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GM labeling Proposition 37 defeated, meat allergy, caffeine toxicity – news to November 11, 2012

What’s in the news about food restrictions

Here are links and summaries for recent news and opinion about food restrictions.

Organic and GM – Health effects of organic foods; GM labeling proposition defeated

AAP weighs in on organic foods for kids Oct-23-12 New Hope 360
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children should eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, whether those are conventional or organic foods. “At this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime, though we do know that children – especially young children whose brains are developing – are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures.”

Infographic: What does organic really mean? Oct-25-12 New Hope 360
Explanation of organic: what it means for produce and livestock; how to decipher the variations of the organic label; and when farmland can be called organic.

Proposition 37 defeated – labeling GM foods Nov-9-12 Food Politics
California voted against Proposition 37, which would have required labeling on raw or processed food offered for sale to consumers if the food is made from plants or animals with genetic material changed in specified ways. There was heavy advertising against the measure funded by the GMO seed/agrichemical industry and the food-processing/junk-food industries.

Allergies – Menu testing; Meat allergy

Don’t let these allergy and asthma triggers ruin your child’s Halloween Oct-26-12 Consumer Reports
Eggs, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts are common ingredients in chocolate and other confections. Pumpkin allergies, while rare, can cause itching, chest tightness, and other symptoms, and they can appear suddenly, even if there has never been a problem before.

Menu testing services now offered for allergen-friendly meals Nov-9-12 Fast Casual
Food expert Lara Holland has developed a restaurant training program to help identify menu flaws as operators try to attract consumers with food allergies. Holland works directly with restaurants — from single locations to national chains — to help them better cater to the estimated 12 million Americans suffering from food allergies.

Meat allergy from ticks Nov-9-12 HuffPost food
People who live in the southern and central areas of the United States may face a higher risk of meat allergy (alpha-gal) linked to lone-star tick bites than people in other parts of the country.

Diets, weight loss, and health – Mediterranean diet, cognitive impairment

Mediterranean diet more effective than low fat or low carb Oct-3-12 LA Times
Moderately obese people who ate the Mediterranean diet lost more weight than groups of people who followed either a low-fat or a low-carbohydrate diet, researchers reported.

Lower carbohydrate and lower sugar diet reduces the risk of cognitive impairment Oct-23-12 PR Newswire
People 70 and older who eat food high in carbohydrates have nearly four times the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, and the danger also rises with a diet heavy in sugar. People who consume more protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to become cognitively impaired.

Ethics – Gestation crate promises

Dunkin’ Donuts to use cage-free eggs, no gestation crates Sep-26-12 Nation’s Restaurant News
Dunkin’ Donuts, the beverage-snack chain, said it will begin transitioning to cage-free eggs nationwide while requiring its pork suppliers to phase out pig-breeding cages called gestation crates as part of its corporate social responsibility commitment. It expects that 5% of its eggs used in its breakfast sandwiches will come from cage-free chickens by the end of 2013.

Bruegger’s moves to eliminate pork gestation crates Oct-4-12 QSR
Bruegger’s Bagels announced it will eliminate gestation crates—cages used to confine breeding pigs—from its pork supply chain, becoming the latest in a growing list of major food companies to address this issue.

Target moving away from gestation crates, other progress Oct-26-12 Progressive Grocer
Target Inc. has pledged to work with its pork vendors toward the elimination of sow gestation crates by 2022. Costco, Safeway and Kroger are among retailers on board against the use of gestation crates, which keep sows confined during their four-month pregnancy. Pork producers Smithfield and Hormel have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities by 2017, and Cargill is already 50 percent crate-free.

Other – Clean label, antibiotic-free, caffeine toxicity

Kroger’s new private label seeks to provide customers with ‘simple’ food Sep-24-12 Retailing Today
Kroger has introduced a new private-label brand, Simple Truth – the nearly 250 products are free from 101 artificial preservatives and ingredients that some customers have said they do not want in their foods, while the Simple Truth Organic line is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Trader Joe’s petitioned to sell only antibiotic-free meat Sep-27-12 Supermarket News
Consumers Union delivered more than 500,000 signatures to a Trader Joe’s unit in Manhattan as part of its recently launched Meat Without Drugs campaign. They called on the retailer to stop selling meat from animals raised on antibiotics.

Red Lobster adds non-seafood dishes Oct-1-12 Seattle PI
The chain is hoping to broaden its appeal by revamping its  to boost the number of dishes that cater to diners who don’t want seafood, including lighter options such as salads. Red Lobster also is increasing the number of dishes that cost less than $15 to attract customers who have cut back on spending.

Saturated fat and refined sugar may fuel overconsumption Oct-1-12 Science Daily
Diets that lead to obesity — diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar — may cause changes to the brains of obese people that in turn may fuel overconsumption of those same foods and make weight loss more challenging.

Lower-calorie dishes from Olive Garden Oct-5-12 Food Business News
Olive Garden has added a “Lighter Italian Fare” menu, which features five entrees containing less than 575 calories each. The new menu is part of the company’s efforts to attract new customers.

RedBrick Pizza voluntarily limits fountain drink sizes Oct-8-12 Pizza Marketplace
California-based RedBrick Pizza co-founders Lynn and Jim Minidis have announced that the chain will limit serving sizes to 16-ounce cups on all fountain drinks served in its RBP cafes. “Serving ‘super-sized’ soft drinks can result in excessive sugar consumption which contributes to diabetes, obesity, hypertension, premature aging and heart disease.”

General Mills, ConAgra: Processed food is not the enemy Oct-10-12 Food Navigator
Telling consumers – many of whom do not have the time, inclination or money to prepare meals from scratch – that they should steer clear of ‘processed’ foods and eat only ‘wholefoods’ instead, is unrealistic and unhelpful, according to dietitians at General Mills and ConAgra.

Red meat health concerns drive UK meat-free market Oct-12-12 Food Navigator
Health concerns about the consumption of red meat are the top driver for a booming meat-free market in the UK, which has grown 20% over the past five years, according to market research organisation Mintel. About 15% of British people avoid red meat, about 6% describe themselves as vegetarian, and 2% avoid meat due to an allergy or intolerance.

Is celiac disease related to timing of gluten exposure in infants? Oct-15-12 Medscape (free registration required)
In order to lower the risk of celiac disease, the best time to introduce gluten to a breastfeeding infant’s diet may be between the ages of four and six months, according to a new systematic review of published reports.

Grass-fed term not strictly regulated Oct-19-12 New Hope 360
In addition to being lower in total overall fat, when compared to feed-lot beef, grass-fed is lower in “bad” fat (including saturated fat) and delivers two to six times more omega-3 fatty acids. The USDA and AGA (American Grassfed Beef Association) have certifications, but the term is largely unregulated.

All UK supermarkets to adopt ‘traffic-light labelling’ for nutrition Oct-23-12 The Guardian
All major supermarkets will finally adopt a version of “traffic-light labelling” to help end confusion about which are the healthiest and unhealthiest foods, the government announced.

Energy drinks linked to cases of caffeine toxicity Oct-25-12 Consumer Reports
Research suggests that more than 13,000 people a year visit U.S. emergency rooms because of symptoms associated with energy drinks, and thousands more call regional poison control centers.

Walmart to expand use of sustainability index to 100 more product categories Oct-25-12 Food Navigator USA
Walmart will expand the use of an index enabling buyers to evaluate the sustainability of products to cover 200 product categories by the end of this year, bosses have revealed. Beginning in 2013,Walmart will also use the Sustainability Index to influence the design of its U.S. private brand products.

Experts reiterate call for calorie count reform Oct-25-12 Food Navigator USA
Caloric values – particularly for nuts and legumes – should be re-evaluated in light of recent studies suggesting commonly used calorie estimates based on the Atwater system may be flawed, according to a panel of experts at SIAL in Paris.

Higher dairy intake lowers semen quality – Harvard study Oct-26-12 Food Navigator USA
Young men with a high daily intake of full-fat dairy may be risking their chance of having children, US researchers have claimed.

Kroger chain no longer selling sprouts Oct-26-12 NPR
Big grocery chain Kroger says that it’s banishing sprouts from its 2,425 stores because they pose too big a food safety risk.

Major chefs taking a stand against seafood fraud Oct-26-12 LA Times
More than 500 restaurant owners, culinary industry leaders and chefs signed a petition posted by conservation advocacy group Oceana. The letter asks the U.S. government to prevent unapproved fish from reaching the American market by mandating tracing programs.

Can eating more vegetables make you happy? Oct-29-12 Rodale
Economists from Dartmouth University and England have stumbled onto findings that suggest that eating more vegetables and fruits could boost your happiness.

UK charity urges government to ban BPA in food and drinks packaging Oct-31-12 Food Production Daily
A UK breast cancer charity has launched a petition urging the country’s government to ‘take the lead’ and ban bisphenol A (BPA) and endocrine disrupting chemicals in food and drink packaging.

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