Foods: One in Four Americans Worried About Having Enough Money for Food

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Coffee may lower stroke risk for women, says study

Ladies, you knew there was a good reason for that double mochachino you have every morning and maybe that one at lunch too.

Well, a new research shows how clever you have been, at least when it comes to stroke risk.

Women in a Swedish study who drank at least a cup of coffee every day had a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who drank less coffee or none at all.

"Coffee drinkers should rejoice," said Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "Coffee is often made out to be potentially bad for your heart. There really hasn't been any study that convincingly said coffee is bad."

"If you are drinking coffee now, you may be doing some good and you are likely not doing harm," she added.

The research, led by Susanna Larsson at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, comes with the usual caveats: more research is needed and the cause of the benefit isn't clear. It could be reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity, Larsson theorized, or it could be the antioxidants in coffee.

As for your mochachino, no word yet on the benefits of whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

The findings were published online Thursday in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Protein-Rich Meals Benefit Weight Loss

Protein-rich meals promote greater energy expenditure than carbohydrate-rich meals of equal calorie content, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at the Nestlé Research Center compared the effects of various protein sources on energy metabolism, satiety and glucose control in humans. The study included 23 healthy adults who consumed three meals of equal calorie content consisting of 50% protein from whey, casein, and soy protein, respectively (with 40% carbohydrate and 10% fat), and a fourth, high-carbohydrate (95% carbohydrate) meal. Researchers measured the energy expenditure, thermic effect, glycemic response, and appetite sensations before and after the four different meals.

Results showed that the protein-rich meals led to a greater energy expenditure and thermic effect than the high-carbohydrate meal. The researchers also found the effects of whey were significantly greater than those of casein and soy and were accompanied by a trend for greater fat oxidation. All three proteins (in the presence of glucose) significantly lowered peak glycemia after the meal. Casein and soy protein lowered glycemia with little, if any, increase in insulin secretion above that of the glucose component of the meal.

“Our study confirmed that protein-rich meals promote greater energy expenditure than carbohydrate-rich meals of equal calorie content," said Kevin Acheson, Nestlé scientist and lead author. “These findings strengthen the evidence that increased protein content in the diet promotes weight control. Different protein sources could be used for personalized nutrition needs."


* Nestlé: Are all proteins alike? Nestlé researchers seek answers

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Some 44% of U.S. consumers consider the 'greenness' of their grocery store

Consumers are quick to consider the environmental impact of their cars and household cleaning products, but what about their airline of choice, or financial service provider? According to latest Mintel research, consumers are just as interested in patronizing 'green' services as they are about purchasing 'green' products. In fact, consumer interest in 'green' services has doubled from 2008-10.

Forty-four percent of consumers currently consider the 'greenness' of their grocery store, and agree that the environmental impact of the business factors into their purchasing decision. Meanwhile, an impressive jump came with 34% of consumers saying they take into account the 'greenness' of their dry cleaner or laundromat (compared to just 12% in 2008) and 29% are concerned about the 'greenness' of a hotel they plan to visit, compared to the 13% who reported as much in 2008.

"The rapid increase in consumer interest was likely facilitated by increased availability of 'greener' alternatives in many service industries and increased marketing of green practices by service providers," says Fiona O'Donnell, senior analyst at Mintel. "Marketing relating to environmental issues, large and small, is now a common practice by hotels, dry cleaners, and home improvement contractors."

While consumers are more interested than ever in 'green' services, they are also concerned about how companies define 'green.' Forty percent of consumers would prefer to purchase 'green' products from a company that has a clear set of standards for what exactly 'green' is. Meanwhile, 29% of those surveyed believe the government should mandate that companies adhere to a rigorous set of 'green' standards.

"Less than half of consumers say they don't know how to verify a company's claim that they're 'green,' and that number has declined compared to 2008," notes Fiona O'Donnell. "Improved transparency by companies about their environmental behavior has been effective in helping consumers understand and feel more confident about 'green' claims."

In line with consumer interest, availability of 'green' products has increased as well, as 54% of consumers say more 'green' products are available at their favorite stores than there were a year ago.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Eating disorders prevalent among U.S. teens

Eating disorders among American teens are common and associated with other psychological disorders, including risk of suicide, according to a new study.

Eating disorders were most strongly associated with social impairment, according to the national Institute of Mental Health researchers.

Almost 89 percent of the study’s participants, which included face-to-face interviews with adolescents ages 13 to 18 years old, reported social impairment.

Almost 20 percent reported severe social impairment associated with their eating disorders.

Lifetime suicide risk was associated with all subtypes of eating disorders studied, which included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder and subthreshold eating disorders.

The NIH researchers also said that although a majority of adolescents with eating disorders sought some sort of treatment, only a minority received treatment specifically for their respective conditions.

A report on the study appears this week in the online edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry and will appear in the July print edition.

Read more:

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Adding ‘Hidden’ Veggies to Meals Cuts Calorie Intake

Adding puréed vegetables into a meal reduces the number of calories and increases vegetable intake without comprising taste or texture, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at Penn State University investigated whether incorporating “hidden" puréed vegetables to decrease the energy density of entrées at multiple meals reduced daily energy intakes and increased daily vegetable intakes. The study included 20 men and 21 women who ate ad libitum breakfast, lunch and dinner in the laboratory once a week for three weeks. Across conditions, entrées at meals varied in energy density from standard versions (100% condition) to reduced versions (85% and 75% conditions) by the covert incorporation of 3 or 4.5 times the amount of puréed vegetables. Entrées were accompanied by unmanipulated side dishes. Participants rated their hunger and fullness before and after meals.

The participants consumed a consistent weight of foods across conditions of energy density; thus, the daily energy intake significantly decreased by 202 ± 60 kcal in the 85% condition (P < 0.001) and by 357 ± 47 kcal in the 75% condition (P < 0.0001). Daily vegetable consumption significantly increased from 270 ± 17 g of vegetables in the 100% condition to 487 ± 25 g of vegetables in the 75% condition (P < 0.0001). Despite the decreased energy intake, ratings of hunger and fullness did not significantly differ across conditions. Entrées were rated as similar in palatability across conditions.


* American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Hidden vegetables: an effective strategy to reduce energy intake and increase vegetable intake in adults

Monday, March 07, 2011

Ultraviolet Light Boosts Carrots' Antioxidant Value

Exposing sliced carrots to UV-B, one of the three kinds of ultraviolet light in sunshine, can boost the antioxidant activity of the colorful veggie. That's according to preliminary studies by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research food technologist and research leader Tara H. McHugh. She is with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

Found primarily in fruits and vegetables, antioxidants are natural compounds that may reduce risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The carrot investigation, conducted by McHugh, postdoctoral associate Wen-Xian Du, and others at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif., suggests that a moderate, 14-second dose of UV-B can boost fresh, sliced carrots' antioxidant capacity by about 3-fold. The dose is energy-efficient and does not significantly heat or dry the carrots.

Scientists have known for at least a decade that exposing plants to UV-B may cause what's known as abiotic stress. That's what probably happened with the sliced carrots.

Plants respond to the stress by revving up their production of two natural enzymes, one with the tongue-twisting name of polyphenylalanine ammonia-lyase, and the other known as chalcone synthase. As production of those enzymes increases, levels of phenolic compounds—antioxidants synthesized by the enzymes—also increase.

Despite this and other knowledge about plants' responses to stress and to UV-B, the idea of using UV-B to quickly, safely, and conveniently enrich the antioxidant heft of fresh produce has not been extensively studied, McHugh notes. The carrot research is helping fill in that knowledge gap.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Reading Herbal Tea Leaves: Benefits and Lore

Those who enjoy the caffeinated lift that comes from drinking traditional coffees and teas may tend to overlook the benefits of drinking herbal infusions. Now, as explained in this month's issue of Agricultural Research magazine, the idea that herbal teas may provide a variety of health benefits is no longer just folklore.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded scientists in Boston, Mass., have looked into the science-based evidence of health benefits from drinking three of the most popular herbals in America. Diane McKay and Jeffrey Blumberg are at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Both work in the center's Antioxidants Research Laboratory, which Blumberg directs.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency-supports the HNRCA through an agreement. The work also was funded by Boulder, Colo.-based Celestial Seasonings, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

Chamomile tea has long been considered a brew that soothes. But when Blumberg and McKay reviewed scientific literature on the bioactivity of chamomile, they found no human clinical trials that examined this calming effect. They did, however, publish a review article on findings far beyond sedation, describing test-tube evidence that chamomile tea has moderate antimicrobial activity and significant antiplatelet-clumping activity.

The researchers also describe evidence of bioactivity of peppermint tea. In test tubes, peppermint has been found to have significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities, strong antioxidant and antitumor actions, and some antiallergenic potential. Based on a human clinical trial, the team also has reported that drinking hibiscus tea lowered blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.

McKay and Blumberg have concluded that the available research on herbal teas in general is compelling enough to suggest further clinical studies.

Read more about this research in the March 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tomatoes Ripe With Powerful Health Benefits

Eating tomatoes and tomato products may have more health benefits than previously thought and decrease the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, according to a review article published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Researchers from the National Center for Food Safety & Technology, Illinois Institute of Technology and ConAgra Foods Inc. examined current research to discover the role tomato products play in health and disease risk reduction. They found tomatoes are the biggest source of the antioxidant dietary lycopene, and unlike other fruit and vegetables it has greater potency after it is cooked. Tomatoes also contain other protective mechanisms, such as antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory functions. The findings also found a relationship between eating tomatoes and the reduction of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, ultraviolet light-induced skin damage and cognitive dysfunction.

“Tomatoes are the most important non-starchy vegetable in the American diet. Research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and other conditions," the authors concluded. “The evidence also suggests that consumption of tomatoes should be recommended because of the nutritional benefits and because it may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing overall vegetable intake."


* AlpahGalileo: Health benefits of eating tomatoes emerge

Friday, March 04, 2011

Global Food Prices Reach Record High

New statistics released this week by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reveals global food prices reached record highs in February and may continue to skyrocket due to political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, which is causing oil prices to spike.

The UN’s Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes in a basket of foods including cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, averaged 236 points in February—a 2.2% increase and the eighth consecutive rise since. February’s price index was the highest record in real and nominal terms since the agency started monitoring prices in 1990. Prices of all commodity groups monitored rose again, except for sugar.

"Unexpected oil price spikes could further exacerbate an already precarious situation in food markets," said David Hallam, director of FAO’s Trade and Market Division. "This adds even more uncertainty concerning the price outlook just as plantings for crops in some of the major growing regions are about to start."

FAO predicts a tightening of the global cereal supply and demand balance in 2010/11. In the face of a growing demand and a decline in world cereal production in 2010, global cereal stocks this year are expected to fall sharply because of a decline in inventories of wheat and coarse grains. International cereal prices have increased sharply with export prices of major grains up at least 70 percent from February last year.


* Food and Agriculture Organization: Tight cereal markets as food prices increase again

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Potassium-rich diet tied to lower stroke risk

People who get plenty of potassium-rich foods in their diet may be less likely to suffer a stroke, a new research review finds.

The review, of 11 studies following more than 247,000 adults, found that as potassium intake went up, participants' risk of suffering a stroke went down.

That does not prove that potassium, itself, deserves the credit. But the foods highest in the mineral -- including many fruits and vegetables -- are considered generally healthy choices.

So the findings support experts' advice that people eat more fruits and vegetables to help cut their risk of cardiovascular disease and other ills, the researchers report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate the heartbeat, conduct nerve impulses and contract muscles. Most adults need about 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day.

Potassium is found in a variety of fruits and vegetables, with potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, plums and raisins among the richest sources. Other sources include beans, dairy, nuts and molasses.

In theory, a diet with enough potassium could trim a person's risk of heart disease and stroke because the mineral helps lower blood pressure. But studies so far have come to mixed conclusions as to whether people who get plenty of potassium really do have fewer strokes and heart problems.

For the new study, researchers led by Dr. Lanfranco D'Elia, of the University of Naples Medical School in Italy, combined the results of 11 international studies that followed 247,510 adults for up to 19 years.

In most of the studies, participants filled out diet questionnaires at the outset, and researchers kept track of who developed heart disease or suffered a stroke over the ensuing years. In a few studies, the researchers measured participants' potassium levels from urine samples.

Individually, the studies came to conflicting results. But with the results combined, D'Elia's team found that for every 1,640-milligram increase in people's daily potassium intake, the odds of suffering a stroke declined by 21 percent.

There was no strong link overall between potassium intake and heart disease risk, though a few individual studies did find that people with higher intakes had a lower risk.

The 21-percent reduction in stroke risk would translate into as many as 1.15 million fewer stroke deaths worldwide each year, D'Elia's team estimates.

But whether potassium is actually the reason for the lower stroke risk is not clear.

In most of the studies, researchers tried to account for other factors in stroke and heart disease risk -- like overall health, weight, exercise habits and dietary fat intake. But people who get a lot of potassium could still have lifestyle habits or other characteristics -- like more education or higher incomes -- that might explain the lower stroke risk.

Still, D'Elia and his colleagues write, boosting potassium intake -- especially by eating more fruits and vegetables -- is in line with existing recommendations for preventing or managing heart disease and stroke.

There are some people, however, who may need to be careful about potassium intake and should ask their doctors before consuming more of the mineral. They include people with kidney disease, which can reduce the body's ability to clear potassium, and those on certain blood pressure drugs.

Too much potassium in the blood can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, which can cause dangerous heart-rhythm disturbances.

SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, March 8, 2011.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Daily Soft Drink Consumption Linked to High Blood Pressure

Adults who drink more than one soft drink or other sugary beverages such as fruit drinks may have an increased risk of high blood pressure, according to a new study published in the journal Hypertension. The findings suggest blood pressure goes up incrementally for every extra can of sugary drink consumed daily.

Researchers analyzed consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks, sugars and diet beverages in 2,696 participants, 40- to 59-years-old, in eight areas of the United States and two areas of the United Kingdom who participated in the International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) study. Participants reported what they ate and drank for four days via in depth interviews administered by trained observers, underwent two 24-hour urine collections, eight blood pressure readings and responded a detailed questionnaire on lifestyle, medical and social factors.

They found sugar intake in the form of glucose, fructose and sucrose was highest in those consuming more than one sugar-sweetened beverage daily. Individuals consuming more than one serving per day of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed more calories than those who didn't, with average energy intake of more than 397 calories per day. Those who did not consume sugar-sweetened beverages had lower average body mass index (BMI) than those who consumed more than one of these drinks daily.

Researchers found higher blood pressure levels in individuals who consumed more glucose and fructose. Higher blood pressure was more pronounced in people who consumed high levels of both sugar and sodium. They found no consistent association between diet soda intake and blood pressure levels. Those who drank diet soda had higher mean BMI than those who did not and lower levels of physical activity.

"People who drink a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages appear to have less healthy diets," said Ian Brown, Ph.D., research associate at Imperial College London. "They are consuming empty calories without the nutritional benefits of real food. They consume less potassium, magnesium and calcium. One possible mechanism for sugar-sweetened beverages and fructose increasing blood pressure levels is a resultant increase in the level of uric acid in the blood that may in turn lower the nitric oxide required to keep the blood vessels dilated. Sugar consumption also has been linked to enhanced sympathetic nervous system activity and sodium retention."


* American Heart Association: Sugar-sweetened Drinks Associated with Higher Blood Pressure

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

NASFT Panel Names Top 5 Gourmet Food Trends

The Food Channel® announced its "Top 5 Trends" in the gourmet foods category based on observations by a National Association for the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT) panel during the 36th Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco.

“Breakfast is certainly hot including alternative grains and portability," said Kay Logsdon, editor in chief of The Food Channel “Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are all getting a lot of attention, and the intensity of the spice has certainly been increased in almost everything."

The Top 5 gourmet foods trends for 2011 include:

1. Chocolate for Breakfast—Tea, Belgian waffles, granola and hot chocolate on a stick.
2. Foods for Healing—Ancient healing teas, Blackwater with 77 minerals, aloe and cucumber drinks, plus micro-batches of healthful beverages.
3. New Noodles—Yam, kelp, farro and spelt.
4. Heat with Flavor—Ghost peppers, yuzu-wasabi sauce and piquillo almond glop.
5. Creative Chips—Pinto beans, naan, peas, mung beans, kale and wild rice.

The panel also predicted retro foods, classic cocktails, wine-flavored foods, mini servings and cured meats would be hot trends this year.


* Food Channel: Fancy Food Show Panel Picks Top 5 Trends