Hitting the Beach

The quest to cull the cursed carbohydrate continues, as the obesity problem in the U.S. mounts and solutions are sought. Some 64% of the country's adults are considered overweight, and 46% say they were on some form of diet in the last year.

Capitalizing on one particular diet path, Kraft (Glenview, Ill.) has announced plans to add a “South Beach Diet Recommended” button to a variety of its products. Joining forces with Arthur Agatston, creator of the diet plan, Kraft says its purpose is to make weight management easier and more enjoyable.

Kraft is quick to note that the South Beach Diet is not a traditional low-carb diet. This plan allows consumers to eat a variety of satisfying foods, such as lean sources of protein, whole grains, certain fruits and vegetables, but it does demand a decrease in saturated and trans fats.

The “South Beach Diet Recommended” labeling will be found on such Kraft products as Boca Burgers, Kraft 2% Milk and Fat Free Singles, certain Oscar Mayer Deli Meats, Planters assorted nuts, Light N' Lively Cottage Cheese and others.

Grain Teaser

Citing evidence linking whole grain consumption with reduced risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, David Kessler, former commissioner of the FDA, believes eating more whole grains would significantly improve the overall health of Americans.

With this in mind, General Mills (Minneapolis) has announced plans to become the nation's first leading food manufacturer to make all of its breakfast cereal with whole grain. Responding to the General Mills' announcement, Kessler opines, “This improvement by General Mills will benefit Americans and could signal the most comprehensive improvement in the nation's food supply since the government began mandatory fortification of grains in the 1940s.”

The move will see General Mills' entire portfolio of Big G cereals become either a “Good” or “Excellent” source of whole grain. Such popular brands as Trix, Golden Grahams, Lucky Charms and Rice Chex are among those included, and all of the products will bear bold “Whole Grain” labeling on their packaging.

To a Tea

Consumers looking for more-healthful products are prompting more companies to adapt their lineups. Take, for example, the growing popularity and awareness of the benefits of white tea.

Long the virtually unknown relative of the tea family, taking a back seat even to the only recently famous green variety, white tea has benefits of its own. A number of studies have shown more active cancer-fighting antioxidants in white tea than its counterparts. Plus, it has considerably less caffeine than the other varieties—15mg per serving (compared with black tea's 40mg and green's 20mg).

Actually, Celestial Seasonings (Boulder, Colo.) has reduced the caffeine content even further with what it claims is the first naturally decaffeinated white tea--Decaf China Pearl White Tea. In addition, the company is launching another white tea; Imperial White Peach Tea adds the flavor of peaches. The pair join Celestial Seasonings' other white tea offering--Perfectly Pear White Tea.

Saying there is no scientific evidence to support low-carbohydrate diets, Health Canada notes that its strict labeling rules coming into effect next year may knock a number of new product lines off of grocery shelves.

The new regulations, published last year, rule carbohydrate claims off-limits for future food and drink labels. The restrictions take effect next year for large companies and in 2007 for producers with revenues not in excess of $1 million.

Low-fat is permitted, as is low-sodium. However, a spokesperson for the federal agency said, “There was--and still is--no reason from a nutrient point of view to be concerned with the amount of carbs that we eat.” Furthermore, Health Canada is informing the industry that “express or implied representations” also will be prohibited. This means, according to the agency's letter, “Other statements about the presence or absence of carbohydrates, including the use of brand names and trademarks, are subject to these regulations.”