What’s in the news about food choices
- Fish guidelines for pregnant women may be too strict, as most mercury consumption is from other sources.
- McDonald’s to serve more fruits, vegetables – for children they’ll have more options for Happy Meals and will stop offering soda as the main drink option.
- Food allergies cost U.S. $25 billion a year – $4,180 per child per year for medical care, purchasing allergy-free foods, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
- A small but increasing number of restaurants are catering to paleo diets.
- Obesity’s death toll could be higher than believed, with about 18% of premature deaths in the USA associated with excess body mass.
- People misread ‘use by’ label – about 40% of food in the USA is thrown out; misinterpreted date labels cause the average American household of 4 to lose as much as $455 a year on squandered food.
Here are links and summaries for recent news and opinion about food choices.
Meat, poultry, and fish – natural feed, eating fish during pregnancy, and more
Chicken and eggs featured more on menus Sep-13-13 Fast Casual
Chicken is the “protein of the moment” as evidenced by its menu growth from 2009-2012. In that time, poultry listings increased 12 percent. The popularity of eggs is influenced by their protein content, versatility, cost efficiency, ethnic compatibility and comfort image. Eggs are appearing across dayparts.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria: in the meat we eat? Sep-16-13 The Food Journal
Bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics when the bacteria are exposed to them. Some scientists worry the exposures in animals and in the meat we eat might hasten resistance development in humans. Our food sources need to continue to be protected, and consumers have the right to know how to protect themselves.
A&W eliminates steroids, hormones and medicated feed from beef production Sep-24-13 Vancouver Sun
Canada’s second-largest burger chain is now serving beef raised without steroids, hormones or medicated feed additives.
Fish guidelines for pregnant women may be too strict Oct-2-13 NPR The Salt
Researchers concluded that 103 foods analyzed contributed about 17% of differences in mercury levels seen across women in a study. The seafood items examined — white fish, oily fish and shellfish — were the biggest dietary contributors to the variation. But herbal teas, alcohol, white rice and fresh fruit were also associated with higher levels of blood mercury. Since diet is only one source of mercury — it’s also found in some beauty products and medications, as well as in water and air — pregnant women can only do so much to limit their exposure.
Lots of grass-fed beef sold in U.S. comes from Australia Oct-3-13 NPR The Salt
Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn’t traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality. Australian grass-fed beef is 75 cents or a dollar cheaper per pound than US grass-fed beef. There’s also a lot of grass-fed beef coming in from Uruguay and Brazil. American grass-fed operations are trying to get more efficient, and many are growing in size.
Vegetables and fruit – kids, seasonal
Kids eating more fruits & vegetables, drinking less soda Sep-16-13 Food Produce Design
Between 2001 and 2009, U.S. adolescents increased physical activity, ate more fruits and vegetables, ate breakfast more, watched less TV, which has been linked to obesity in youth, and ate fewer sweets, according to a study published in Pediatrics.
McDonald’s to serve more fruits, vegetables Sep-27-13 Nation’s Restaurant News
McDonald’s Corp. announced at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative a new commitment to serve more vegetables and fruits in most of its major markets by expanding options in its meals for adults and children. For Happy Meals, they will not promote soda and will market only water, milk and juice as the beverage option. See also USA Today article – McDonalds revealed they plan to begin offering side salads as substitutes for french fries in its value meals — at no additional cost — in the U.S market in 2014.
Robeks adds seasonal juices Oct-8-13 FastCasual
Smoothie and juice franchise Robeks is taking its cues from the harvest schedule as it rolls out four fresh seasonal menu items for fall. The company’s more than 100 locations will feature new fresh-squeezed, raw juices and a raw smoothie that use grapes and kiwi. Both fruits are in season, so they are at their peak in terms of both flavor and nutrition, said CEO Steve Davidson.
Food allergies – cost, allergies overview
Food allergies cost U.S. $25 billion a year Sep-17-13 CBS News
Researchers report in JAMA Pediatrics that the U.S. health care system and families are hit with a heavy tab when it comes to medical care, purchasing allergy-free foods and other out-of-pocket expenses for children with food allergies. The researchers calculated about $4,180 in costs per child each year.
Food allergies Oct-14-13 The Food Journal
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) estimates 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. It is questionable if consumers discern the difference, though, between what is an actual food allergy (the big eight are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy), versus a food sensitivity or food intolerance.
Diet plans – paleo, diet comparison
Paleo dishes on restaurant menus Oct-15-13 Washington Post Express
A small but increasing number of restaurants are catering to paleo diets, as eaters want to know where their food is coming from and want to eliminate processed foods.
Popular diet plans have pros and cons that should be weighed Oct-7-13 Washington Post
Consumer Reports compares 5 diets: DASH, Mediterranean, paleo, vegetarian, volumetrics
Other – obesity death toll, understanding “use by” label, and more
Obesity’s death toll could be higher than believed Aug-15-13 Los Angeles Times
Some 18.2% of premature deaths in the United States between 1986 and 2006 were associated with excess body mass, according to a study published online in the American Journal of Public Health, is far higher than the 5% toll widely cited by researchers.
CSPI diet report card Sep-2013 Nutrition Action Newsletter / The Center for Science in the Public Interest
Fruits and vegetables have barely budged, the cheese craze shows no signs of slowing down, and we’re eating 450 calories more per day than we did in 1970. But we’re cutting back on sugars, shortening, beef, whole milk, and white flour. And we’re eating more chicken and yogurt.
Gut microbes and diet interact to affect obesity Sep-16-13 NIH Research Matters
Gut microbes from lean people helped prevent mice from becoming obese—but only if the animals ate a healthy diet. This research could point the way to new treatments for obesity.
Food waste: People misread ‘use by’ label; 40% of U.S. food is tossed Sep-18-13 Los Angeles Times
Many consumers read an item’s sell-by date as an indicator of when the food will spoil. But it’s an inaccurate assumption, according to a study. Not even the common “best before” and “use by” labels indicate a deadline after which products go bad, according to researchers. Instead, they are producer estimates of how long the food will be at peak quality. Misinterpreted date labels cause the average American household of four to lose as much as $455 a year on squandered food.
Burger King debuts low-calorie French fries Sep-24-13 QSR
Burger King introduced “Satisfries,” which contain 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than traditional fries, and 25% less fat and 20% fewer calories than standard Burger King fries, which remain on the menu.
General Mills to sustainably source 10 priority ingredients by 2020 Sep-26-13 Convenience Store Decisions
General Mills announced a commitment to sustainably source 100% of its 10 priority ingredients by 2020. These ingredients represent 50% of General Mills’ total raw material purchases. The commitment covers a broad range of raw materials including oats, wheat, corn, dairy, fiber packaging, cocoa, vanilla, palm oil, sugar cane and sugar beets.
Poor prenatal diet linked to kids’ behavioral problems 10/7/13 Medscape
Dietary patterns during pregnancy and in the first 5 years of life have important effects on children’s mental health, results from a large Norwegian cohort study suggest. Children who ate more unhealthy foods, defined in the study as chips, buns, cakes, waffles, chocolate, cookies, sweets, soda, ice cream, popsicles, bread with jam or honey, pizza, and soda with artificial sweeteners, had higher levels of internalizing behaviors such as worry, sadness, crying, and anxiety, as well as externalizing behaviors, including aggression, tantrums, hyperactivity, and defiant behavior.