|Issue 56: 25 September 2009|
|Thursday, 24 September 2009|
Food bites . . . Taxing soda? C'mon!
"But tax soda? What, that's the only food that causes obesity? Hey, pals, why stop there? How about meat, potatoes, ice cream, milk, bread and other bakery products, all fast food, and anything else that has carbs, cals, fats in the ingredients list ... yeah, all of it because, well, it all contributes to obesity. So why just soda? Because these bums want to tax us and they've decided soda is their sacrificial lamb of choice. But please, IT IS ABOUT THE TAX! IT IS NOT ABOUT THE SODA! Soda is not cigarettes. Soda, taken in moderation, doesn't kill us. And even if not taken in moderation, it doesn't kill us. Not soda by itself. Too many Americans have become soft and stupid and just buy into whatever c**p the government shoves our way..."
Bob Messenger, some Morning Cup comment this week.
Editor's Stuff - The swelling obesity debate
That the world is getting fatter and fatter, there is no debate. The topic has moved back to centre-stage with the highly-contentious mooting, that's seemingly gaining ground, too, of a tax on soft drinks in the US. My mate, Bob Messenger, one of the foremost food industry commentators in the US, had a hearty go at the issue this week (see above) and here are several other interesting discussions and articles that I came across in my weekly internet journey.
US: Unhealthy US diets prompt more calls for reformThe American way of eating is under attack, which could expose the food industry to new junk food taxes, but
it's unlikely major reforms are in the offing to quickly alter US food policies. Read more
Soda linked to adult obesity
Adults who drink a soda or more per day are 27% more likely to be overweight than those who do not drink sodas, regardless of income or ethnicity. Read more
Obesity and the Paradox of Culture
In the discourse surrounding obesity debates, these are the most proposed "solutions," and they can typically be placed into one of three common buckets — blame, teach or tinker. We blame the overweight person for a lack of discipline or self-control, we set out to teach folks how to "eat better," or we suggest tinkering with or otherwise modifying our food supply (in this case banning fast food restaurants from the proximity of schools).
Importantly, the tinker, teach, blame vision limits our fundamental ability to recognise — let alone address — the powerful role of culture in eating behaviour and severely limits our understandings of obesity, not to mention any potential solution(s) to the problem. [A brilliant read from The Hartman Group. Ed] Read more
Watching your weight? Beware of skinny friends with big appetites
Thin friends who eat a lot could put your waistline at risk, according to a new study which examines how other peoples' weight and food choices influence how much we eat. Read more
OVER 60 FOOD INDUSTRY JOBS ON OFFER!
Fair Cape Dairies celebrated a milestone this week when the 10 000th child visited its milking parlour on the Fair Cape school tour programme. Read more
The well-known Paarl-based plant extract company, Afriplex, reports that it has recently expanded its emulsion plant to accommodate increased demand for beverage emulsions, and notably those with an exotic African character. Read more
"I'm not your typical Boer farmer who ploughs mealies in the fields," Northern Cape farmer Pieter Karsten says. Nothing about this 34-year-old, Upington farmer is typical, except for his strong Afrikaans accent and love of rugby. For one, his company, Karsten Farms, is the largest grower of dates in the southern hemisphere - a rarity in itself as SA is not known as a producer of dates. Even more surprising is that the dates are of the Medjool variety - renowned as the king of dates and served only to royal kings and visiting dignitaries in Morocco, their country of origin. Read more
Energade Champs, a low GI version of the popular sports drink, has been launched by brand owner, Tiger Brands, in South Africa. Said to be the first of its kind, Energade Champs promotes a healthy lifestyle for active sportsmen and women as well as their children. Read more
SAB has a new addition to its Brutal Fruit AFB line-up, a berry flavour dubbed ‘Berryluscious', the sixth flavour in the range. Read more
Food manufacturers in the Western Cape have a valuable opportunity to upgrade their employees' skills through a three-day short course which is being run by the Agrifood Technology Station of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and subsidised by Provincial Government Western Cape (Economic Development & Tourism).
This course is primarily aimed at small-to-medium food processing or related enterprises and has as its goal the up-skilling of appropriate staff and capacity in these companies. Larger companies are invited to identify their smaller suppliers and personnel within these companies that would benefit from this intervention. Read more
Cadbury CEO, Todd Stitzer, this week detailed potential benefits from a takeover by Kraft Foods and discussed valuations with investors in comments that could set the stage for talks between the British confectioner and the world's No. 2 food company.
But a spokesman has dismissed the comment as speculation: "Cadbury's position to the proposed offer has not changed since Chairman Roger Carr's letter to Irene Rosenfeld," said spokesman Trevor Datson. Carr said in the letter earlier in September that being absorbed into Kraft's low-growth conglomerate business model would be an "unappealing prospect." Read more
The big names of the organic food and farming business are launching a bid to reverse their sales, which have tumbled during the recession. Top organic food firms including Green & Blacks, Rachel's and Yeo Valley are holding a summit in the City of London to launch a campaign with the goal of boosting organic sales by 50%, or £1bn.
It is a big ask for an industry which has been badly battered. The latest data from analysts TNS – which monitors sales through supermarkets – shows the market for organic food was down 13% in the year to 9 August. Sales of organic vegetables are down more than a third in the last year, and demand for fertiliser-free fruit has fallen nearly 16%. While organic milk is now the fastest growing organic foodstuff, sales were up only 2% over the last 12 months. Read more
Attempts to save the bluefin tuna from extinction suffered a serious setback this week when the European Union dropped its demand for commercial fishing of the species to be banned. Read more
Big food producers have long catered to Muslims, a market worth some $630 billion globally according to KasehDia, a consulting company that specialises in the trade. Nestlé has produced halaal goods since the 1980s; 75 of its 456 factories now have a halaal certification. But only recently have big European shops followed suit.
Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer, launched a new range of products just in time for Ramadan. Casino, a French supermarket chain, has a halaal line, and British outfits Tesco and Sainsbury’s carry halaal products. Read more
A raft of global celebrations yesterday marked two and a half centuries since the Irish brewer went into business. The famous stout made its debut in 1759, and has left its mark in the worlds of advertising, the arts and the gossip columns.
And how a barman groans when a round includes a pint of Guinness. It has to be poured three-quarters full and then left to settle until a clear line between the dark liquid and the head, known as the Bishop's Collar, is formed, before being topped up - the famous two-part pour. Read more
It's stevia’s year. All-natural and calorie-free, stevia is poised to become the “holy grail” of sweeteners, says a new report from Mintel. Read more
Multicoloured cupcakes have been the surprise winner in our credit crunched times. Cupcake businesses, mainly run by women, are booming as Brits comfort-eat and treat themselves to a little bit of affordable luxury: at £2 each they are far cheaper than the latest ‘it-bag’ or a restaurant meal.
Cupcake cafes, bakeries, blogs, decorating classes are popping up all over the place and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. The UK's latest cottage industry is now worth £7.3m. The new baking craze that has spawned an entire cottage industry and provided retailers with the sales equivalent of an instant sugar high. Sales of cupcakes have soared by nearly 50% in the past year, prompting people all over the country to set up their own cupcake bakeries. Read more
Is there such a thing as a recession-proof consumer? A new study posits the idea that there is and identifies 59 million such US adults who are a marketer’s dream -- especially during a recession. Those consumers, called NEOs (for “New Economic Order”), are somewhat immune to financial fads because they value individuality and design over getting the lowest price. They are even-keel spenders over time, so less likely to shut their wallets during economic downturns. Read more
A large-scale, multi-center clinical trial is under way in the US and Canada to determine whether the vitamin-like substance, coenzyme Q10, in high doses, can slow the progression of Parkinson's disease. Read more
Open a cereal box or a carton of juice, breathe in an asthma drug from an inhaler, or pop an antihistamine pill out of a plastic pouch’s metal foil. You are probably thinking about the product you’re about to consume and not about its packaging — except, perhaps, for a twinge of regret about contributing to landfill waste. But here’s something to keep in mind: Even when the wrapping comes off, you inevitably ingest some of the container.
Plastic, rubber, cardboard, metal, and glass packaging act as a barrier against all sorts of contamination, but they are also a source of contamination. Speak with anyone who produces, studies, or regulates packaging, and you will hear this point repeated: It is not a question of whether packaging components will leach into a product, it’s a question of how much. “If you have a material in contact with food, and if it’s not completely inert — and there are no completely inert materials — something in the packaging will end up in the food,” says Dimitrios Spyropoulos, a regulator at EFSA.
As recently as the early 1960s, coaches typically advised their athletes to ignore thirst. But a 1965 study conducted by a group of scientists at the University of Florida changed everything: The researchers discovered that players on the school’s football team, the “Gators,” were suffering from heat exhaustion and suboptimal performance because of dehydration and a loss of electrolytes and carbohydrates from exercise. As a result, the scientists formulated a sugar-salt replacement beverage — eventually dubbed Gatorade — and administered it to the team, which went on to win the Orange Bowl in 1966.
Fluid replacement sports drinks have since grown to be at least a $3.5 billion market in the US, according to Chicago-based market research firm, Information Resources. But they are still “essentially water, sugar, salt, and some flavoring and colouring,” says Edward Coyle, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas, Austin. It’s the relative concentration of these components that sports scientists have spent decades perfecting. Read more
Cramps, diarrhea, vomiting…. Interviewing people about their food poisoning symptoms isn't a glamorous job. Yet, the investigative work of a group of public health graduate students who work for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has helped find the sources of the country's two most recent major salmonella outbreaks , in peanuts earlier this year and in jalapeño peppers (previously blamed on tomatoes) in 2008. Dubbed "Team Diarrhea," or "Team D," the students' work has played a major role in solving cases that had kept health officials in other states stumped for months and sickened thousands of people. Read more
University of Central Florida Microbiology Professor Keith Ireton has uncovered a previously unknown mechanism that plays an important role in the spread of a deadly food-borne bacterium. Read more
Recent product recalls have pointed a liability-filled finger at problems with floors, drains, roofs and other physical pieces of the plant. A lot of food-safety attention is paid to the equipment and the steps in the manufacturing process, but recent incidents remind plant managers and others to also look up … and down. Read more
Caviar's extravagance is all part of its seductive charm but a new company has introduced revolutionary production methods - the first to spare the lives of the sturgeon. Read more
In his “Essay on the Principle of Population,” of 1798, the English parson, Thomas Malthus, insisted that human populations would always be “checked” (a polite word for mass starvation) by the failure of food supplies to keep pace with population growth. For a long time, it looked as if what Malthus called the “dark tints” of his argument were unduly, even absurdly, pessimistic. As Paul Roberts writes in “The End of Food”, “Until late in the twentieth century, the modern food system was celebrated as a monument to humanity’s greatest triumph. We were producing more food—more grain, more meat, more fruits and vegetables—than ever before, more cheaply than ever before, and with a degree of variety, safety, quality and convenience that preceding generations would have found bewildering.” The world seemed to have been liberated from a Malthusian “long night of hunger and drudgery.”
Now the “dark tints” have returned. [An outstanding and provocative essay. Ed] Read more
The 2009 edition of the Guinness World Records book was out this week, and one of the additions is the 185-pound hamburger at Mallie's Sports Grill and Bar in Southgate, Michigan. The Telegraph reports that it took fifteen hours to bake the burger "patty" and eight hours to bake the bun. The epically unappetizing burger will set you back $499. Read more