Reading List: Better In-Flight Foods, Contaminated Beef and Proposed HFCS Ban

by in Food News, April 16, 2010


In this week’s nutrition news: Home cooking makes a comeback, General Mills pledges to reduce salt levels in its products and a potato chip stand-in takes snackers by storm.

General Mills Slashes Salt
This week, General Mills joined food giants Kraft, ConAgra and Unilever with a pledge to reduce product sodium levels. The company plans to cut salt by 20 percent in about 40 percent of its foods. General Mills has already decreased salt in some Progresso soups and Chex snack mixes, but this is the first time it publicly announced its salt-slashing efforts.

Proposed High Fructose Corn Syrup Ban
On the heels of the suggested salt ban comes a proposed ban of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in New York state.  Assemblywoman Barbara Clark’s proposal would ban the use or sale of the sweetener. The bill is meant to improve public health, but is this taking it a step too far?  I’m not a big advocate of HFCS, but will sugar be next on the ingredient blacklist?  What’s your take?

USDA: Chemically-Tainted Beef Is Common
Think the meat you’re buying is safe? Think again. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture audit reports that the beef on supermarket shelves is wrought with contaminants. This time it’s not bacterial contamination, but rather potentially dangerous pesticides, antibiotics, and heavy metals. Federal agencies aren’t setting limits for these contaminates or even testing for them. It’s time to set new regulations. What do you think should be done?

Home Cooking Makes a Comeback
More Americans are thinking outside the (takeout) box and embracing home cooking, according to a recent American Institute for Cancer Research survey. Forty percent of participants said they were dining out less often, and almost 50 percent reported they were eating less fast food. The main reason? It’s just too expensive. Folks are saving more than money, though — they’re also saving calories. This is excellent news! If you’re looking for recipe  inspiration, don’t forget to check in with Healthy Eats daily for easy, healthy meal ideas and nutrition tips.

Better In-Flight Foods
Most folks will agree that airline food is generally less than tasty — and not something most people are willing to pay for. Many travelers bring their own food or buy meals from airport kiosks  as an alternative to in-flight fare. In response, airlines are working to create healthy and tasty choices for passengers. Air Canada offers a yogurt parfait and a vegetarian sandwich, and Alaska Airlines sells several healthy “picnic packs” of packaged foods. As a frequent flyer, I can’t wait to have better tasting (not to mention healthier) options in the skies.  Read our tips on healthier flying »

New Snack: Popchips
If you go gaga for potato chips, here’s a slightly healthier snack to chomp on: Popchips.  Instead of frying or baking, the chip is created by using heat and pressure. Each 1 ounce bag of  chips contains 120 calories, 4 grams of total fat and is trans fat-free. Adoring fans are popping up around the country, and I was pleasantly surprised with both the taste and the relatively short (and recognizable) list of ingredients on the package. I’ve spotted this chip all over my area. Have you tried Popchips? What’s your favorite potato chip alternative?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (2)

  1. We have had a lot of useful information to read this week. The subtitle USDA: Chemically-Tainted Beef Is Common is what will make many read in disbelief. I think the concept organic farming (which has come to include livestock) and the Farmers Market almost made us think the war against synthetic chemicals in food was over. Here it resurfaces again – dangerous pesticides and heavy metals.

    The State will want to regulate this area but then it has many things to consider. These pesticides are made by big companies employing thousands of people. Once a ban is instituted, the factory will have to lay off these workers; raising the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is one major criterion for assessing governments so every politician will want to bring it down. Sometimes, it is not the intention of the Companies to produce insecticides that leave those heavy metals in the soil. The farmer may use many different types of chemicals in combination from different companies; thus producing a result that had not been reckoned by the Company that made each of those chemicals.

    Then we need to think of the health of the cattle too. Hardly will a farmer use herb potions to treat a sick cow. It is likely they will go for synthetic drugs. The companies that provide these dugs have spent millions on research and the State has approved these chemicals for use in the treatment of the diseases. The Company will want to recoup its investment and the State will not want to show inconsistency by revoking the license for the drug. So there are so many interests at stake – that is why such regulation may take too much time to be implemented.

    Let me go for the New Snack: Popchips. Popchips is quite new to me. I am a conservative and old fashioned cook doing frying or baking. My favorite of the regular chips has been Zapp's Potato Chips. The old style, anyway.

  2. Julie says:

    The chemically tainted beef is here to stay. Monsanto, the giant company that seems to own everything having to do with agriculture chemicals, is a monster that never gets its hand slapped by the government for anything. Changing pesticide laws were hurt Monsanto, and that's not something the government has ever been interested in doing.

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