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Organic trending down, Diet is a dirty word – news to May 11, 2014

Food choices in the newsWhat’s in the news about food choices

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

Organic/non-GMO – effective or not?, on fewer menus; Walmart

USDA says pesticide data show no food safety concerns Mar-10-14 Food Safety News
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently posted the latest data from the Pesticide Data Program (PDP) annual summary and, as in previous years, the agency found that, “U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.”

Smart Balance switches to non-GMO Mar-4-14 NewHope 360
The popular buttery spread is another conventional brand that plans to go non-GMO, parent company Boulder Brands Inc. announced Monday. Consumers are demanding transparency in their food ingredients, and that is leading to a growing demand for non-GMO products. The company also hopes that going non-GMO will enhance customer trust.

Eating organic food doesn’t lower your overall risk of cancer, study says Mar-28-14 Medical Xpress
Women who always or mostly eat organic foods have the same likelihood of developing cancer as women who eat conventionally produced foods, according to an Oxford University study.

‘Organic’ down, ‘gluten-free’ up on menus Apr-10-14 Food Business News
“Organic” claims have declined on restaurant menus, while such terms as “gluten-free,” “made from scratch” and “signature” grew between the fourth quarter of 2010 to 2013, according to Mintel.

Walmart to sell organic food, undercutting big brands Apr-10-14 The New York Times
“We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,” said Jack L. Sinclair, executive vice president of Walmart U.S.’s grocery division. The Wild Oats organic products will be priced the same as similar nonorganic brand-name goods. At Walmart, internal company research found that 91% of customers said they would buy “affordable” organic products if they were available, executives said.

The organic food industry has been engaged in a ‘multi-decade public disinformation campaign’, claims report Apr-21-14 Food Navigator USA
Consumers have spent years paying over the odds for organic foods based on the erroneous belief – promulgated by stakeholders with a vested interest – that they are healthier and safer than their conventional counterparts, claims a controversial new report.

More people shop for ‘non-GMO’ than ‘organic’ Apr-23-14 NewHope360
More people (19%) seek “non-GMO” on food labels than “organic” (16%) even though nearly a quarter of people admit confusion about what GMOs actually are.

Diets – word going out of fashion, no such thing as “best” diet

Diet is becoming a dirty word, consumer prefer health and wellness Jan-23-14 Food Navigator US
According to a Leatherhead report, which looks into the big trends of 2014, consumers associate talk of dieting with failed weight loss attempts. Companies are responding to this by marking products as more mainstream, ‘healthy’ choices.

Nutritionists, dietitians gain favor Feb-11-14 Supermarket Guru
About 1 in 7 consumers (16.4%) say they would learn about nutrition issues on a regular basis from nutritionists and dietitians. Nearly one-third of consumers would pay for their services – specifically for: “guidance towards my individual wellness goals”; “best foods for my specific health condition”; and “weight loss guidance”.  28.4% of consumers (down from last year’s 31.0%) say they trust online the most.

Yale experts question claims of “best” diet Apr-17-14 Food Navigator
From the benefits of gluten-free to those of Mediterranean and Paleolithic diets, many claims that one dietary strategy are better than another for health and weight loss are simply ‘unjustified’ and ‘sometimes utter nonsense’, according to a new review.

Fruit & veggies – eating more

New farm bill encourages fruit & vegetables, local, organic farming Mar-8-14 New York Times
Within the bill is a significant shift in the types of farmers who are now benefiting from taxpayer dollars, reflecting a decade of changing eating habits and cultural dispositions among American consumers. Organic farmers, fruit growers and hemp producers all did well in the new bill, and there is an emphasis on locally grown, healthful foods.

Time for ten-a-day? UK scientists formulate compelling argument to extend ‘five a day’ message 3-Apr-14 Food Navigator
Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day is not enough to ward off killer diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease, warn researchers.

Food industry’s effort to make vegetables more attractive Apr-29-14 New York Times
Making them cute, convenient, compelling, ready to add to other foods, stealth vegetables

Fat – good and bad

Study questions fat and heart disease link Mar-17-14 New York Times
Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events. The new findings are part of a growing body of research that has challenged the accepted wisdom that saturated fat is inherently bad for you and will continue the debate about what foods are best to eat.

Genes tied to obesity risk from fried foods Mar-24-14 Food Product Design
Eating fried foods may affect people differently depending on their genetic makeup, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal. Those with a genetic predisposition toward obesity run a higher risk of gaining excess weight and developing obesity-related chronic diseases compared to people at a lower genetic risk.

Dieters are ditching low-calorie products for ‘more filling’ versions Apr-10-14 Daily Mail UK
Dieters are veering away from low-calorie products because they find them ‘dissatisfying’, a new report claims. The Associated Press talked to industry experts who confirmed that brands including Diet Coke, Lean Cuisine and Special K are witnessing a sharp decline in sales as a result. The new thinking is that eating foods with more protein or fat will decrease the likelihood of binging later, even if they’re higher in calories.

Manufacturers and food chains making changes

Chick-fil-A: No more antibiotics in our chicken within next 5 years Feb-11-14 HuffPost Green
Chick-fil-A said it’s working with suppliers to build up an adequate supply for its nearly 1,800 restaurants. It is asking suppliers to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to verify that no antibiotics are administered on the chickens at any point. The use of antibiotics to fatten up farm animals and prevent disease has become a growing concern in recent years.

Kraft Singles cheese ditching artificial preservatives Feb-11-14 Food Product Design
In response to mounting consumer demand for clean labeling, Kraft Foods is removing artificial preservatives from its Kraft Singles full-fat American and White American varieties of individually wrapped cheese slices. The company debuted its new Kraft Singles with No Artificial Preservatives that replaces sorbic acid with the natural preservative natamycin.

National restaurant chains seeking alternatives to white flour and wheat Mar-10-14 Bloomberg
Panera, Au Bon Pain and Olive Garden are testing a range of grains and traditional-carbohydrate substitutes. Panera Bread Co. to introduce a sprouted-grain bagel made with rye, spelt and oat groats to its U.S. cafes in May.

Menus with low-calorie sections may backfire Apr-21-14 HuffPost Healthy Living
“Because most restaurant menus are quite complex — offering numerous dishes composed of multiple ingredients — diners try to simplify their decision. People have come to expect low-calorie food to taste bad or not fill them up,” study researchers said.

Juicing trend – in restaurants, supermarkets, and at home Apr-29-14 Food Business News
Consumers may order fresh-squeezed juices in restaurants, purchase cold-pressed varieties in supermarkets, and pulse store-bought produce at home – all with an eye to improving health. “Around half of juice drinkers consume it to increase their servings of fruits or vegetables as well as to improve their vitamin and/or mineral intake, and 24% of people who take vitamins, minerals, or supplements do so to compensate for poor eating habits,” said Jennifer Zegler, a consumer trends analyst with Mintel.

Other – food addicts, new labels, WIC package

Food addicts: New study measures out-of-control eating Jan-24-14 Today Health
Research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at food addiction among 134,000 middle-aged and older women, all of whom participated in the large-scale Nurses’ Health Study. Nearly 6% met the criteria for food addiction as established by the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which was developed in 2009 and validated in numerous trials.

Teachers avoiding food in the classroom due to food allergies Feb-19-14 Market Wired
A nationwide Horace Mann Educator Survey shows teachers are choosing to exclude food from the classroom to avoid issues with food allergies/intolerances. Nearly one-third of the teachers surveyed said they don’t allow food in the classroom.

FDA’s new food label Feb-27-14 Food Politics
Proposals include more prominent calorie counts; updating portion sizes to something more realistic; clarifying which nutrients are “avoid too much” and which are “get enough”; requiring listing “added sugars”; for packages that are likely to be eaten at one time having “dual column” labels to indicate both “per serving” and “per package” information; revising some Daily Values to reflect recent science; removing “calories from fat” (the kind of fat matters more than the amount).

Let’s Move! and USDA changes to WIC package Mar-3-14 Food Politics
The first such revisions since 1980 include: Increase the dollar amount for purchases of fruits and vegetables. Expand whole grain options. Allow for yogurt as a partial milk substitute. Allow parents of older infants to buy fresh produce instead of jarred infant food.  Give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility in meeting the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants. The “big news” is that white potatoes are excluded from the WIC food package.

AllergyEats releases 2014 list of most allergy-friendly restaurant chains Mar-6-14 Restaurant News
The chains on this list hold the highest ratings on AllergyEats’ website and smartphone app, per feedback from the food allergy community.  AllergyEats restaurant ratings are based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners, as opposed to other review sites that measure restaurants’ ambiance, service or food quality.

Gut bacteria may play role in Crohn’s Disease Mar-12-14 WebMD
Patients with Crohn’s have less diversity among their intestinal bacteria than healthy individuals. And certain types of harmful bacteria appear to be increased in Crohn’s patients, while the amounts of beneficial bacteria are decreased, a study found.

More than half of US adults say they want more protein in their diets Apr-3-14 Food Navigator USA
More than half of Americans say they want more protein in their diets, while the percentage that claim to look for protein on the Nutrition Facts panel has increased from 20% in 2009 to 25% in 2013, according to market researcher NPD Group.

GRAS under fire Apr-8-14 Food Business News
A report released April 7 by the Natural Resources Defense Council calls into question the adequacy of the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory exemption known as “Generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” that allows companies to determine if an ingredient poses a health risk. The GRAS process allows companies to declare as safe chemicals added to foods without any notification to the F.D.A. or the public, according to the report.

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