Saturday, September 29, 2012

Local Produce Increasingly Preferred To Organic, Consumer Survey Shows

A recent survey of grocery shoppers commissioned by Whole Foods Market gives new credence to a belief that's taken hold in the sustainable food movement over the past few years: when it comes to consumer preferences, local is the new organic.

Forty-seven percent of the 2,274 adults polled in the online survey said that they would be willing to pay more for fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese produced near their homes. That's a far larger share than those that said they would pay more for food without artificial ingredients (32 percent), meat made without antibiotics or hormones (30 percent) or "handmade, small-batch or artisanal and specialty foods" (20 percent).

The Whole Foods survey didn't specifically ask whether the customers would be willing to pay more for organic produce. But answers to another question indicated that one in four respondents spend at least a quarter of their grocery money on "organic and/or natural products."

A.C. Gallo, the president and COO of Whole Foods, explained that consumers' interest in local food is relatively new.

"Ten or 15 years ago, the organic label was more important to our customers," Gallo told The Huffington Post. "But we started to feel, over the last five to seven years, that our customers were more interested in buying produce that's local."

Organics remain a growth area at Whole Foods, Gallo said; certain customers, especially those with small children, care more about organic certification than they do about geographic provenance. Gallo also noted that organic produce tends to sell well in Northeast in the winter, when local produce is all-but-unavailable.

But William Hallmann, director of the Food Policy Institute at Rutgers, told The Huffington Post that the tide has turned away from organics and toward local food in the past-half decade. "Local is newer and is more of a hot topic than organic," Hallmann explained. "Organic has gone mainstream. Walmart is the largest vendor of organic produce in the world today."

Hallmann, a psychologist, said that consumers associate local food closely with freshness and organic food with healthfulness. Those are both compelling benefits, and economic studies have indicated that consumers are generally willing to pay about an equal premium for organic and local foods. But in the real world, local produce is often cheaper than organic produce -- tipping the scales in its favor, and driving up demand.

Gallo said that Whole Foods is also doing its part to meet that demand. Corporate headquarters in Austin empowered the managers of individual stores to seek out local farms growing produce that might appeal to customers. In 2006, the company hired its first two full-time "foragers," who were tasked with finding small-scale farms that would be able to sell produce to Whole Foods in the Seattle metro area. In the next six years, Whole Foods hired 18 more foragers to do the same thing in 12 different regions. In 2007, the company set aside $10 million to provide low-interest loans to good farms that needed a large infusion of capital in order to grow produce on the scale required for Whole Foods. Since then, the company has loaned a total of $8 million to 120 different producers.

Whole Foods representatives refused to disclose sales figures for local produce, so it's not yet clear whether the investment in local food has paid off. But Whole Foods Market stock prices hit an all-time high this week, despite an overall softness in the market. And going forward, Gallo sees some strong upsides to local, even beyond growing consumer interest.

"If we went into a period of extremely high fuel prices, then it would be an advantage to source as much local as possible," he said. "It could get to a point where shipping organic apples from Washington to New York becomes prohibitively expensive."

One factor that Hallmann did not see boosting local food over organic, though, was a recent, highly-publicized study from Stanford indicating that the health benefits of organic produce had been overblown.

"We're extraordinarily resistant to changing our opinions, even in the face of data," he explained. "People who think organic food is healthy will continue to buy organic, and just ignore this study. And the people who don't buy organic and are scoffing at it will use this study to confirm their beliefs."


Friday, September 28, 2012

U.S. Pizza Sales Sizzle to $41B

No doubt about it, Americans love pizza. So much so that sales at pizza restaurants will reach $36.1 billion in 2012, up 3.8% from 2011, and $4.91 billion at the retail level, for a grand total of just more than $41 billion in total sales, according to a new Packaged Facts report.

According to “The Pizza Market in the U.S.: Foodservice and Retail" report, 97% of U.S. adults eat pizza, and 93% have purchased food from a pizza restaurant in the past 12 months. On a monthly basis, 27% get pizza through restaurant delivery/pickup (which translates to about 410 million pizzas a year), 26% through restaurant dine-in, and 24% from the frozen food cases.

On the restaurant side, although pizza restaurants are losing share to other restaurant cuisine formats, major pizza chains have continued to grow sales. On the retail side, private label continues to gain sales—and steal share—in each of three mass-market pizza segments (frozen pizza, pizza products, and refrigerated pizza). On store shelves, category growth is primarily on the natural and organic front. Among the top 12 frozen pizza manufacturers, significant growth has come only from Newman's Own and Amy's Kitchen.
The report notes food consumption has clearly trended toward healthier options and home-based cost savings, which can come at the expense of pizza. According to David Sprinkle, the publisher of Packaged Facts, the main message to pizza purveyors is evident: enhance the overall healthfulness of your pizza, and experiment with options providing more clear-cut healthfulness without sacrificing taste.

Menu trends reveal additional cuisine-driven growth opportunities, including push more mileage out of fusion cuisine; use pizza to mainstream a wider variety of leaner proteins; leverage vegetable variety; up the sophistication ante through premium and more exotic natural cheeses and sauce experimentation; and exploit the on-the-go innovation potential of the breakfast daypart.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Omega-3 Benefits of Fish Outweigh Mercury Concerns

The hazards of eating mercury-laden seafood has made headlines over the past few weeks; however, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) suggests the heart-health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids outweigh the risks of mercury content at low levels.

Researchers at Umeå University examined how the risk of heart attack is contingent on the amount of omega-3 fats and mercury from fish people have in their body. The content was measured in blood and hair samples from people who had previously participated in health studies in northern Sweden and eastern Finland. The Swedish blood samples were from the Medical Biobank in Umeå. Those who experienced a heart attack after the health check-up were compared with those who did not.

Mercury was linked to increased risk of having a heart attack, while omega-3 fatty acids were linked to a decreased risk. The increased risk from mercury was noticeable only at high levels of the environmental pollutant in the body and if the level of the protective omega-3 fatty acids was concomitantly low. In other words, what is important is the balance between healthful and hazardous substances in fish.

The researchers advised people eat fish, but avoid fish with the most pollutants. The Swedish National Food Agency recommends that people should eat fish two to three times a week, but their intake of predatory fish, such as pike, perch, pike-perch, which contain a great deal of mercury, should be limited.

The study supports previous research at the university that found the health benefits from omega-3 fatty acids override any harmful effect of mercury. A 2012 study conducted by researchers at the Nutrition & Obesity Unit of Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid found frequent consumption of white fish, such as hake, improves blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and reduces weight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sesame, Rice Bran Oil Blend Lowers Blood Pressure

Cooking with a blend of sesame and rice bran oils may significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s High Blood Pressure Research 2012 Scientific Sessions. The findings suggest the use of the oil blend along with commonly prescribed high blood pressure medication yields even more impressive results.

Researchers at Fukuoka University Chikushi Hospital said rice bran oil, like sesame oil, is low in saturated fat and appears to improve a patient’s cholesterol profile. It also may reduce heart disease risk in other ways, including being a substitute for less healthy oils and fats in the diet.

The 60-day study in New Delhi, India, divided 300 people with mild to moderately high blood pressure into three groups. One group was treated with a commonly used blood pressure lowering medication called a calcium-channel blocker (nifedipine). The second group was given the oil blend and told to use about an ounce each day in their meals. The final group received the calcium channel blocker and the oil blend. All three groups saw drops in their systolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 14 points for those using only the oil blend and 16 points for those taking medication. Those using both saw a 36-point drop. Diastolic blood pressure also dropped significantly—11 points for those eating the oil, 12 for those on medication and 24 for those using both.

Those using the oils saw a 26% drop in their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a 9.5% increase in the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), while no changes in cholesterol were observed for the patients who used only the calcium-channel blocker. Those who took the calcium channel blocker and the oils had a 27% drop in LDL levels and a 10.9% increase in HDL.
The researchers concluded healthier fatty acids and antioxidants, such as sesamin, sesamol, sesamolin and oryzanol, in the oil blends may be responsible for the results.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Black Americans are less likely than Caucasians to adhere to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet prescribed to prevent and manage high blood pressure, according to a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The findings suggest altering traditional recipes to meet nutritional guidelines rather than eliminating certain foods altogether may result in better adherence.

The DASH diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy products, and is low in fats and cholesterol, recognized as the diet of choice for preventing and managing high blood pressure.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center conducted an analysis of data from the ENCORE trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the DASH diet on cardiovascular health. Participants were 144 sedentary, overweight or obese adults, who had high blood pressure and were not taking medication.

Researchers measured a series of clinical and behavioral factors at the start of the study including blood pressure, weight, and physical fitness, as well as dietary habits. Depression, anxiety and social support were also evaluated as potential predictors of adherence to the regimen. articipants were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: the DASH diet alone; the DASH diet in combination with weight-loss counseling and aerobic exercise; or no change in diet and exercise habits.

After four months, participants in the group that got the DASH diet plus weight-loss counseling and exercise lost an average of 19 pounds, while weight remained stable in the other two groups. Participants in both the DASH diet alone and DASH diet plus counseling groups had significant reductions in blood pressure, with greater adherence to the DASH diet resulting in the largest drops in blood pressure. The finding suggests that that following the DASH diet lowers blood pressure, independent of exercise and weight loss. The addition of weight loss and exercise to the DASH diet promoted even greater reductions in blood pressure and improved other measures of cardiovascular health.

The researchers noted that Black participants were less likely than Caucasian participants to eat foods recommended in the DASH diet prior to beginning the study. While both groups of participants in the DASH treatment groups increased the amount of DASH foods they ate, Blacks were less likely to adopt the DASH diet compared to their Caucasian counterparts. No other demographic, behavioral, or social variable predicted whether participants would adhere to the DASH diet.

"Given the success of the DASH diet, we know that changing lifestyles can make a significant difference in people's health," the researchers said. "And in the long run, if people are able to maintain changes to their diet and exercise habits, it can lead to a lower risk for heart attack and stroke."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Arsenic in Rice: FDA to Assess Risks in 2013

Since 1991, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been measuring levels of arsenic, a chemical element that is linked to cancer, in foods.

About a year ago, the agency took a closer look at arsenic levels in rice and rice products.

The preliminary findings, based on a collection of 200 samples ranging from rice beverages to rice crackers, include data on micrograms per serving but don't actually tell Americans what we need to know: is arsenic in those concentrations really harmful to us?

FDA could soon answer that thorny question.

It anticipates fully collecting data on another 1,000 samples by the end of the year.

Shelly Burgess, a spokeswoman for the agency, said FDA plans to do a risk assessment next year that will discuss health effects and short-term risks associated with arsenic in rice.

The assessment could pave the way for government-imposed limits on arsenic concentrations in food products.

But for now, the government isn't sounding an alarm to place your rice patties in the dumpster.

"Our advice right now is that consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains -- not only for good nutrition but also to minimize any potential consequences from consuming any one particular food," FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement Thursday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

ABC News Slapped With $1.2B Lawsuit Over ‘Pink Slime’

Beef Products, Inc., the maker of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) dubbed “pink slime" by the media and critics of its use, has filed a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit against ABC News alleging the network misled U.S. consumers to believe the use of boneless lean beef trimmings in processed meat is unhealthy and unsafe.

Additional defendants include ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer; ABC correspondents Jim Avila and David Kerley; former USDA microbiologists Carl Custer and Gerald Zirnstein; and Kit Foshee, the former corporate quality assurance manager at BPI credited as the whistleblower of the story.

According to the complaint filed in the Circuit Court of South Dakota, “Defendants knowingly and intentionally published nearly 200 false and disparaging statements regarding BPI and its product, lean finely textured beef (“LFTB"). Defendants engaged in a month-long vicious, concerted disinformation campaign against BPI, companies that produced a safe, nutritious beef that has lowered the cost of lean ground beef sold to consumers for nearly 20 years."

LFTB is a food additive, approved for use by USDA, is created by combining boneless lean beef trimmings, heating them to remove most of the fat, and treating them with ammonia hydroxide gas to kill potentially dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.

On March 7, 2012, ABC World News aired a report that examined the use of LFTB and interviewed former USDA scientist Gerald Zirnstein who claimed he coined the term “pink slime" and warned USDA against its use. He went on to say 70% of the ground beef consumers purchase at retail contain the alleged “pink slime."

The complaint alleges that" between March 7 and April 3, 2012, ABC aired 11 broadcasts attacking BPI and LFTB. Defendants supplemented the broadcasts with 14 online reports and numerous social media postings. Over these 28 days, Defendants knowingly or recklessly made nearly 200 false, defamatory, and disparaging statements regarding BPI and LFTB."

Media attention fueled public outcry about the use of the filler. Its ripple effect was strong: retailers and foodservice companies vowed to discontinue using LFTB, Congress waded into the murky debate over the use of beef products containing LFTB with the introduction of The Requiring Easy and Accurate Labeling of Beef Act (REAL Beef Act) that would require any beef containing "finely textured ground beef" to have a label at the final point of sale; and USDA bowed to public pressure and told schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to opt out of purchasing ground beef products with the additive.

In May, the Dakota Dunes, S.D., company announced it would permanently shutter operations in three of its four operating plants because the company could not recover from the media frenzy that resulted in decreased consumer demand for its product. Approximately 650 jobs were lost when operations stopped on May 25 in Amarillo, Texas; Garden City, Kansas; and Waterloo Iowa. A plant in South Sioux City, Neb., remains open, but runs at reduced capacity.

The American Meat Institute has defended BLBT saying: “Boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) is a safe, wholesome and nutritious form of beef that is made by separating lean beef from fat. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA inspected, wholesome cuts of beef that contain both fat and lean and are nearly impossible to separate using a knife. When these trimmings are processed, the process separates the fat away and the end result is nutritious, lean beef. It’s a process similar to separating cream from milk."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Formulating With Whole Grains

Since its release, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have helped increase the use of whole grains in food products and made consumers more aware of the benefits of whole grains as a source of fiber, minerals and vitamins. In the guidelines, USDA encourages Americans to consume at least half of all grains as whole grains, and increase whole grain intake by replacing refined grains with whole grains.

Another force is also increasing awareness of whole grains—the National School Lunch Program. New school-food rules require that at least half the grain foods served to children be “whole grain-rich." Whole grain-rich foods may contain less than 100% whole grains, but generally contain at least 51% whole grains. The National School Lunch Program requires that, by 2014, all grain foods served must be whole grain-rich.

“With this guaranteed school market now available, reformulation efforts are gaining even more momentum," says Cynthia Harriman, director, food and nutrition strategies, Oldways and the Whole Grains Council, Boston. “Products retooled for the schools will spill over into other markets, making more good whole-grain products available to everyone."

Despite USDA recommendations, most consumers are not eating enough whole grains; however, the food industry is working to modify this trend.

“Dietary advice helps, as does a mechanism for reliably identifying whole grains, but there's a third part to the equation, too," Harriman says. “In order for consumers to go back to the store and buy that product again, the product needs to be delicious and affordable. Manufacturers have made huge headway in reformulating products to contain more whole grain, while retaining the flavors and textures that consumers love."

Consumer confusion

FDA's definition of a whole grain includes cereal grains that consist of the intact, ground, cracked or flaked fruit of the grains whose principal components—the starchy endosperm, germ and bran—are present in the same relative proportions as they exist in the intact grain. This definition allows whole grains to be processed in many ways, such as being crushed, cracked, chopped, rolled and ground into fine particle sizes, as long as all the parts remain undamaged and in proportion.

On the other hand, the definition of a whole-grain food is much less uniform. Schools have their definition of whole-grain-rich, while the FDA has another definition for use of the whole-grain health claim (51% of all ingredients are whole grains and those whole-grain ingredients have to contain at least 11% dietary fiber). The Dietary Guidelines and the Whole Grains Stamp, created by the Whole Grain Council, advise looking for foods with at least 8 grams of whole grain. Statements, such as multigrain, also can cause confusion, because consumers might not know the grain content unless it is clearly stated.

“Overall, it looks like where we are headed is that a whole-grain food will have at least half or more of the grain ingredients as whole grain," says Beth Arndt, Ph.D., director, R&D, ConAgra Mills, Omaha, NE. “The industry is really looking hard into this, because in the end, consumers look on the product label for cues on how to tell."

Even if consumers don't understand the definition of a whole grain or a whole-grain food, seeing “whole-grain" wording on a package is meaningful for them.

“Demand will continue to grow if consumers can clearly identify whole-grain foods and understand what that means," says Jeff Casper, M.S., R&D manager, Horizon Milling (a Cargill joint venture), Minneapolis.

Growing whole grains

Consumption of all whole grains is increasing as more whole-wheat products are being developed. Whole-wheat flour remains the most popular whole grain used in food products, followed by whole-grain corn, oats, rye and barley.

“In bakery products, wheat remains the primary grain source because its functionality is so important to achieving the volume and texture we have become accustomed to in bakery products," says Brook Carson, M.S., technical product manager, ADM Milling, Decatur, IL. “Additional grains have found their way into bakery products and have provided new and interesting flavors and textures. There is a huge opportunity for growth for whole grains as meal centers or side dishes. A variety of whole grains are being used in pastas, pilafs and salads."


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Examining the Complexity of Keeping Food Supply Safe

Food-safety audits and inspections are a key component of the nation's food-safety system for both domestic and imported foodstuffs; however, recent failures in ensuring food safety bring into question the effectiveness of solely using audits as the only preventative measure, according to a new paper published in the journal Food Control.

Lead researcher Doug Powell, a food-safety expert at Kansas State University, contends there may be a disconnect between what consumers think food auditors are doing to ensure a safe food supply and what they actually are doing.

"Food auditors provide a snapshot of production practices. However, buyers often believe auditors are performing a full verification of every product and process of food production," he said.

According to the paper, many food-safety outbreaks involve firms that have had their food production systems verified and received acceptable ratings from food-safety auditors or government inspectors. One such occurrence was the Salmonella outbreak linked to the Peanut Corporation of America in 2009 that sickened more than 500 and killed six people. The recall involved more than 3,900 peanut butter and peanut-containing products. According to media reports, a third-party auditor was responsible for evaluating the safety of those peanut products.

Powell said there are many limitations with food-safety audits and inspections, but with an estimated 48 million Americans sick each year foodborne illnesses, the question should be how best to reduce the number of sick people.

"Audit reports are only useful if the purchaser or food producer reviews the results, understands the risks addressed by the standards and makes risk-reduction decisions based on the results," he said. "So companies who blame the auditor or inspector for outbreaks of foodborne illness should also blame themselves."

Powell noted the biggest challenges to solving the food-safety issues we face currently are economic. "Making the nation's food supply safe usually costs money and an investment in human capital. While inspectors and auditors play an active role in overseeing compliance, the burden for food safety lies primarily with food producers. Inspection efforts, even if doubled, would not be enough to make sure every food item is safe," he said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Morning Exercise Reduces Motivation for Food

Just 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning actually reduces a person’s motivation for food, according to a new study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The findings seem to refute the assumption that a person can “work up an appetite" with a vigorous workout.

Researchers at Brigham Young University measured the food motivation of 18 normal-weight women and 17 clinically obese women over two separate days. On the first day, each woman briskly walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes and then, within the hour, had their brain waves measured.

Electrodes were attached to each participant’s scalp and an EEG machine then measured their neural activity while they looked at 240 images—120 of plated food meals and 120 of control images of flowers.

The same experiment was conducted one week later on the same day of the week and at the same time of the morning, but omitted the exercise. Individuals also recorded their food consumption and physical activity on the experiment days.

The 45-minute exercise routine not only produced lower brain responses to the food images, but also resulted in an increase in total physical activity that day, regardless of body mass index. Interestingly, the women in the experiment did not eat more food on the exercise day to “make up" for the extra calories they burned in exercise. In fact, they ate approximately the same amount of food on the non-exercise day.

“We wanted to see if obesity influenced food motivation, but it didn’t," the researchers said. “However, it was clear that the exercise bout was playing a role in their neural responses to the pictures of food."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mobile Startup Pays Consumers to Scan Their Receipts

Probably the biggest obstacle to mobile commerce, be it for payments, shopping, deals or loyalty programs, has been merchant adoption. With every supermarket, retailer and grocery chain employing a different array of hardware and technology for their own loyalty programs and couponing rewards systems, tackling the merchant issue is not easily solved -- at least, not at scale.

In fact, many see it as the main hindrance to Isis, the mobile commerce joint venture from carriers AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. It's also why some have high hopes for the recently debuted MCX, a mobile-wallet joint-venture undertaken by several retailers themselves, including Best Buy, Walmart, 7-Eleven and Target.

But for one startup, there is a clear and simple way to solve the merchant problem: bypass them entirely.

Endorse, run by founder and CEO Steven Carpenter, is a mobile app and loyalty platform, built on extracting data from photos of receipts. Consumers browse the deals and rewards either before or after they shop, go to their local supermarket to … well, do what people do at supermarkets, and upon conclusion, scan the receipt.

Users then select the deals that apply to their purchases, and Endorse identifies the match, applying the coupon or deal brokered directly with the CPG companies. No coupon clipping, no more giving your phone number to the cashier because you lost the little card they gave you, and no more fighting over expired coupons or fine print limitations.

By making couponing a more user-friendly experience, Endorse hopes to become a gatekeeper to a wealth of very actionable data, even on retailers that keep their own data close to the vest. Then it can pass that on to partners, as well as target more desirable deals to consumers in the future. Right now, PopChips and several PepsiCo brands are offering deals on the platform.

"Right now, most brands don't have access to cross-retail product-level purchase data," said Mr. Carpenter, because the retailers don't share it. They might get snapshots, but they don't get longitudinal data -- one user's purchase habits over a period of time."

Knowing that a given consumer who buys "X" is also likely to buy "Y" can be empowering information, especially when viewed over a period of time and for multiple merchants.

Mr. Carpenter said privacy was designed into the app so that personal information is never shared with marketers. Incidentally, Pew just released a report on the topic of mobile privacy, noting that many adults shy away from apps that demand too much personal information. In this case, however, it may be well worth the tradeoff, as the more the users use the app, the more tailored it will be to their specific needs and preferences.

For the moment, Endorse still cuts users a check after hitting the requisite minimum of $25 in rewards, though digital payment is almost certainly on the horizon.

The 12-person company has raised $4.25 million in funding from SV Angel as well as Accel Partners, where Mr. Carpenter was entrepreneur-in-residence.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

FDA Adds Mangoes Linked to Salmonella to Import Alert List

Mangoes produced by Mexico-based Agricola Daniella and imported by Splendid Products, based in Burlingame, Calif., have been placed on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) import alert list and will be denied admission into the United States unless the importer shows they are not contaminated with Salmonella.

FDA also is warning consumers not to eat mangoes from Agricola Daniella because they have been linked to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup that has infected 105 people in 16 states. The California Department of Public Health has traced several illnesses of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup through the supply chain to Agricola Daniella.

On Aug. 24, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recalled Agricola Daniella brand mangoes sold to retailers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. The recall was expanded to the United States on Aug. 29 when Splendid Products recalled all mangoes from Mexico. Many nationwide retailers followed with their own recalls.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

McDonald’s Adds Calorie Counts to Menus Beginning Sept. 17

Beginning Sept. 17, McDonald’s will list calorie information on restaurant and drive-thru menus at its nationwide locations to further inform and help customers and employees make nutrition-minded choices. The fast-food chain is rolling out the new menu labeling ahead of new federal menu labeling laws requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts on menus that are expected to take effect sometime after the presidential election.

New York City, California, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont already have laws that require calorie labeling in chain restaurants. Companies, such as Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain, already have amended their menus to reflect calorie counts; however, McDonald’s is the first fast-food chain to reflect calorie counts on menus.

The menu labeling rule applies to chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments. Consumers would see calories listed in restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items. Examples of these establishments include fast food establishments, bakeries, coffee shops and certain grocery and convenience stores. Movie theaters, airplanes, bowling alleys, and other establishments whose primary purpose is not to sell food would not be subject to this proposed regulation

Thursday, September 13, 2012


New research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation does not appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events.

Researchers at the University Hospital of Ioannina conducted a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and major cardiovascular outcomes. Of the 3,635 citations retrieved, 20 studies with 68,680 randomized patients were included, reporting 7,044 deaths; 3,993 cardiac deaths; 1,150 sudden deaths; 1,837 heart attacks; and 1,490 strokes.

The researchers found no statistically significant association with all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, heart attack and stroke when all supplement studies were considered.

“In conclusion, omega-3 PUFAs are not statistically significantly associated with major cardiovascular outcomes across various patient populations," they said, adding their findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or guidelines supporting dietary omega-3 PUFA administration.

Harry B. Rice, Ph.D., vice president, regulatory and scientific affairs, Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED), said decades’ worth of high-quality research showing the positive effects of omega-3s on heart health should not be negated every time a neutral or negative study is published.

“There’s little doubt in my mind that consumers should take EPA and DHA for heart health," he said. “Several neutral studies, whether they are clinical trials or meta-analyses, don’t begin to make a dent in the totality of the available scientific evidence demonstrating a role for EPA and DHA in both primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. The supporting body of literature is immense and continues to grow annually."

Commenting on the meta-analysis, Duffy MacKay N.D., vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), issued a statement that said: “Consumers should not discount the many proven benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in all stages of life. There is extensive scientific evidence demonstrating the importance of omega-3 fats during pregnancy/lactation, breastfeeding and childhood. Furthermore, omega-3 fats have a role in maintaining the health of adults as well as in the prevention of age-related chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline). This study does not change the current recommendations by authoritative bodies such as the World Health Organization, American Heart Association and the U.S. National Academies of Science, who recommend adequate consumption of omega-3 fats."


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Great Ice Cream

We are working with a new account. It is the best Ice Cream I have ever tasted.

Please go to Dave's Famous Ice Cream on facebook and give me some comments!/davidsfamous

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Drinking just one cup of caffeinated coffee in the mornings may help reduce chronic neck and shoulder pain associated with working long hours at a computer, according to a new study published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

Researchers from Norway's National Institute of Occupational Health and Oslo University Hospital conducted a study to determine if subjects who had consumed coffee before performing a simulated computer office-work task found to provoke pain in the neck and shoulders and forearms and wrists exhibited different time course in the pain development than the subjects who had abstained from coffee intake.

For the study, 48 participants (22 with chronic neck or shoulder pain and 26 healthy pain-free subjects) were recruited to perform office-based computer work. Nineteen (40%) of the subjects had consumed coffee (1/2 to 1 cup) on average one hour before the task. Pain intensity in the shoulders and neck and forearms and wrists was rated on a visual analogue scale every 15 minutes throughout the work task.

The found 19 of the participants who had drank coffee, whether they had chronic pain or not, developed less pain over the course of the 90 minutes compared to those who didn't drink coffee.

The researchers said the results might have potentially interesting implications of a pain-modulating effect of caffeine in an everyday setting. However, studies with a double-blind placebo controlled randomized design are needed.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease this past summer found older individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who drink up to three cups of coffee a day may help ward off progression to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease by up to two to four years compared to those who consume less caffeine.

A study published last year also found high levels of the chlorogenic acids (CGA) found in coffee increase alertness, reduce mental fatigue and decrease headaches.

Monday, September 10, 2012


The ice cream and frozen novelty market, which struggled for positive sales growth in 2009 and lost sales in 2010, turned a corner in 2011 with a 4.1% increase in total U.S. retail sales to reach $10.7 billion, according to a new report from Mintel. Sales are expected to increase another 4.1% in 2012 to become an $11.1 billion industry.

According to the “Ice Cream and Frozen Novelties-US-July 2012" report, when buying ice cream or other frozen novelties, 94% of people say they base their decision on flavor, while 83% look at price and 72% look for a sale or promotion. When it comes to brand loyalty, 68% of respondents make their selections based on brand alone. New flavor profiles and ingredients, better-for-you products and new packaging concepts will be instrumental in the ice cream market’s success in the next few years.

According to Mintel, the popularity of Greek yogurt spilling over into the ice cream and frozen novelty market may be one reason that total U.S. retail sales of frozen yogurt were up 9.7% from 2011-12. It demonstrates the highest growth percentage of the four ice cream and frozen novelty segments.

Reduced fat (38%), reduced sugar (38%) and reduced calorie (36%) are the most important claims consumers are looking for on the packaging of their favorite frozen treat. However, gluten-free and dairy-free products are rapidly growing in popularity with 14% and 15% of Mintel respondents said they are “very or somewhat important" to them.

Serving size is important to 69% of survey respondents who buy frozen treats, and especially so among those aged 18-24 (74%) who are the most likely to eat it away from the home directly after purchasing it from the grocery or convenience store. Portion control containers also would fare well with those concerned with ‘low-in’ claims.

In terms of who is eating the most ice cream, the United States tops the list, with 17 liters per head, outpacing Australia (10.3 liters per head), Norway (10.2 liters per head), Sweden (8 liters per head), Denmark (7 liters per head) and the United Kingdom (6 liters per head).

Since Americans eat the most ice cream in the world, be sure to check out the Top Ice Cream Brands Image Gallery that reveals the current best-sellers in the United States.

Still hungry for ice cream info? Check out the article “Sweet Science of Ice Cream Inclusions" that discusses how inclusions accent the creamy dessert with crunch, color and texture, transforming it from a simple delight to pure manna.


Friday, September 07, 2012


On Tuesday, a group of manufacturers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that includes Cargill Inc., ADM, Ingredion and Tate & Lyle filed a countersuit against the sugar industry in the U.S. District Court of Central California (Western Sugar Cooperative v. Archer Daniels Midland Company et al, case No. 11-03473). The heart of the lawsuit is centered on the claim that the sugar industry is misleading consumers regarding its message that differences exist between HFCS and sugar. The sugar industry originally brought suit against HFCS after those manufacturers filed a petition with FDA to label HFCS as “corn sugar” (a request that was denied by FDA) and their continued branding of HFCS as “natural” in tandem with marketing efforts claiming that no physiological difference exists between HFCS and sugar—that the human body cannot tell the difference between the two.

As reported by Reuters and the Chicago Tribune, this is just the latest in a lengthy dispute between manufacturers of HFCS and the sugar industry regarding whether or not the two sweeteners can, and should be, marketed as equivalent (see “Sugar vs. corn syrup: sweeteners at center of bitter food fight”).

As noted in the Chicago Tribune article, the HFCS faction contends that consumers are being misled by the sugar industry, asserting that “there is no scientifically proven correlation between HFCS and health problems,” and that the “sugar industry’s advertising claims are false…” David Knowles, spokesman, the Corn Refiners Association, notes, “Both high-fructose corn syrup and processed sugar are nutritionally equivalent and consumers have a right to this information.”

Adam Fox, the lawyer for the sugar industry, has said that the allegations by the HFCS faction are “baseless.”

Thursday, September 06, 2012


As reported by the American Association for the Advancement of Science via the EurekAlert! news service, recent research from China helps explain the neurological benefits of epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), found in green tea—and specifically how it helps improve memory and spatial learning (see “Brainy beverage: Study reveals how green tea boosts brain cell production to aid memory”). The results of this research were published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research (Aug. 2012, 56(8):1,292-1,303).

“Green tea is a popular beverage across the world,” says Dr. Yun Bai, professor, Department of Medical Genetics, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China, in the EurekAlert! announcement. “There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain.”

Bai and his research team focused on EGCG, the most-abundant catechin in green tea and a known antioxidant.

“We proposed that EGCG can improve cognitive function by impacting the generation of neuron cells, a process known as neurogenesis,” says Bai. “We focused our research on the hippocampus, the part of the brain which processes information from short-term to long-term memory.”

Results showed that ECGC boosts the production of neural progenitor cells, which—like stem cells—can adapt, or differentiate, into various types of cells. The team then used laboratory mice to determine if this increased cell production led to improved memory or spatial learning. The mice were trained for three days to find a visible platform in a maze, and then for seven days to find a hidden platform. Mice treated with ECGC required less time to find the hidden platform.

Overall the results revealed that EGCG enhances learning and memory by improving object recognition and spatial memory. “We have shown that the organic chemical EGCG acts directly to increase the production of neural progenitor cells, both in glass tests and in mice,” says Bai. “This helps us to understand the potential for EGCG, and green tea which contains it, to help combat degenerative diseases and memory loss.”

Wednesday, September 05, 2012


According to recent research led by Dr. Dena M. Bravata, health policy affiliate, Stanford University, little nutritional difference exists between organic and conventional produce. A press release issued by the university notes that Bravata and Dr. Crystal Smith-Spangler, research instructor, Division of General Medical Disciplines, Stanford School of Medicine, led a team that performed the most-comprehensive meta-analysis to date of existing studies comparing organic and conventional foods. The results of this research were published in the recent issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine (Sept. 4, 157(5): 348-366).

Although the researchers did find that consumption of organic produce limits exposure to pesticides, they did not find strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than their conventional counterparts. Their research also involved analysis of conventional vs. organic milk. While protein and fat levels varied little between organic and conventional milk, they did find that organic milk might contain significantly higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

For their study, the researchers sifted through thousands of papers, analyzing select studies of populations consuming organic and conventional diets and those that compared the nutrient levels, or the bacterial, fungal or pesticide contamination, of various products (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, milk, poultry, and eggs) grown organically and conventionally.

After analyzing the data, the researchers did not find any consistent differences in the vitamin content of organic products versus conventional—with one exception. They did find that phosphorus levels were significantly higher in organic produce compared to conventional. However, the researchers note that phosphorous deficiency is rare, making this finding of little clinical significance.

When looking at pesticides, the researchers found that organic provided a 30% lower risk of contamination. However, they found that organic foods are not necessarily 100% free of pesticides. Overall, they found that all of the foods “generally fell within the allowable safety limits.” Although two studies of children consuming organic and conventional diets did find lower levels of pesticide residues in the urine of children on organic diets, they said that the significance of these findings on child health is unclear. They also found that organic chicken and pork appear to reduce exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but—again—the clinical significance of this finding is unclear.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


A new study published in the journal Appetite reveals men don’t believe as strongly as women that fruit and vegetable consumption is an important part of maintaining health, and men feel less confident in their ability to eat healthy foods, especially when they are at work or in front of the television.

Kent State University researchers investigated whether the “Theory of Planned Behavior" (TPB) could explain why men are much less likely than women to meet the daily recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake. TPB looks at the link between people’s beliefs and behaviors. Using data from more than 3,000 people who participated in the National Cancer Institute’s Food Attitudes and Behavior survey, the team examined three beliefs that should motivate people to eat nutritious food—their attitudes toward fruit and vegetables, their feeling of control over their diet, and their awareness that other people want them to improve their diet.

Results revealed women had more favorable attitudes toward eating fruits and vegetables. For example, women said they would look better and live a longer life if they ate more fruits and vegetables daily. They also found women reported greater confidence in their abilities to eat fruits or vegetables as a snack even when they were tired, extremely hungry or around family or friends who were eating snack foods.

The researchers concluded interventions that aim to increase fruit and vegetable intake among adult males may do well to promote favorable attitudes toward fruits and vegetables and enhance men’s perceptions of control over increasing intake.

Sunday, September 02, 2012


The ongoing debate over genetically engineered foods has been a hot news item of late, with Walmart announcing it will sell Monsanto’s GE sweet corn currently being harvested in the Midwest, and the upcoming election where California voters will decide the fate of Proposition 37, known as the Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, which would be the first law in the nation requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Good news out of Europe is the result of a recent Swiss study that concluded genetically modified plants pose a low risk to humans and the environment. As reported by Ag Professional, the researchers developed its recent study after its government voted for a 5-year moratorium on GM crops in 2005. About 30 projects were launched between 2007 and 2011 to study GM crops’ impact. All of the researchers concluded there were no identifiable negative effects on beneficial organisms, microorganisms or soil fertility.

“The national research program did not reveal any risk for human health or the environment," said National Science Foundation delegate Thomas Bernauer.

Scientists recommend continuing to conduct field trials because research showed that GM plants behaved differently in a greenhouse than in a field. The moratorium could be extended until 2017 if a pending motion is accepted by both chambers of the Swiss parliament.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

America's best juice bars

Freshly squeezed, pressed or blended with a bit of green algae, raw fruit and vegetable juices, new juice bars across the country are being lauded by everyone from celebrities to soccer moms with a vigor that recalls the '90s smoothie craze.

 “People are sick of being tired and fat and out of shape,” says Brian Heck, founder of Portland, Ore.’s Sip juice cart. “If you think about it, it’s a natural response to the state of health that America is currently in.”

For people who don't have time to sit down and eat a balanced meal, raw juice is a fast way to down nutrients—several pounds of produce often go into one bottle of vegetable juice—and companies claim that the liquid delivery allows the digestive system to rest while providing the body with energy.

Fueling today’s juicing trend are new innovations like the Norwalk, a hydraulic press able to make juice without any sort of heat (which is generated when there's friction), thereby retaining the maximum amount of health benefits from the produce, though many labels warn that the juices are not pasteurized for that reason.

Los Angeles’s original juice bar, Beverly Hills Juice, opened in 1975 and is still a Hollywood favorite. Celebs like Jake Gyllenhaal have been snapped with the shop’s signature Banana Manna shakes, a blend of pressed juice with vegan “ice cream” made from frozen bananas and almonds, cacao or sunflower seeds.

In New York City, celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker hit Melvin’s Juice Box for their fresh juice fix. This tiny spot has a party-like vibe and inventive juices like the Catch a Fire, a blend of apple, beets, lemon, ginger and cayenne.

Now even international coffee powerhouse Starbucks is joining the juicing rush: The chain opened its first juice bar in Bellevue, Wash., earlier this year.