≡ Menu

This week in food choices – Feb 6 2011 – Dietary guidelines, ethical issues, allergies

The new U.S. dietary guidelines were covered widely in the press this week, with the general consensus that there wasn’t much change since the previous one 5 years ago, except this time they were brave enough to say “eat less.” There were a number of actions in ethical areas such as animal welfare and treatment of employees, and also vegetarianism which is often followed for ethical reasons. Allergies popped up a number of times, and there was a thin spread of trans fat. An interesting article discussed why fruit juices may not be as healthy as widely believed.

Dietary guidelines: USDA guidelines, consumers taking less notice

  • USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans – Choose lower-sodium foods, drink water instead of soda, switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, avoid oversize portions, eat less food. 2/1/11 USDA
  • New U.S. dietary guidelines: What not to eat – Get off your SoFAS. In addition to getting more exercise, that means to avoid extra calories from Solid Fats and Added Sugars. “We want to move away from our overreliance in the past on sugar and sodium and saturated fat.” 1/31/11 WebMD
  • Consumers losing trust in health claims – A “feeling of uncertainty” in Europe may act as a brake on new product design and marketing worldwide. 2/5/11 Nutraingredients
  • Interest in nutrition labels slipping – Consumer interest in reading Nutrition Facts labels has steadily waned over the years, indicating that the labels could use a revamping, researchers at the NPD Group have concluded. 1/31/11 Supermarket News

Ethical issues: Animal welfare, ethical treatment of employees, vegetarianism

  • Cage-free eggs – San Antonio-based Whataburger will begin switching some eggs in its supply chain to cage-free in 2011. 2/3/11 Prepared Foods Network
  • Animal welfare ratings – Whole Foods offering greater transparency about how farm animals are raised by selling beef, pork and chicken certified under the “5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system.” 2/2/11 Progressive Grocer
  • No animal testing – Unilever is committing to no animal testing for its tea and tea-based beverages. 2/3/11 FoodBev.com
  • Ethical treatment of employees – Tav HaYosher is part of the ethical kashrut movement, a sort of fair trade kosher that is beginning to establish a toehold locally. Kosher establishments that receive the seal meet an ethical labor standard, including paying workers at least minimum wage, giving them appropriate breaks and time off, and maintain a safe working environment. 2/3/11 Chicago Tribune, reported in Restaurant SmartBrief
  • Vegan with Oprah – Oprah was inspired to go vegan after reading Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston, which is a new book promoting a vegan diet. 2/1/11 DietBlog
  • Meatless Mondays At Moe’s – With the latest studies showing that more than 7.3 million Americans are vegetarians and another 22.8 million are part-time vegetarians, Moe’s Southwest Grill is ramping up its support for Meatless Mondays with its commitment to flexible, healthier menu options. Moe’s offers six meatless options on its menu. Ingredients like cheese and sour cream are gelatin and animal rennet-free, and veggies and meats are prepared on two separate grills. 2/4/11 QSR Magazine

Allergies: Allergy-free eateries, peanut allergies, fear

  • Finding allergy-free eateries – A father of two children who suffer from severe food allergies turned his quest for safe dining into a database that consumers in the Detroit Metro area can now use to search for restaurants that cater to allergic guests. 2/4/11 The Detroit News, reported in Restaurant SmartBrief
  • Peanut allergies may be less common than previously believed – Data from the U.K. reveal that peanut allergies are less common than previously estimated, with only one to two allergy diagnoses per 1,000 children younger than 15 compared with up to two cases per 100 children in previous studies. The figures might not reflect all cases of peanut allergies, but “overall, the ‘true’ prevalence … is likely to lie somewhere between these various estimates,” 2/2/11 Reuters, reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists
  • Food allergies leave teens feeling unsafe at school – A small study in Canada found that teenagers with severe food allergies felt more unsafe in school than younger children because of few knowledgeable high-school staff and a lack of adult supervision at meals. 1/28/11 U.S. News and World Report, reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists

Trans fats: Bans, depression

  • Banning trans fats – Hartford city council is considering banning the use of trans fats wherever food is prepared for the public, from expensive restaurants to fast-food outlets to bakeries. 2/5/11 Hartford Courant, reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists
  • Trans-fats and depression – In a study of 12,000 volunteers, individuals with “elevated” intake of trans-fats had a 48% increased risk of depression, compared to those who did not consume trans-fat. 2/6/11 DietBlog

Other: Price, low-calorie, ADHD, juices and health, and more

  • Price increases – Many customers accept price increases in full service and quick service restaurants, but some would cut back or order other items.  February 2011 Technomic American Express Market Briefing Food Product Design
  • Low-calorie menus – A growing number of restaurant operators are offering a variety of low-calorie food and beverage options. Friendly’s is offering a 555 calorie menu for a limited time. 2/1/11 Nation’s Restaurant News
  • Gluten-free goes mainstream – General Mills’ reformulation of its Rice Chex cereal into a gluten-free product was cited by the market research firm Packaged Facts as an indicator of the impact gluten-free products are having on the marketplace. 2/2/11 Food Business News
  • Avoiding processed foods may reduce ADHD symptoms – In a study published in The Lancet, when children between the ages of 4 and 8 were placed on a diet containing no processed foods for five weeks, ADHD symptoms diminished in 78 percent of them. And, when suspected trouble foods were reintroduced into the diet, two-thirds of the children experienced a relapse in symptoms. 2/4/11 HealthDay
  • Eco-friendly milk packaging – A milk bottle made chiefly from paper is being trialed by one of the UK’s major supermarket chains as part of its sustainability strategy. 2/4/11 Food Production Daily
  • Fruit juices not so healthy? Diet experts say fruit juices are not as healthy as many people believe and that their high sugar content could outweigh any benefits if consumed to excess. 2/1/11 Prepared Foods Network

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment