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This week in food choices – Mar 27 2011 – Food safety, seafood sustainability, low-calorie dining

As the extent of nuclear power plant damage in Japan becomes clearer, there’s concern about food contamination, in Japan and further afield. In the long run, could this harm the image of safety of Japanese food, like Gulf seafood is still mistrusted even after the 2010 oil spill was cleaned up? More companies are making declarations about sourcing sustainable seafood. Several foodservice companies announced low-calorie menus, as well as omitting foods that some people restrict. There were several articles on diet related to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Japanese nuclear accident and food safety

FDA quarantines food imports from Japan Mar-25-11 FDA
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced plans to quarantine and prevent the distribution of all milk and milk products and vegetables and fruits produced or manufactured from the four Japanese prefectures.  They will not be allowed to enter the U.S. food supply, unless shown to be free from radioactive contamination.

Food contamination fears could harm Japanese brands Mar-22-11 IACP global blog
Even the perception of contamination, one Japanese agriculture expert said, could cause long-lasting “brand damage,” especially if there was evidence of radiation spreading across Japan.

California milk is checked for radiation Mar-18-11 Contra Costa Times, reported in GMA SmartBrief
California officials will screen milk produced in the state for signs of radiation contamination transmitted by grass-eating cows. Harmful levels of radiation are not expected to affect growing regions in the U.S., according to a statement posted on the U.S. Food and Drug Association website.

Seafood sustainability

Walmart and Sam’s Club – sustainable seafood Mar-22-11 Progressive Grocer
Walmart Stores Inc. and its Sam’s Club subsidiary updated its corporate seafood sourcing policies – all of its wild and farmed seafood must be sourced from a third-party certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), or by equivalent standards. Previously the policy only covered wild seafood.

Safeway sustainable seafood Mar-22-11 Seafood Source, reported in FMI dailyLead
All of Safeway’s fresh and frozen seafood will be sustainable and traceable, or in a credible, time-bound improvement process to reach these goals by 2015.

Eating out – low calorie

Low-calorie fast-casual Mar-23-11 Pizza Marketplace
Southern California-based Stonefire Grill has launched a “Healthy Alternatives” menu that features entrée salads, pizzas, salmon and chicken dishes with fewer than 500 calories.

Hotels menus – more low-calorie options Mar-25-11 USA Today Travel
Hotels are increasingly filling menus with low-calorie and other food-restricted options so travelers can eat healthy on the road. Sofitel’s De-Light menu offers a 3 course meal under 500 calories, and every item on the menu is cooked without oil, flour, butter or cream. Courtyard by Marriott is listing calories on menus.

Diabetes and diet – vegetarianism, glycemic index, and meat

Diabetes and vegetarianism Mar-22-11 Diabetes Self-Management
Studies show that vegetarian (meat-free) and vegan (meat-, egg-, and dairy-free) diets may have several benefits for people with diabetes, especially Type 2 diabetes.

Glycemic index not associated with diabetes risk British Journal of Nutrition
Substitutions of lower-GI carbohydrates for higher-GI carbohydrates were not consistently associated with a lower diabetes risk.

Meat and diabetes Public Health Nutrition
Intake of red meat was positively associated with diabetes risk in men and women. The association for processed poultry was weaker than for processed red meat, and fresh poultry intake was not associated with diabetes risk. For men only, significant interactions of ethnicity were observed with the red and processed red meat associations, with Caucasians experiencing slightly higher risks than Japanese-Americans.

Heart disease and diet – reduced salt, fat type, dark chocolate, and mercury in fish

Campbell Soup and Target to reduce salt Mar-22-11 Food Safety News
Campbell Soup Company and Target Corporation are among the latest companies to join the National Salt Reduction Initiative’s (NSRI) sodium reduction goals. Other companies joining include Bertucci’s Italian Restaurant, Black Bear European Style Deli, Dietz & Watson, Ken’s Foods, and Snyder’s-Lance Inc.

Fat type and heart disease risk Mar-24-11 Food Navigator-USA
Replacing saturated fat with carbs is not beneficial for your heart – use PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) instead.

Dark chocolate may be good for the heart Mar-25-11 HealthDay News, reported in FMI dailyLead
A meta-study of 21 studies showed that in patients who ate sugar-free dark chocolate did better in several areas, including blood pressure. Levels of bad cholesterol went down in those younger than 50, and levels of good cholesterol went up.

Mercury in fish and heart disease Mar-25-11 HealthDay News, reported in FMI dailyLead
Americans’ level of exposure to mercury from sources such as fish is not associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

Cancer and diet – breast cancer protection, ready-to-eat meat products

Breast cancer protection tips from Dr. Oz Healthy Living from Everyday Health
Use vegetable oils instead of animal fats, and avoid sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates, and fatty foods. Avoid alcohol entirely or greatly limiting drinking. Even one drink a day increases the risk by a small amount. Women who drink two to five drinks a day are one and a half times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Most ready-to-eat meat products low in cancerous substances Mar-23-11 IFT
Some people are concerned about carcinogens in meat products. A study published in Meat Science shows that most ready-to-eat products have very few cancerous heterocyclic amines.

Other – vegetarian options at restaurants, fetal development, water usage, and more

Vegetarian options at casual-dining restaurants Mar-22-11 Nation’s Restaurant News
Casual-dining restaurants are offering more vegetarian, meatless and meatless-adaptable options, to appeal to vegetarians and flexitarians, occasional vegetable seekers who want virtue without sacrifice.

Beverage companies working to use water more efficiently Mar-21-11 New York Times
Beverage companies are looking to increase water sustainability of suppliers and bottlers

High vegetable prices to drop soon Mar-24-11 USA Today
A nearly 50% increase in vegetable prices should ease in the coming weeks as crops farmers planted after the winter freezes start to reach stores.

Food poisoning from cantaloupe Mar-25-11 Food Safety News
Cantaloupe is always in the top five of fresh fruits and vegetables for food poisoning outbreaks.

Vitamin B12 and fetal development Mar-20-11 Prepared Foods Network
Mothers-to-be who boost their intake of vitamin B12 during the first three months of pregnancy are up to eight times more likely to have babies who cry less, researchers suggest. The B12 vitamin occurs naturally in red meat, fish and dairy products and is already known to help the development of the brain and nervous system in unborn children. It also helps prevent dementia, heart disease and even fertility problems later in life. Pregnant women who consume only low levels of B12 may have babies whose nervous systems have not fully developed.

Meat-free burgers Mar-22-11 New York Times Dining & Wine
Upscale meat-free burgers are becoming more popular

Added sugars associated with added pounds Mar-24-11 HealthDay News
As Americans’ intake of sugars added to processed and home-cooked foods rises, so, too, does body weight, according to a study that followed Minnesota residents for 27 years.

Gluten-free fair Mar-23-11 Supermarket News
Vendor exhibits, food samples and informational seminars were part of a gluten-free fair.

Going organic rids system of pesticides Mar-20-11 Wright Newsletter
Researchers found that as soon as an organic diet was introduced, the pesticide levels dropped to non-detectable levels. And as soon as regular foods were re-introduced, the pesticide levels went right back up again.


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