On the Callender
Economic difficulties have led numerous consumers to opt for making meals at home. While this is all well and good for an entrée, many consumers are, unfortunately, ill-equipped--possibly even under-informed--to handle baking. New grocery offerings are coming to the rescue of those with a sweet tooth.

Marie Callender’s has launched a pair of new pies in the freezer sections of grocery stores. Lattice Cherry Pie boasts Michigan cherries enveloped in the company’s lattice crust and sprinkled with raw sugar crystals. Preparation involves only baking the pie, removing from the oven and slicing.

If baking is too much, a thaw-and-serve option is the company’s new Razzelberry Satin Pie. A chocolate cookie crust is filled with a silky red raspberry cream filling and topped with whipped topping rosettes and imported semi-sweet chocolate curls.

Lights On
Menus focusing on calorie content are not exactly a foodservice tradition. In fact, foodservice operators have vehemently fought legislative efforts to mandate calorie content. However, one chain is embracing the notion.

Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah’s Bagels has launched a Lighter Fare menu, featuring three lunch items and two breakfast options. Each contains less than 400 calories. However, the effort is, for now, temporary. The lunch menu ends June 30, and the breakfast menu will run July 1-September 29.

The chain notes the items are freshly prepared to order, and they feature options such as Ancho Chicken Wedge (a wheat tortilla with chile rajas, jalapeño salsa cream cheese and ancho chicken), Mediterranean Turkey Sandwich and Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Salad on the lunch menu.

Lost in the 50s
Every so often, it seems like a sweetener takes the industry by storm. Such a maelstrom is certainly gathering around a new product manufactured from the stevia plant.

A number of products have been announced since the ingredient received GRAS approval a few months ago, but now comes the first in the chilled juice aisle. Tropicana Products’ Trop50 promises the “goodness of orange juice with 50% less sugar and calories.”

The manufacturer further notes the product helps consumers who are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners in their diet. Each 8oz glass has 50 calories and a full day’s supply of vitamin C, plus 10% of the day’s need of vitamins A and E. The company notes the new product is the result of more than 18 months of R&D to find “the perfect intersection of taste, nutrition and reduced sugar and calories.”

Digging Up Bones
While countless arguments can be made against excessive alcohol consumption, new data suggest moderate consumption may have some health benefits.

Several studies have found a positive association between alcohol consumption and bone density in older women. Realizing few studies have examined the effects in men or younger women, and that none have examined beer, wine and liquor independently, a team studied a group to address the topic.

Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found moderate alcohol consumption contributed to stronger bones: at 1-3 glasses of beer in men and more than two glasses of wine or liquor (but not beer) for women. The researchers theorized that the bone-helpful ingredients may be the silicon in beer and estrogenic resveratrol in wine, in addition to the alcohol. Tucker, KL, et al. 2009. Am J Clin Nutr 89: 1188-1196.

Keep it Kosher
A majority of food purchasers who buy kosher products do so because of food quality reasons, not religious. In fact, Mintel research has found Christians, Muslims and Jews alike are fuelling the marketing for kosher foods, and the popularity is not confined to food: Coca-Cola has had a kosher version of Coca-Cola (designated with a yellow cap) on the market during Passover for several years, in fact. Jews may not consume “chametz,” defined as five grains--wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt--that have come in contact with moisture for more than 18 minutes. Additionally, many Jews observe another Passover prohibition that includes rice, lentils, beans and corn, thereby making high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened, regular Coca-Cola off-limits. For that matter, established brands such as Oreo and Lay’s potato chips likewise target kosher purchasers.

Mintel surveyed adults who purchase kosher food and found 62% of them make that decision based on food quality, followed by 51% selecting it for “general healthfulness” and 34% who regard it as a food safety issue. A surprisingly few 14% make the purchases because they follow kosher religious rules, while another 10% buy kosher because they follow some other religious rules with eating restrictions similar to kosher.

Mintel found mainstream food manufacturers have actively sought and maintained kosher certification. Between 2004-2005, the kosher market grew almost 14%, and it grew another 15% between 2007-2008, as more mainstream manufacturers had their already-established brands certified kosher. Last year did see a decline in kosher sales, but Mintel attributes that (at least partially) to the crisis in the kosher meat supply caused by the closure of the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse. Currently, kosher purchasers appear to have an unmet need, as 55% of those surveyed say they wish there were more kosher options in the stores where they shop.

For more information on the Mintel Oxygen report, “Kosher Foods--U.S.,” contact Joanna Peot, 312-628-7946.

THE IN BOX:
For daily industry news updates, see the homepage of www.PreparedFoods.com and www.NutraSolutions.com.
* SunOpta Ingredients Group expanded its portfolio of functional fibers to include soluble fiber. The company also entered into a partnership agreement with PolyCell Technologies to market and sell a beta-glucan concentrate.
* PureCircle entered into an agreement with Cerilliant Corporation for the global supply of certified reference materials and validated analytical methods for stevia-based sweeteners. 
* Cargill has launched a new version of its website at www.cargill.com.
* Land O’Lakes Ingredient Solutions named David Cantrell key accounts manager in the Midwest. 
* Ganeden Biotech Inc. has announced an exclusive partnership with Heartland Sweeteners to produce a new probiotic-enhanced sweetener.
* Burke Corporation named Heather Bond territory sales representative, responsible for promoting and selling Burke fully cooked meat toppings and fillings to foodservice operators, distributors and food manufacturers in Southern California.
* Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited (ONC) named Jon Getzinger chief sales and marketing officer.
* Frutarom Inc. USA released study results showing its BLIS K12, an oral cavity probiotic with multiple functions, can effectively treat bad breath
* Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) sold LSI, a distribution operating group within the company’s corn processing business, to Chicago Sweeteners. Also, ADM and Igene Biotechnology Inc. formed a joint venture, Naturxan L.L.C., to produce natural-source astaxanthin.
* Campbell Soup Company will acquire Ecce Panis Inc., an artisan bread maker.
* Univar named David Strizzi as president of Univar USA.

Wild Supplement Scenario
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds the FDA lacks the information, resources or recall ability necessary to regulate dietary supplements adequately. Congress requested the report. Nutrition Business Journal finds 79% of adult Americans take dietary supplements.

The GAO found supplement companies are not required to notify the FDA of the products they sell or the ingredients they use, just one of the 10 supplement areas in which the FDA has little oversight. In addition, FDA offers too little consumer education on the efficacy and safety of dietary supplements. The report did note FDA’s 2007 decision to begin requiring dietary supplement manufacturers to report “serious adverse events,” such as hospitalizations, birth defects or death, as well as its issuance of Good Manufacturing Practices specific to the industry.

However, the report found the FDA is unable currently to regulate dietary supplements adequately, and the conclusion was heralded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which has long called for more stringent regulations.

“It’s like the Wild West, and the bad guys know they don’t have to take the sheriff seriously,” said CSPI’s legal director Bruce Silverglade.

Even the Council for Responsible Nutrition agreed: “It is time for the FDA to focus its energy and resources on inspections and enforcement actions directed at the small minority of companies that are giving those in the majority a black eye,” opined president Steve Mister.

As part of the report, the GAO recommended FDA seek to increase its authority and to require more information from dietary supplement manufacturers, provide adequate guidance on the ingredients that must be documented and specify exactly what can be marketed as supplements or foods.

As for the FDA, it regarded the report “as a means of calling attention to the challenges that the agency faces,” noted agency spokesperson Susan Cruzan. pf