Friday Food News

Hello Friday. TGIF.  Another end of the week, another seven days full of food news.  Here’s what I’ve been reading.  How about you?

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NEW FDA RULES FOR GLUTEN-FREE
via FDAUSA Today,  LA Times


New federal rules defining the use of the term “gluten free” on packaged foods took effect on August 5.  The FDA regulations  are intended to help the 3 million Americans — a little less than 1% of the population — who have celiac disease. “This standard ‘gluten-free’ definition will eliminate uncertainty about how food producers label their products and will assure people with celiac disease that foods labeled ‘gluten-free’ meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA,” said  Felicia Billingslea, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.  Now, a packaged food labeled gluten free (or similar claims such as “free of gluten”) cannot contain more than 20 parts per million of gluten. Keep in mind, this is only for packaged food on the shelf (not meat and poultry that’s regulated by USDA) and the use of the gluten-free label is voluntary; there’s no requirement for foods containing gluten to declare that on the label.

THE GMO FIGHT RIPPLES DOWN THE FOOD CHAIN
via Wall Street Journal

Reporter Annie Gasparro has written an extensive article on the biotechnology debate, including consumer skepticism and industry response. Two decades after the first genetically engineered seeds were sold commercially in the U.S., genetically modified organisms—the crops grown from such seeds—are the norm in the American diet, used to make ingredients in about 80% of packaged food, according to industry estimates.  Now an intensifying campaign, spearheaded by consumer and environmental advocacy groups like Green America, is causing a small but growing number of mainstream food makers to jettison genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.  “Non-GMO” is one of the fastest-growing label trends on U.S. food packages, with sales of such items growing 28% last year to about $3 billion, according to market-research firm Nielsen. In a poll of nearly 1,200 U.S. consumers for The Wall Street Journal, Nielsen found that 61% of consumers had heard of GMOs and nearly half of those people said they avoid eating them. The biggest reason was because it “doesn’t sound like something I should eat.”

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LOW VITAMIN D LINKED TO DEMENTIA AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
via Time HealthDay News

A new study published online at Neurology linked low vitamin D levels with a higher risk of dementia. The international team of researchers spent six years looking at 1,658 Americans, aged 65 or older, who at the start of the study had not suffered from dementia, cardiovascular disease or a stroke.  The team found that adults who were moderately deficient in vitamin D were 53% more likely to develop a form of dementia; those with a severe deficiency were 125% more likely to be stricken with the disease.

14232013504_3b94b9faf6_zSLIM BY DESIGN REGISTRY
via Brian Wansink

Brian Wansink and his colleagues at Cornell have launched a Slim by Design Registry to track people who are slim and have found ways to stay slim.  I tweeted about this yesterday and it caused a ruckus — some people thought it was offensive and sneaky to “trick” your family into being slim.  Dr. Wansink says it’s simply about habits that promote a healthy weight — like the illustration above.   What do you think?  Here’s a description:

The purpose of this Registry is to discover and to share these secrets in a way that can help slim people stay slim, help their family become slim, and can help the rest of us to slim down by learning some of the secrets and rules of thumb they’ve come to adopt over the years.There are huge numbers of slim people. But here’s what’s interesting: If you ask slim people what makes them slim by design, they can’t tell you. Their Slim by Design habits have become so natural, they don’t even realize that they scout out the buffet before they pick up a plate or that they serve food from the stove instead of putting it on the table “family style.”

A number of years ago, researchers founded a National Registry called the National Weight Loss Registry. The concept was simple. If you had lost 30 lbs and kept it off for 3 years, you could join the Registry. It gave hundreds of thousands of people insights into how to take weight off and keep it off. But there’s something important that’s missing – there are huge numbers of people who are skinny and don’t really seem to try. Correction: they seem to have simple rules of thumb, principles, or benchmarks that lead them to take less, order less, or eat less.

Here’s Dr. Wansink explaining the new Registry:

MENU DESIGN CAN ENCOURAGE DINERS TO MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES
via The Atlantic online
Lots going on with Brian Wansink.  In another study, he says a simple redesign of menus can encourage diners to choose healthier dishes. Use graphics, colors and creative fonts to highlight vegetable and whole grain dishes and put items at the top and bottom of columns to boost sales.

WE EAT ALONE HALF THE TIME, SAYS NPD GROUP
via Food Navigator    The Wall Street Journal

Do you frequently eat by yourself?  You’re not alone. Or, I guess you are alone.  More than half of all eating and drinking occasions now occur when people are alone, according to the market research firm The NPD Group.  U.S. consumers eat breakfast alone 60% of the time and dine on a solitary lunch 55% of the time.  Much of this is due to busy schedules and more people living alone (highest level of single-person households in U.S. history), but NPD says we’re also becoming more individualized in our consumption behavior.

SURVEY: ALMOST EVERYONE SNACKS DAILY
via Bloomberg Businessweek

A Nielsen study finds that 91% of people are daily snackers, and that 17% are snacking more this year than last. It’s a matter of differences between the sexes, too: Women prefer chocolate, candy or cookies, while men are more likely to go for chips or pretzels.

CRONUT CREATOR COLLABORATES WITH FASHION DESIGNER TO LAUNCH NEW FROZEN TREAT
via New York Post

Dominique Ansel, the pastry chef responsible for the Cronut, shifted attention to frozen desserts with his latest creation, “Pop It! Ice Cream Sundae in a Can.” The ice cream treat is a collaboration with fashion designer Lisa Perry and will be sold from a food truck in East Hampton, N.Y. on Saturday while supplies last.

GRANDSON OF DORITOS INVENTOR SETS SIGHTS ON HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE EATERIES
via NPR

Grandson of the inventor of Doritos and CIA graduate Tim West wants to shed his snack food past and pave the way for healthy, affordable fare in the heart of San Francisco. West recently operated a pop-up beans-and-veggie restaurant called Cool Beans and plans to open a permanent sustainable, health-focused restaurant by the end of the year.

AN APP TO HELP STOP FOOD WASTE
via NPR

The U.S. wastes 40% of its food which costs America’s economy an estimated $165 billion a year. New York-based app developer PareUp aims to help reduce this number by letting users connect with restaurants and grocery stores to buy excess product before it’s thrown out. Using the app’s platform, food retailers can showcase inventory and indicate excess items together with a discounted price and time when they’ll be ready for sale. People using PareUp can then call dibs and get up to 50% off items for sale. The app’s online marketplace is set to launch in early August and the mobile app will be available on Apple Store by mid-September.

FRESHDIRECT AND FOODILY TEAM UP TO DELIVER RECIPE INGREDIENTS
via Crain’s New York

FreshDirect and Foodily unveiled a new recipe-delivery service called Popcart that will let shoppers order ingredients from specific recipes. “What we really aim to do with this is to deliver a completely new experience for consumers, where they can move from a recipe that inspires them to the actual ingredients to make it in a 24-hour period,” Foodily CEO Andrea Cutright said.

 

Images: crackers by Anant Nath Sharma, milk by Rubert Ganzer, family rituals by Brian Wansink

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