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Gluten-free labeling, GM salmon, HFCS, local food – news to August 7 2011

Gluten-free food labeling in the USA isn’t currently regulated, and the FDA is reopening the conversation to standardize labeling. The GM salmon discussion continues. Consumers don’t take much notice of HFCS on labels – nearly 40% look for information on fat or calories, 25% look for sugar content, and 3% look for HFCS. Colleges are bringing in students by offering local food; supermarkets’ definitions of local food are wide. Raw food is increasing in popularity. The “Dirty Dozen” list of foods with the highest pesticide levels has been questioned as not being scientific.

Gluten-free – labeling, not for fad dieters

FDA reopens comment period on proposed ‘gluten-free’ food labeling rule Aug-3-11 Food Navigator-USA
Defining a tolerable threshold level for gluten presence in gluten-free foods was included as part of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004. In 2007, the FDA proposed that gluten should be labeled at anything over 20mg per kg (20ppm). Many companies are already voluntarily using this standard, but the rule has yet to be finalized.

When foods labeled “gluten-free” aren’t Aug-3-11 Boston Globe
Foods that have “gluten-free” on their label may actually contain significant amounts of gluten — enough to cause gastrointestinal symptoms in those with celiac disease. That’s because the US FDA never established a standard for the label, leaving it up to manufacturers to define what they mean by gluten-free.

FDA says ‘gluten-free’ is not for fad dieters Aug-4-11 Washington Post blogs
The FDA has issued a consumer update spelling out the role gluten plays in our diet. “Eating gluten-free is not meant to be a diet craze. It’s a medical necessity for those who have celiac disease. There are no nutritional advantages for a person not sensitive to gluten to be on a gluten-free diet.” The update doesn’t discuss whether some people who do not have celiac disease may have a sensitivity to gluten.

Genetically modified foods – fitting into religious diets, salmon

Can GM foods be Halal or Kosher? Aug-3-11 Green Prophet
In December 2010, a conference held in Penang, Malaysia with biotechnology experts and halal proponents ended with the conclusion that genetically modified food was halal ( ‘permissible’ for Muslims) as long as the sources from which they originate from are halal. This decision – which was accompanied by a fatwa declaring GM halal – came as a shock to some in the wider Muslim community who consider GM a deviation from god’s creation.

Agricultural organizations urge FDA to complete GM salmon review Aug-4-11 Food Navigator-USA
More than 30 agricultural organizations have signed a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to complete its review of the world’s first genetically engineered fish for human consumption.

Sugars – diabetes, HFCS

Sugar is not the only cause of diabetes Aug-2-11 WSLS
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s Dr. Mark Greenawald says, “Sugar in and of itself is not an issue as much as calories are.  What happens is the more calories we take in the more weight we have the greater the chances we will develop Type 2 Diabetes… once you have diabetes eating any kind of food whether it be sugar or anything else can cause your blood sugar to go up so it is not necessarily sugar itself that can do that.” The American Diabetes Association ADA also lists other “myths.”

Consumers more worried about fat than sugar; HFCS not a big concern Aug-3-11 Food Product Design
A study by Mintel Research Consultancy showed that nearly four in ten label readers seek information on fat or calories, compared to just 3% who look specifically for HFCS —and 25% who seek information on sugar content.

Local – supermarkets, college foodservice

Local produce at WalMart and other supermarkets Aug-1-11 Wall Street Journal
The lack of a federal standard or any consensus on what qualifies as “local” food leaves grocers a lot of leeway in their marketing. Wal-Mart encourages its managers to buy produce grown within 450 miles of its distribution centers, even if local peaches, for example, cost more than those produced across the country in California.

College foodservice generating momentum for local food Aug-1-11 The Packer
Colleges, in particular, can get marketing mileage out of buying local produce. If you’re a university and you can say, ‘Our dorms serve locally farmed food,’ that’s a selling point in bringing in new freshman, and it’s something they send out as part of their specifications to the foodservice organization that does their meals.

Food allergies and intolerances – lactose intolerance, sulfite intolerance, allergy app

Health effects of self-perceived lactose intolerance Aug-3-11 Food Product Design
Consumers with self-perceived lactose intolerance eat few dairy foods, and also have high incidence of diabetes and hypertension, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supported by the Dairy Research Institute.

Food allergy app Aug-4-11 FastCasual
Denver-based MAD Greens has rolled out a mobile web-app that allows customers to select foods and ingredients that they may be allergic to or wish to avoid for various health reasons. The restaurant now offers customers with food allergies a way to interactively explore their eating options.

Sulfite intolerance Aug 2011 Today’s Diet and Nutrition
Sulfite intolerance can develop at any age, and the causes are unknown. Manufacturers are required to label as “contains sulfites” foods that contain more than 10 parts per mission of sulfites. The FDA banned treating fresh produce with sulfites, but fresh-cut and peeled potatoes like those used to make French fries and hash browns were exempt from the ban.

Other – raw food, Dirty Dozen, and more

Cheesecake Factory low-calorie menu items Aug-1-11 USA Today
All 150 locations will roll out 15 entrees under 590 calories and 12 appetizers under 490.

Raw food popularity increasing Aug-1-11 Wall Street Journal
Raw food restaurants and juice bars—which often also sell raw food and juice cleanse packages—increasingly find themselves gaining the attention of a more mainstream crowd.

Could Kashrut be partly to blame for Crohn’s disease? Aug-1-11 The Jewish Daily Forward
Why is Crohn’s disease about two to four times more prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews than among non-Jewish whites? A number of theories are discussed in this article.

Study raises doubts about “Dirty Dozen” produce list Aug-3-11 From Field to Fork
A study, conducted independently by UC-Davis food scientists, challenges conclusions put forth the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables for consumers to avoid. It states that “The methodology used to create the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list does not appear to follow any established scientific procedures.”

One third of Americans make dietary changes because of a health condition Aug-4-11 USA Today
More are “making dietary changes because they want to improve their overall well-being, so they have energy to go about their day.” Almost nine out of ten Americans are aware of the health benefits of specific “functional” foods.

Ground turkey recall Aug-4-11 WebMD
Cargill has recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey sold since Feb. 20, the third largest meat recall in history.

Air diet Aug-5-11 DietBlog
By eating foods that are puffed or whipped can you actually reduce your total calorie intake?

Global food allergy and intolerance products market to surpass $26 billion by 2017 PRWeb
Global Industry Analysts released a report on the Food Allergy and Intolerance Products markets. The market that witnessed exploding growth in recent years is expected to continue the same momentum driven by increased diagnosis of digestive health conditions, growing vogue for wheat-free and gluten-free diets, improved labeling regulations, and a load of tastier and sumptuous innovations in the category.

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