Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nutrition, Activity Improve Students Brain Function

Just 20 minutes per day of exercise improves students' brain activity, according to neurological research. A new report issued by the GENYOUth Foundation, a partnership between the National Dairy Council (NDC) and the National Football League (NFL) highlights the effects of healthy
nutrition couples with physical activity on students' learning potential.

The report, “The Wellness Impact: Enhancing Academic Success Through Healthy School Environments," collated the results of numerous studies, including brain imaging research showing the brains of aerobically fit children may exhibit superior executive-function control. In addition, school breakfast programs contribute to the quality of food children eat and highlight the correlation between diet quality and academic performance.

A recent survey cited in the report found 62% of students did not eat breakfast on all seven days before the survey, and 13% of students never ate breakfast during that time. In fact, more than half of all teens do not eat breakfast each day. Also, nearly three-fourths of high school youth are not physically active for 60 minutes even days a week. Early research on fasting and cognition found that transient hunger in well-nourished school children negatively affected their performance on given tests.

Students who eat breakfast have higher consumption of key nutrients than breakfast skippers and those who skip breakfast do not make up for those missed nutrients from other meals.

One reason for the importance of school breakfast programs, says the report is food insecurity, which affected approximately 16.6 million children in 2011, or 22.4% of the nation’s children who lived in food insecure homes.
Recent controlled studies involving brain imaging are casting new light on the effects of exercise and obesity on cognition, providing visual evidence of the neurophysiological impact of physical activity or lack thereof, on children. Obesity is linked to adverse cognitive performance in school-aged children and teens. In older adults, obesity is actually found to change brain structure.

A related study by the Trust for America’s Health predicts that more than half of Americans in 39 states could be obese by 2030, with a likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease and healthcare costs.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Scientists Develop DNA Test To Detect Ingredients in Foods

Scientists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz adapted the latest techniques of DNA sequencing to develop a novel screening procedure that provides for highly sensitive, quantifiable analysis of animal, plant and microbial substances present in foodstuffs.

In pilot studies, scientists at the university’s Institute of Molecular Genetics, Genetic Security Research and Consulting were able to use the new DNA method to detect the presence of a 1% content of horse meat in products and to determine the actual amount with a high level of precision. The researchers even found slight traces of the DNA of added mustard, lupin and soy in a test sausage prepared for calibration purposes, something that could also be of interest with regard to allergy testing of foods.

"The innovative aspect in comparison with conventional DNA detection methods, such as polymerase chain reaction, or PCR for short, is that by means of bioinformatic analysis of all biological DNA data available worldwide we can identify the presence of material from species that we would not otherwise expect. And, using a simple digital method of counting short snippets of DNA, we will also probably be able to determine the relative incidence of individual species-related material more precisely than was previously the case," the researchers said.

Because of its potential, the method—dubbed “All-Food-Seq" by its developers—has attracted the attention of food inspection experts.
"This method is very interesting in connection with efforts to promote the molecular traceability of food," said Hermann Broll of the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin and Dr. René Köppel of the Zurich Cantonal Laboratory in Switzerland. The method developed by the Mainz scientists will be validated in comparison with conventional detection techniques in the near future.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stabilizing System For Yogurt Shakes

Dairy manufacturers can now produce yogurt shakes from reconstituted milk with Hydrosol's stabilizing system, Stabimuls RMWW. The system has enhanced the properties of yogurt made from reconstituted milk allowing the product to be processed in the same way as fresh milk.

Certain challenges have to be met when developing yogurt shakes—the pH of yogurt is lower than that of classical milk shakes and the viscosity is higher. "The difficulty lies in developing a hydrocolloid compound that results in a stable foam in an acid environment," said Sebastian Barsch, product developer. The compound has to achieve the purpose of the stabilizer, but without the yogurt shake gelling. The stabilizer must also ensure a light mouthfeel.

Hydrosol's Stabisol MSM series accomplishes these challenges. The synergistic effects of different hydrocolloids enable the functional system to create a foaming yogurt shake, even with end products containing different percentages of yogurt—the content can vary between 40% and 80%. Yogurt content however, does not affect the quality of the product.

The stabilizing system is also easy to use. A reconstituted milk product is first made up from dried milk and water using Stabimuls RMWW, which is then turned into yogurt via bacterial cultures. Next, it's processed into a yogurt shake using stabilizing systems from the Stabisol MSM series. The system is blended with hot water to activate the stabilizer, then the mixture is added to the yogurt followed by a swelling time to ensure the stabilizer mixture combines with the yogurt to form a protective colloid for the protein. Stabisol MSM allows dairies to create products from reconstituted milk on their existing plant. The yogurt shake can be mixed with flavorings, fruit preparations or fruit juice concentrates.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Canola Oils Cut Belly Fat, Boost Heart Health

Canola and high-oleic canola oils can lower abdominal fat when used in place of other selected oil blends in a heart-healthy diet for weight maintenance, according to new research presented at the American Heart Association’s EPI/NPAM 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

According to results of the Canola Oil Multicentre Intervention Trial (COMIT) that assessed dietary influences on U.S. and Canadian adults at risk for metabolic syndrome, consuming certain vegetable oils may be a simple way of reducing their risk of this medical condition that affects about 1 in 3 U.S. adults and 1 in 5 Canadian adults.

For the study conducted by researchers at University of Manitoba, in collaboration with Pennsylvania State University, Laval University and the University of Toronto, 121 participants at risk for metabolic syndrome were given a weight maintenance, heart-healthy diet with a daily smoothie containing one of five study oils. The process was repeated for the remaining four oils.

Results showed participants who consumed canola or high-oleic canola oils on a daily basis for four weeks lowered their belly fat by 1.6%. Abdominal fat was unchanged by the other three oils, which included a flax/safflower oil blend, corn/safflower oil blend and high-oleic canola oil enriched with an algal source of the omega-3 DHA. Both the flax/safflower and corn/safflower oil blends were low in monounsaturated fat.

“Monounsaturated fat appears to be responsible for these benefits," said lead author Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition at the Pennsylvania State University. “Reducing abdominal fat is one way that dietary MUFA may decrease metabolic syndrome risk factors."

“It is evident that further studies are needed to determine the mechanisms that account for belly fat loss on a high-MUFA diet," she continued. “The Canola Oil Multicentre Intervention Trial (COMIT) indicates that simple dietary changes, such as using a high-MUFA vegetable oil, may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and therefore, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Large Restaurant Chains See 4.9% Sales Increase in 2012

The nation’s 500 largest restaurant chains garnered a 4.9% sales increase in 2012 for a total of $254 billion, up $12 billion over sales figures for 2011. Technomic reports this is a significant increase compared to the 3.5% increase in sales reported the previous year.

“It is certainly encouraging to see overall industry growth rates return to levels not seen since 2007," said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. “On a chain-by-chain basis, however, performance still varies substantially as organizations continue adapting their value proposition to meet consumer demands and refining operations to meet various industry challenges."

Sales at limited-service restaurants increased 5.6%, with the highest growth categories listed as Asian, Bakery Café and Mexican. Segment leaders include Panda Express at 19.8% sales growth, Panera Bread at 12.3%, and Taco Bell witnessing 8.3% sales increase. McDonald’s, the largest U.S. restaurant chain, increased its sales 4.2% for an annual total of $35.6 billion. The nation’s second largest chain is Subway, followed by Starbucks, Wendy’s and Burger King. Within the fast-casual Mexican segment Chipotle Mexican Grill racked up a 20.2% sales growth for 2012.

Full-service restaurants grew 2.9%, up slightly from 2.8% for 2011. Steak and seafood categories exhibited the most health growth with increases of 5.9 and 4.5%, respectively.

The top 10 fastest-growing chains with sales of over $200 million accounted for $10.3 billion in sales for 2012, a 22% increase over 2011, with unit counts growing at 15%. The top 10 include Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop, Cheddar’s Casual Café, Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Yard House and Panda Express.

More than 60% of the top 500 restaurant chains posted at least a small sales increase with only 168 of the chains witnessing sales declines in 2012 compared to 193 in 2011.

Monday, March 25, 2013

'Weakness mining' for tapeworm drugs

Tapeworms parasites have had their genetic code mined for weaknesses in an effort by an international team of researchers to find new treatments.

Infection can be fatal or lead to complications such as blindness or epilepsy, and current drugs are often ineffective.

The study suggested that some cancer drugs, which have already been developed, may help.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

Tapeworms have complicated lives. The adults of one tapeworm, Taenia solium, live in the human gut. The tapeworm is passed onto pigs through faeces. A larval stage forms cysts inside the pig's flesh, which are then eaten by people.

Adult tapeworms tend to cause mild symptoms in people, as they stay in the gut. However, people can get the far more dangerous larval stage of the parasite, which forms cysts throughout the body, including the brain.

The World Health Organization lists two tapeworms of its list 17 neglected tropical diseases that need action.


Researchers worked out the entire genetic code of four species of tapeworm parasite.

They then looked for similarities between the parasite and humans, as this opened up the possibility drugs that had already been designed could work on the parasite.

"We mined the genome for targets," said one of the scientists, Dr Matthew Berriman, from the Sanger Institute in the UK.

He told the BBC: "At the top of the list are the tapeworm equivalent of the targets for cancer drugs."

He said the larval stage formed "horrible tumour-like growths", so using cancer drugs may provide a "very attractive vulnerability".

It is hoped that using a parasite's DNA to hunt for weaknesses and then finding drugs to match will be more economical than trying to design drugs from scratch.

Dr Berriman said this approach "could save years" of research.

Fellow researcher Dr Magdalena Zarowiecki said: "What we're trying to do is accelerate the development of these very important drugs."

Prof Peter Hotez, from the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in the US, said: "We need to take advantage of this genetic sequence data to find new and improved ways of coping with this problem that devastates much of the developed and developing world.

"Open access to these complete genomes will accelerate the pace in which we find alternative tools and treatments to combat tapeworm infections."


'Weakness mining' for tapeworm drugs

Tapeworms parasites have had their genetic code mined for weaknesses in an effort by an international team of researchers to find new treatments.

Infection can be fatal or lead to complications such as blindness or epilepsy, and current drugs are often ineffective.

The study suggested that some cancer drugs, which have already been developed, may help.

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

Tapeworms have complicated lives. The adults of one tapeworm, Taenia solium, live in the human gut. The tapeworm is passed onto pigs through faeces. A larval stage forms cysts inside the pig's flesh, which are then eaten by people.

Adult tapeworms tend to cause mild symptoms in people, as they stay in the gut. However, people can get the far more dangerous larval stage of the parasite, which forms cysts throughout the body, including the brain.

The World Health Organization lists two tapeworms of its list 17 neglected tropical diseases that need action.


Researchers worked out the entire genetic code of four species of tapeworm parasite.

They then looked for similarities between the parasite and humans, as this opened up the possibility drugs that had already been designed could work on the parasite.

"We mined the genome for targets," said one of the scientists, Dr Matthew Berriman, from the Sanger Institute in the UK.

He told the BBC: "At the top of the list are the tapeworm equivalent of the targets for cancer drugs."

He said the larval stage formed "horrible tumour-like growths", so using cancer drugs may provide a "very attractive vulnerability".

It is hoped that using a parasite's DNA to hunt for weaknesses and then finding drugs to match will be more economical than trying to design drugs from scratch.

Dr Berriman said this approach "could save years" of research.

Fellow researcher Dr Magdalena Zarowiecki said: "What we're trying to do is accelerate the development of these very important drugs."

Prof Peter Hotez, from the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in the US, said: "We need to take advantage of this genetic sequence data to find new and improved ways of coping with this problem that devastates much of the developed and developing world.

"Open access to these complete genomes will accelerate the pace in which we find alternative tools and treatments to combat tapeworm infections."


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Coffee Consumption Increases in U.S., Association Survey Shows

About 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the U.S., the world’s biggest consumer of the beverage, up from 78 percent a year earlier, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2013 survey.

The New York-based group said today in a statement that 63 percent of adults drink coffee every day, compared with 65 percent a year earlier and 58 percent in 2011. The data was compiled from an online survey of 2,840 respondents from mid- January to mid-February.

Among respondents 18 to 24 years old, daily consumption fell to 41 percent from 50 percent. The total for those 25 to 39 years old dropped to 59 percent from 63 percent. The association released the survey results in San Francisco at its annual conference.

About 13 percent of the U.S. population used the single-cup format, up from 4 percent two years earlier.

Among those 60 years and older, daily consumption rose to 76 percent from 71 percent, and the total for 40 to 59 years old climbed to 69 percent from 65 percent.

Daily consumption of gourmet-coffee beverages “remained strong and steady” at 31 percent of the population, while use of traditional brands fell to 49 percent from 56 percent.

In New York, arabica-coffee futures have dropped 5.9 percent this year, while robusta prices in London have gained 11 percent.

Arabica is grown mainly in Latin America and brewed by specialty companies including Starbucks Corp. Robusta beans, used in instant coffee, are harvested mostly in Asia and parts of Africa.

Brazil is the second-biggest coffee consumer, followed by Germany, according to the International Coffee Organization in London.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Salt Linked to 2.3 Million Deaths Worldwide

About 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010 were linked to eating too much salt, a new study finds.

Data collected by the American Heart Association suggests 15 percent of all deaths from heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases were caused by consuming excessive quantities. In addition, most of those deaths occurred in lower-income countries.

"National and global public-health measures, such as comprehensive sodium reduction programs, could potentially save millions of lives," said one of the study's leaders, Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health.

The American Heart Association suggests ingesting no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.

It's estimated 75 percent of the world's population eats at least twice the daily recommended amount of salt, according to a separate study of 187 countries.

The research found the United States, where the average intake of salt was about 3,600 milligrams a day,  is ranked 19th of the 30 largest countries studied for deaths due to excess salt.

Researchers analyzed 247 surveys on sodium consumption by adults from 1990 to 2010 and deduced how salt consumption was affect the risk of cardiovascular disease .

About 1 million of those whose deaths were studied were 69 years old or younger, according to the research. Also, men represented 60 percent of the deaths were women accounted for 40 percent

Eighty-four percent of the deaths were in low- and middle-income countries, the highest rates being in Ukraine, Russia and Egypt and the lowest in Qatar, Kenya and United Arab Emirates.

Global sodium intake from various sources such as prepared food and soy sauce averaged nearly 4,000 milligrams a day in 2010, according to the study's lead author Saman Fahimi, a visiting scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In the U.S., nearly 75 percent of commercial pre-packaged meals and savory snacks for toddlers are high in sodium, according to additional research. A product is judged to be high in sodium if it has more than 210 milligrams of salt per serving.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Organic Baby Food Costs More, Nourishes Equally, Study

Organic baby food is more expensive yet nutritionally the same as conventionally grown and processed baby food, according to a 2012 review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Study authors found no strong evidence in favor of the organics when comparing the results of hundreds of previous studies.

Stanford University physician Crystal Smith-Spangler and her coauthors did not find consistent differences in nutrient levels between the two options. There was a 30% lower risk of pesticide contamination in organic than in conventional food, but it was rare for food from either group to exceed limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Despite the widespread perception that organically produced foods are more nutritious than conventional alternatives, we did not find robust evidence supporting this perception," the authors noted.

 “The purpose of this study was not to tell people what to buy and eat, but to give people the information about the difference," Smith-Spangler said. A 2000 study, meanwhile, compared pesticide levels in three brands of baby food, two of them conventional and one organic. The authors didn’t detect pesticide residues in any of the samples.

According to Mintel, organic baby food made up about 10% of the $1.4 billion U.S. baby food and snacks market in 2011. A Washington Post article reported that parents go organic for a variety of reasons, including environmental concerns and a desire to avoid pesticide residue.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sugar-Sweetened Drinks May Cause 180,000 Deaths A Year

Sugar-sweetened beverages are consumed throughout the world, and contribute to excess body weight, which increases the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. Now, new research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions is blaming sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks, for approximately 180,000 deaths globally each year.
The study was released just one week after study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found children who consume sugar-sweetened
beverages (SSBs) have higher caloric intakes of foods and higher intakes of unhealthy foods compared to children who do not drink sugary drinks.

“In the U.S., our research shows that about 25,000 deaths in 2010 were linked to drinking sugar-sweetened beverages," said Gitanjali M. Singh, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Using data collected as part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, the researchers linked intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to 133,000 diabetes deaths, 44,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 cancer deaths. Seventy-eight percent of these deaths due to the overconsumption of sugary drinks were in low and middle-income countries, rather than high-income countries.

Researchers calculated the quantities of sugar-sweetened beverage intake around the world by age and sex; the effects of this consumption on obesity and diabetes; and the impact of obesity and diabetes-related deaths. Of nine world regions, Latin America/Caribbean had the most diabetes deaths (38,000) related to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in 2010. East/Central Eurasia had the largest numbers of cardiovascular deaths (11,000) related to sugary beverage consumption in 2010. Among the world’s 15 most populous countries, Mexico—one of the countries with the highest per-capita consumption of sugary beverages in the world—had the highest death rate due to these beverages, with 318 deaths per million adults linked to sugar-sweetened beverage intake. Japan, one of the countries with lowest per-capita consumption of sugary beverages in the world, had the lowest death rate associated with the consumption of sugary beverages, at about 10 deaths due to per million adults.

“Because we were focused on deaths due to chronic diseases, our study focused on adults. Future research should assess the amount of sugary beverage consumption in children across the world and how this affects their current and future health," Singh said.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Drinking Green Tea, Coffee Cuts Stroke Risk

Individuals who drink green tea and coffee as part of their regular diet may lower their risk of stroke, according to a new study published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. The findings also suggest the more green tea or coffee people drink, the lower their stroke risks.
Researchers at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan, conducted the first large-scale study to examine the combined effects of both green tea and coffee on stroke risks. Previous limited research has shown green tea’s link to lower death risks from heart disease, but has only touched on its association with lower stroke risks. Other studies have shown inconsistent connections between coffee and stroke risks.

For the study, researchers 83,269 Japanese adults aged 45 to 74 years who were from cancer and cardiovascular disease about their green tea and coffee drinking habits. During the 13-year follow-up, researchers reviewed participants’ hospital medical records and death certificates, collecting data about heart disease, strokes and causes of death. They adjusted their findings to account for age, sex and lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol, weight, diet and exercise.

They found people who drank at least 1 cup of coffee daily had about a 20% lower risk of stroke compared to those who rarely drank it. People who drank 2 to 3 cups of green tea daily had a 14% lower risk of stroke, and those who had at least 4 cups had a 20% lower risk, compared to those who rarely drank it. People who drank at least 1 cup of coffee or 2 cups of green tea daily had a 32% lower risk of intracerebral hemorrhage, compared to those who rarely drank either beverage.

Initial study results showed drinking more than 2 cups of coffee daily was linked to increasing coronary heart disease rates in age- and sex-adjusted analysis. However, researchers didn’t find the association after factoring in the effects of cigarette smoking—underscoring smoking’s negative health impact on heart and stroke health.

The researchers said the regular action of drinking tea or coffee largely benefits cardiovascular health because it partly keeps blood clots from forming. And while it’s unclear how green tea affects stroke risk, a compound group known as catechins may provide some protection. Catechins have an antioxidant anti-inflammatory effect, increasing plasma antioxidant capacity and anti-thrombogenic effects. Some chemicals in coffee include chlorogenic acid, thus cutting stroke risks by lowering the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fact: Caffeine Can Keep You Up at Night

About an hour after drinking caffeine you feel the peak of its effects, but it can take longer to taper off. “The half-life of caffeine, or the time required for the body to eliminate half the caffeine from your body, averages from four to five hours,” says Andrea Giancoli, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “That means you could have caffeine in your body at bedtime when it still may have a stimulating effect.” While a cup or two of coffee in the morning probably won’t affect your sleep, try eliminating caffeine after lunch if you have problems falling asleep.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Personal Energy: Are We Running on Empty?

It’s safe to say that having the necessary energy to do everything we want to do remains an elusive goal for many. According to Natural Marketing Institute’s Healthy Aging Database® (based on research of 3,000+ consumers), while most American adults feel it is important to have enough energy, more than half of those ages 28+ feel their personal energy level today is worse than it was 10 years ago (only 10% say it’s better).

Gender, age and the presence of children in the household all factor into whether a person feels sufficiently energetic. Females, adults under age 30, and those with children report greater fatigue than their respective male, older and childless counterparts. To that end, the usage of supplements and foods/beverages with claims of boosting energy is higher among young adults and parents. And, overall, consumption of energy bars and drinks has risen since 2006.

With half of Americans already actively seeking out healthy foods and beverages that provide them with energy, there is an ample base upon which to attract new consumers. If current trends continue, protein-packed items geared toward the preferences of young adults and women can offer opportunities for the personal energy market.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick’s Day: A Celebration of Sodium

As you hoist a green beer with the plaintive strains of “Danny Boy" playing in the background, preparing to tuck into that delicious plate of corned beef and cabbage, don’t forget the traditional toast: sláinte! Because looking at the sodium load, your health might need the help.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that everyone should limit their sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day. Certain population groups, people over 50, African Americans, diabetics and hypertensives among them,  should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day . The CDC notes that the 1,500mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population and the majority of adults. The CDC also says vast majority of the sodium consumed (75%)  is from processed and restaurant foods; only a small portion is used in cooking or added at the table. Whether that means that 75% of our diet consists of processed and restaurant  foods isn’t mentioned.

Of course, that allows the usual suspects to claim the food industry is trying to kill everyone (or is in cahoots with Big Pharma to put us all on medication). But let’s get back to the St. Paddy’s Day meal.

Theoretically, unless you’re Alton Brown, the corned beef is a processed food, as most will be not be brining the brisket at home. Unfortunately Alton doesn’t mention the sodium content of his corned beef recipe, but my prebrined beef is 950 mg per 100 grams, and I’ve seen numbers on the internet are double that. Let’s then add Ina’s Garten’s Irish soda bread. Her recipe nets out at 312 mg of sodium per slice. In keeping with the theme, I might suggest finishing off the meal with the Chocolate Stout Cupcake recipe from Dave Lieberman It doesn’t  seem like  the sodium level is astronomical, but oh, the added sugar and the saturated dairy fat from the cream cheese, butter and heavy cream. In fact, I might try my hand at making those this weekend.

Yet no one seems to send out press releases to the Food Network claiming they are trying to undermine our health.

Sure this is a once-a-year meal for most, but the point is: Salty food tastes good to many of us, whether it’s processed or not. But, as I found out while writing an upcoming story on low-sodium baked goods , the food industry is looking at a number of innovative ways to limit the sodium in foods while maintaining the flavor and eating quality.

A  recent press release from the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI),  a nationwide partnership of city and state health authorities and organizations  and voluntary commitments of many of the biggest names in the food.

For example, sodium in Nabisco’s Teddy Grahams Honey flavor graham snacks made by Mondelēz International, the global snacking company formed following the spin-off of Kraft Foods Inc., was reduced 33 percent from 150 mg to 100 mg per serving. The sodium in Kraft Singles American Slices has been reduced by 18 percent per serving. Unilever, the company that makes Ragu pasta sauce, announced that it reduced the sodium in its Ragu Old World Style Traditional Tomato Sauce by 20 percent per serving.

The NSRI’s goal is encourage the voluntary reformulation of foods to cut excess salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25% over five years , which would reduce the nation’s sodium intake by 20%. So far signs are encouraging.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fiction: Caffeine Is Addictive

Even though we may feel like we can't live without caffeine, it's not an actual addiction. Some people may experience mild symptoms, like headache, for a few days after giving up caffeine, but that doesn't happen to everyone. “From my perspective, just because you have symptoms that occur when you take a substance away does not mean you are addicted,” says Herbert Muncie, Jr., M.D., professor of family medicine at LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans. “Stopping caffeine doesn’t lead to aberrant social behaviors that negatively impact your job and family life, like those that occur with other substance abuse issues such as alcohol or cocaine.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fact: Caffeine Can Be Part of a Healthy Diet

“I think one of the biggest myths is that caffeine is harmful in some way,” says Muncie. “The research indicates there’s no increased risk of cancer or chronic conditions such as heart disease with caffeine.” Actually, caffeine may have some health benefits: “There’s evidence that caffeine may reduce the risk of some diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, gallbladder disease, and dementia,” says Muncie. While it’s too soon to say you should start drinking coffee to stay healthy, it’s perfectly fine to continue enjoying your morning cup of joe.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Antibiotics resistance a 'catastrophic' global threat, UK warns

Resistance to antibiotics is a 'catastrophic' global threat and should be ranked alongside terrorism as one of the biggest risks Britain faces, the government's chief medical officer said Monday.

Sally Davies called the problem a "ticking time-bomb", saying routine hip operations could become deadly within 20 years if humans lose the ability to fight infections.

She said the issue should be put on the government's national risk register, which also includes "catastrophic terrorist attacks" and other civil emergencies.

The knighted professor urged Britain to raise the issue at a G8 foreign ministers' meeting in London next month.

"Antimicrobial resistance is a ticking time-bomb not only for the UK but also for the world," Davies said.

"We need to work with everyone to ensure the apocalyptic scenario of widespread antimicrobial resistance does not become a reality.

"This threat is arguably as important as climate change for the world."

She added: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don't act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can't be treated by antibiotics.

"Governments and organisations across the world, including the World Health Organisation and G8, need to take this seriously."

She said there had been a "discovery void" in the field since 1987 and called for more innovation around antibiotics, saying diseases had evolved faster than the drugs to treat them.

Davies said infection was estimated to be costing England £30 billion ($45 billion, 35 billion euros) per year in state health service costs and the cost of missed days at work.

Britain's Department of Health said it will soon publish its Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy five-year action plan.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Soda Loses Top Spot to Water in U.S. Beverage Consumption

Water is replacing soda as America's top beverage. Americans now drink an average of 44 gallons of soda a year, a 17 percent drop from the peak in 1998. Over the same time, the average amount of water people drink has increased 38 percent, to about 58 gallons a year. Bottled water has led that growth, with consumption nearly doubling to 21 gallons a year. For more than two decades, soda was the No. 1 drink in the U.S. with consumption peaking in 1998 at 54 gallons a year, according to Beverage Digest,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Aspirin And Skin Cancer: New Study Reveals The Over-The-Counter Medication's Anti-Cancer Properties

Women who take aspirin are less likely to develop skin cancer, according to a new study.

The risk of contracting deadly melanoma is significantly lowered if a woman takes a regular dose of aspirin, says a new study published online today in Cancer.

The study also suggested that the longer the aspirin is taken, the more the risk decreases.

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One of the scientists who conducted the study, Jean Tang, discussed the findings in an interview on Monday. "We think our results are very exciting and that they add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that aspirin may have some real anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties."

Tang is an assistant professor of dermatology at Stanford University and she and her colleagues looked at data from nearly 60,000 women who took part in the study as part of the Women's Health Initiative.

The participating women were aged 50-79 and all Caucasian as they are the group melanoma skin cancer is most likely to affect.

The women were followed for 12 years on average.

When the study began, the women were asked to list the medications they were taking as well as their food intake and physical activities.

When the study concluded, the researchers noted that the women who used aspirin had a 21 percent lower risk of skin cancer on average than those who did not use it regularly

They further discovered that the longer a woman used the aspirin, the lower her rate of the potentially fatal skin cancer. Those who used aspirin for one to four years had an 11 percent reduction in risk, compared to 30 percent for those who took aspirin for five or more years.

While more research still needs to be done, the link between aspirin and skin cancer does seem very real.

Dr. Jenny Kim, an associate professor of dermatology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA added, "I think it is too early to tell women to change their behavior, unless they would be taking it for the cardiovascular benefit also. Before we can recommend that patients start taking aspirin to prevent melanoma we need to have some randomized controlled trials."

So for those women out there already taking a regimented dose of aspirin, you may see an added benefit - a much smaller chance of getting skin cancer!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Coffee Fungus Jolting Java Market

Coffee farmers in Central America are heading for a bitter year. The coffee rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, continues to spread through the region, after irregular rains last year created perfect humid conditions for the disease, reported Bloomberg. The disease has withered the leaves of many coffee bushes, leaving some of them as only naked sticks.

The coffee harvest could drop by as much as 25 percent, Jose Angel Buitrago, the president of the Central American Organization of Coffee Exporters, told Bloomberg. But that the drop in production may provide a small boost to falling coffee prices.

The price of coffee decides the prosperity of many small farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Increased demand, especially in China, had raised prices, which encouraged more farmers to plant an increased area of coffee. Now, as those bushes are coming to maturity, the larger supply of coffee is causing the prices to drop along with incomes. Betting on coffee also left those farmers vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the coffee rust fungus.

The coffee rust may increase the overall price of coffee and help some farmers, but that will be little comfort to farmers who harvest nothing from the skeletal bushes left after being ravaged by the disease.

Researchers in Colombia are working on solutions to the disease, reported Scientific American. Colombia’s National Center for the Investigation of Coffee has managed to reduce the need for fungicides by introducing resistant coffee strains and improving weather forecasting techniques, which allows prediction of fungal outbreaks.

However, demand for select varieties of beans from Starbucks and other other specialty coffee purveyors has encouraged farmers to plant varieties that are more susceptible to fungus, said Buitrago.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

5 tips for surviving daylight saving time

Europe will be two weeks from now so take heed

The hour of sleep you'll lose Sunday morning when your clock springs forward might do more than just make you cranky. Some research suggests it translates into more car crashes and even heart attacks on Monday morning, thanks to worsened sleep deprivation. But a few simple steps might help smooth the transition.

  • Don't take a nap today. That way, you'll be more likely to fall asleep early tonight, making it easier to wake up early tomorrow.
  • Exercise. Working out today might also help tucker you out, and exercise, especially earlier in the day, seems to improve sleep.
  • Get outside early tomorrow. A little sun on your face, especially early in the day, can help your body's circadian rhythm get back in sync.
  • Embrace your new schedule. Try to eat meals at your usual time, and follow other habits according to schedule, too. The that will help you adapt to the time switch faster.
  • Be alert. Take a little extra time on Monday morning to get yourself out the door, and pay extra attention on the road. After all, you won't be the only drowsy driver on the road.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Dietary Salt Intake May Trigger Autoimmune Diseases

Individuals who consume a diet heavy is salt may increase their risk for a variety of autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), according to three new papers published in the journal Nature.

Researchers at Yale Medical School, Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute have identified dietary salt as the prime suspect in the mystery surrounding the rise the incidence of autoimmune diseases. In accompanying papers in the same issue of Nature, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard identified the key molecular pathway involved in the response to salt, and the Broad Institute sketched out the regulatory network of genes that governs this autoimmune response.
“These are not diseases of bad genes alone or diseases caused by the environment, but diseases of a bad interaction between genes and the environment," said Dr. David Hafler, the Gilbert H. Glaser Professor of Neurology, professor of immunobiology, chair of the department of neurology, and senior author of the Yale paper.

The research was inspired, in part, by an observation that eating at fast-food restaurants tended to trigger an increase in production of inflammatory cells, which are mobilized by the immune system to respond to injury or pathogens but which, in autoimmune diseases, attack healthy tissue.

Researchers at Yale and colleagues in Germany led by Dominik Mueller wanted to know whether high salt content in diet might induce the destructive immune system response that is the hallmark of autoimmunity.
They found that adding salt to the diet of mice induced production of a type of T cells previously associated with autoimmune diseases and that mice on salt diets developed a more severe form of an MS animal model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

The research at the Broad Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University, and Yale University expands the understanding of how one type of immune cell—known as a T helper 17 or Th17 cell—develops, and how its growth influences the development of other kinds of cells involved in the immune system. Reconstruction of this molecular circuitry confirmed the surprising role of salt, the researchers said.

“Humans were genetically selected for conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where there was no salt," Hafler said. “Today, Western diets all have high salt content and that has led to increase in hypertension and perhaps autoimmune disease as well."

He noted all test-tube cell biology is performed based on the salt levels found in blood and not in the tissues where immune cell ultimately travel to fight infections. That may have been a reason salt’s role in autoimmunity has gone undetected.

“We may have been using the wrong concentrations of salt in our experiments for the past half-century," Hafler said. “Nature did not want immune cells to become turned on in the pipeline, so perhaps blood salt levels are inhibitory."

Friday, March 08, 2013

Processed Meats Linked to Increased Death From CVD, Cancer

Results of a large-scale study on the dietary habits of nearly half a million people in Europe revealed a moderate positive association between processed meat consumption and cardiovascular diseases and cancer, according to a new study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Recently, some U.S. studies have shown a moderate association between red and processed meat consumption and mortality supporting the results of previous studies among vegetarians. Researchers at the University of Zurich sought to investigate the association of red meat, processed meat, and poultry consumption with risk of early death in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a study that involved 10 countries and 23 centers in Europe and almost half a million people. In general, a diet high in processed meat was linked to other unhealthy choices. Men and women who ate the most processed meat ate the fewest fruit and vegetables and were more likely to smoke. Men who ate a lot of meat also tended to have a high alcohol consumption.

A person’s risk of premature death (increased risk of all cause mortality) increased with the amount of processed meat eaten. This is also true after correcting for confounding variables, although residual confounding cannot be excluded. However, a small amount of red meat appeared to be beneficial which the researchers suggest is because meat is an important source of nutrients and vitamins. The consumption of poultry was not related to all-cause mortality.

“Risks of dying earlier from cancer and cardiovascular disease also increased with the amount of processed meat eaten. Overall, we estimate that 3% of premature deaths each year could be prevented if people ate less than 20g processed meat per day," the researchers said.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Sen. Markey Launches New Bill to Combat Fish Fraud

In response to a recent investigation that found seafood is mislabeled 33% of the time in restaurants, supermarkets and other retail locations across the United States, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today introduced the SAFE Seafood Act, formally the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, a new bipartisan version of his legislation to combat rampant seafood fraud, a nationwide epidemic that cheats fishermen and consumers, while posing health risks to pregnant mothers and others.

This second version of Rep. Markey’s legislation reflects intensive discussions with fishermen, consumer and conservation groups, and federal agencies that improved the original legislation.

“Fish fraud is a national problem that needs a national solution. This bill finally tells the seafood swindlers and fish fraudsters that we will protect America's fishermen and consumers from Massachusetts to Alaska,"

Markey said. “From tackle to table, this bill makes the entire seafood supply chain more transparent and trustworthy."

To prevent seafood fraud, the legislation requires information that is already collected by U.S. fishermen—such as species name, catch location, and harvest method—to ‘follow the fish,’ and be made available to consumers. It also requires foreign exporters of seafood to the United States to provide equivalent documentation.

The bill also expands the ability of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to refuse entry of unsafe or fraudulent seafood shipments, and allows NOAA to levy civil penalties against violators under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

In addition to the fraud prevention measures, THE SAFE Seafood ACT addresses concerns over seafood safety raised by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2011 report by requiring cooperation and progress reporting. The report found that a lack of coordination between FDA and NOAA is resulting in needless duplication of seafood safety inspections at a time when resources are only allowing for 2% of seafood imports to be examined for safety.

Markey was joined in the legislation by original co-sponsors Walter Jones (R-N.C.), John Tierney (D-Mass.), Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.). Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) will introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Teachers Score Low On Nutrition Quiz

Head Start teachers score low on a nutrition knowledge quiz and have unhealthy eating habits themselves, according to a study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The study assessed self-reported nutrition knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of Head Start teachers from one of the organizations in Harris County, Texas. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional, descriptive analysis using baseline surveys in the 2008 to 2009 school year. A sample size of 181 Head Start teachers, made up of mostly female (97%) and minorities (93%), completed surveys of their nutrition knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, weight status and other weight-related behaviors.

Results showed 24% of the teachers were overweight and 55% were obese. One-fourth of the teachers (26%) did not eat fruit or vegetables, (23%) the day before. Additionally, 53% of the teachers reported consuming french fries, 44% consumed soda and 28% consumed fried meat at least once the on the previous day.

Surprisingly, only 3% of the teachers answered at least four of the five nutrition knowledge questions correctly. A little more than half (54%) thought it was difficult to know what nutrition information to believe with only 9% reporting their nutrition habits were healthy. Seventy-one percent of the teachers said they were trying to lose weight, and 81% said they would like to weigh less.

The study highlights the importance of providing nutrition education and wellness opportunities to Head Start teachers so that they can better teach nutrition education to their students, most of which are from low income families where they are more affected by the obesity epidemic.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Insights Into Dieting Success Disparity

Have you ever wondered why some people are able to lose weight more than others? Researchers at USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis are conducting studies that may provide new insights into the underlying causes of this disparity in dieting success.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 35% of adults and 18% of kids and adolescents age 6 through 19 years are overweight or obese. Both conditions are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic disorders.

The investigations, led by Nancy L. Keim and Kevin D. Laugero, were published in the journal Physiology & Behavior and may lead to successful, science-based strategies for weight management.

In one investigation, 29 obese but otherwise healthy women age 20 to 45 participated in a 12-week weight-loss regimen. The researchers assessed several factors related to weight management, including the volunteers' patterns of decision-making, and changes in their levels of cortisol, a stress-associated hormone.

The amount of weight that volunteers lost varied greatly, from zero to 27 pounds, despite the fact that all were essentially eating the same foods in the calorie-controlled meals provided to them at the nutrition center. Keim noted the finding underscores the need for weight-management plans that are even more individualized than those available today.

The scientists also found dieters who lost the most weight were those who scored the highest on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a standard test that helps assess, for example, decision-making and the ability to resist the temptation of short-term, immediate rewards in favor of longer-term benefits.

Though the idea of using the IGT in obesity research is not new, the ARS investigation is the first to show, in what scientists refer to as a controlled-feeding weight-loss trial, an association between IGT scores and diet-induced weight loss.

Cortisol findings were based on concentrations of the hormone in saliva samples collected throughout the day on two different test dates. The scientists found that volunteers' cortisol concentrations generally increased from the beginning to the end of the 12 weeks of dieting.

Laugero noted increases in cortisol concentration have long been regarded as a reliable indicator of psychological stress, and that stress is considered to be a contributing factor to dieters' relapsing back to old eating habits and regaining weight.

Monday, March 04, 2013

March Is Frozen Food Month

March Frozen Food Month is here, and to celebrate the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) developed a series of promotions to engage and inform consumers. The NFRA is encouraging customers to "Discover a Whole New World of Frozen" through a partnership with DreamWorks Animation for the Theatre release of "The Croods."

On Sunday, March 3, a three-page FSI will announce March Frozen Food Month in newspapers across the country, offering coupons from the sponsoring brands and encouraging customers to enter the DreamWorks Family Adventure Sweepstakes hosted on NFRA's website. Fans of the page will have a chance to win the Freezer Giveaway by Hussmann® each week of March.

NFRA is putting on an aggressive Frozen Food PR Campaign to include, traditional, digital and social media outreach and activity throughout March. Additionally, an infographic of frozen food facts will be released in early March, as well as a video showing the progression of frozen foods through the Farm to Fork story to national media and shared on the Easy Home Meal's social properties in mid-March.

The association has created a toolkit for NFRA members, to assist them in utilizing all resources available for the month including key messaging, a template release and social media posts.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Protein-Rich Breakfast Reduces Hunger, Food Cravings

Eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces hunger, boosts satiety and reduces brain responses involved with food cravings more than a typical breakfast that is lower in protein, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The findings also suggest eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces unhealthy evening snacking.

Researchers at the University of Missouri examined whether a high-protein (HP) compared with a normal-protein (NP) breakfast leads to daily improvements in appetite, satiety, food motivation and reward, and evening snacking in overweight or obese breakfast-skipping girls.

The study measured the effects of eating either a high-protein breakfast that included eggs and beef (containing 35 g of protein), a ready-to-eat cereal breakfast with less than half the protein (13 g of protein), but equal amount of calories (350 calories), or no breakfast for seven days, in overweight teenage girls who typically skip breakfast.

Participants who consumed breakfast meals that included protein-rich eggs and beef, which contained 40% protein, 40% carbohydrate and 20% fat, reported greater feelings of fullness compared to those who ate a cereal-based breakfast which contained 15% protein, 65% carbohydrate and 20% fat. The higher-protein breakfast also led to significant improvements in daily hunger and satiety hormone levels, reduced food cravings prior to dinner (as shown from reduced neural activation) and resulted in consumption of fewer high-fat evening snacks than skipping breakfast.

The researchers said data suggest the addition of breakfast, particularly one rich in protein, might be a useful strategy to improve satiety, reduce food motivation and reward, and improve diet quality in overweight or obese teenage girls.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Modernist Cooking Creates Surge of Science Shops

Milk, eggs, cheese, tomatoes, transglutaminase, sodium citrate...

It may not sound like the last grocery list you wrote, but the growing appeal of so-called modernist cooking — a science-tastic take on haute cuisine — has more home cooks adding laboratory-worthy ingredients and gizmos to their shopping. And that, of course, has spawned a mini-niche of online companies selling everything you need to play culinary alchemist at home.

At least a half-dozen companies now sell once-elusive ingredients like sodium citrate to emulsify cheeses into creamy sauces, "popping sugar" that explodes in your mouth, and "meat glue" — transglutaminase — to create dishes like tilapia spaghetti (that is, "spaghetti" made from tilapia). Alongside traditional equipment like cookie sheets and hand mixers, you can purchase pipettes to create "caviar" from various liquids or smoke torches that infuse smoke flavor into dishes without heating them up.

Even big retailers are getting in on the action. Williams-Sonoma carries machines known as "sous vide," which cook using a warm water bath. Amazon offers ingredients such as agar agar (to make gelatins) and xanthan gum (to thicken sauces), as well as whipping siphons to create foams and digital scales that allow the home chef to weigh down to the hundredth of a gram. How's that for precision cooking?

Some of these sites exist solely to service your inner Ferran Adria, the Spanish chef hailed as the father of modernist cooking. Chris Anderson, a software developer by trade, launched Modernist Pantry with his wife two years ago when he couldn't find the ingredients needed for his culinary dabbling. Today, Modernist Pantry carries more than 300 ingredients in quantities tailored to the home kitchen, as well as equipment. The site draws 60 percent of its business from home cooks, Anderson says, and sales have increased 10 times since launching.

"We sort of just did it initially thinking it was not going to be a full-time business, just a little thing on the side," he says from the company's base in York, Maine. "But within two months we were getting more business than we anticipated. We were doubling our sales every month." He went full time a year ago, and today employs three people.

Montreal-based Molecule-R offers do-it-yourself kits for the modernist weekend warrior. Each of the company's three kits contains recipes, pre-measured sachets of the required additives and the equipment to create the recipes. The first kit hit the market in 2009, says business development executive Jennifer MacDonald, and sales since then have at least doubled. Roughly 80 percent of the customers are home cooks, she says, and they range from children to seniors.

"We get families, no joke," she says. "We get a lot of people writing us and saying they did the arugula spaghetti with their kids. It ranges from children with their parents to people in their 60s doing it."

Experimenting with modernist cuisine, sometimes called molecular gastronomy, is the next step in the country's love affair with cooking. In the same way that home cooks emulate what they see on the Food Network, many want to replicate the gels and foams they taste at elite restaurants like Chicago's Alinea and New York's WD-50. Aided by cookbooks such as "Modernist Cuisine at Home," the definitive guide that was published last year, many accomplished home cooks have gained the confidence and incentive to kick their basic skills up a notch.

"It's just taking a lot of really good basics and creating something different with them," says Paul Edward, co-founder of the online culinary retailer Chef Rubber, whose modernist offerings account for 30 percent of business. "You can take a really nice stock that you've made, and you can make a soup with it. Or you can make caviar or gelify it. You can do something really different. But at the end of the day it's just a stock and it has to be a really good one."

Barriers to entry are relatively low. Molecule-R kits cost between $60 and $120. Chef Rubber customers spend from $75 to $150 per visit, Edward says.

"It really depends on what you want to do," says Anderson, whose average customer spends $60 to $75 per visit. "The major investment is in your time, not in ingredients. But once you get into sous vide you do need a circulator, so there's an entry cost. But most of the techniques don't require that much."

Many mainstream professional chefs have appropriated methods from their modernist brethren. For instance, sous vide has been widely adopted as an excellent and nearly foolproof way to cook meat. And while many if not most of these techniques will remain too esoteric for the average home cook, certain practical elements — using the microwave to steam fish, using additives to emulsify the sauce in macaroni and cheese — may filter into home kitchens. But probably not any time soon.

"There are things like that that are modernist cuisine techniques," says Susan Edgerley, dining editor at The New York Times. "Some of those are applicable and easy and practical and some of them aren't. There's an intersection of modernist cuisine and the home cook. I just don't know how big it is."

Friday, March 01, 2013

FDA Issues Global Food-Safety Capacity-Building Plan

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting the safety of much of the food supply reaching U.S. consumers, regardless of whether the food is produced domestically or imported. FDA’s food-safety responsibilities have become more challenging as the United States steadily increases the amount of food it imports.

During the period between 2002 and 2010, the number of instances (entry lines) of imported food nearly doubled, climbing from 4.4 million to 8.6 million import lines. As of 2011, about 15% of all food products consumed in the United States were imported. For certain food products, the proportion of imports is greater: approximately 20% of fresh vegetables, 50% of fresh fruit, and 80% of seafood consumed in this country are imported. As food sources become more global, supply chains have become increasingly complex.

In 2011, Congress enacted the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), recognizing the unique challenges faced by FDA in the area of food safety in the 21st century. FSMA directs FDA to build a new food-safety system based on the public health principle of comprehensive prevention, an enhanced focus on risk-based resource allocation, and partnerships across the public and private sectors to minimize hazards from farm to table.

Section 305 of FSMA calls on FDA to develop a comprehensive plan to expand the technical, scientific, and regulatory food-safety capacity of foreign governments and their respective food industries in countries that export foods to the United States. The plan meets the Section 305 requirement by incorporating FSMA’s principles of comprehensive prevention, risk-based resource allocation and partnering.

The plan provides a strategic framework for FDA’s international food-safety capacity-building activities. It outlines goals, objectives, and key actions that will provide a framework for FDA in setting priorities and managing international food-safety capacity building programs. The plan also will enable all stakeholders to see the breadth of food-safety capacity-building efforts on the part of FDA. It charts a direction for how FDA will prioritize its capacity-building efforts based on risk, coordinate with other partners to avoid duplication of efforts, and to broaden the reach of technical assistance and capacity-building efforts. FDA will use data to develop strategies, allowing the agency to make decisions about capacity-building based on identifiable needs, while also allowing the agency to measure the impact of its efforts.

The plan addresses the six elements required by Section 305 of FSMA by incorporating them into four key goals and objectives, as supplemented by additional themes:
  1. Ensure efficiency across the FDA Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program;
  2. Increase effectiveness through evidence-based decision-making;
  3. Support the exchange of information between FDA and other foreign government agencies or other entities; and
  4. Enhance technical assistance and capacity-building in food.