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This week in food restrictions – April 3 2011 – Food dyes, food safety, sustainable packaging, limiting calories

The FDA announced that there was insufficient evidence of a link between artificial coloring and hyperactivity in children, but did admit that some children may be sensitive to food dyes. Not eating foods from canned and plastic-packed foods reduces BPA levels. Sustainable packaging for foods is growing – a couple of overview articles in the press this week. The FDA wants to put calorie counts on all restaurant menus. And the controversial issue of cloning animals for food supply delayed the passing of a bill for approving innovative foods in Europe – the issue will be split off for separate discussion.

Food dyes – FDA won’t require special warning labels

FDA to discuss food dyes and hyperactivity Mar-29-11 Food Safety News
On Wednesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will host a public meeting to help determine whether a link exists between artificial coloring and hyperactivity in children. A 2007 study from Southampton, UK, found that children who consumed a mixture of artificial colors and sodium benzoate (a preservative) displayed higher levels of hyperactivity than those who did not.

Artificially colored foods Mar-30-11 Everyday Health
The FDA are re-examining artificial food dyes and their role in behavioral problems in children. Here are some surprising foods containing them.

Whole Foods touts food-coloring ban Mar-30-11 Supermarket News
Whole Foods Market issued a reminder that it has prohibited artificial food colorings since the 1980s.

FDA says artificial dyes safe to eat… for most children Mar-31-11 New York Times
There is no proof that foods with artificial colorings cause hyperactivity in most children and there is no need for these foods to carry special warning labels, a government advisory panel voted Thursday. The F.D.A. is now acknowledging that dyes affect some children.

Food safety – Radioactivity from Japan, caramel colorings, Gulf Coast seafood, food packaging and BPA

Japan says more foods are tainted by radioactive material Mar-28-11 NPR health blog Shots
Last week, milk, spinach and other leafy greens were reported to be contaminated. Now a total of 99 products are listed as testing positive, including wasabi, cucumbers, garland chrysanthemum, mizuna, and green onions.

Washington State milk safe Mar-30-11 Governor Chris Gregoire, reported in The Food Institute daily update
Iodine-131 levels are more than 5,000 times lower than levels that would signal concern. A pint of milk at the tested levels would expose an individual to less radiation than would a five hour airplane flight.

Safety of caramel colorings Mar-29-11 Prepared Foods Network
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has reaffirmed that caramel colorings are neither genotoxic, nor carcinogenic, and that there is no evidence to show that caramel colors have adverse effects on human reproduction or for the developing child.

Louisiana seafood still shunned Mar-28-11 NOLA.com reported in Restaurant SmartBrief
A study by Greater New Orleans Inc. found that the greatest negative effect the spill had on public perception of Louisiana and New Orleans involved views on seafood safety and overall demand for the region’s seafood.

Canned and plastic packaging and bisphenol A (BPA) Mar-31-11 Food Production Daily
Levels of bisphenol A detected in human urine dropped by 66 per cent in just three days after subjects eliminated their exposure to canned and plastic packaging, new research has found. Once participants returned to their regular diets, BPA levels returned to normal.

Sustainability – packaging and seafood

Sustainable packaging trends Mar-2011 Progressive Grocer
Some consumers demand or prefer sustainable packaging, and industry is also incentivized to reduce costs. This article looks at how sustainable packaging is being achieved.

Sustainable food packaging slowly making gains Mar-29-11 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reported in FMI dailyLead
Sustainable food packaging is becoming all the rage, and a lot of food companies would like to be part of that trend. But don’t expect an overnight change even if more folks are on board with the idea of biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and otherwise sustainable.

Price Chopper sustainable seafood Mar-31-11 Progressive Grocer
Price Chopper Supermarkets has revealed a new sustainable seafood platform created by the grocer’s collaboration with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) and Trace Register. They will develop plans and programs to ensure that its seafood comes from the most sustainably managed and maintained fisheries.

Dramatic increase in sales of sustainable seafood Mar-15-11 PhyOrg.com
Consumers are increasingly committed to buying sustainable seafood products even in difficult financial times. Independent research shows a 50% increase in consumer spend on sustainable seafood in the Netherlands, and a 154% increase in the UK. In the UK, sustainable seafood out-performs other green goods.

Limiting calories and carbs – FDA proposal, manufacturers, schools, type 1 diabetes

FDA proposes calorie counts on menus Apr-2-11 Food Safety News
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft of regulations that require calorie labeling on menus at chain restaurants and on some vending machine foods. Marion Nestle of Food Politics had some interesting comments.

Food manufacturers reducing calories, sugar, sodium and fat Mar-29-11 GMA
In recent years, food companies have changed the recipes of more than 20,000 products to provide consumers with more nutritious choices. Reduced trans fat, saturated fat, sugar/carbs, calories, and sodium. Companies have pledged to annually remove 1.5 trillion calories from commerce by 2015.

Limiting calories in schools Mar-27-11 New York Times
The USDA has proposed new standards for federally subsidized school meals that call for more balanced meals and, for the first time, a limit on calories. The current standard specifies only a minimum calorie count, which some schools meet by adding sweet foods.

Counting carbs may help with type 1 diabetes Mar-25-11 Reuters
Tallying the number of carbohydrates in the diet may be helpful to people using an insulin pump to treat type 1 diabetes, a small study suggests.

Food avoidances and medical conditions – high blood pressure, kidney stones, IBS, colon cancer, blood sugar

Wegmans offers brochure on high blood pressure
Food restriction suggestions: Limit calories, follow DASH guidelines, cut back on sodium, limit alcohol. There’s also a meal template suggesting proportions for each meal – mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grain, protein, and dairy.

Preventing kidney stones with what you eat National Kidney Foundation
Limit salt, red and processed meats, and sweetened beverages.

Common trigger foods for IBS Mar-28-11 Joy Bauer Food Cures
Milk and dairy; citrus fruits; raw and cruciferous vegetables; wheat (gluten); sweeteners; beans, lentils, corn, and popcorn; garlic, onions, and spicy food; carbonated, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages; fatty foods and red meat; chocolate; condiments

High-protein, low-carbohydrate diet may give higher colon cancer risk Mar-16-11 Reuters
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looking at short-term shifts in certain compounds that are byproducts of metabolism, and not actual disease risk, suggesting that the risk should be studied further.

High fat plus coffee increases blood sugar Apr-1-22 Food Product Design
Blood sugar levels in a healthy person can spike nearly 65 percent after consuming a high-fat meal and cup of caffeinated coffee, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Other – sugar, bitter flavors, meat from cloned animals, feeding children, and more

Sugar avoidance vs indulgence Mar-28-11 HartmanSalt
Infographic about what people think about sugar

Foods that will stain your teeth Mar-28-11 Joy Bauer Food Cures
If you have just had your teeth bleached / whitened, avoid sugary foods, dried fruits, or other sticky carbohydrates, which can cause demineralization. Also avoid foods that can easily stain your teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, tomato sauce, and grape juice – basically, if it can stain your clothes, it might stain your newly whitened teeth.

Low-fat vodka sauce Mar-31-11 FoodBusinessNews
The low-fat trend is still around for some people – another low-fat CPG introduced.

New shortenings reduce saturated fat Mar-28-11 FoodBusinessNews
Although there are an increasing number of people avoiding non-natural fats, there is still demand for (manufactured) fats labeled as “reduced saturated fats and no trans fats.”

Masking bitter flavors Mar-29-11 MSNBC
A new compound blocks taste buds’ ability to detect bitter flavors, and could be added to foods and beverages to make them more palatable.

U.S. protein supply down Mar-30-11 Just-Food
This has led to higher prices for what could be a local food.

Meat from cloned animals not approved in Europe Mar-31-11 EuropeanVoice.com
New, separate proposals for novel food approval will be drafted: one on the less contentious issue of regulating new and unusual foods, and another on cloning for food production.

Hypoallergenic milk formula Mar-31-11 FoodBizDaily
Nestlé today opened a new factory in Germany dedicated to producing hypoallergenic (HA) (allergy risk reducing) infant formula.

Babies and children – not feeding them white cereals Apr-1-11 New Hope 360
Could parents, by blindly following a decades-old tradition of feeding their children cereal, risk setting their kids up for a lifetime of unhealthy cravings? Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician and faculty member at Stanford University School of Medicine, suggests swapping junior’s white rice cereal for a smashed banana or whole grain porridge.

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