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Pink slime; local food and fair trade increases – news to April 15th 2012

Pink slime, very lean meat produced using ammonia, has been filling the news as people have become increasingly concerned when they learned what they and their children have been eating. Local food is the biggest trend in decades, according to the USDA, and Mintel say it’s edging out organic in terms of consumer importance for produce. Fair trade sales increased 12% in the UK and 75% in the USA in 2011. Starbucks has been called out for using an insect-based coloring in drinks. The FDA are encouraging voluntary restriction of antibiotics in food animals.

Recently filling the news: Pink slime

Ammonia in food – pink slime and more Apr-4-12 HuffPost Food
Ammonia – often associated with cleaning products – was cleared by U.S. health officials nearly 40 years ago and is used in making many foods, including cheese. Related compounds have a role in baked goods and chocolate products.

Local food is a big trend

‘Local’ is biggest food trend in decades, says USDA Mar-21-12 New Hope 360
For the last three years, USDA has been investing in local food systems. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass (KYF Compass) is a PDF and interactive map that visually aggregates USDA’s work related to these food systems. Some people don’t know whether to choose organic or local food – solution may be to offer locally-grown, organic food.

Local produce edging out organic in terms of consumer importance Mar-22-12 Fast Casual
According to the latest research data from Mintel, locally purchased fruits and vegetables by grocery stores and restaurants are now more important to consumers than organic options. They found that 52 percent of consumers reported that it’s more important to buy local produce than organic.

Retailers trumpet local foods Apr-14-12 Supermarket News
Local food can help supermarkets to market themselves.

Fair trade sales up – UK and USA

UK: Fairtrade sales up by 12% in 2011 Feb-27-12 Just-Food
The Fairtrade Foundation has reported a 12% increase in estimated retail sales of Fairtrade products for 2011 to GBP1.32bn (US$2.09bn). Cocoa and sugar saw growth of 34% and 21% respectively, while bananas, coffee and tea recorded “steady growth”, the Fairtrade Foundation stated.

USA sales of fair trade certified products up 75% in 2011 Mar-6-12 PR Newswire
The data, from SPINS LLC, indicates that sales of Fair Trade Certified products grew fastest in the mass merchant – mainstream grocery, food and drug – channel, which saw a 95% increase in Fair Trade Certified product sales in 2011.

Americans watching their diet and trying to eat healthier

Restaurants creating low-calorie menus Apr-10-12 Technomic
Most consumers do like to have lower-calorie menu options available for the items they order, whether or not they choose one on any particular dining occasion. Of the consumers who say they appreciate lower-calorie options in restaurants, only a quarter are actually trying to stick to a weight-loss diet while dining out. Almost half (46%) say they just prefer to choose healthful fare, including 50% of women and 42% of men. Also in this report – customers’ understanding of terms such as local, sustainable.

52% of American adults are currently “watching” their diet Apr-12-12 PR Newswire
60% report dieting because they want to lose weight, some 15% of dieters claim to be doing so at least in part because of concerns about “salt intake.” 44% of US consumers claim that they “always” or “usually” consult the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) and/or ingredient list to assess sodium levels when considering a food purchase. By contrast, 51% “always” or “usually” look at fat content, while 47% inspect sugar levels, and 49% examine calorie counts “always” or “usually” when shopping.

Sustainable seafood – Retailers and wholesalers getting tougher

BJ’s Wholesale Club sustainable seafood by 2014 Mar-20-12 Supermarket News
The retailer announced a new sustainable seafood policy that will ensure that all seafood products sold in the company’s stores are sourced from suppliers identified as sustainable, or on track to meet sustainability standards by 2014.

Whole Foods to stop sale of unsustainable seafood Mar-30-12 Courier Journal
Starting Earth Day, April 22, Whole Foods Market will no longer carry wild-caught seafood that is “red-rated,” a color code that indicates it is either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species. Off the shelves: octopus, gray sole, skate, Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod caught by trawls.

Other – Pre-mastication, food coloring made from insects, Gulf seafood, animal antibiotics, and more

Nestlé to remove artificial ingredients from UK candy Mar-2-12 FoodBev.com
Nestlé has become the first major confectionery manufacturer in the UK to remove all artificial ingredients from its entire confectionery range. The company has now replaced artificial colors, flavors and preservatives with alternatives in all 79 confectionery products it sells in the country.

More illnesses being linked to imported foods Mar-15-12 FoodBusinessNews
The CDC said outbreaks associated with imported foods appeared to rise in 2009 and 2010, and nearly half of the outbreaks implicated foods imported from areas that had not previously been associated with outbreaks.

Is pre-mastication dangerous for baby? Mar-29-12 HuffPost Science
Pre-mastication of baby’s meal is nothing new to humanity. In fact, it is thought to have once been a critical complement to breast-feeding, providing a means to give infants large amounts of carbohydrates and proteins. Scientific literature on using pre-mastication in contemporary times – pros and cons.

FDA rejects call to remove BPA from food packaging Apr-3-12 JustFood
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has rejected a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) calling for the elimination of bisphenol A (BPA) in food packaging in the US. The agency stated that BPA, at current levels of exposure, is safe for use in food packaging.

‘Free-From” foods becoming lifestyle choices Apr-4-12 Chicago Tribune
“Free-from” food products, whether they’re labeled sugar-free, fat-free or gluten-free, are fast becoming a trendy lifestyle choice, regardless of allergies or intolerance.

Starbucks petitioned to stop coloring drinks with extract from insects Apr-8-12 CS Decisions
At a time when customers are growing increasingly aware and concerned about what’s in their food and beverages, Starbucks is coming under fire for using an extract made from crushed insects to color its strawberry drinks.

Consumers grow more comfortable with gulf seafood Apr-9-12 Supermarket News
70% of consumers are comfortable eating Gulf seafood, and around 20% to 30% are not comfortable or they’re eating less.

Yelp caters to vegetarian and vegan community with new features Apr-10-12 Yelpy Insights
Instead of simple keyword matches, Yelp scours and analyzes millions of reviews to determine venues that are veggie-friendly or age-appropriate.

FDA takes action on animal antibiotics Apr-12-12 Food Politics
The FDA proposed action against use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes in animal agriculture. They suggest judicious use, and the recommendation is voluntary.

Sugar avoidance and indulgence Apr-14-12 Hartman Group
Infographic and discussion of the trend away from consuming sugar and processed sugars, and towards “natural” sweeteners.

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