|Issue 88: 18 June 2010|
|Thursday, 17 June 2010|
"Our heads are round so that thoughts can change direction."
Francis Picabia, painter and poet (1879-1953)
bites... Adapt or die a slow death!
The trend is obvious. Food marketers are facing the slow Ling Chi-like death of their product portfolios unless they change their mindsets. The old playbook doesn't work anymore. They must recognize that there will always be the next sodium ... the next 'cut'. Instead of 'delay and divert', it is time to get ahead of the situation. With a new cohort of consumers demanding corporate responsibility for their health, advocates pushing for radical change in the food supply, and governments receptive to regulation, a smarter course of action by food marketers is to embrace that they are custodians of their customers' well-being and to re-align their products, marketing practices, and business models accordingly. Otherwise, a slow death awaits."Hank Cardello, author of "Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's (Really) Making America Fat". Read more
Editor's Stuff - The alpha & omega of omega-3?
When it comes to food supplementation for the "well-fed, affluent", my sentiments tend to rest with the "expensive urine" school of thought. But when it comes to omega-3, all the science and research make a compelling case to pop fish oil capsules on a daily basis; that this is one of the most effective remedies for improving physical performance, treating depression and arthritis, and improving concentration and memory. It is also widely considered to be effective in preventing heart disease.
This is the popular wisdom and it's now under scrutiny and debate, as highlighted in several articles in recent newsletters. The latest take on this issue I've come across is by leading British pseudo-science detective, Ben Goldacre, as follows.
Omega-3 lesson: Not so much brain boost as fishy research
One tiny brain-imaging study of fatty
acids has been used to endorse fish oil as education's magic pill. Oddly
enough, someone has now finally conducted a proper trial of fish oil
pills, in mainstream children, to see if they work: a well-conducted,
randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in 450 children aged
810 years from a mainstream school population. It was published in
full this year and the researchers found no improvement. Show me the
news headlines about that paper. The Guardian. Read
Here is the referenced abstract to the article which, as Ben Goldacre rightly notes, has not provoked press headlines.
Here are two other pertinent articles worth looking at if you haven't already . . . one puts all the claims around omega-3s into serious doubt, while the other extols docosahexaenoic acid as the chemical that fundamentally has allowed the evolution of humankind. Challenging and fascinating stuff!
Omega-3: Fishy claims for fish oil
If one cheap pill could boost your brain power, protect you from heart disease and cancer, and even alleviate depression, all with no known side effects, would you want it? Who wouldn't? You've probably heard of the pill's main ingredient: omega-3, a substance found in fish oil and other natural products. If the flood of headlines and adverts from food and supplement manufacturers are to be believed, you need only boost your intake of omega-3 and all these benefits will be yours.
Omega-3 supplements first appeared in the early 1980s. Given they are still going strong 30 years later, you would be forgiven for thinking that claims of their beneficence have all been substantiated. Yet several new studies, as well as recent reviews of existing evidence, call this received wisdom into question. Do any of the claims stand up under scrutiny? New Scientist. Read more
Diet and the evolution of the brain
To pin one big evolutionary shift on a particular molecule is ambitious. To pin two on it is truly audacious. Yet doing so was just one of the ideas floating around at A Celebration of DHA in London recently. The celebration in question was a scientific meeting, rather than a festival. It was definitely, however, a love-in. It was held on May 26th and 27th at the Royal Society of Medicine to discuss the many virtues of docosahexaenoic acid, the most important of that fashionable class of dietary chemicals, the omega-3 fatty acids. The Economist. Read more
Enjoy the read - and the footie!
Afrikaans translation: To translate this page, go to http://interpret.co.za/, and simply paste the URL into the page translator module. The translation is by no means perfect, but is a help if you want to read in your home language.
Local Food Industry Stuff
South Africa looks for soft drinks legacy
The FIFA World Cup is in full force in South Africa. While corporate sponsor, Coca-Cola, looks set to score highly from the tournament, what of South Africa's indigenous soft drink brands? Annette Farr considers the opportunities the event will open up, both domestically and abroad. Just-Drinks.com. Read more
Cape Aloe's revamped beverage
line-up, including a new variant with
the latest global favourite, baobab.
Chicken Licken: Life in the fast lane
Its better to be lucky than clever to succeed in business, says Chicken Licken founder, George Sombonos. When he launched the fast-food franchise in 1981, his ambition was to create a small chain of takeaways. We thought we would get to about 20 stores.
Laduma - much, much more to shout about
Lunch Bar has caught football fever. To tie in with the World Cup, Cadbury South Africa says the brand will share in the nation's excitement by literally wearing its colours on its 'sleeve' and changing its name to Laduma! FOODStuff SA. Read more
2010: A programme not to be missed! Early bird deal extended!
The IUFoST 2010 congress Scientific Programme is now almost finalised - and a skeleton has been fleshed out to develop a programme with great body and muscle! It is truly world-class as befits a world-class congress. FOODStuff SA. Read more
EU: Victory for food lobby as MEPs reject new labelling rules
European parliamentarians caused some outrage this week by plumping for GDAs over traffic lights - rejecting the colour-coded system of food labelling which health campaigners believe better inform consumers about levels of fat and sugar and could help halt rocketing levels of obesity.
Nutrient profiles reinstated in EU Parliament vote
of the European Parliament have voted to put back clauses on nutrient
profiling into the proposed food information regulation, after
Environment Committee members voted to take them out but it was a
close call. Nutrient profiles define what products can make claims
relating to nutritional content, based on their levels of fat, sugar or
salt. FoodNavigator. Read
Campylobacter in raw chicken is the biggest food safety challenge facing the UK today, said the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as it admitted the cost and burden of foodborne illnesses was too high. The body made the declaration to target the bug as its key food safety priority as it outlined its £25m Foodborne Disease Strategy to tackle all types of food poisoning by 2015. Food Production Daily. Read more
US: The brilliant lessons from McDonald's recall
week McDonalds announced the recall of some 12
million Shrek drinking
glasses because federal regulators found they contain the toxic metal
cadmium. While the health risk is slim, you won't hear McDonald's
shifting blame or running for cover in the face of this $15 million
recall . In fact, the ubiquitous fast food
retailer has taken pains to accept responsibility for the problem and
moved at lightning speed to fix it. CNN. Read
US: Monsanto's seeds of discord
The most important biotech gene ever engineered is about to go off patent, triggering a battle over the future of the world's food supply. CNN. Read more
Kenya paves way for GM crops after decade of controversy
After years of debate, Kenya will implement legislation this month green lighting genetically modified organisms. Kenya will become the fourth African country to implement such legislation, after Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa. The Guardian. Read more
Trends, Marketing and NPD
US: Hold the papaya juice and bring on the Pepsi
Health drinks made
big inroads into the beverage market in recent years, but the crippling
economic recession has brought that growth to a screeching halt as
consumers have returned to their once true and cheap love, soda pop.
The sweet bubbly beverage had a bigger jump in sales than bottled
water, juices, sport drinks and most other segments did over the past 18
months, reports Mintel, the market-research company. Time.
Mintel: Natural and clean-label trend still driving NPD
While shoppers enthusiasm for low-fat, low-sugar or low-calorie claims (minus claims) or added functional ingredients claims (plus claims) has waned; their interest in natural claims has continued to grow, according to Mintel's director of innovation and insight, David Jago. FoodNavigator-USA. Read more
UK: Breakfast club
When it comes to media whipping boys, the breakfast cereals
up there with soccer referees and speed cameras. . . brickbat attacks
on the cereal industrys heath
credentials in the media stretch back years. So what are the various
cereal manufacturers doing to develop their businesses and grow sales
in this climate of distrust? What are the new product development areas?
And what work is underway to cut sugar and salt levels in
products in line with FSA
demands? Food Manufacture. Read more
UK: Turning humble H2O into a premium product
While restaurants have been selling bottled water for years, the sale of filtered or otherwise treated tap water is part of a trend that is re-inventing ordinary mains or spring water as a life-affirming elixir that, it is usually hinted, bestows extra health benefits. Indeed, far from being on the way out, the bottled market is thriving.
UK: Del Monte launches "naked" pineapple
Britains fruit brand, Del Monte, is launching the first-ever, branded, whole, prepared pineapple into the UK market this month. It has selected its Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Pineapple which is cored and peeled for the new product that's designed to appeal to the increasingly convenience-driven and health-focused needs of modern consumers. Del Monte believe this will be vital in driving incremental growth within the prepared fruit category. Food & Drink Innovation Network. Read more
UK: Premiumisation and natural chewing gum
- the premium gum firm
created by former Innocent Drinks executives Mike Stevens and Dan
Shrimpton has secured its first supermarket listing. The
London-based start-up, which launched its first product in January (a
high-quality chewing gum containing chicle and black mitcham peppermint
Hampshire) will be stocked in upmarket food retailer Booths this UK
Food Manufacture. Read
UK: Introducing.... the Lasandwich!
since the Italian Ministry of Agriculture cosied up to
McDonald's for a marketing campaign earlier this year has the good
reputation of Italian food been so sorely tried. Tesco's lasagne
sandwich (let's call it the lasandwich) is described as follows in the
accompanying press release: "Between two thick slices of white
bread, you'll find a generous filling of diced beef in a tangy tomato
and herb sauce, layered with cooked pasta sheets and finished with a
creamy cheddar, ricotta and mayonnaise dressing." How does this dubious
new creation measure up?
The Guardian. Read
Health and Nutrition Stuff
Vitamin A-fortified chewing gum can help fight malnutrition
Danish chewing gum company
Gumlink, in close collaboration with the Kenya Medical Research
Institute (KEMRI), has developed a new chewing gum with vitamin A to
help battle malnutrition. The company has just finished a pilot project
in Nairobi, giving chewing gum with vitamin A to school children as a
supplement to their daily diet and said that the potential is huge in
the fight against malnutrition. Xinhuanet.com. Read
Little is understood about alcohol's effect on fetal development, researchers say
It's long been known that alcohol use in pregnancy can lead to children with mental retardation and birth defects, but researchers who study fetal alcohol syndrome have not made definitive progress on preventing the disorder, detecting it early, or effectively treating it, say researchers. Science Daily. Read more
Apple juice improves behaviour but not cognition in Alzheimer's patients, study finds
Apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. Science Daily. Read more
Replacing white rice with brown rice or other whole grains may reduce diabetes risk
In a new
study, researchers have found that eating five or more servings of white
rice per week was associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, eating two or more servings of brown rice per week was
associated with a lower risk of the disease. Science Daily.
Time for a reality attack on cancer risks
Last month, the London Independent ran a sensationalist story about cell phones causing brain tumours, and the Breast Cancer Fund released a comprehensive report on carcinogenic chemicals women should avoid. Other recent cancer-causing culprits in the news include pesticides, power lines and solvents.
Homeopathy: Curing with kindness
Numerous studies have shown that homeopathic remedies don't work. Why, then, do millions of patients swear that they do? The answer, says Professor Edzard Ernst, should be a lesson to all doctors. The Independent. Read more
Food Science, Biotech & Food Safety
Tastes like chicken: The quest for fake meat
What if you could cut into a juicy chicken breast that wasn't chicken at all but rather some indistinguishable imitation made harmlessly from plant life? Scientists at the University of Missouri have announced that after more than a decade of research, they have created the first soy product that not only can be flavoured to taste like chicken but also breaks apart in your mouth the way chicken does: not too soft, not too hard, but with that ineffable chew of real flesh. Time. Read more
'Supertasters' find lower salt levels make foods too bitter to eat
Public health experts and food companies have been working together to combat high salt intake which can increase the risk of high blood pressure and strokes. But despite well publicized effort to get people to swap to low salt foods they simply may not taste as good for some. Now research has shown that those who have sharper tastes need salt to block the bitterness in foods and therefore cannot enjoy low salt products. The reduction in salt could therefore be counterproductive. Live Science. Read more
Up and running: Beverage companies adopt electro-chemically activated (ECA) water
Sustainability. Efficacy. Cost. Safety. All are important factors for todays beverage plant operators when it comes to plant and equipment cleaning. As the cost of caustic cleaning material, like bleach, is on the rise and time becomes more valuable in running CIP (clean in place) cycles, operators are looking for options to meet sustainability goals and bottom line savings.
Developments in clean label ingredients
With food manufacturers and retailers striving to strip down food ingredient labels to a bare minimum, FoodNavigator.com this week takes a look at how ingredient firms have stepped up their game to help meet the growing demand for clean label products.
Symrise to boost production of synthetic menthol
What's with L-Menthol? Just as BASF announced the world's biggest factory for L-Menthol (synthetic menthol), comes news that competitor, German flavour and fragrance company Symrise says it will increase production of L-menthol. The company says demand is growing for the ingredient, which is used in confectionery and personal care products. ConfectioneryNews. Read more
Fats facility opens up major supply of healthier oils
IOI-Loders Croklaan claims to be ushering in a new era of healthier oils and fats with the opening of a new plant which uses enzymatic technology to interesterify oils and hone their properties in food products. According to the company, enzymatic rearrangement is recognised as a healthy and natural way to alter the characteristics of oils and fats.
technology could be used only on a small scale. This made it a more
expensive option compared to hydrogenation or chemical techniques.
Eau de marketing: Bloom's scented meat billboard countered by PETA
In North Carolina,
retailer Bloom has been promoting a new line of beef with a
billboard on a highway - it shows a giant fork going from the
ground to the billboard, where it pierces a piece of meat. At peak hours, a smell of
black pepper and charcoal is emitted by a high-powered fan at the
bottom of the billboard that blows air over cartridges loaded with
fragrance oil. Now, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals),
the radical pro-animal
advocacy group, has
announced it hopes to counter it with an ad of its own: an adjacent
billboard that shows a skinned cow's head on slaughter hook and emanates
the smells of rotting flesh, urine, faeces and blood. PETA's billboard
would read: "Meat Stinks: Go Vegan" Supermarket News. Read
more here and here
COMMENT: Anthony Bourdain: My war on fast food
The bad boy British chef wants his young
daughter to see fast food as the enemy. And in his eyes no tactic is too
dirty in his fight against McDonald's. . . "The cruelty and ugliness of the factory farm, and
the effects on our environment, are, of course, repellent to any
reasonable person. But it's the general lowering of standards inherent
in our continuing insistence on cheap burgers, wherever they might come
from and however bad they taste; the collective, post-ironic shrug we've
come to give each other as we knowingly dig into something that tastes,
at best, like cardboard and soured onion, that's hurting us. And our
children." The Guardian. Read more
That's all the stuff for this week!