Free for All

With the FDA’s August announcement of gluten-free standards in the U.S., it is no surprise to see more gluten-free products popping up on labels across store shelves. For instance, while the majority of Stonyfield Farm’s products have always been free of gluten, the company has now opted to make it “official” with gluten-free certification from the Gluten Free Certification Organization for all but six of its lines. Gary Hirshberg, CE-Yo and president of Stonyfield, notes that the company aims to get the remainder of its products certified, as well.

Not only is the U.S. witnessing increased attention to labeling issues, Canada has introduced new labeling requirements for food allergens, gluten sources and added sulphites. Likewise, the World Health Organization notes Geneva diplomats pledged their countries would work to include standards for gluten-free food foods into their national legislation and to export foods under World Trade Organization rules.

Belly Up

Steve Demos, the founder and creator of Silk soymilk, is continuing his efforts to pioneer next-generation foods promoting optimal health and wellness. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, he made clear to a Prepared Foods editor that his company, NextFoods, was hard at work on a product that would address what he regarded as the biggest food trend: human health.

GoodBelly, he assures, is that product. The fruit drink features probiotics and antioxidant-rich fruit. The probiotic Lp299v has been “clinically tested and proven for 15 years to improve overall digestive regularity and promote immunity.”

The first “fruit-based, dairy-free, soy-free, wheat-free and vegan probiotic product of its kind” in the U.S. comes in two product lines: GoodBelly Probiotic Fruit Drink and GoodBelly Multi Probiotic Fruit Drink. The former is available in a 32oz size in three flavors: black currant, cranberry watermelon and mango. The latter is a four-pack of 2.7oz single-serving fruit drinks in blueberry acai, strawberry rosehips and peach mango flavors.

...Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Absinthe saw its heyday in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reportedly serving as the hallucinogenic muse of such artists and writers as Van Gogh, Poe, Wilde and Crowley. Regarded as a “dangerously addictive, psychoactive drug,” the alcoholic drink was banned in the U.S. in 1915.

Now, the early 21st century is seeing the return of the drink, with absinthe bars and cocktails on menus, and Absinthe Mata Hari is making its way to store shelves.

The brand has a 127-year history with the beverage, made with Grand Wormwood, boasting a “natural,” herbal green color and the ability to generate the distinctive “louche,” or clouding effect, when mixed with cold water.

The company notes no evidence has ever demonstrated absinthe is any more dangerous than other liquor, as absinthe devotees recount its ability to create a “wide-awake feeling of relaxation and the lack of typical hangover symptoms the following day.”

Not Kidding Around

When it comes to children's nutrition and processed foods, the U.K. is not playing. Already, watchdogs have called manufacturers to task over the products advertised toward children on television. Now, research out of the country has examined the nutritional quality of processed foods targeting kids and found the offerings lacking.

The U.K. journal Obesity Reviews examined 367 products, specifically excluding confections, soft drinks and bakery items. Nine out of 10 foods aimed at children were found to have a poor nutritional content, defined as high levels of fat, sodium or sugar. Of the products, 70% derived a high proportion of calories from sugar; 23% had high fat levels; and 17% boasted high sodium levels.

Perhaps most shocking to the journal was that 62% of the foods it regarded as having poor nutritional quality made positive claims about their nutrition on the front of the package.


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  • Cognis Nutrition and Health announced that Tonalin CLA has achieved FDA GRAS status. Cognis also announced the sale of its 50% stake in the Cognis Oleochemicals joint venture to PTT Chemical International Private Ltd. for about €104 million in cash.

  • In addition, Cognis signed an agreement to sell its Pulcra Chemicals subsidiary to Germany-based Fashion Chemicals GmbH & Co. KG for €26.3 million.

  • Too much tofu may affect a man’s fertility, according to a study linking soya and low sperm count. The Soyfoods Association of North America said soy has no effect on sperm count.

  • National Starch introduced a new tapioca-based starch with high viscosity and a smooth, short and glossy texture. National Starch Food Innovation and Desert King International announced an agreement in which Desert King has granted National global exclusive rights to sell quillaja-based products and innovations for stabilization and delivery of a wide range of actives/ ingredients to the food and beverage industry. National Starch Food Innovation also relaunched its website, with new industry portals and a new product selector.

  • Coca-Cola has reportedly been working to perfect prototype beverages using Chinese herbal cures.

  • Robertet introduced goji flavors.

  • Trans fats have been found to increase the risk of benign growths called adenomas, which can develop into cancers.

  • FMC Corporation acquired CoLiving Food Ingredients.

  • The University of Helsinki is strengthening collaboration between the worlds of medicine and nutrition by establishing a new professorship in Nutritional Physiology at its Faculty of Medicine. Docent Riitta Korpela, Ph.D., and vice president of Research at Valio Group, is first to hold the new position.

  • Women who drink a glass of orange juice each day are up to 24% more likely to suffer from type 2 diabetes.

  • Rather than vilify the obese, parents of all children should be told that being unhealthy can reduce life expectancy, U.K. Health Secretary Alan Johnson said.

  • The FDA may loosen restrictions imposed last year on Chinese seafood processors, following recent inspections of some firms in that country.

  • Lonza appointed Seltzer Ingredients and Pharmachem Laboratories Inc. as Lonza’s authorized U.S. distributors for its nutritional ingredient, Carnipure. 

  • Approximately 84% of U.S. consumers in a nationwide survey said they did not use the check from the federal government to purchase groceries.

  • Two to three cups of coffee a day cut the risk of premature death by 18% in women and 3% in men.

  • InBev is paying $52 billion to purchase Anheuser-Busch.

  • Cargill broke ground at the Aberdeen site of its future specialty canola research and production center, scheduled to open in November 2008, located about 48km from Cargill’s canola crush facility in Clavet, Saskatchewan. Cargill has received a patent for a “breakthrough technology” in taste tissue imaging and taste modification.

  • Symrise expanded its Mexico City site by adding new laboratories for the development and application of flavorings and culinary concepts. The new head of the Mexican market is Sergio Hernández, who was recently named director, Flavor & Nutrition Division of Symrise Mexico.

  • Farbest Brands and BioGin Biochemicals of Chengdu, China, will cooperate on the release of BioGin’s range of omega-3 fatty acid products in North America. 

  • ConAgra Foods named Dave Linne senior vice president, Advertising.

  • Land O’Frost appointed David Van Eekeren president.

  • Steve Cahillane will assume the role of president of Coca-Cola Enterprise’s North American Business Unit, while Hubert Patricot becomes president of the company’s European Group.

  • “Congress must give the FDA the ability to create better tools to track food from the farm to the dinner table, as well as authority to issue mandatory recalls other than for infant formula,” believes the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

  • Not Out to Lunch

    Whether due to the economy, dissatisfaction with foodservice options or increased efforts toward being healthy, Americans are turning to brown bag lunches for their workday meals. The NPD Group finds weekday lunches carried from home topped 8.5 billion in 2007, a new high point. The review examined consumers 18 and older, finding more than half of these meals are eaten at the workplace, most often at the desk or workstation.

    The NPD report, “What’s in the Bag, and Why Is It in There?,” finds the majority of consumers cite financial considerations as the reason for bringing a meal from home, noting it is less expensive than other options. NPD found health and nutrition ranking second among the motives, with convenience, taste, diet, quality and environmental concerns also registering among the principal reasons cited. Furthermore, those who typically brown-bag report they are doing so even more often.

    “Consumers are definitely in a cost-cutting mode, and brown-bagging saves them money,” explains Harry Balzer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Making lunch at home and putting it in a bag also enables them to have full control over what goes into the bag, as many are concerned about eating better.”

    Adult males carry more brown bag lunches, but, “quite often,” females are the preparers. The practice is most commonly recorded among 35-54-year-olds, white-collar consumers and professionals, as well as more affluent consumers. 

    For more information on the report, “What’s in the Bag, and Why Is It in There?” contact Kim McLynn, 847-692-1781.