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Meat-free for Lent, gluten-free arguments, calorie control – news to February 26 2012

As Lent rolls around again, restaurant chains once more put fish dishes on the menu. The gluten-free industry has grown 27% since 2009 according to Mintel; some say that more research should be done on nonceliac gluten sensitivity and that more people may be affected than currently thought; others say that gluten may not be the culprit. Mars will stop selling chocolate products with more than 250 calories. Connecticut considers requiring GM foods to be labeled. A Brooklyn, NY store is considering banning Israeli food products because of conditions in Palestine. Agave was listed as one of the five worst sweeteners by Rodale, as it’s 70-90% fructose. Kids drink too much fruit juice, which may lead to tooth decay and obesity.

Meat-free dishes for Lent

Fish McBites coming to McDonald’s Feb-21-12 Fast Food Geek
A new snack/meal/catering option branching out from the standard chicken McNuggets. They are currently in a very narrow test market and they likely will not see a nationwide release this year.

Fish sandwich for Lent Feb-22-12 Fast Casual
Charley’s Grilled Subs is giving customers a reason to look forward to Lent this year by unveiling a freshly prepared Crispy Beer Battered Fish Sandwich with Yuengling.

Lent-friendly pizzas Feb-23-12 QSR
Pizza Patrón announced today that it is seeking to reverse the average 4 percent drop in sales that it sees during Lent each year by launching its “Pizzas de Cuaresma” campaign. The promotion features two Lent-friendly pizzas, the Spinach Clásico (a customer favorite) and La Vegetariana.

Gluten-free – continues to grow, but arguments against it continue

Analysis questions benefits of gluten-free diet for many Feb-20-12 WebMD
Italian researchers noted that many symptoms attributed to gluten may actually be caused by sensitivity to other components of wheat flour or other ingredients found in wheat-based foods like bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals. They say that some people may experience symptoms when they eat foods containing gluten simply because they believe these foods will make them sick.

More research should be done on nonceliac gluten-sensitivity Feb-21-12 Los Angeles Times
The authors of a paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine cited a study that found six out of eight people with chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain had a gluten sensitivity but did not have celiac disease. But since then, they added, not much more has been done because testing for nonceliac gluten sensitivity is difficult.

Gluten-free industry grows 27% since 2009 Feb-22-12 New Hope 360
Despite an increase in popularity and product development, celiac disease and gluten intolerance could be widely undiagnosed. Just 1% of consumers say they’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease and only 8% overall say they are gluten intolerant/sensitive. However, Mintel research suggests that number should be closer to 15%.

Calorie control – Mars chocolate, Weight Watchers

Mars will stop selling chocolate products with more than 250 calories Feb-15-12 Reuters
Mars Inc, the maker of Snickers and Twix candy bars, will stop selling chocolate products with more than 250 calories in them by the end of next year, as part of an ongoing effort to improve the nutritional value of its products and to sell them in a responsible way. Mars has also said it will reduce sodium levels in all its products 25 percent by 2015.

Applebee’s rolls out new Weight Watchers dishes Feb-23-12 Nation’s Restaurant News
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar has extended its eight-year agreement with Weight Watchers International Inc., adding three items to its diet-plan-endorsed menu. These dishes are low-calorie and feature Weight Watchers point values.

Natural foods – unprocessed, organic, GM labeling

Some shoppers avoiding processed, packaged and refined foods Feb-21-12 Commercial Appeal, TN
Many families are trying to reinvent mealtime in a more healthful and earth-friendly manner. Ditching processed, packaged and refined foods, they are seeking to put only wholesome, natural foods, dairy and whole grains prepared from scratch — real food — on their tables.

Organic foods hit record sales in 2011 Feb-21-12 From Field to Fork
According to the Annual Organic Product Survey by the TABS Group, the percentage of all consumers stating they purchased organics rose from 39.8 percent in January 2011 to 41.8 percent in January 2012. Younger consumers expressed greater preference for organic products.

Connecticut considers labeling GM food Feb-22-12 Hartford Courant
The legislature’s environment committee is considering a bill that would require all genetically engineered foods to be labeled and also to create “best practices for GMO farming.”

Ethical food choices – Israeli foods, shark-fin soup

Boycotting Israeli products in response to Palestine treatment Feb-21-12 New York Daily News
A proposal to ban Israeli-made food products in the Park Slope Food Coop is being pushed by a group who say “Economic engagement with the state of Israel gives it the means and muscle to oppress, destabilize, and colonize the Palestinian people.”

New York lawmakers propose ban on shark-fin soup Feb-21-12 Wall Street Journal
New York state lawmakers unveiled a bill Tuesday that would ban the sale, trade and possession of the Chinese delicacy. If the proposal legislation is signed into law, New York will join Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii in restricting shark products.

Other – Agave in worst sweeteners list, kids drink too much fruit juice, and more

Worst sweeteners to use Feb-21-12 Rodale
Aspartame, agave nectar, sucralose, sugar, high fructose corn syrup HFCS

Is there a link between diet soda and heart disease? Feb-21-12 Harvard Health Publications
At the end of 10 years, daily diet soda drinkers were more likely to have had a stroke or heart attack, or to have died from vascular disease. The increased risk remained even after study investigators accounted for smoking, exercise, weight, sodium intake, high cholesterol, and other factors that could have contributed to the difference.

Dairy-related outbreaks likelier from raw milk Feb-21-12 Nurse.com
The rate of illness outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk (often called raw milk) and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk during a 13-year span, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kids drink too much fruit juice Feb-22-12 UPI
U.S. pediatric experts recommend one glass of juice a day for children, even 100 percent fruit juice, but many children drink two glasses, researchers found.

Rise of foods targeted to specific health conditions Feb-24-12 Food Navigator-USA
Increased recognition that diet plays an important role in a range of health conditions is spurring sales in targeted foods and beverages, according to a new report from Packaged Facts. Specific conditions include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes.

World Bank announces seafood sustainability initiative Feb-25-12 Restaurant Management
The World Bank has announced an influential coalition of governments, international organizations, and private interests that will make up its Global Partnership for Oceans, designed to work on ocean sustainability projects worldwide.

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