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Sugar Returns To Favor As Manufacturers And Consumers Avoid Corn-Syrup

March 20, 2009: 10:51 AM EST
After three decades in which high-fructose corn syrup had been gaining on sugar in the American diet, reaching level in 2003, the tide has turned. Department of Agriculture data shows that in 2007 American adults ate an average of 44 pounds of sugar in 2007, compared with 40 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup, and the trend looks set to continue in sugar's favor. Responding to consumer concerns, suppliers are switching to sugar, such as Log Cabin syrup, a 120-year-old brand from Pinnacle Foods Group, which announced earlier this month it had stopped using high-fructose corn syrup. The Corn Refiners Association argues consumers are being duped by misleading marketing claims and flawed science, but they face an uphill battle.
Kim Severson, "Sugar Is Back on Food Labels, This Time as a Selling Point", New York Times , March 20, 2009, © New York Times
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UK Probiotics Ramp up; More Products, Higher Sales

March 20, 2009: 05:38 AM EST
Probiotic and health food companies in the UK are intensifying their marketing while expanding the range of products. Some are even offering money back guarantees if consumers are not happy, with Müller UK and Danone leading the charge. According to Müller, the functional yogurts and yogurt drink markets have sales of $600 million, with yogurt drinks accounting for just over half. Warburtons is active in the bakery sector and Prestat is offering chocolate that is said to be high in antioxidants. Even Mars is selling a chocolate containing a high proportion of flavanols.
Gaelle Walker, "Health wise", Thegrocer.co.uk, March 20, 2009, © William Reed Business Media Ltd
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2008 Nutraceutical Drinks Sales Up 9% To 3.7 Billion Liters

March 18, 2009: 05:41 AM EST
The 2009 Global Nutraceutical Drinks report estimates that sales of nutraceutical drinks - which claim to deliver specific benefits such as beauty, weight management and stress relief - grew by 9% to reach 3.7bn liters in 2008. North America is the largest market, with 47% volume share, followed by Japan with 37%. The authors expect sales to reach 5.6bn liters by 2013. The report, prepared by Zenith International, highlights how innovation and growth has been boosted by the arrival of major beverage multinationals Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Danone and PepsiCo.
"GLOBAL: Nutraceutical sector on the rise in '08 - statistics", just-drinks.com, March 18, 2009, © just-drinks.com
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Research Sheds Light on How Low-GI Food Suppresses Appetite

March 18, 2009: 04:23 AM EST
Low-GI (glycemic index) foods are generally known to reduce appetite, but little was known about how this happens. Research undertaken at Kings College London and unveiled at the annual Society for Endocrinology BES meeting in the UK showed that low-GI (low glycemic index) food increases production of a gut hormone (GLP-1), which suppresses appetite and leads to a feeling of satiety. Researcher, Dr Reza Norouzy, said: “Our results show for the first time the direct effect of a single GI meal on gut hormone levels. We already know that the hormone GLP-1 and a low GI meal independently lead to suppression of appetite. This study builds on these findings by providing a physiological mechanism to explain how a low GI meal makes you feel fuller than a high GI meal.”
"Scientists Discover Why A Low GI Meal Makes You Feel Full", ScienceDaily, March 18, 2009, © ScienceDaily LLC
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Toronto Researchers Show Link Between Gut Health and Stress

March 18, 2009: 05:01 AM EST
Preliminary research carried out by a Toronto-based research team suggests that particular strains of probiotics may help to reduce stress and anxiety in people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. The study found that anxiety symptoms in subjects taking Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS, Yakult Honsha, Tokyo, Japan) were lower than in a control group. The study was funded by Yakult Honsha. Other studies have reported changes in intestinal microflora of CFS patients, with lower levels of Bifidobacteria and higher levels of aerobic bacteria.
A Venket Rao et al, "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome", Gut Pathogens , March 18, 2009, © Rao et al licensed to BioMed Central Ltd
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Parents and Children Seeking Out Healthier Snacks

March 16, 2009: 10:46 AM EST
Parents and children are making their snack consumption choices healthier. A survey by Mintel International found that children and teens are sensitive to healthy eating messages and are choosing foods with healthful ingredients, with over a third saying they try to eat foods rich in vitamins and nutrients, 25% said they sought out foods low in fat and 22% look for foods low in sugar. Separate research by The Hartman Group indicates that consumers look for snacks with high fiber, whole fruits and less sugar.
"Snack sales healthy at drug, healthy snacks even stronger", Drug Store News, March 16, 2009, © Drug Store News
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UK Government Scrapes Home on Watchdog’s Scorecard

March 11, 2009: 09:27 PM EST
UK consumer magazine Which? has given the government and private sector a rating of about 55 percent on 12 demands it made in 2004 to encourage families to eat healthier food. The demands covered a range of issues, from prioritizing nutrition policy, restricting television advertising, reducing fat, sugar and salt in foods, and launching “a hard-hitting, innovative government campaign to change eating habits”. In a second report, the magazine says that families are making “unhealthier” food choices as the recession bites. It says that 60 percent of adults in the UK say they would buy more fruit and vegetables if they were cheaper, while 56 percent said that price “is now more important” in their food choices. Three-quarters said they thought the government could do more to promote healthy eating, despite the “Change for Life” initiative.
Ed Kemp, "Which? calls on government to give families incentives to eat healthily", marketingmagazine.co.uk, March 11, 2009, © Haymarket
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Study Sheds Light on Compulsion to Sprinkle Salt on Chips

March 12, 2009: 05:16 AM EST
Salt in the diet may have “drug-like” qualities, says Professor Kim Johnson at the University of Iowa. Working with rats, he found that eating salt put them in a better mood, and sparked cravings similar to drug addiction. Salt is essential to help fluids pass through the body, but too much can be bad news, contributing to raised blood pressure, heart disease and other ailments. Not getting enough salt, on the other hand, may cause depression. Prof Johnson’s study found that changes in the rats’ brain activity when they were denied salt were the same as when they were denied drugs.
Jon Swaine, "Salt 'may be drug-like mood enhancer', says study", Telegraph.co.uk, March 12, 2009, © Telegraph Media Group
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UK Recession is Discouraging Healthy Eating, Says Which?

March 11, 2009: 05:49 AM EST
A study by UK consumer group Which? found that the recession has persuaded many Britons to abandon healthy eating in order to focus on price. 76% of respondents believed the government ought to make it easier for consumers to choose healthier food. Which? is urging manufacturers and retailers to promote healthy options and make it easier for consumers to identify healthy foods. The British Retail Consortium countered by saying that the report instead undermined healthy eating, claiming that retailers have been in the vanguard of promoting healthy eating, and added that the UK Food Standards Agency's 'Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey' found no "significant" link between diet and income. BRC says that retailers have promoted fresh produce and also re-formulated products to reduce salt and remove fats, for example, and are working with the government on initiatives like the '5-a-day' fruit and vegetable campaign.
"UK: Credit crunch “hitting waistlines” - Which?", just-food.com, March 11, 2009
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Scientists Question The Basis Of "Superfruit" and "Superfoods"

March 11, 2009: 01:05 AM EST
In recent years pomegranates, blueberries, goji berries and açaí have been termed superfruit, standing out for high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. But some scientists are scornful, seeing the terms 'superfruit' and 'superfood' as marketing inventions with little meaning. For instance, Stephen T. Talcott, associate professor of food chemistry at Texas A&M University said "Superfruit is a marketing term; most scientists don’t use it", pointing out that all fruits "have nutrients and photochemicals that give you energy."
Abby Ellin, "Food Claims Raise Questions", The New York times, March 11, 2009, © The New York times
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Acai No Longer Flavor of the Month

March 11, 2009: 01:13 AM EST
Debate over the benefits of acai products is heating up, with both scientists and consumers lining up on both sides of the “is it good for you?” argument. Several celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Rachel Ray, have distanced themselves from health claims, and even the maker of a successful range of products containing acai, Dr. Nicholas Perricone, “is looking into claims made by companies using his image to market products he does not endorse”. Stephen T. Talcott, associate professor of food chemistry at Texas A&M University, says there is no scientific research to support claims that acai contributes to weight loss. Two studies published in the September 2008 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry indicated that the antioxidants found in acai berries were absorbed by the body, but were not large enough to prove health benefits. Consumers are complaining about being ripped off by online free trial offers, saying they’re being charged for the products even after they canceled the trial, and some say they didn’t lose weight while taking the product. The Center for Science in the Public interest is advising people not to take part in online "free trials" of acai, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says he will begin investigations into the complaints.
ABBY ELLIN, "Pressing Açaí for Answers", The New York Times, March 11, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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High Salt Levels Inhibit Blood Flow Mechanisms

March 11, 2009: 03:28 AM EST
A new joint US-Chinese study provides the first direct evidence that high salt intake is linked to high blood pressure (hypertension). Research from the University of Kentucky Medical School and Taishan Medical College, showed that high salt levels in the blood could “significantly” suppress the action of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), an enzyme linked to maintaining healthy blood flow. NOS produces nitric oxide, which enables muscles around blood vessels to relax, boosting blood flow and reducing blood pressure. The study “clearly indicates the importance of lowing salt intake,” says lead author Xiang-An Li, an assistant professor at the Kentucky Pediatric Research Institute. Sodium is necessary to healthy bodily function, as are other metal ions, including potassium, magnesium and calcium. Dr Li says it would be interesting to find out if these ions also inhibit NOS action.
Stephen Daniells, "Scientists lift the lid on salt’s hypertensive power", Food Navigator, March 11, 2009, © Decision News Media SAS
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Salt-Loving Americans Put Own Lives at Risk

March 11, 2009: 05:18 AM EST
Americans eat about twice as much salt per day as they should, and cutting it by about 10 percent would dramatically reduce the number of deaths and cases of heart disease, says researcher Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. Using a computer model, her team of researchers found that cutting one gram of salt a day form the average American diet would result in 250,000 fewer new cases of heart disease and more than 200,000 fewer deaths over a decade. Many health organizations recommend intake of no more than 5 or 6 grams a day. The average American eats 9 to 16 grams, 50 percent more than in the 1970s. Processed food is the big culprit in the high intake – comparatively small amounts of salt are added at the table or when people cook their own food, says Bibbins-Domingo. The food industry could achieve huge health results with virtually undetectable cuts in salt levels in their products, either by regulation or voluntarily, she says.
Steven Reinberg, "Slight Cut in Salt Intake Would Mean Fewer Heart Attacks, Deaths", HealthDay, March 11, 2009, © ScoutNews
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Appropriations Bill Includes Disputed Measure on Food Advertising

March 11, 2009: 01:08 AM EST
A wide-ranging appropriations bill signed by US President Barack Obama March 11 includes provisions for a government study on whether or not it should set standards for marketing foods to children under 18. The study’s two co-sponsors, however, are at odds over the age set in the measure. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., says the study should be limited to children under 12. A spokeswoman for Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, indicated that he was happy with the 17-year age limit. A target of July 15, 2010 has been set for completion of the study. The proposal has been welcomed by the the Center for Science in the Public Interest, but the advertising industry, food manufacturers and food industry associations have expressed concerns about it. Many already support a voluntary scheme to limit advertising to children under 12.
Ira Teinowitz, "FTC Could Set Standards for Food Marketing Aimed at Teens", AdAge.com, March 11, 2009, © Crain Communication
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Spice Brand Schwartz Seeks to Highlight Healthy Benefits

March 10, 2009: 05:44 AM EST
Schwartz, the McCormick-owned dominant spice brand in the UK, is shifting its marketing approach to emphasize the health and nutritional benefits of its herbs and spices. Its new print, digital and PR campaign - 'The Secrets of Spices' - includes a microsite and stresses the antioxidant properties of its products and how its herbs and spices can be used as part of a healthy balanced diet. The campaign is built around ten popular flavorings with specific information on each one, for instance, how cinnamon can stimulate the respiratory and circulatory systems, while basil can act as a relaxant.
Alex Brownsell, "Schwartz to push healthy benefits", Marketing, March 10, 2009, © Haymarket
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Chinese Studies Boosts Hopes for Salt Substitutes

March 9, 2009: 03:55 AM EST
A new Chinese study backs the belief that salt can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study, by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, and Ningxia Medical College, showed that a lower-sodium salt substitute improved peripheral and central systolic blood pressure and reduced central pulse pressure, but did not benefit diastolic blood pressure. Arterial health markers also improved. The researchers used a blend of 65 percent sodium chloride, 25 percent potassium chloride, and 10 percent magnesium sulfate in place of 100 percent sodium chloride in their trials. The study is seen to boost support for the salt replacer market, which is gathering momentum as concerns rise over the role of salt in cardiovascular disease. Earlier this year a Harvard Medical School study suggested that risk of heart disease was 24 percent higher in people with higher salt intakes.
Stephen Daniells, "Salt replacers improve heart health: Study", AP-Foodtechnology.com, March 09, 2009, © Decision News Media SAS
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Aging Population Turns To Supplements To Maintain Eye Health

March 9, 2009: 05:30 AM EST
In a preventative strategy, aging consumers are using supplements to enhance their nutrition intake to avoid some diseases. High on the list of concerns is eye health, which Frost & Sullivan claim has become a primary concern for the food industry. In a new report, European Eye Health Ingredients Market, Frost & Sullivan estimate that the market had sales of $43.4 million in 2007 and estimates this will reach $87.4 million in 2014. Consumers are concerned about eye-diseases such as glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and childhood blindness and have been using products high in antioxidants, notably lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and bilberry.
Frost & Sullivan, "Frost & Sullivan: Ageing Population and Availability of Preventative Medicines Propels Growth of European Eye Health Ingredients Market", March 09, 2009, © Frost & Sullivan
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Quaker Oats Lines Under One Marketing Umbrella

March 9, 2009: 07:55 AM EST
Quaker Oats’ suite of breakfast and snack products is being rebranded under one communications umbrella, with the tagline “go humans go”. Quaker owner PepsiCo wants to stress the health-giving qualities of the company’s key ingredient – wholegrain oats. The marketing and advertising campaign employs television, print, online and “out-of-home extension advertising” to promote the message that Quaker oats "help power the bodies and minds of humans and inspires people to be their best". Television ads began screening in prime time slots and cable channels on March 16, with print ads scheduled to begin this month (April).
"PepsiCo rebrands Quaker", just-food.com, March 09, 2009
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Wellness Benefits Key to Yogurt Growth

March 9, 2009: 05:53 AM EST
Yogurt is proving to be a front-runner with a lot of staying power in the race to develop innovative new functional foods. The dairy product has been in use for at least 4,500 years, and its benefits have long been known. But it is proving to be the ideal vehicle for many current trends in adding wellness benefits to food. Yogurt is a natural carrier for pre- and probiotics, omega-3, conjugated linoleic acid, fruit, and added proteins such as whey and soy. New manufacturing and processing techniques are overcoming some of the taste and texture problems associated with adding functionality to the product, opening doors to even more innovation. “Good for you” yogurts will continue to drive growth, says Daphne Mazarakis, founder and president, Tula Foods. “Consumers already associate yogurt with health, so the idea that we can bring them a yogurt with another promising health benefit is credible.”
Kimberly J. Decker , "Yogurt Trends", Food Product Design, March 09, 2009, © Virgo Publishing
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Hansen Launches Its Self Beauty Elixir That Promises Health Benefits

March 6, 2009: 07:43 AM EST
In a bid to tap the trend in functional beverages, Hansen has launched a low-calorie, functional, ready-to-drink beverage - Self Beauty Elixir - that contains vitamins, minerals and botanical extracts. The company claims that the drink will "promote and support healthy skin and overall wellness". It should be available in mass retailers, drugs stores and major supermarkets from spring in three flavors, Tropical Bliss, Blushing Berry and Pink Lemonade.
"US: Hansen rolls-out Elixir ‘beauty’ beverage", just-drinks.com, March 06, 2009, © just-drinks.com
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Sensing the Presence of Sugar Key to Aging Process

March 5, 2009: 03:12 AM EST
A paper published in the journal PLoS Genetics explains how Université de Montréal scientists found that the presence of calories is not the important element in the aging process, but the extent to which cells sense them. There are two elements to calorie intake: taste and digestion. Cell sensors detect the presence of sugar glucose, for example, and molecules in the cell break it down, converting it to energy. Some thought the by-products in this process caused aging, but this study shows another possible cause, using yeast cells, which age much like human cells. The team found that the lifespan of yeast cells rises when glucose in the diet was reduced, but also found that: (a) cells that couldn’t consume glucose were still sensitive to the aging effects of glucose; and (b) eliminating the glucose sensor significantly increased lifespan.
"Over-consumption of sugar linked to aging", Nouvelles.com, March 05, 2009, © UdeMNouvelles
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EU “Agrees in Principle” to Unilever Plant Sterol and Fatty Acid Claims

March 2, 2009: 09:14 PM EST
Unilever says that it has “heard informally” that the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health has approved in principle its claims that plant sterols help reduce cholesterol and ALA/LA (a-linolenic acid and linoleic acid) assist children's growth and development. The Committee has apparently asked the European Food Standards Authority to develop conditions of use for the claims. Unilever says it will apply the claims in the near future.
"EU: Brussels poised to OK Unilever health claims", just-food.com, March 02, 2009, © just-food.com
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New Methods for Isolating Plant Pigments

March 2, 2009: 01:25 AM EST
The anthocyanin group of plant pigments is catching the eye of researchers because of its anti-cancer properties, cardiovascular protection and other benefits such as vision and memory enhancement. But the problem is that the pigments are broken down after consumption in food sources, which makes it difficult to track the process of absorption and accumulation. Ingredient suppliers are trying to improve functionality and stability. Food Ingredient Solutions of New Jersey says there has been success in beverage shelf life for more than one year using stable anthocyanins from sources like purple potatoes. While in California, InterHealth Neutraceuticals is using berry extracts to obtain anthocyanin functionality.
Sharon Palmer, "Coloring the Anthocyanin Age", Food Product Design, March 02, 2009, © Virgo Publishing
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Mood Foods Poised to Realize Potential as Recession Deepens

March 1, 2009: 05:48 AM EST
Mood foods may be the next big thing as the economic recession continues to affect people’s mental health. Economic woes are a leading cause of anxiety and depression in today’s world, and many people find they can’t afford a regular therapy program. This opens opportunities for the increasing range of remedies targeted at mood disorders such as anxiety, which are often exacerbated by lack of sleep. Products that promise to promote relaxation are poised to expand as people become increasingly aware that good sleep is as important to health as food and exercise. Dietary supplements and functional foods that have “mood-lifting” properties are ideally placed to benefit from the rising demand, particularly for people with milder symptoms. Promising advances are being made across the spectrum of products available, including vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and proteins, herbs and botanicals, carbohydrates, and specialty ingredients. Products will have to be science-based and fast-acting to be successful.
Rebecca Wright & Dilip Ghosh, "The Mood Health Market", Nutraceuticals World, March 01, 2009, © Nutraceuticals World
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Report Suggests Fructose Metabolism May Increase Food Intake, Obesity

March 2, 2009: 01:36 AM EST
In a review of prior studies, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine determined a link between the consumption of fructose and increased food intake, which may contribute to a high incidence of obesity, and Type 2 diabetes. In the brain, malonyl-CoA has a critical role in monitoring energy balance gauged through glucose levels. But the researchers find fructose has the opposite effect of glucose on the malonyl-CoA signaling system, effectively encouraging food intake. The researchers argue that the fact that fructose metabolism by the brain increases food intake and obesity risk raises health concerns about high fructose sweeteners, especially by youth.
Daniel Lane et al, "Effect Of Glucose And Fructose On Food Intake Via Malonyl-Coa Signaling In The Brain.", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, March 02, 2009, © Elsevier
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Probiotic Protein Bar

March 1, 2009: 08:00 AM EST
Max Muscle Sports Nutrition, based in California, is offering a probiotic protein bar, that the company claims is the first of its type in the US. Developed in conjunction with Ganeden Biotech of Ohio, the bar contains the patented GanedenBC30, a form of the strain bacillus coagulans. The company says the strain survives harsh manufacturing processes and remains shelf stable without refrigeration.
"Probiotics Muscle in on Protein Bars", FoodProcessing.com, March 01, 2009, © Food Processing
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Health Claim Rule Threatens Smaller Functional Food Processors

March 1, 2009: 09:18 PM EST
The future of a host of smaller functional foods companies is at risk because the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is too strict over the definition of health claims, says Cantox Health Sciences of Canada. The company says many products contain ingredients with promising benefits, but which cannot be promoted because EFSA rules state that only products with proven effects can be advertised as being healthy. The company says that smaller companies do not have the money to spend on research to prove their claims. About 80 percent of claims put forward to EFSA for approval have been turned down, according to Cantox.
"Claims regime threatens functional sector", Functional Ingredients , March 01, 2009, © Penton Media
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Kraft Partners with Drug Company to Develop Bioactive Food Ingredients

March 1, 2009: 07:38 AM EST
Kraft Foods Global Inc. is teaming up with Minneapolis-based drug company Medisyn Technologies Inc. to develop bioactive ingredients for food. David Land, president of Medisyn, explains the company’s approach: “Rather than going on a fishing expedition, you create a rational approach by identifying a market need and intelligently working toward fulfilling that need.” The aim is to identify the specific properties required, find the compounds with those properties, and then look for sources in nature. He says the result is a significant reduction in development time. Kraft says it underlines its strategy of complementing internal R&D efforts with external collaboration, and alliances like this help it to get to market quicker. Land says that trends show opportunities in fighting weight, diabetes, cholesterol, osteoporosis and high blood pressure, but it has also been working in areas such as mental health, including anxiety and mental focus.
Diane Toops, "Kraft Foods Global Thinks Outside the Box with Bioactive Ingredients", FoodProcessing.com, March 01, 2009, © Food Processing
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Prevention Trend Key to Future for Antioxidants

March 1, 2009: 05:36 AM EST
Antioxidants and products that promote immune system health as a means of preventing illness and disease are becoming more important as the health care system continues to focus on disease treatment and economic conditions worsen. Antioxidant sales reached more than $3 billion in 2007, continuing their overall growth of around 6 percent, according to Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ). Non-vitamin antioxidants ticked upwards by 11 percent, and antioxidants from fruit and vegetables achieved 21 percent growth. The top five best sellers remained the same as in 2006, with the exception that CoQ10 kicked Vitamin E out of second spot, demoting it to No.3. Traditional antioxidants such as selenium and Vitamins C and E showed low or even negative growth, allowing relative newcomers such as pomegranate, goji and acai to shine. These and other superfruits, with their high levels of anthocyanin, are poised to join carotenoids in the race for supremacy, alongside some tried and true favorites, such as blueberries and cranberries. Fruit and vegetable juice blends are beginning to make their presence felt as companies attempt to combine the best of the trend toward more natural, whole foods. Antioxidants are also finding their way into nutricosmetics (also known as cosmeceuticals), and CoQ10 and resveratrol continue to hold their ground. Food companies are also keeping up with the trend for consumers to want evidence that antioxidants actually work, and to know what the specific benefits are, by turning to clinical studies and scientific tests to back their claims.
Sean Moloughney, "The Evolution of Antioxidants", Nutraceuticals World, March 01, 2009, © Rodman Publishing
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Mango Seed Extract Sheds Pounds from Research Subjects

March 1, 2009: 02:59 AM EST
African mango (Irvingia gabonensis) may help people to lose weight and cut cholesterol levels by inhibiting production of body fat. An extract from the mango seeds has been shown in a recent study to affect genes and enzymes that govern metabolism. Researchers at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon found that a group of overweight people fed the extract for 10 weeks lost on average 28 pounds each, a result described as “significant”. They also showed declines in LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and blood sugar levels. The group did not follow any other special diet, and was instructed to keep to their normal exercise levels. The research was partly funded by Gateway Health Alliances, Inc., which provided the Irvingia gabonensis extract.
"Fruit extract shows promise as weight-loss aid", Canada.com, March 01, 2009, © Reuters
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Stevia Processors, Sellers see Much Sweeter Future

March 1, 2009: 04:28 AM EST
Stevia extract Rebaudioside A processors are very optimistic about the industry's future, following GRAS approval by the FDA and expected approval by the European Union. Malaysia's PureCircle is quadrupling the capacity of its stevia extraction plant in China to more than 4,000 tons and doubling its Malaysian plant to 2,000 tons as well as investing in Kenya and Paraguay. GLG is increasing capacity in China from 5,000 tons to 41,000 tons and developing new strains. Merisant of Chicago is banking on its PureVia tabletop sweetener to revive its fortunes. The company says Reb A sales could take up half of the $1.6 billion world sweetener market, compared with 2 percent at the moment.
Richard Clarke, "Reb-A to spark sweetener revolution?", Functional Ingredients, March 01, 2009, © Penton Media, Inc.
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Tesco cuts prices on over 3,500 items

February 27, 2009: 07:15 PM EST
Summary from the snapshot Britain's two biggest supermarket groups, Tesco and Asda, went head to head with price cuts on thousands of everyday products, stepping up the battle to attract shoppers hit by the economic downturn. Britain's two biggest supermarket groups, Tesco and Asda, went head to head with price cuts on thousands of everyday products, stepping up the battle to attract shoppers hit by the economic downturn.
"Tesco cuts prices on over 3,500 items", Guardian, February 27, 2009, © Guardian
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Count Calories to Lose Weight

February 26, 2009: 06:25 PM EST
Counting calories is the key to losing weight, according to a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Frank Sacks, principal investigator in the study, and a professor of cardiovascular-disease prevention at Harvard School of Public Health, says the study “goes against the idea that certain foods are the key to weight loss," and sends a positive message to people. “It gives people a lot of choices to find a diet they can stick with." But Arthur Agatston, a Miami cardiologist who created the South Beach Diet, which focuses on food selection, says "Measuring your food is not going to work in the long term.” Commenting on the research, Martijn Katan, a nutrition researcher at Amsterdam's VU University, said that participants had difficulty keeping weight off toward the end of the study. "Evidently, individual treatment is powerless against an environment that offers so many high-calorie foods and labor-saving devices," he said.
Jennifer Levitz, "Calorie Counters Have it Right, Diet Study Says", Wall Street Journal, February 26, 2009, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc
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header - Women increasingly drawn to social media

February 26, 2009: 02:15 PM EST
The number of women attracted to the world of social networking has grown by a massive 53% in just 12 months, according to research by consumer magazine publisher IPC. The number of women attracted to the world of social networking has grown by a massive 53% in just 12 months, according to research by consumer magazine publisher IPC. The number of women attracted to the world of social networking has grown by a massive 53% in just 12 months, according to research by consumer magazine publisher IPC.
Ben Bold, "Women increasingly drawn to social media", Brand Republic, February 26, 2009, © Haymarket Media
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Fiber on the Move in US

February 25, 2009: 04:41 PM EST
Fiber is on the move in the US, according to new figures from Datamonitor. The proportion of new products claiming to be high in fiber rose from 5.2 percent in 2006 to 6.3 percent in 2007, says Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics. PepsiCo, Kraft, Campbell Soup, Kellogg, and Dannon are among multinationals launching high-fiber products, ranging from bars, cookies, chips and bread to drinks and yogurt. Some of the products also contain omega-3. While few of these products are making weight-related claims at the moment, it’s only a matter of time before companies start touting grains as a means of helping people to feel full for longer, cutting down the amount they eat.
"Food Makers Pump Up Fiber Contents", QSR Magazine, February 25, 2009, © Journalistic Inc
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Whole Foods Commits To Sustainable Palm Oil

February 24, 2009: 04:17 PM EST
In an boost for the Rainforest Action Network's campaign to end unsustainable palm oil production, Whole Foods Market signed on, expressed concern about for current practices and called for a change in the US market. Palm oil is used widely in many cosmetic and consumer goods and unsustainable practices are blamed for deforestation in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Amazon rainforest. Whole Foods Market joins 37 other food, cosmetic and consumer goods companies and two organic palm oil suppliers who have signed a Rainforest Action Network (RAN) pledge to seek more sustainable ways of sourcing palm oil.
"Whole Foods Market® Supports End to Unsustainable Palm Oil", Rainforest Action Network, February 24, 2009, © Rainforest Action Network
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Obesity Contributes to Childhood Allergies

February 23, 2009: 10:58 AM EST
Obesity may contribute to allergies in overweight children, say researchers from several institutes in North Carolina and Colorado. Using data on 4,000 children from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, the researchers found a strong correlation between overweight and obesity and allergic reactions to a range of foods, including eggs, milk and peanuts. Children in the study were more than 50 percent more likely to be allergic to milk, and 25 percent more likely to have other allergies. The study also found that systemic inflammation may play a role in allergies. Lead author Cindy M. Visness said there was nothing conclusive about the findings, but they added weight to the need to maintain normal body weight.
Cynthia M. Visness, et al, "Association of obesity with IgE levels and allergy symptoms in children and adolescents: Results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006", Elsevier Inc, February 23, 2009, via Elsevier Inc, © American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
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Food Scares Prompt Standards Review

February 22, 2009: 04:23 PM EST
Recent food safety scares, including the potential for bioterrorism, are prompting international food producers to tighten controls over manufacturing amid ongoing debate over the need for stronger food safety enforcement. A recent outbreak of salmonella in the US, related to contaminated peanuts produced by the Peanut Corporation of America, killed at least eight people and resulted in the recall of thousands of products. In the wake of this and other scares many major companies are reconsidering their policies on contract manufacturing, even though owning their own processing plans is in itself no guarantee of safety. The US Congress is considering creating a new Food Safety Administration along the lines of the European Food Safety Authority, which was set up in 2002 amid similar public concerns. Currently food safety policing in the US is split between the FDA and the USDA. There are no global standards, but some companies, Nestle among them, are adopting ISO standards.
Jenny Wiggins and Jonathan Birchall, "Scares Prompt Tighter Controls on Food", The Financial Times, February 22, 2009, © The Financial Times Limited
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Kraft Seeks Quick Route for New Products

February 18, 2009: 08:02 PM EST
Kraft Foods Global Inc is working with pharmaceutical company Medisyn Technologies Inc to identify bioactive compounds that can be incorporated in foods to target specific ailments. The two companies see opportunities in the “big five” health concerns – weight management, diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis and high blood pressure. Medisyn has also done work in mental health, particularly anxiety, dream state and mental focus. Medisyn’s approach allows it to identify compounds that target the ailments, find them in plants and animals, and develop ways to extract them within 18 months. Kraft’s responsibility is to bring a finished product to market after appropriate trials and regulatory process have been followed.
Diane Toops, "Kraft Foods Global Thinks Outside the Box with Bioactive Ingredients", FoodProcessing.com, February 18, 2009, © Food Processing
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Court Upholds NYC Calorie-Count Rule

February 17, 2009: 04:29 PM EST
New York city’s rule that requires restaurant chains with more than 15 outlets in the city to disclose the calorie content of menu items is legal, says the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals. The rule was challenged by the New York State Restaurant Association, which represents 7,000 outlets. The Association says it may appeal the ruling. Other states have implemented or are considering similar rules, aimed at combating obesity. The National Council of Chain Restaurants says members want to disclose nutritional information, but is calling for a national standard, saying that the differing state and city rules are confusing. Congress is considering a measure that would require calorie counts on menus in national chains with 20 or more outlets.
"Appeals Court Upholds NYC's Calories-On-Menus Rule", Newsday, February 17, 2009, © Newsday Inc.
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Diet Drinks have Role to Play

February 16, 2009: 08:11 PM EST
Research has shown that diet drinks containing non-nutritive sweeteners can help people to control their weight, but only if they’re not used as an excuse to eat more calories from other sources. Only about 15 percent of Americans regularly choose food and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, despite the rising tide of obesity. Reasons for sticking with caloric sweeteners such as sugar and high-fructose corn syrup include taste and safety fears. In a few cases the safety fears have been well founded, but in general there is no evidence that the wide range of alternatives on the market actually cause health problems. Successfully using diet sodas as part of a weight loss plan comes down to behavior rather than biology, says Dr Barry M. Popkin of the University of North Carolina, who reviewed 224 studies with a colleague, Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University. Non-nutritive sweeteners help with weight loss only if they substitute for calories, not if they are used as an excuse to consume high-calorie foods or drinks.
Jane E. Brody, "Sweeteners: Real Aid or Excuse to Indulge?", New York Times, February 16, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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FDA Seeks Action on StarCaps

February 9, 2009: 04:34 PM EST
The FDA says that StarCaps, a “natural” weight-loss capsule incorporating papaya, contains bumetanide, a potent pharmaceutical that can have serious side effects. The capsules are the latest weight-loss supplement to be named in an ongoing investigation that has already resulted in warnings to manufacturers, and the recall of some products. The tainted StarCaps pills have been recalled, but the investigation is raising questions about the FDA’s powers to regulate the supplements sector. Legislation allows the FDA to take action only after a supplement goes to market, and it takes action only if it contains an undeclared active pharmaceutical. It has no power to order recalls, but can take legal action if manufacturers fail to do so. Views differ on the safety of weight-loss supplements, with some experts saying that even those that do not contain active pharmaceuticals pose risks for some people, particularly from interactions with other drugs.
Natasha Singer, "F.D.A. Finds ‘Natural’ Diet Pills Laced With Drugs", February 09, 2009, © 2009 The New York Times Company
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Placing Bets Can Make Dieting More Effective

February 4, 2009: 08:17 PM EST
Putting cash on the line is becoming the latest fad in the weight-loss business. A number of internet companies have been set up to help people place bets on meeting weight-loss targets, in competition with friends or others. Recent studies support the idea that a financial incentive is a good way to encourage people to stick to their diet plan. Among web companies helping people to make friendly bets is StickK.com, which motivates people by asking them to sign signing contracts: if they fail in their goals, it costs them money. The lost money can go to a friend, a charity, or a “non-charity”, which appears to be the most effective. People who know that their cash will go to a group they don’t like are better at sticking to their diets. Fatbet.net and makemoneylosingweight.com provide a forum for publicly tracking weight and setting specific incentives, but don’t handle the money. StickK.com takes the money up front via credit card.
Pamela Weiler Grayson, "Dieting? Put Your Money Where Your Fat Is", New York Times, February 04, 2009, © The New York Times Company
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Wellbeing Key Driver in Milk Launches

February 1, 2009: 04:13 PM EST
More than half (53 percent) of the milk-based beverages launched in 2008 promoted health as their primary benefit, a 42 percent increase over 2007, says Innova. Health benefits were part of the marketing mix for 17 percent of last year’s new products. There was a 10 percent increase (from 164 to 181 products) in beverages containing inulin and oligofructose, both of which are prebiotics. Gut health featured in 17 percent of the product launches, up from 13 percent in 2007 and 2 percent five years ago. Low fat claims fell from 17 percent to 2 percent, low sugar claims dropped from 3 percent to 2 percent, and convenience claims dropped from 34 percent to 17 percent. The trends “reflected the fact that consumers were becoming increasingly aware of specific health claims within the well-being category”, says Tim Van der Schraelen, Beneo-Orafti's marketing and communication manager. The survey was commissioned by Beneo-Orafti.
"Dairy Drinks: Health in Control as Convenience takes Back Seat", Functional Ingredients, February 01, 2009, © Penton Media, Inc.
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Shelf Tags Provide Nutrition Information

February 1, 2009: 08:21 PM EST
In-store labeling systems that identify healthy products are becoming more popular in supermarket chains across the US. Some groups, such as Ahold USA's Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover, Supervalu, and regional chains Price Chopper and Hy-Vee, are using proprietary systems, others are basing labels on FDA guidelines or ranking developed by private companies in association with researchers. The chains are also using booklets, ceiling banners, promotional messages and websites to promote their schemes. Retailers say the programs promote healthy-eating habits, boost customer loyalty and improve the shopping experience. Some reports indicate sales of labeled items are increasing. Many packaged-food manufacturers are also involved in a national labeling program developed by nonprofit organization The Keystone Centre. Scheduled to launch in summer, the "Smart Choices Program" uses federal government guidelines to identify healthy foods. Participating companies include Kraft Foods, General Mills, ConAgra and Unilever.
"Supermarkets Tag Along on Nutrition", In-Store Marketer, February 01, 2009, © In-Store Marketing Institute
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Fat on the Menu at R&D Seminar

February 1, 2009: 04:07 PM EST
Consumers are looking at the facts on nutritional labels rather than the claims, says Marjorie Gilbert, food ingredients director for AarhusKarlshamn USA Inc. In a presentation (“The Fact of the Matter: The Facts are in the Nutritional Panel”) to Prepared Foods’ 2008 R&D Seminar-East, Gilbert cited figures from a June 2007 IFIC study that shows consumers look first for the expiry date, then the Nutrition Facts Panel, then the ingredient statement. Fewer looked at statements about health and nutrition benefits in 2007 than they did in 2006. When looking at the nutrition label, they look first for calories, then total fats, then trans fats. Saturated fats are sixth on the list. Olive oil is considered the healthiest, followed by canola, soybean and sunflower. Other presentations covered reducing fat in chocolate; use of omega-3 oils in products; emulsifiers in cakes; and use of omega-6.
"Fats From Nutritional Nuances to Physical Functionality", Prepared Foods, February 01, 2009, © BNP Media
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More to a Bar than Meets the Eye

February 1, 2009: 04:18 PM EST
Nutrition bars have the potential to offer all things to all people – if flavor and texture stability issues can be overcome. Challenges include the desired taste, flavor and color of the finished product, solubility, bioavailability, pH level, safety/toxicity, interactions among various ingredients and bioavailability and stability of the individual ingredients, says Ram Chaudhari, PhD, FACN, CNS, senior executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Fortitech. Balancing high-protein bars, adding vitamins at the right stage of the process, and selecting the correct form of a particular nutrient are crucial factors, Chaudhari says. When it comes to ingredients, old favorites like protein, vitamins and minerals still rule, but superfruits such as açai, goji berry, mangosteen, pomegranate and blueberry are increasingly popular. Bars that target specific health issues look to be the way to the future, as are meal replacement bars. Look for more bars that contain vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega 3s, fiber, prebiotics, CoQ10, soy, whey proteins and antioxidants, Chaudhari says. They’ll also start appearing in a wider range of outlets.
"Bar Basics", Nutraceuticals World, February 01, 2009, © Nutraceuticals World
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Bakers Crack the Health Barrier

February 1, 2009: 08:32 PM EST
Bakers are responding to the “better for you” trend with a range of innovations designed to retain the “feel good” factor of baked goods while taking out the “bad” ingredients and adding “good” ones. Much of the focus is on substituting good fats and sweeteners for the traditional trans fats, salt and sucrose, and on finding ways to incorporate whole grains in place of refined white flours. Fortification is going beyond the familiar iron, niacin and a few other vitamins to include many more vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, pre- and probiotics, and bulk fibers. The result is that it’s now possible to buy baked goods that touch some or all the bases: no sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, colorings or artificial flavorings; diabetic friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and cholesterol-free, vegan and kosher certified. Packaging is also being revolutionized, to make it easy to handle and environmentally friendly. Technology is also playing its part, developing new ingredients and processes that make it possible to produce light, soft, fluffy treats without the guilt.
David Feder, RD., "New Directions in Healthy Baking", Food Processing, February 01, 2009, © Food Processing
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Nutrition Bars Third in Popularity Race

February 1, 2009: 04:24 PM EST
Satiety, digestive health and “natural” are key ingredients for bar consumers in 2009, according to recent surveys. Fiber, probiotics and protein are the buzzwords. Neilsen Company says sales of nutrition bars totaled $416 million for the year ended October 4, 2008, up 3.5 percent over the previous 12 months. The breakfast bar category rose nearly 10 percent in that time, with sales totaling $585 million. Nutrition bars continue to trail behind granola and yogurt bars, with sales topping $1 billion. In a 2006 Mintel survey, 41 percent of respondents said they were eating more nutrition bars. Taste was the prime driver for 43 percent of these respondents. Health, wellness and physical needs such as diet motivated 14 percent. Three-quarters of consumers in 2006 were looking for a good source of protein or vitamins. But now people are more concerned about overall nutrition, says Chris Brandt, vice president of marketing for Odwalla.
Amanda Baltazar, "Nutrition Bars Fill a Role", Nutraceuticals World, February 01, 2009, © Nutraceuticals World
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Mothers Flexible over Kids’ Food

January 27, 2009: 08:26 PM EST
Mothers are choosing healthier foods for their children, and the kids are responding by beginning to like them, according to research conducted by Stamford-based Just Kid Inc. In a report entitled “The Moms Food Study: Understanding Moms’ Needs for Her Kids”, Kim Bealle, managing director of strategy and innovation, says that moms balance a number of factors when choosing food for their children. Emotional, rational and environmental factors drive the choices, which are balanced by what Mom thinks is best and what she knows her kids will like. Different factors come into play for each meal. “Eating right” topped the list of preferences: healthy and nutritious, helps establish good long-term eating habits, and “fills my child up” ranked over 80 percent in the survey. Authenticity is important, and it’s OK to add a bit of fun: healthy cereal with chocolate bits is acceptable, for example. Treats are OK for special occasions, but there’s a preference for small serving sizes to keep the number of calories down. A combination of balanced nutrition, fresh, unprocessed, fewer preservatives, all-natural foods and more traditional ingredients is the mothers’ holy grail. The kids themselves know more about healthy eating and are beginning to enjoy their fruit and vegetables, Bealle says.
Diane Toops, "Moms Choosing Healthier Foods for Kids", FoodProcessing.com, January 27, 2009, © 2004-2009 Food Processing
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