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This week in food choices – Feb 13 2011 – Gluten-free trend; sugars and sweeteners; veganism

A number of publications this week talked about gluten-free, as more manufacturers and food service companies are offering GF – is it a fad or a trend? A study notes that fructose and glucose have different effects on the brain, and suggests that this may be related to obesity. Organic purchases increased in 2010, but users don’t necessarily trust labeling for organic foods.

Gluten-free: GF trend; pizzas; in schools

Experts see gluten-free diet fad fading in 2012 2/1/11 Globe and Mail (Toronto), reported in Digestive Health SmartBrief

Sales of gluten-free foods have almost tripled in the past five years but experts said the market may have reached a saturation point and that mainstream interest in what has become a fad diet may peak by next year.

Gluten free trend not driven by celiac disease 2/4/11 Food Navigator-USA

Packaged Facts says the US market for gluten free products is growing faster than expected – but few consumers buy gluten free foods to address celiac disease or dietary intolerances.

Gluten-free – a fad or a trend? 2/4/11 HartmanSalt

While a number of people have made a very conscious decision to avoid gluten in their diets, a very small percentage of consumers have valid health reasons for doing so. Interesting infographic.

Gluten-free menus at pizza chains 2/9/11 Pizza Marketplace, reported in Restaurant SmartBrief

Several pizza companies have tapped into the gluten-free market, including Uno Chicago Grill, Mellow Mushroom, Naked Pizza and Garlic Jim’s, offering alternative options for those who suffer from celiac disease and diet subscribers alike.

School cafeterias in Maine offer gluten-free options 2/10/11 The Portland Press Herald, reported in Restaurant SmartBrief

Scarborough is among the Maine school districts that are adjusting their cafeteria options for a growing number of students who don’t eat gluten.

Sugars and sweeteners: HFCS; children’s cereals; obesity; strokes

Removing HFCS doesn’t increase product sales 2/7/11 Corn Naturally advertisement

Reformulating products from high fructose corn syrup to sugar did not increase consumer retail purchases, according to a Nielsen study commissioned by the Corn Refiners Association.

Less sugar in children’s cereals 2/7/11 LA Times, reported in SmartBrief for Nutritionists

Some of the most popular children’s cereals — Lucky Charms, Trix and Cocoa Pebbles — have cut back on the sugar. A study shows that children are content eating healthier, low-sugar brands.

Obestity – fructose vs glucose 2/11/11 Diabetes Pro

These two sugars are similar but can have different effects on the brain – the areas of the brain affected by these sugars “have been implicated in our decision-making process about what foods we like and don’t like” and may be associated with obesity.

Diet soda and stroke risks 2/11/11 DietBlog

A study showed people who drank diet soda every day had a 48% higher risk of stroke than people who did not drink soda; even when considering other factors, like history of heart disease, smoking, and exercise. See also Marion Nestle’s response in Food Politics.


Vegan diet for improving your health, protecting the environment and enhancing spirituality 2/8/11 EveryDiet

Veganist – Freston says that a veganist is someone who eats a plant-based diet, not just for its effect on improving personal health and wellbeing, but also for the positive benefit for the ecosystem.

Veganism and heart risks 2/12/11 DietBlog

According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, eating a vegan diet may increase your risk of blood clots and atherosclerosis. It claims a vegan diet is critically low in several key nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, prompting experts to recommend vegans augment their diet, or take vitamin supplements.

Sodium and other nutrients

Low calorie, gluten-free, sodium content at Taco Time 2/8/11 QSR Magazine

Taco Time Northwest, a family owned Mexican quick-service restaurant, launched its new Fit-Hits menu. Each Fit-Hits menu item is distinguished by simple icons and includes information about calories, fat, and sodium content. The Fit-Hits menu features eight items with 400 calories or less and four gluten-free items.

Restaurants and lower sodium 2/9/11 Fast Casual

Chains as large as Subway and Taco Bell have worked for years to sap some salt from their menus. The AHA set a new goal of decreasing daily sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams per person, a reduction of 35 percent from the old number. That mark, said Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, president of HealthyDiningFinder.com, will be challenging to achieve for a people so fond of salt.

Lower-sodium turkey 2/10/11 Food Product Design

Butterball has partnered with the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) and pledged to reduce salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent by 2014.

Link between saturated fats and cardiovascular disease questioned 2/11/11 Food Product Design

Long-held beliefs about the impact of saturated fatty acids on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are being challenged by a new perspectives paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Fresh, natural, organic – Ethical eating; confidence in organic; fresh=healthy; grass-fed

Ethical eating apps 2/7/11 FoodBev.com

The Good Shopping Guide Ethical Shopping App is the first ethical shopping app on the UK market to give the user the ability to make clear comparisons with other brands within each product sector.

Grass-fed beef at restaurant group 2/8/11 MyDesert.com, reported in Restaurant SmartBrief

The Kaiser Restaurant Group in Palm Desert, CA has made the decision to serve only grass-fed beef.

‘Fresh’ and ‘natural’ = ‘healthy eating’ for consumers eating out 2/8/11 Nation’s Restaurant News

“The perception has been that healthy eating to consumers means low calorie and low fat, and our findings show that the perception is not the reality,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst at the Chicago-based consultancy.

Organic food and consumer confidence 2/8/11 From Field to Fork

Comments invited on USDA draft guidance for the organic industry to address the labeling, composition of, and use of percentage statements in ‘‘made with organic (specified ingredients or food groups).’’

Organic product purchases increased in 2010 2/11/11 From Field to Fork

Some 75 percent of U.S. families purchased organic products, and 41 percent of parents are buying more organic food than a year ago, up from 31 percent in 2009, according to a report by the Organic Trade Association.

Other – Baby food and obesity; eggs and cholesterol, and more

Timing of baby food tied to obesity risk 2/8/11 New York Times

A new study shows that feeding an infant solid food before 4 months of age increases the baby’s risk of becoming obese by the toddler years.

Eggs have less cholesterol than a decade ago 2/8/11 WebMD

Cholesterol in eggs has dropped in the past decade, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Eggs, on average, have 14% less cholesterol and 64% more vitamin D than the last time they were analyzed by the government in 2002.

Taste and value for money > potential health benefits 2/9/11 Food Navigator USA

A Spanish study found that the most important factors when influencing decisions of whether to buy are taste, price, and convenience – with health and weight loss considerations coming way down the list.

Gulf seafood: Safe now, but what about the future? 2/10/11 The Food Channel

Testing has repeatedly shown Gulf seafood to be clean and safe, but many consumers remain skittish—they’re just not buying the government’s all-clear and they’re not buying fish from the Gulf.

Butter contamination 2/11/11 New York Times Diners Journal

Sophisticated tests found trace amounts of PBDEs in each sample of butter, with one having 2,000 times more than the others.

Cheese and cancer 2/11/11 Prepared Foods Network

Eating more than 53g daily – roughly the same size as a small chocolate bar – slightly raises the chance of bladder cancer by 50%, as reported in the European Journal of Cancer

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