Monday, December 30, 2013

Office workers in search of snacks will be counting calories along with their change under new labeling regulations for vending machines included in President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.
Requiring calorie information to be displayed on roughly 5 million vending machines nationwide will help consumers make healthier choices, says the Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to release final rules early next year. It estimates the cost to the vending machine industry at $25.8 million initially and $24 million per year after that, but says if just .02 percent of obese adults ate 100 fewer calories a week, the savings to the health care system would be at least that great.
The rules will apply to about 10,800 companies that operate 20 or more machines. Nearly three quarters of those companies have three or fewer employees, and their profit margin is extremely low, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association. An initial investment of $2,400 plus $2,200 in annual costs is a lot of money for a small company that only clears a few thousand dollars a year, said Eric Dell, the group's vice president for government affairs.
"The money that would be spent to comply with this — there's no return on the investment," he said.
While the proposed rules would give companies a year to comply, the industry group has suggested a two-year deadline and is urging the government to allow as much flexibility as possible in implementing the rules. Some companies may use electronic displays to post calorie counts while others may opt for signs stuck to the machines.
Carol Brennan, who owns Brennan Food Vending Services in Londonderry, said she doesn't yet know how she will handle the regulations, but she doesn't like them. She has five employees servicing hundreds of machines and says she'll be forced to limit the items offered so her employees don't spend too much time updating the calorie counts.
"It is outrageous for us to have to do this on all our equipment," she said.
Brennan also doubts that consumers will benefit from the calorie information.
"How many people have not read a label on a candy bar?" she said. "If you're concerned about it, you've already read it for years."
But Kim Gould, 58, of Seattle, said he doesn't read the labels even after his choice pops out of a vending machine, so having access to that information wouldn't change what he buys.
"People have their reasons they eat well or eat poorly," Gould said.
Standing with his 12-year-old daughter near a vending machine in a medical clinic where he bought some drinks last week, he said he only makes purchases at the machines when he's hungry and has no other options.
"How do we know people who are buying candy in the vending machines aren't eating healthy 99 percent of the time?" he added.
As for the new labels, Gould said he wasn't sure what the point would be, and that they would just be "nibbling around the edges of the problem."
The FDA also is working on final rules for requiring restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to post calories information, something some cities already mandate and some large fast-food operations have begun doing voluntarily. A 2011 study in New York found that only one in six customers looked at the information, but those who did generally ordered about 100 fewer calories. A more recent study in Philadelphia found no difference in calories purchased after the city's labeling law took effect.
"There is probably a subset of people for whom this information works, who report using it to purchase fewer calories, but what we're not seeing though is a change at an overall population level in the number of calories consumed," said Brian Ebel, the study's author and an assistant professor at New York University's department of population health and medicine.
Ebel said he wouldn't be surprised if the vending machine labels end up being equally ineffective, but he said it's possible that consumers might pay more attention to them for a couple of reasons. In some locations, a vending machine might be the only food option, he said. And reading a list of calorie counts on a machine will be less overwhelming than scanning a large menu at a fast-food restaurant with other customers waiting in line behind you, he said.
"It could go either way, but I think there's at least some reason to think it could be slightly more influential in vending machines."
Even without the calorie counts, consumers already have ways to make healthier choices from vending machines. The vending machine industry group launched its "Fit Pick" system in 2005, which includes stickers placed in front of products that meet healthy guidelines for fat and sugar content. The program is used by nearly 14,000 businesses, schools and government agencies, as well as all branches of the military.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chinese Demand Keeps Dairy Prices High In 2014

The global dairy industry can expect continued high prices in 2014 due to high Chinese demand, according to a new report from Rabobank.
According to the report, international dairy commodity prices strengthened from already high levels and are expected to remain high at least for the first half of 2014. The increase of export supply since September, as producers have responded to improved margins, has been largely soaked up by continuing vigorous buying from China.
"Global prices have remained high despite the taps being turned on in key export regions," said Rabobank analyst Tim Hunt. "China continues to buy exceptionally large volumes of product from the international market to supplement falling local milk supply and this is likely to mop up most, if not all, of the increase in exports arising from key surplus regions in Q4."
The global dairy market will enter 2014 with farmgate milk prices at record or near record highs in many export and import regions. Meanwhile the prices of commodity feeds, such as soybeans and corn, have fallen 10%-40% below prior year levels, opening up large margins for milk producers in intensive feeding regions.
Despite a small softening in prices in October and November, global prices have remained high due to an uptick in December. By mid-December, Whole Milk Powder (WMP) held above $5,000 per ton in fob Oceania trade, while prices of other key commodities rose between 3% and 5%, as Southern Hemisphere processors switched milk type towards the higher-yielding WMP.
China's buying has left the rest of the buy-side of the international market with less supply to go around, keeping the market tight. With export supply still in the early stages of recovery, prices edged up even further in Q4 to ration supply.
The report predicts a further increase in China's dairy purchases from the world market in 2014. A strong Northern Hemisphere production season, following on from an exceptional season in the Southern Hemisphere should generate more than enough exportable supply to exceed China's additional demand, the report says.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Study: Potentially Harmful Bacteria on Most Tested Chicken Breasts

About half of samples tested had at least one bacteria resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics; bacteria were more resistant to antibiotics approved for use in chicken production
YONKERS, N.Y., Dec. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In its most comprehensive tests of meat and poultry to date, Consumer Reports found bacteria that could make consumers sick on nearly all of the 316 raw chicken breasts purchased at retail nationwide. The full report, "The High Cost of Cheap Chicken," is featured in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports and online at
While Consumer Reports has consistently been testing chicken for more than 15 years, this is the first time it has looked at the contamination rates for six different bacteria – enterococcus (79.8 percent), E.coli (65.2 percent), campylobacter (43 percent), klebsiella pneumonia (13.6 percent), salmonella (10.8 percent), and staphylococcus aureus (9.2 percent). It also evaluated every bacterium for antibiotic resistance and found that about half the chicken samples harbored at least one multidrug-resistant bacteria.
As part of this investigation, the Consumer Reports National Research Center recently conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,005 respondents about their understanding of labels and their handling and cooking habits for chicken. The survey found that more than half of respondents thought that "natural" chickens did not receive antibiotics or genetically modified feed and more than one-third thought "natural" was equal to "organic," all of which are not true.
"Our tests show consumers who buy chicken breast at their local grocery stores are very likely to get a sample that is contaminated and likely to get a bug that is multidrug resistant. When people get sick from resistant bacteria, treatment may be getting harder to find," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and Executive Director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center. "Our survey also shows that consumers are making buying decisions based on label claims that they believe are offering them additional value when that is not in fact the case. The marketplace clearly needs to change to meet consumer expectations."
Consumer Reports' study comes at a time when 48 million people are falling sick and 3,000 dying in the United States each year from eating tainted food, with more deaths being attributed to poultry than any other commodity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other highlights from Consumer Reports' findings include:
  • The majority of samples tested positive for one of the common measures of fecal contamination – Enterococcus and E.coli. More advanced testing showed that 17.5 percent of the E.coli are the type (known as ExPEC) that have genes that make these bacteria more likely to cause urinary tract infections.
  • About half of chicken samples contained at least one bacterium resistant to three or more antibiotics, commonly referred to as multidrug-resistant bacteria or "superbug." Slightly more than 11 percent contained two or more multidrug-resistant bacteria.
  • Bacteria were more resistant to antibiotics approved for use in chicken production for growth promotion and disease prevention than those not approved for those uses.
  • One sample was a Foster Farms chicken breast from a plant associated with the recent outbreak. The sample contained a Salmonella Heidelberg that was a match to one of the outbreak strains. Consumer Reports released its results about this sample in October 2013 immediately after it was confirmed.
Since 1998, Consumer Reports' tests of chicken have shown salmonella rates have not changed much, ranging between 11 and 16 percent.
"We know especially for salmonella, other countries have reduced their rates. In fact, systemic solutions were implemented throughout the European Union. Government data show that in 2010, 22 countries met the European target for less than or equal to 1 percent contamination of two important types of salmonella in their broiler flocks. There is no reason why the United States can't do the same," concludes Rangan.
For more information on what has been done in Europe and different sustainability practices, visit
What the Government Can Do
"We are looking to the government to ensure the safety and sustainability of the entire food supply," said Rangan. "We need to attack the root causes of the problems. Without a government focus on effective solutions, meat safety will continue to be compromised."
In order to reduce rates of bacterial contamination as European counterparts have done and preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, calls on the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Congress, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do the following:
  • Congress should give the USDA authority to mandate a recall of meat and poultry products, especially when product from a plant matches that of a human outbreak strain. Currently, it cannot mandate any recall.
  • The FDA should prohibit antibiotic use in food animals except for the treatment of sick ones. FDA's action last week giving voluntary guidance to drug companies to end labeling of antibiotics for growth promotion uses is an important first step, but is far from what is needed overall. An effective way to ensure that antibiotics are only used to treat sick animals is for Congress to pass the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act.
  • The USDA should classify strains of salmonella bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics and known to have caused disease as "adulterants," so that inspectors look for those strains routinely and when found, the products cannot be sold.
  • The USDA should move quickly to set strict levels for allowable salmonella and campylobacter in chicken parts. The agency expects to put that proposal out for public review and feedback this year. As part of this process, the USDA should publish a list of meat products like chicken parts for which it has no performance standards and indicate a timetable for establishing them. We say these standards can't come soon enough.
  • The USDA's proposed rule to increase maximum line speeds and reduce the number of USDA inspectors at slaughter plants should be dropped.
  • The National Organic Program should eliminate the loophole allowing antibiotics to be used in the chicken eggs up until the first day of life in organic chicken broilers.
  • USDA should ban the use of the "natural" claim, which is not a meaningful label, and require claims on meat to be certified and inspected.
What Consumers Can Do
Consumer Reports advises consumers to follow these tips to ensure proper handling and cooking of chicken:
  • Wash hands when handling any type of meat or poultry – frozen or fresh – before touching anything else and wash them for at least 20 seconds with hot soapy water – even if it means multiple washings.
  • Use a cutting board designated strictly for raw meat and poultry. When done, place it in the dishwasher directly from the counter or wash with hot soapy water.
  • Don't run chicken under the faucet before cooking.
  • When cooking, use a meat thermometer and always cook chicken to 165°F.
  • When shopping, buy meat last; keeping chicken cold delays bacteria overgrowth. Place chicken in a plastic bag to prevent other items from contamination.
  • Buy chicken raised without antibiotics to help preserve the effectiveness of these drugs; avoid meaningless labels like "natural" and "free range".

Sunday, December 15, 2013

re Specific Testing May Lessen Severity Of Fish Allergies

More specific testing to identify fish allergies in affected persons may identify allergens not common to all types of seafood, which could lessen the severity of fish allergies, according to a new study published in the Journal of Investigational Allergology and Clinical Immunology.
Researchers at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), University of Leipzig and Haukeland University Hospital examined 12 patients to determine the extent of their fish allergies. One of the subjects had developed an allergy to Nile perch (Lates niloticus) after having come into contact with the raw fish following consumption of salmon (Salmo salar), called a "cross allergy." Tests indicated signs of allergies to Nile perch and salmon, but not to Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua).
The most common allergen in fish and crustaceans is parvalbumin, a calcium-binding protein. While other substances may also trigger allergies, such as certain proteins in cell metabolism called aldehyde dehydrogenases, these proteins have been overlooked due to the prevalence of the more frequent parvalbumin.
Researchers concluded the tests that are currently used are very non-specific, whereas more specific testing could identify less common allergens. The most direct way of identifying new allergens is through analyzing the serum of affected patients and the proteins of the allergy source. If certain antibodies in the patients’ serum bind to the proteins of the food, the allergy is triggered. The identified allergies can be used initially for individual diagnoses and later for epidemiological studies, to determine the relevance of individual allergies.
"For some people who suffer from fish allergies there may be hope of finding a fish that they can tolerate if we managed to make the relevant tests suitable for mass implementation and use them in allergy diagnostics," said Janina Tomm, Ph.D., from the UFZ, who specializes in research into proteins.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Study Finds Organic Milk Has More Omega 3s Than Conventional Milk

Enlarge imagei
Cows graze in a pasture at the University of New Hampshire's organic dairy farm in Lee, N.H., Sept. 27, 2006.
Cows graze in a pasture at the University of New Hampshire's organic dairy farm in Lee, N.H., Sept. 27, 2006.
Cows graze in a pasture at the University of New Hampshire's organic dairy farm in Lee, N.H., Sept. 27, 2006.
While milk consumption continues to fall in the U.S., sales of organic milk are on the rise. And now organic milk accounts for about 4 percent of total fluid milk consumption.
For years, organic producers have claimed their milk is nutritionally superior to regular milk. Specifically, they say that because their cows spend a lot more time out on pasture, munching on grasses and legumes rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the animals' milk is higher in these healthy fats, which are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
But the evidence for this has been scant, except for some small studies from Europe.
Now, a new study evaluating organic milk produced in the U.S. finds that organic milk has about 62 percent more omega-3s, compared to milk produced by cows on conventional dairy farms. Cows raised on conventional farms typically spend a lot more time in a barn or confined, and instead of grazing, they're fed a diet of animal feed that contains a lot of corn.
"We were surprised by the magnitude of the differences," lead author Charles Benbrook of Washington State University tells The Salt.
Benbrook and his colleague analyzed about 400 samples of organic and conventional milk over a period of about a year and a half. The samples were taken at processing facilities around the country.
The findings, published in the journal PLoS ONE, come at a time when we're being told to consume more omega-3 fatty acids. Most people hear this advice and think of fatty fish — which is, of course, an excellent source of the omega-3s DHA and EPA.
What's less well known is that plant-based foods, such as leafy greens and nuts, are rich in another omega-3 called ALA. Now, it's becoming clearer that organic milk is a good source of that, too.
Benbrook says that consuming ALA-rich milk is also a good way to change the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. According to the National Institutes of Health, the consensus is that, for good health, we need to be eating more omega-3s and less omega-6s.
Omega-6s are found in corn and sunflower oil, and in foods fried in these oils. While some experts don't see a problem with omega-6s, many say that the typical American diet already contains too many. And averaged over 12 months, the study found, organic milk contained 25 percent less omega-6 fatty acids than conventional milk.
So, here's the rub: if you want all of the omega-3s found in organic milk, are you better off drinking whole milk rather than skim?
Yes. That's because skimming off the fat also reduces the omega-3 content. For example, if you choose 1 percent milk, it has about one-third the fat of whole milk. So you're left with a much lower level of omega-3s. Of course, you're also fewer calories, so it might be a hard choice for people who are watching their weight. If they choose whole milk, they may have to trim calories elsewhere.
And there seems to be a movement towards consuming whole milk. Sales of whole, organic milk are up 10 percent this year, making it the fastest-growing category of milk, according to a spokeswoman from Organic Valley. Skim sales, meanwhile, are down 7.0 percent, she says.
As I reported earlier this year, some studies have linked fattier milk to slimmer kids, despite the fact that pediatricians routinely recommend switching kids to low-fat dairy at the age of 2 to reduce their consumption of saturated fats. These fats, which are more abundant in whole milk than in reduced fat milk, are linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
As falling sales figures show, lots of Americans have simply taken milk out of their diets — due to lactose intolerance or other reasons. Some have replaced dairy milk with alternatives such as almond milk, which many doctors say is fine, since there are plenty of other sources of calcium.
But for people who are still milk drinkers, this study suggests that yes, there is a benefit in choosing organic in terms of boosting omega-3 intake.
One thing to note: Dairy farmers of the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools, a group which markets through the Organic Valley brand, helped fund the study. But the groups had no role in its design or analysis. The analysis was funded by the Measure to Manage program at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

8 Ounces Of Cranberry Juice Per Day Doubles Flavonoid Intake

Adding eight ounces of cranberry juice per day or one serving of dried cranberries to consumers’ diets would nearly double the U.S. population’s intake of flavonoids, according to research discussed at the American Society for Nutrition’s 2013 Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition Conference in Washington, Dec. 5.
Flavonoids are a category of polyphenols found in colorful fruits and vegetables linked to improved cardiovascular and cellular health as well as reduced inflammation.
Presenter David Baer, Ph.D., USDA-Agricultural Research Service Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, said polyphenols (plant compounds found in wine, tea and many common fruits) could enhance diets and improve whole body health—a hundred grams of cranberries contains more polyphenolic antioxidants than the equivalent amount of strawberries, broccoli, white grapes, bananas or apples.
Consuming cranberries or cranberry juice can also improve urinary tract health and heart health. During a double blind placebo controlled clinical study, subjects drinking low-calorie cranberry juice cocktail had significantly lower C-reactive protein and diastolic blood pressure than subjects on a placebo beverage. Cranberries, because of their high concentrations of flavonoids, can help promote cardiometabolic markers and help maintain cardiovascular health, including lowering blood pressure.
In addition, people who consume cranberry beverages were more likely to have a lower waist circumference and be less overweight or obese, showing cranberries can be part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Organic Food Sales to Continue Growth into 2018

The increasing usage of pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and antibiotics in the food products are raising health concerns in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013 estimates shows that about 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides active ingredients are being used annually in the country and over 20,000 pesticides products are being marketed annually, which is adversely impacting the health of the consumers, and the environment. Therefore, the Organic foods which are produced using environment and animal friendly organic farming methods are gaining awareness in the country. Organic Trade Association 2012, estimates shows that about 81% families are purchasing organic food at least some times.

According to “United States Organic Food Market Forecast & Opportunities, 2018”, it is forecasted that the organic food market in United States will grow at the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of about 14% during 2014-18.
The organic fruits & vegetables will continue to dominate till 2018 and with the growth in organic food market revenues, the demand for organic meat, fish, poultry, etc. is also expected to gain demand in the forecasted period. The western states in United States hold the major market share in the total organic food market revenues. However, increasing per capita income coupled with the growing domestic production and commercial sector are anticipated to surge the demand of organic food in other regions of the country.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked To Brain Damage

A diet low in vitamin D may cause damage to the brain, according to a new study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
University of Kentucky researchers fed middle-aged rats a diet low in vitamin D for several months to study its effects on brain health.
Results showed the rats developed free radical damage to the brain, and many different brain proteins were damaged as identified by redox proteomics. These rats also showed a significant decrease in cognitive performance on tests of learning and memory.
"Given that vitamin D deficiency is especially widespread among the elderly, we investigated how during aging from middle-age to old-age how low vitamin D affected the oxidative status of the brain," said lead author Allan Butterfield. “Adequate vitamin D serum levels are necessary to prevent free radical damage in brain and subsequent deleterious consequences."
Previously, low levels of vitamin D have been associated with Alzheimer's disease and to the development of certain cancers and heart disease. Butterfield recommends eating foods rich in vitamin D, taking vitamin D supplements and/or getting at least 10-15 minutes of sun exposure each day to ensure that vitamin D levels are normalized for optimal health.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obesity May Alter Taste Receptors

Being severely obese may change a person’s ability to taste sweet foods and lead to more weight gain, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS One.
Researchers at University of Buffalo who conducted the study concluded that diet-induced obesity significantly alters the responsiveness of the peripheral taste cells that are responsible for the initial detection of taste stimuli and for sending that taste information to the brain.
Kathryn Medler, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Buffalo, says it's possible that the trouble detecting sweetness may lead obese mice to eat more than their leaner counterparts to get the same payoff.
For the study, researchers compared 25 normal mice to 25 of their littermates who were fed a high-fat diet and became obese. After 10 weeks on the high-fat diet, researchers used calcium imaging to measure how taste-evoked calcium signals were affected in the obese mice discovering that significantly fewer taste receptor cells were responsive to some appetitive taste stimuli, while the numbers of taste cells that were sensitive to aversive taste stimuli did not change.
The researchers noted that further research is imperative to determine the connection between taste, appetite and obesity because it could lead to new methods of encouraging healthy eating.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Low-Carb Product Launches Increase 95% In Europe

New food and drink product launches with "low carb" claims in Europe have increased 95% between 2008 and 2013, suggesting the low-carb trend may be back in action and with support from high-protein claims, according to new market research from Mintel.
Ten percent of new low-carbohydrate food and drink launches were pasta products, 10% baking ingredients or mixes, 9% bread and 8% snack, cereal and energy bars. The top three countries in Europe for new low-carbohydrate food and drink product launches are France (17%) followed by Germany and Spain, accounting for 15% of NPD share respectively.
Research shows high protein is aiding the comeback of the low-carb trend, with European new product launches in the food and drink category carrying both a low-carb and high-protein claim growing 57% between 2008 and 2013.
New product launches with high protein claims have tripled over the past five years in Europe with a 260% increase in high-protein product launches in 2013 compared with 2008, driven by snacks, yogurt and prepared meals. This year in Europe, of total new product introductions making a protein claim, snacks accounted for 24%, dairy 20% and processed fish, meat and egg products 15%.
Protein's satiety benefits constitute as an important component in weight management; research shows new products launched in Europe carrying high-satiety claims grew 164% between 2008 and 2013.
"As well as communicating the low-carb content of the products, the presence or absence of other nutrients is also highlighted, with high-protein claims positioning products as more than just low-carb alternatives," said Laura Jones, food science analyst, Mintel.
In addition, there is also opportunity for further growth for high-protein products—for example, 66% of Polish, 61% of Spanish, 51% of Italian and 51% of German and 48% of French consumers would be interested in trying high-protein bread.
Meanwhile, dairy products are a good source of natural protein that has served as a base for high-protein claims, with milk gaining recognition over the past few years as an ideal sports drink. Indeed, 52% of Italian consumers, 49% of French, 45% of Spanish and 37% of Germans think milk is good to drink during exercise. Meanwhile, 20% consumers in the United Kingdom think milk is good to drink during and after sports activity.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

FSIS Publishes New Rule on Generic Meat, Poultry Labels

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently published a final rule that expands the circumstances in which the agency will generically approve labels of meat and poultry.
Usually, labels that are used on federally inspected meat and poultry products must be approved first by FSIS through a review of a "sketch label". But FSIS has explained there is an exception for labels whose mandatory label features meet applicable regulations. Such "generic" labels don't need to be submitted for sketch approval.
According to FSIS, the final rule expands the circumstances in which it will generically approve meat and poultry labels, further relieving companies of the requirement to submit their labels for evaluation.
"The final rule provides that establishments are required to submit for evaluation only certain types of labeling, e.g., labels for temporary approval, labels for products produced under religious exemption, labels for products for export with labeling deviations, and labels with claims and special statements," FSIS stated in the final rule.
The agency has adopted the proposed rule with four changes, including making an exception to its sketch approval process for labels that bear a child-nutrition box.
The final rule takes effect. Jan. 6 and can be found here via the Federal Register.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Starbucks Loses Charbucks Appeal

Starbucks Corp has failed to persuade a federal appeals court to stop a small, family-owned New Hampshire roaster from selling coffee known as "Charbucks."
Ruling in a case that began in 2001, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Black Bear Micro Roastery and its owner, Wolfe's Borough Coffee Inc., may keep selling "Charbucks Blend," "Mister Charbucks" and "Mr. Charbucks" coffee.
Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier wrote for a three-judge panel that Seattle-based Starbucks did not deserve an injunction to stop Charbucks sales, having failed to prove that consumers would be confused through a "blurring" of its brand.
The New York-based appeals court let stand a Dec. 2011 finding by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan that Charbucks was "only weakly associated with the minimally similar" Starbucks trademark.
Many retailers, especially those selling luxury or premium products, file trademark lawsuits against large and small rivals they believe are misusing their brands, potentially reducing profit and revenue and damaging their reputation.
A centerpiece of Starbucks' case had been a phone survey of 600 people by the pollster Warren Mitofsky, which found that "the number one association of the name 'Charbucks' in the minds of consumers is with the brand 'Starbucks.'"
But the 2nd Circuit said the survey was "fundamentally flawed," and drew its conclusions from how consumers thought of "Charbucks" in isolation, not its real world context.
It said that while 39.5 percent of participants thought of "Starbucks" or "coffee" when asked what came to mind upon hearing "Charbucks," just 4.4 percent said "Starbucks" or "coffee house" when asked who might sell a "Charbucks" product. "Grocery store" was the most popular answer to that question.
"Viewed in light of Starbucks' fame," Lohier wrote, "the fact that more survey participants did not think of 'Starbucks' upon hearing 'Charbucks' reinforces the district court's finding that the marks are only minimally similar."
Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"This is a sound decision," Christopher Cole, a lawyer at Sheehan, Phinney, Bass & Green representing Black Bear, said in an interview. "It flows from the dramatic dissimilarity between how the different products actually appear in commerce and are seen by consumers."
Starbucks has grown since 1971 from a single store in Seattle's Pike Place Market into the world's largest coffee shop chain, with close to 18,000 stores in 60 countries and more than $14.8 billion of annual revenue.
Black Bear is based in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. It created "Charbucks Blend" in 1997, and now sells dark-roast coffee as "Mister Charbucks" or "Mr. Charbucks."
The 2nd Circuit noted that one reason Black Bear used "Charbucks" was the public perception that Starbucks uses an unusually dark roast for its coffee.
The case is Starbucks Corp et al v. Wolfe's Borough Coffee Inc d/b/a Black Bear Micro Roastery, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-364.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spearmint, Rosemary May Hinder Alzheimer's Disease

Enhanced extracts made from special antioxidants in spearmint and rosemary improve learning and memory, which may prove beneficial to reducing Alzheimer's disease risk, according to a study presented at Neuroscience 2013, Nov. 9-13.
Researchers at Saint Louis University tested a novel antioxidant-based ingredient made from spearmint extract and two different doses of a similar antioxidant made from rosemary extract on mice that have age-related cognitive decline.
Results concluded the higher-dose rosemary extract compound was the most powerful in improving memory and learning in three tested behaviors. The lower-dose rosemary extract improved memory in two of the behavioral tests, as did the compound made from spearmint extract.
"We found that these proprietary compounds reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease," said Susan Farr, Ph.D., research professor, geriatrics, Saint Louis University.
Further, there were signs of reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.
"Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline," Farr said.
Additional research has shown a healthy diet with sufficient amounts of vitamin C and vitamin D may also help to ward off Alzheimer's disease.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Website Aims for Honey Sourcing Transparency

 A new search function on allows U.S. shoppers to be sure that they're not mistakenly buying honey that has been illegally shipped from China. In one easy step they can help ensure the safety and quality of their honey, while also supporting U.S. honey producers and beekeepers. In addition, retailers and manufacturers are able to trace their product back to the hive.

By going to and clicking on the starburst at the top of the page, consumers can enter the UPC code on the back of their packaged honey to see if it is True Source Certified™.
Millions of pounds of illegally sourced honey may continue to enter the United States, despite continuing federal crack-down efforts. True Source CertificationTM helps ensure honey's safety and quality because it traces the source of that honey from hive to table. The program has been applauded by honey industry leaders, including the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation.
"The True Source Certified logo tells you that the honey you're buying was ethically and legally sourced," says True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks. "If you don't see the logo, ask your retailer or honey company to join the program. And make sure that your favorite foods with honey – from breakfast cereals to snacks – are made by a manufacturer that purchases honey from a True Source Certified honey company."
Earlier this year, two of the nation's largest honey suppliers admitted to buying illegally imported Chinese honey, including some that was adulterated with unauthorized antibiotics.
About one-third of honey sold in North America today is now True Source Certified. Many large grocery retailers and club stores only use certified honey for store brands, including Costco (Kirkland Signature) and Target (Market Pantry and Simply Balanced).
The U.S. imports more than 60% of the honey it needs from other countries. Most is from high-quality, legal sources. But some honey brokers and importers illegally circumvent tariffs and quality controls, selling honey to U.S. companies that is of questionable origin. This threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey's reputation for quality and safety.

Friday, November 15, 2013

McDonald's Eyes Bigger Share of Coffee Market

McDonald's wants to be a bigger player in the global coffee business.
The world's biggest hamburger chain on Thursday highlighted beverages as one of its key growth opportunities at a daylong presentation for investors.
McDonald's CEO Don Thompson noted that coffee is one of the fastest growing categories in its global drinks business and said that the company has less than its "fair share" of the market. When asked to identify competitors in the space, Thompson chose to keep the discussion broad.
"Anyone that stops off to get a cup of coffee anywhere, that's an opportunity," Thompson said.
The push comes as Starbucks Corp. is enjoying strong sales growth even in the choppy economy. In the latest quarter, the Seattle-based chain said global sales rose 7 percent at locations open at least a year. At McDonald's, the figure edged up 0.9 percent.
As for the coffee servings sold in the U.S. restaurant industry, McDonald's currently has less than 13 percent of the market, said Kevin Newell, the company's chief brand and strategy officer for the region. Still, he noted McDonald's coffee sales have surged 70 percent since the introduction of McCafe specialty coffees in 2009.
A big part of the attraction of McDonald's coffee is value; many locations in the U.S. offer a regular drip coffee of any size for $1. But McDonald's wants to get people to buy pricier drinks, too. This fall, the company introduced a pumpkin spice latte following the popularity of similar drinks at Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. And next week, McDonald's plans to launch a white chocolate mocha flavored latte.
The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., also recently said it's partnering with Kraft Foods Group Inc. to sell McCafe bagged coffee at supermarkets in test markets. The company is hoping the move will help build awareness of the MCafe brand.
"It's about selling more coffee in restaurants," Newell said of the Kraft partnership.
It's not clear what impact the push by McDonald's will have on Starbucks. Richard Adams, who runs a consulting firm for McDonald's franchisees, notes that the chain sells plenty of drip coffee and blended ice frappes in the summer but has struggled to sell espresso-based beverages such as lattes.
In the meantime, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks are trying to boost food sales and attract more customers in the afternoon and evening hours. Starbucks recently revamped its sandwiches and introduced new salads and baked goods to become more of a lunch destination. About a third of purchases in the U.S. include food and Starbucks is looking to push that figure up.
But Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz doesn't like comparisons to chains such as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.
"They're in another business — they're fast-food," Schultz said in an interview on CNBC earlier this year.
Overseas, McDonald's also has about 4,200 separate McCafes that are either sectioned off from the main restaurant or stand-alone locations. McDonald's says it plans to add another 350 to 400 such McCafe locations next year.
Still, Thompson stressed that McDonald's remained in the restaurant business.
"We're not trying to be something we're not," he said.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trader Joe's Supplier Recalls Products for E.Coli

 More than 90 tons of prepackaged salads and sandwiches were recalled by a Richmond catering company because a bacterial strain of E. coli has been linked to its products, federal health officials announced Sunday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Glass Onion Catering recalled approximately 181,620 pounds of salads and sandwich wraps containing cooked chicken and ham after 26 patients in three states were sickened with E. coli O157:H7, a strain of the sometimes deadly bacteria.
The FSIS did not say in which states the E. coli patients became ill. The agency is urging anyone who may have bought salads or prewrapped sandwiches with cooked ham or chicken to throw them away.
The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, and were shipped to distribution centers in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas.
The Food and Drug Administration notified the FSIS on Wednesday that California authorities had tied the illnesses to the Richmond company.
Glass Onion Catering has been a source of food for retailer brands, including Trader Joe's, Super Fresh Foods and Delish. The company was launched in 1992. Its owner, Tom Atherstone, did not return multiple messages left with the company on Sunday.
According to the FSIS, the company began monitoring the outbreak Oct. 29 after a cluster of illnesses involving the E. coli strain.
The bacteria can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps some 2-8 days after a person is exposed to it, according to the FSIS. Most people recover within a week, but some develop kidney failure, the agency said.
Consumers with questions about food safety can go to, a virtual representative available 24 hours a day (via smart phone, the address is Call the USDA's meat and poultry hotline 7 a.m.-1 p.m. (PST) at 888-674-6854.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trans Fat Ban Causes Little Stir Among Consumers

They are among our most personal daily decisions: what to eat or drink. Maybe what to inhale.
Now that the government's banning trans fat, does that mean it's revving up to take away our choice to consume all sorts of other unhealthy stuff?
What about salt? Soda? Cigarettes?
In the tug-of-war between public health and personal freedom, the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ban trans fats barely rates a ripple.
Hardly anyone defends the icky-sounding artificial ingredient anymore, two decades after health activists began warning Americans that it was clogging their arteries and causing heart attacks.
New York, Philadelphia, a few other localities and the state of California already have banned trans fat from restaurant food.
McDonald's, Taco Bell and KFC dropped it from their french fries, nachos and chicken years ago.
The companies that fill grocery shelves say they already have reduced their use of trans fat by nearly three-fourths since 2005.
Growers are promoting new soybean oils that they say will eliminate, within a few years, the need for partial hydrogenation, the process that creates trans fats still used to enhance the texture of some pie crusts, cookies and margarine.
Mostly, Americans' palates have moved on, and so have their arguments over what's sensible health policy and what amounts to a "nanny state" run amok.
When they aren't feuding over President Barack Obama's health care law, state politicians are busy weighing the wisdom of legalizing marijuana. Already 20 states and the District of Columbia have authorized it for medicinal use. Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved smoking pot just for fun.
The FDA is taking heat for delays in coming out with new rules on regular-old tobacco cigarettes under a law passed in 2009. There are the new e-cigarettes to worry about, too. More than 20 states have banned stores from selling electronic cigarettes to minors, but the federal government has yet to take them on.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to stop restaurants from selling sodas larger than 16 ounces, and the federal government's efforts to impose healthier lunches on school kids are causing more of an uproar than the trans fat ban.
Still, Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the nonprofit Trust for America's Health, says a national trans fat ban is "a big deal." After all, the FDA estimates it will prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year.
Levi doesn't see it as evidence that federal regulators are suddenly on a roll, however.
"There are other areas where regulation is sort of stuck — everything from nutrition labeling to food safety to the tobacco regulations that have not seen the light of day," Levi said.
Talk of new government regulation typically stirs up libertarians and conservatives. Yet the trans fat ban hasn't provoked much beefing.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh groused that bureaucrats shouldn't regulate what people eat because it's "none of their business" and research on nutrition keeps changing. After all, sticks of margarine made with trans fats used to be recommended as a healthier alternative to butter.
Heritage Foundation research fellow Daren Bakst, who specializes in agriculture issues, blogged that the FDA is "ignoring the most important issue: the freedom of Americans."
A few fans of ready-to-spread cake frostings and microwave popcorn that still contain trans fat griped via Twitter.
They don't have to worry immediately.
The FDA must consider comments from the food industry and the public before it comes up with a timeline for phasing out trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils. It could take years to get them off the market.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, has been warning about the dangers since the early 1990s. Advocacy by the center helped persuade the government to add trans fat to nutrition labels beginning in 2006.
That created consumer pressure on food companies to find tasty ways to replace partially hydrogenated oil with less harmful fats. The companies' success helped clear the way for the government to consider a trans fat ban, he said.
"It's a little bit of an exception, in that it's so harmful and it was so widely used," Jacobson said, "and there are substitutes so that people can't tell the difference when it's removed."
Next on Jacobson's wish list is something that would be much harder for industry and the FDA to accomplish: reducing the salt in processed foods.
"There are estimates that it's causing around 100,000 deaths prematurely every year in this country," he said. "That is just huge."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Senators Push for More Accessible Crop Insurance

Thirteen senators sent a letter today to the Senate farm bill conferees calling for provisions that aim to make crop insurance more accessible for a wider range of producers, including beginning farmers and specialty crop growers.

In the letter, senators wrote, “Specialty crop growers, organic producers, diversified operations, and young and beginning farmers, who have traditionally been underserved by federal crop insurance, deserve access to affordable and sufficient risk management tools that are on par with what is available for commodity producers … It is important to prioritize and support federal crop insurance products that address these underserved commodities, inadequate coverage, and low participation.”
In the letter, senators push for a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified farms because, they say, the current system of insuring crop-by-crop does not work for highly diversified operations, including many sustainable and organic farms.
The senators further urged that organic farmers should not face lower rates of crop insurance in the wake of crop losses compared to non-organic products. The letter supported a provision in the House and Senate farm bills that would restore the Risk Management Agency's authority to conduct research and development activities to improve existing products and develop new ones.
Both the Senate and House farm bills would direct USDA to establish a whole farm revenue product that would work for a wide range of diversified operations, be available nationwide, and include a crop and enterprise diversification bonus.
The letter was sent by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Al Franken, D-Minn., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Starbucks to Supply Coffee Grounds for Renewable Energy Facility

A new renewable energy facility announced Thursday for Augusta Corporate Park will find its main source of power coming from neighboring Starbucks’ waste.
Augusta Renewable En­er­gy LLC will process used coffee grounds from the new Starbucks soluble plant as its primary renewable-energy source after the facility opens next year, according to an announcement from the Augusta Economic Develop­ment Authority.
Augusta Renewable Energy is spending about $20 million to build its first anaerobic digestion facility in Georgia. The company, a division of Columbia-based First Generation Energy, will create about 10 highly technical positions.
Construction of the site, which will span about eight acres of the industrial park off Mike Padgett Highway, is expected to start before the end of the year and be completed by mid- to late summer, said Daniel Rickenmann, the operating partner for First Generation Energy.
The 180,000-square-foot Starbucks plant has an opening date planned for early 2014.
“Primarily using coffee grounds, Augusta (Renewable) Energy will convert a landfill component into energy,” authority Chairman Henry Ingram said in a news release.
First Generation Energy is a diversified service company that provides zero-waste solutions and small power generation options for industries, food manufacturers, renewable energy and utilities. The company has formed a partnership with environmental technology provider Eisenmann for the installation and technical support during the plant’s implementation process. Caterpillar will assist with the facility, according to the authority. First Generation Energy also will provide a private label line of soil amendments through a partnership with an unnamed Fortune 200 company.
“Green energy is the wave of the future,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said in a statement, “and Augusta Renewable Energy will do their part to make sure we are efficient in our energy needs in the years to come.”

Friday, November 08, 2013

FDA Moves to Ban Trans Fats

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. The FDA’s preliminary determination is based on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels.

The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.

“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat. Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health.”

Consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Additionally, the IOM recommends that consumption of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.

In recent years, many food manufacturers and retailers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods and products they sell. Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Numerous retailers and manufacturers have already demonstrated that many of these products can be made without trans fat.

Thanks to these efforts, along with public education, the consumption of trans fat in American diets has been significantly reduced. Since trans fat content information began appearing in the Nutrition Facts label of foods in 2006, trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.

“One of the FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the major source of trans fat in processed food.”

Following a review of the submitted comments, if the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, PHOs would be considered “food additives” and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation. If such a determination were made, the agency would provide adequate time for producers to reformulate products in order to minimize market disruption. The FDA’s preliminary determination is only with regard to PHOs and does not affect trans fat that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Cargill To Label Finely Textured Beef

Cargill Beef will begin labeling its branded U.S.-made, fresh, ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef prior to the 2014 grilling season, with the declaration “Contains Finely Textured Beef." The announcement comes nearly 18 months after calls for companies to halt production of “pink slime," as it was dubbed by the media and its critics.
“Our research shows that consumers believe ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef should be clearly labeled," said John Keating, Cargill Beef president. “We’ve listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling Finely Textured Beef."
The new labeling procedure is based on consumer research that consumers desire transparency and believe ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef should be clearly labeled, providing them with choices when they make a purchase. Research also revealed that, upon learning Finely Textured Beef is 100% pure beef and 95% lean, and how it is made, consumers respond positively to its benefits. Cargill also has launched a dedicated Finely Textured Beef website that provides information about the product, including videos showing how Finely Textured Beef is made at its U.S. beef cattle processing plants.
The debate as to whether boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) are safe for human consumption made headlines last year as media reports created a troubling and inaccurate picture of the form of beef made by separating lean beef from fat, particularly in their use of the colloquial term “pink slime." The food additive is created by combining 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.
In May 2012, Beef Products Inc., the maker of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) dubbed “pink slime" by the media and critics of its use, and the target of the ABC News investigation, announced it would permanently shutter operations in three of its four operating plants. The announcement comes after the company could not recover from the media frenzy that resulted in decreased consumer demand for its product.
In September 2012, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) sued ABC News and its journalists, contending the network misled consumers into believing its lean finely textured beef (LFTB) was unsafe. In July 2013, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the $1.2 billion "pink slime" defamation lawsuit against ABC News, Inc. and its journalists including, Diane Sawyer, will be litigated in state court.
Retail labeling of beef products containing LFTB has been an option since it was first included in ground beef products more than a decade ago. Voluntary statements such as a label indicating ground beef does or does not contain LFTB is considered a claim. USDA regulations require claims to be verified for accuracy before use on product labeling prior to their use by industry.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Washington Voters Turn Down GMO Labeling

A closely watched ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods sold in Washington was defeated Tuesday night after opponents spent heavily on TV ads attacking the initiative.
Results showed Initiative 522 leading in populous King County -- which includes Seattle -- but losing in almost every county in the state. In Clark County, across the Columbia River from Portland, nearly 60 percent of voters were voting no on the measure.
The initiative sparked a record $22 million in spending from food and biotech companies opposed to the measure, and the results could help determine how the issue plays out nationally.
A similar initiative was defeated in California in 2012 by fewer than three percentage points. Opponents spent $46 million fighting the measure there. In Washington, the measure was losing by around 10 percentage points.
Supporters argued that consumers should have the right to know if their food contains genetically engineered ingredients, which now account for more than 90 percent of the corn, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the U.S.
Opponents, who include most of the state's farm and business organizations, argued that labeling would raise costs and unfairly stigmatize these products.
The pro-labeling campaign was driven by an increasing number of activist groups and organic-food manufacturers who raised questions about the impact of genetically engineered food on farming practices and on whether they could affect human health.
Studies haven't shown any adverse human health impacts, but critics note that the industry is moving into new parts of the food supply, such as salmon and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Oregon advocates of genetic labeling already have a proposed initiative for the November 2014 ballot in the works. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told the Christian Science Monitor that passage of the Washington initiative could help his effort to achieve national labeling requirements.
The industry fought hard against the initiative, just as it did in California. The Grocery Manufacturers Association spent $11 million, with money raised from several of the country's major food manufacturers.
An additional $11 million came from Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and other major companies that produce genetically modified seeds. The money fueled an aggressive advertising campaign arguing that the measure was rife with nonsensical exemptions and would raise food prices.
Surveys conducted by Seattle pollster Stuart Elway showed that support for the measure dropped by 20 points from early September to mid-October.
Proponents raised nearly $8 million, with $2.3 million coming from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and lesser amounts from several companies in the natural food industry.
"It's okay, because guess what: We're gonna win eventually," the soap company's CEO, David Bronner told supporters at their election-night gathering, according to The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New Protease Reduces Bitterness In Enzyme-Modified Cheese

Biocatalysts Ltd. introduced Flavorpro™ 937MDP, a non-animal protease with a de-bittering action when added to enzyme-modified cheese processes.
Flavorpro 937MDP is an exopeptidase preparation with low levels of endopeptidase activity. In enzyme-modified cheese applications, the hydrolysis of cheese proteins by endopeptidases, such as animal and bacterial proteases, can create bitter flavors due to the accumulation of small hydrophobic peptides. Exopeptidases, such as Flavorpro 937MDP, can be used to control bitterness by removing these bitter-tasting peptides. Due to its fungal origins, the enzyme is available kosher, halal and vegetarian.
Earlier this year, Biocatalysts unveiled its Promod™ 950L, a non-genetically modified microbial protease preparation as an alternative to papain, at the IFT 2013 Expo in Chicago.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Humane Society Supports COOL Law

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with Organization for Competitive Markets, United Farm Workers of America, American Grassfed Association and three independent livestock farms filed a brief supporting the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The court denied a motion to delay the COOL rule in September, and the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“Consumers deserve to know where their food comes from. And factory farming organizations that seek to have it otherwise are out of step with their customers,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States, in an issued statement today.
The groups and farmers are represented by lawyers with The HSUS' Animal Protection Litigation section.
Recently in the COOL controversy, Mexico requested the establishment of a compliance panel to determine if USDA's final COOL rule issued this year complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) findings. As well as undergoing WTO review, the final COOL rule also faces court challenges from the trade groups opposed to its implementation.
Several livestock trade associations are challenging the labeling rule. American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Grocers Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association asked the USDA and U.S. Trade Representative to extend an industry outreach program until after a WTO compliance panel determines if the final COOL rule complies with WTO rules.
The National Farmers Union, U.S. Cattlemen's Association and Consumer Federation of America support COOL.
The country-of-origin labeling regulations require that meat products contain labels specifying where the livestock was born, raised and slaughtered. The regulations also prohibit the commingling of meat with different country-of-origin combinations in the same package at retail.
According to the coalition led by HSUS, labeling helps consumers who want to buy from farmers and ranchers “who often use more humane and sustainable practices, rather than industrial corporations that may commingle meat products from several foreign countries.”


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Mexico Labels Chocolate Junk Food, Adds Tax

The ancient Aztecs would be up in arms: in the land that gave chocolate to the world, Mexican lawmakers have declared the popular food to be "junk," subject to an extra tax.
The chocolate charge was part of a raft of fiscal changes passed by Mexico's Congress on Thursday that seek to boost tax revenues and to tackle the country's unhealthy eating habits.
Among the amendments added to the tax bill was a levy on "junk food" - defined as products containing more than 275 calories per 100 grams. Many types of chocolate have around twice that amount.
McDonalds hamburgers, for example, fall below the benchmark, according to data on the company's website.
Originally proposed as a 5 percent levy this month, Congress approved an 8 percent charge on the foods.
Chocolate was grouped alongside a host of high-calorie products including gelatine, sweets and some puddings.
Etymologists trace the origin of the word "chocolate" to the Aztec word "xocolatl." It refers to the foamy bitter drink brewed from cacao - or cocoa - beans, according to the website of Washington's Smithsonian Institution.
In Aztec times, the drink was reserved for the nobility.
Historians say cocoa beans were also used like currency in many parts of pre-modern Latin America, and the Maya and Aztecs believed the bean had magical properties.
Legend has it that Aztec king Moctezuma feted Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes with drinking chocolate when he arrived to conquer Mexico in the early 16th Century.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Rising Star Chef Serves Creative Doughnuts in Harlem

Chef Corey Cova, who was featured on Zagat's list of 30 culinary starts under 30 years old, is the mind behind the unusual creations at his East Harlem shop Dough Loco. "Dough Loco is a neighborhood coffee doughnut shop. A lot of the doughnuts up here are from major chains, so they're all a bit smaller, have tons of ingredients like stabilizers, fillers," Cova said. "Ours are just all natural, really simple."It's a small operation, with Cova making hundreds of doughnuts by hand in the minuscule kitchen. On some days, supply can't keep up with demand and guests have to wait for a fresh batch to be put on the shelves. "Sometimes, we'll sell out by like 9 o'clock, and people have to wait an hour for us to kind of catch up," Cova said.The wait is worth it, though, especially for varieties like miso maple and raspberry sriracha. Cova's background in savory cooking inspires flavors you won't find anywhere else. "I think about a lot of different kind of food because I have to go back and run a restaurant as well. The raspberry one today I just kind of was thinking about the last few days," Cova said. "Raspberry and sriracha seemed like they kind of shared, something in there was kind of similar."Even though it just opened, the tiny shop may be ready to grow beyond its East Harlem storefront. Don't be surprised if you see Dough Loco expand its footprint or open new stores elsewhere in New York City.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Low Maternal Vitamin D Levels Linked to Preterm Labor

Low maternal intake of vitamin D has been shown to increase the chances of preterm labor in African American and Puerto Rican females, according to a new study published in American Journal of Epidemiology. The findings may provide insight into the biology connecting low vitamin D and preterm birth.
"Vitamin D is unique in that while we get it from our diets, our primary source is our body making it from sunlight," said lead author Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., associate professor in the University of Pittsburgh Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "Previous studies using conservative definitions for vitamin D deficiency have found that nearly half of black women and about 5% of white women in the United States have vitamin D concentrations that are too low."
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study to determine the link between maternal vitamin D and the risk of spontaneous preterm labor in women before the 35-week gestation period. The researchers used a sample of more than 700 cases of preterm birth and 2,600 full-term births collected by the Collaborative Perinatal Project that was conducted in 12 U.S. medical centers from 1959 to 1965. The blood samples collected by the project were well-preserved and able to be tested for vitamin D levels 40 years later.
Among non-white mothers, the incidence of spontaneous, preterm labor decreased by as much as 30% as vitamin D levels in blood increased. The researchers did not find similar relationships between maternal vitamin D levels and preterm birth in white women.
"We were concerned that finding this association only in non-white women meant that other factors we did not measure accounted for the link between low vitamin D levels and spontaneous preterm birth in black and Puerto Rican mothers," Bodnar said. "Even after applying these methods, vitamin D deficiency remained associated with spontaneous preterm birth."
Researchers also discovered that vitamin D deficiency was related to preterm births with damage to the placenta caused by inflammation. The vitamin D spontaneous preterm birth relationship should be examined in modern cohorts with detailed data on skin pigmentation and other covariates, the researchers concluded.
A previous study from the University of Pittsburgh linked vitamin D deficiency having a relation with fetal growth that may vary by race.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Study: Consumers Wary of Nanotech Foods

New research from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Minnesota finds that people in the U.S. want labels on food products that use nanotechnology—whether the nanotechnology is in the food or is used in food packaging. The research also shows that many people are willing to pay more for the labeling.
“We wanted to know whether people want nanotechnology in food to be labeled, and the vast majority of the participants in our study do,” says Dr. Jennifer Kuzma, senior author of a paper on the research and Goodnight-Glaxo Wellcome Distinguished Prof. of Public Administration at NC State. “Our study is the first research in the U.S. to take an in-depth, focus group approach to understanding the public perception of nanotechnology in foods.”
The researchers convened six focus groups—three in Minnesota and three in North Carolina—and gave study participants some basic information about nanotechnology and its use in food products. Participants were then asked a series of questions addressing whether food nanotechnology should be labeled. Participants were also sent a follow-up survey within a week of their focus group meeting.
Study participants were particularly supportive of labeling for products in which nanotechnology had been added to the food itself, though they were also in favor of labeling products in which nanotechnology had only been incorporated into the food packaging.
However, the call for labeling does not indicate that people are necessarily opposed to the use of nanotechnology in food products. For example, many study participants indicated support for the use of nanotechnology to make food more nutritious or to give it a longer shelf life—but they still wanted those products to be labeled.
“People do have nuanced perspectives on this,” Kuzma says. “They want labeling, but they also want access to reliable, research-based information about the risks associated with labeled products—such as a U.S. Food and Drug Administration website offering additional information about labeled products.”
The researchers also found that about 60% of the study participants who responded to the follow-up survey were willing to pay an additional 5 to 25% of the product price for either nanotechnology-free products or for nanotechnology labeling.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crops May Soon Grow Faster, More Efficient

Global agriculture accounts for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions, and that number will only increase as global food demand is forecast to double by 2050, which will cause significant strain on the environment. Researchers in London have unraveled the mystery of how some plant species evolved super-efficient photosynthesis—a discovery that could be used to breed super-crops, such as faster-growing, drought-resistant rice, according to a paper published in the journal eLife.
Approximately 3% of all plants use an advanced form of photosynthesis, which allows them to capture more carbon dioxide, use less water, and grow more rapidly. Overall, this makes them over 50% more efficient than plants that use the less-efficient form.
Researchers from the Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge traced back the evolutionary paths of all the plants that use advanced photosynthesis, including maize, sugar cane and millet, to find out how they evolved the same ability independently, despite not being directly related to one another. Using a mathematical analysis, the researchers uncovered a number of tiny changes in the plants’ physiology that, when combined, allow them to grow more quickly; using one-third as much water as other plants; and capturing around 13 times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
They suggest that together, these individual evolutionary advances make up a “recipe” that could be used to improve key agricultural crops that only use the less-efficient form.
"Encouragingly for the efforts to design super-efficient crops, we found that several different pathways lead to the more efficient photosynthesis—so there are plenty of different recipes biologists could follow to achieve this," the researchers said. “This is not only an interesting mathematical result, it should help biological scientists to develop crops with significantly improved yields to feed the world.”
In 2010, British researchers suggested large-scale crop failures most likely will become more common under climate change due to an increased frequency of extreme weather events. Their findings, published in Environmental Research Letters, suggested adaptation to climate change can be possible through a combination of new crops that are more tolerant to heat and water stress, and socio-economic measures. Over the past two years, record-breaking temperatures in the United States have affected crop yields and forced global food prices to reach record highs.