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Cage-free, gluten-free, antibiotic-free, sustainable, and natural – news to June 5th 2012

Restaurants and grocers jumped over each other to pledge to phasing out cages for chickens and gestation crates – often over long timeframes. May was Celiac Awareness month, and a growing number of popular restaurant chains are offering gluten-free options. The FDA announced plans to phase out the use of antibiotics in farm animals, and many food companies are already meeting demands for antibiotic-free and pasture-raised meat and poultry. Greenpeace released its 2012 report on sustainable seafood – this has been so successful that many supermarkets are already on board with sustainability plans and there were far fewer announcements of new plans than the same time last year. There was a marked decline in trans fats in foods from 2005 to 2010, and more manufacturers are seeing the benefits of announcing their foods to be free of trans fats.

Ethical animal treatment – Cage-free eggs, gestation crates for pork

Burger King promises to use cage-free eggs and pork Apr-25-12 LA Times
The fast food giant, one of the largest in the world, said it would phase out cages for its chickens and gestation crates for breeding pigs by 2017 – making its pledge among the most sweeping of many such vows made recently by competitors such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s.

Safeway aims for crate-free pork May-7-12 Progressive Grocer
Safeway Inc. revealed plans to shift its purchasing policies for pork to a system that favors more humane treatment of pigs with a gestation stall-free supply chain.

Tim Hortons commits to cage-free suppliers May-7-12 QSR Web
Tim Hortons today called upon the pork industry and its suppliers to eliminate gestation stalls for sows and to develop clear plans and timelines by the end of the year to phase out these housing systems. The company has also set a goal of purchasing at least 10 percent of its eggs, representing significantly more than 10 million eggs, from enriched hen housing systems by the end of 2013.

Gestation crates going out of favor May-29-12 Washington Post
Since the 2008 ballot proposition in California where residents voted to ban, among other confinement systems, the gestation crate, others states have followed and food companies are taking notice. Companies that have pledged not to use gestation crates include Hormel Foods, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Safeway, and two food-service companies, the Compass Group and Bon Appetit Management.

Kroger alternative to gestation crates Jun-4-12 Progressive Grocer
Kroger reports that, over the past few months, it has reviewed the opinions of animal welfare experts and other experts regarding the use of gestation crates for pregnant sows and has concluded that there are many ways to humanely house sows. It is urging its pork suppliers to step up their efforts to find an alternative to gestation crates.

McDonalds won’t finish elimination of gestation crates until 2022 Jun-4-12 Rodale News
McDonald’s says it will need 10 years to eliminate the use of gestation-crate confinement for pregnant pigs that produce pork for McDonald’s restaurants, meaning you won’t be able to reliably source a kinder bacon cheeseburger there until 2022.

Gluten-free – Restaurant chains, Frito-Lay, Wegmans

Best gluten-free chain Apr-27-12 Restaurant Management
Ted’s Montana Grill has been named “Best Gluten-Free Restaurant Chain” in the 2012 About.com Gluten-Free Readers’ Choice Awards, an online competition where About.com readers nominated and voted on their favorite gluten-free products and options.

Burger 21 goes gluten-free May-2-12 Fast Casual
Burger 21, a concept founded by the owners of The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., kicks off Celiac Awareness Month by introducing a gluten-free menu in partnership with the Gluten Intolerance Group.

Domino’s gluten-free crust not for celiacs May-7-12 MSNBC
Domino’s cautions that its new pie isn’t for anyone with severe gluten intolerance, otherwise known as celiac disease. Since the gluten-free pizzas will be prepared and baked in kitchens that also cook standard pizzas, people whose symptoms are triggered by cross-contamination should steer clear. This is a crust that people who suffer from mild gluten intolerance can eat.

Frito-Lay gluten-free initiative May-18-12 Convenience Store News
Frito-Lay North America is launching a multi-year initiative to validate many of its products as gluten-free and labeling the packaging to reflect this. It is not removing gluten; many of the company’s corn and potato-based products are already made without gluten ingredients, said Frito-Lay.

Most chefs don’t understand gluten-free protocols May-25-12 Fast Casual
Many chefs and restaurateurs said they have gluten-free options at their restaurants, yet less than 4 percent of them responded correctly to four questions regarding gluten.

Gluten-free menus at QSRs May-25-12 Nation’s Restaurant News
A growing number of large restaurant chains — Domino’s Pizza being one of the largest — are introducing and promoting gluten-free menus, citing increasing demand from consumers. Domino’s Pizza, Chevys Fresh Mex, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Fresh Brothers, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

Wegmans releases line of gluten-free food products May-28-12 Tonawanda News
To coincide with Celiac Awareness month, Wegmans Food Markets has introduced a new line of gluten-free products, including pasta, cakes, brownies and cookies.

Avoiding antibiotics in meat – Health effects, increased demand

Does giving antibiotics to animals hurt humans? Apr-20-12 USA Today
The Food and Drug Administration outlined plans to phase out the use of antibiotics in farm animals for nonmedical purposes over three years. Documentaries such as “Meet Your Meat” and “Food Inc.” have led Americans to focus more on what goes into their food. Sales of antibiotic-free meat, for instance, are up 25 percent to $175 million in the past three years.

Moms against antibiotic use on farms HuffPost Green May-15-12
The group Supermoms Against Superbugs ask the federal government to rein in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, in hopes of preserving the efficacy of antibiotics and protecting children’s health.

Demand up for antibiotic-free, pasture-raised meats May-31-12 NPR
Increased demand for antibiotic-free, pasture-raised meats is coming from lots of big players, including Hyatt Hotels; institutional food providers such as Bon Appetit Management Co., which caters to schools and companies; Walmart; and the fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Sustainable seafood – Greenpeace report, supermarket policies

Greenpeace’s 2012 ‘Carting Away The Oceans’ Report May-2-12 Greenpeace
Two companies – Safeway and Whole Foods – have transformed themselves into undeniable leaders within the industry.

Hannaford supermarket chain adopts a sustainable seafood policy May-23-12 MPBN
The Hannaford Supermarket chain has announced that all 2,500 seafood products sold in its 181 Northeastern supermarkets have now been documented as sustainably harvested.

Meijer casts new seafood sustainability initiative Apr-26-12 Progressive Grocer
Meijer Inc. is launching a comprehensive seafood sustainability initiative, partnered with the Global Aquaculture Alliance and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, that is expected to ensure all of its seafood suppliers follow specific guidelines for farmed and wild-caught seafood.

Natural/unnatural foods – Organic, stevia, trans fats, HFCS, flame retardant, GM

Lower trans fats in foods Apr-2012 USDA ERS
There was a marked decline in the trans fats content of new food products from 2005 to 2010, along with an increase in the use of “no trans fats” claims on product packages.

Consumer-driven U.S. organic market surpasses $31 billion in 2011 Apr-23-12 Organic Trade Association
Driven by consumer choice, the U.S. organic industry grew by 9.5 percent overall in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales. Of this, the organic food and beverage sector was valued at $29.22 billion.

Europe debates stevia’s ‘natural’ claims May-29-12 Food Navigator
Discussion continues over whether stevia compounds in food and drink products can be labelled as ‘natural’, with the weight of opinion favouring ‘from a natural source’ as a descriptor.

Pinkberry toppings bar loses trans fats, high fructose corn syrup May-31-12 FastCasual
Pinkberry has revamped its signature toppings bar to include only items that are 100-percent free of trans fats, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup HFCS.

Flame retardant found in some common foods May-31-12 WebMD
Researchers found detectable levels of HBCDs in some samples of foods including sardines in water, smoked turkey sausages, fresh salmon, sardines in olive oil, fresh catfish, fresh deli-sliced turkey, fresh deli-sliced ham, fresh tilapia, and chili with beans.

EFSA opinion rejects French ban on GM corn Jun-1-12 Food Navigator
The European Foods Safety Authority (EFSA) has rejected French efforts to ban genetically modified corn across member states.

Allergies and intolerances – Growing market, schools, chocolate

Massive growth potential for global food allergy, intolerance products Apr-26-12 Progressive Grocer
A report from San Jose, Calif.-based Global Industry Analysts says the global market for food allergy and intolerance products is projected to surpass $26.5 billion by 2017, driven by the increasing number of food allergies and sensitivities across the world.

School food allergy guidelines in Texas FAAN May-21-12 FAAN
Public school districts and open-enrollment charter schools must adopt and administer policies for the care of students with food allergies at risk for anaphylaxis, based on the published guidelines, by August 1, 2012.

Lactose-free chocolate May-21-12 Food Navigator
Barry Callebaut has launched a lactose-free milk chocolate in Europe that it claims has a similar taste to regular milk chocolate.

Other – Juice issues, low-calorie cocktails, soda ban, raw food

Higher food safety information demands May-10-12 Bloomberg News
“We see people wanting to know more about nutrition, and we saw a big jump in people who want to know more about food safety,” said Lindsey Loving, a senior director for the International Food Information Council. Still, even when well-publicized food- safety scares occur, “the average consumer is still confident in the food supply,” she said.

Reducing sweetened beverages encourages eating vegetables May-16-12 Food Product Design
The secret to getting preschoolers to eat more veggies may be as simple as serving water with the meal compared to other sweetened beverages, according to two recent studies published in the journal Appetite. The findings also suggest young adults who drink water with meals make healthier food choices.

Juice may be acidic enough to hurt teeth May-20-12 United Press International
5-year-olds now have signs of damage to their tooth enamel caused by excess acid in their diet. Tooth enamel begins to be destroyed when acid levels in the mouth drop below 5.5 on the pH scale — 7 is neutral — while 1 is a strong acid. Water has a pH of 7, and milk is just below at 6.8. Tested juices had acid levels ranging from 3.3 to 3.8. Coca Cola has a pH level of 2.5.

“Bad for you” foods that may be good for you May-22-12 Washington Post
Wheat, eggs, potatoes, fruits, soy, alcohol, fried foods

Convenience stores offering low-sodium snacks May-23-12 Convenience Store Decisions
A handful of convenience stores in Topeka, KS plan to cut back on their salty snack food offerings, and instead, sell more healthy snacks. Each store agreed to create a rack of healthy, low-sodium items.

Bacardi low-calorie cocktail beverages May-23-12 Drug Store News
Bacardi classic cocktails light builds off of the original the brand’s classic cocktails “open and pour” line. Less than 95 calories for a 4-oz. serving, the beverages are available in pina colada and mojito flavors.

All-veg campus dining May-29-12 Food Management
At Maharishi University in Fairfield, IA, every meal is vegetarian and organic, with many of the ingredients grown on campus by students and staff

Soda ban proposal in NYC Jun-1-12 Food Politics
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a ban on sales of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, delis, sports arenas, and movie theaters.

Mars sustainable cocoa supply Jun-1-12 Food Navigator
Confectionery giant Mars fulfilled its pledge to purchase its cocoa supply from certified sustainable sources after it announced plans to purchase nearly 90,000 tons of sustainable cocoa in 2012.

What human flesh tastes like Jun-5-12 Slate
In the last two weeks cannibalism incidents have been reported in Florida, Maryland, Berlin, and Sweden.

Chefs, restaurants embrace raw foods trend Jun-6-12 Restaurant Management
There are several dozen U.S. establishments that offer raw food as a major component of their menus. Usually vegetarian, if not vegan, these restaurants rely on hyper-seasonal ingredients, creative preparations, and a dash of molecular gastronomy to create dishes that often mimic traditional favorites.

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