by Amy Reiter in Food News, November 23, 2016
by Amy Reiter in Food News, October 14, 2016
Is it time for budget- and health-minded beverage buyers to switch to seltzer or stick to water? If you live in a growing number of U.S. cities, sucking down sodas and other sugary beverages will now cost you more, thanks to new taxes.
Here’s a rundown of cities and counties that have enacted soda taxes, starting with five that did so just this month:
Cook County, Ill.: The populous Illinois county that is home to Chicago will see a penny-per-ounce beverage tax — over and above the usual sales tax — added to the purchase of sweetened drinks such as soda, iced tea, lemonade and sports drinks, whether bottled, canned or from a fountain. The tax, which goes into effect July 1, was approved by the Cook County Board on Thursday, November 10, and is expected to raise $224 million in revenue per year.
San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, Calif.: Voters in these Bay Area municipalities overwhelmingly passed soda taxes on Tuesday, November 8, in an effort to lower rates of diabetes and obesity — and raise revenues. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, June 24, 2016
Duped by Juice
When you reach for a Naked Juice, you probably think you’re doing something good for yourself. After all, its label promises “goodness inside.” But, in a class-action lawsuit filed last week, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has accused Naked Juice parent company PepsiCo of misleading consumers by suggesting that the fruit and veggie juices are primarily filled with ultra-healthy “acai berry, blueberries, kale, and mango,” when in reality the product lines’ chief ingredients are orange juice or “cheap, nutrient-poor apple juice.” CSPI contends the juices’ “no sugar added” claim is misleading as well, suggesting that the juices’ sugar content is low, when actually it’s quite high — nearly as much per bottle as a 12-ounce can of Pepsi. It also accuses PepsiCo of flouting Food and Drug Administration regulations by failing to not make clear that the drinks are “not a low-calorie food.” Consumers, CSPI litigation director Maia Kats said, are “not getting what they paid for.” PepsiCo has called the allegations in the suit “baseless.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, December 11, 2015
Veg out (if only a little)
The advice to eat your veggies is better than ever. Eating just a few more servings of healthful plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains) and slightly fewer servings of animal-based foods (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) every day can significantly reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, a new study published in PLOS Medicine has found. Interestingly, while those who ate a plant-based diet with a modest amount of animal products lowered their Type 2 diabetes risk by 20 percent, the kind of plant-based foods they ate was key. Those who ate healthy plant-based foods saw a 34 percent drop in diabetes risk, while those who ate unhealthy plant-based foods (refined carbs, sugary foods, starchy veggies) actually slightly increased their Type 2 diabetes risk. “What we’re talking about is a moderate shift – replacing one or two servings of animal food a day with one or two plant-based foods,” senior author Frank Hu, a professor at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, December 4, 2015
Coke-funded obesity group goes belly-up
That didn’t take long. The Global Energy Balance Network, a nonprofit organization that played down the role of calories from food and beverages in the obesity epidemic (and which, a New York Times expose revealed in August, was funded by Coca-Cola), announced last week that it would shutter immediately “due to resource limitations.” In November, the University of Colorado, where the organization’s leader is a professor, said it would return a $1 million donation from Coca-Cola, while the University of South Carolina, where another of the group’s leaders is on the faculty, says it plans to keep a $500,000 donation from the beverage giant. The announcement came only days after Coke’s chief science and health officer, Rhona S. Applebaum, who helped orchestrate the Global Energy Balance Network’s establishment, announced her retirement.
by Amy Reiter in Food News, October 2, 2015
A healthier Kiss
The thing about Hershey’s Kisses and Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars is that they’re always reliably the same, right? Not this year. Hershey’s has announced that both of those candy staples will now be made with simple, recognizable ingredients and no artificial flavors. The formula change, starting with holiday Hershey’s Kisses, is part of the chocolate giant’s larger commitment to greater transparency about ingredients. “We started making our great-tasting chocolate in 1894 with ingredients you might find in your pantry, like cocoa, milk, sugar and vanilla, and we’re continuing that tradition today,” Mary-Ann Somers, Hershey’s vice president and general manager of U.S. confection, said in a press release. “People want to see ingredients that they know and are familiar with in their foods and we’re listening.” The holiday Kisses will also come in packs featuring a SmartLabel QR code that provides consumer access to information about nutrition and allergens. Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, August 14, 2015
Is full-fat on trend?
For years, we’ve all been urged to curtail our consumption of saturated fat, advice that affected our appetite for butter, meat and whole milk — or at least the amount of those foods we ate. But, a new report published by the Credit Suisse Research Institute has determined, Americans are rebelling against the old guidance, which has grown murkier, and eating more full-fat foods. Butter sales rose 14 percent in 2014 and an additional 6 percent in the first three months of 2015, while sales of whole milk climbed 11 percent and skim milk purchases plummeted 14 percent in the first six months of 2015. The authors suggest the trend may be part of larger shift toward natural – organic, unprocessed – foods. “Full-fat milk sounds a lot more natural to people than 2 percent or skim milk,” lead author Stefano Natella told The New York Times. “Cows don’t produce skim milk. You have to process it to take out the fat.” Read more
by Amy Reiter in Food News, July 10, 2015
Now in Soda News
There’s lots of news bubbling in Soda Land. PepsiCo has begun shipping its new version of Diet Pepsi, tweaked to eliminate the artificial sweetener aspartame and replace it with two other artificial sweeteners: sucralose and acesulfame potassium (aka Splenda and Ace-K). The company, which is doing a big marketing push behind the reformulation, says it is responding to consumer demand, but it remains to be seen whether the switch from one artificial sweetener to two others will go down easy, particularly with Diet Pepsi stalwarts. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola has not changed Diet Coke, which contains aspartame, but it is engaged in its own efforts to fight sinking soda sales amidst health concerns: Through a new nonprofit organization, the Global Energy Balance Network, Coke is funding scientists who contend that America’s obesity problem is not about how much (or what) Americans eat and drink, but rather about how much we exercise, despite ample evidence to the contrary, The New York Times reports. Read more
by Dana Angelo White in Uncategorized, July 16, 2014
Sugary Drinks Are Killing Us … Really
How bad are sugary drinks for us? On a global scale, their toll is staggering. According to a recent analysis of data from dozens of international dietary surveys and large-scale studies, published online in Circulation, sugar-sweetened-beverage consumption causes more than 184,000 deaths — about 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 from cardiovascular disease and 6,450 from cancer — worldwide every year. (Gulp.) In the United States alone, about 25,000 deaths annually are attributable to sugary drinks, The New York Times reports, noting that experts are calling for the elimination of sugary drinks from our food supply altogether. Read more
by Sara Reistad-Long in Food News, May 8, 2014
Looking for that morning or afternoon buzz? Caffeinated creations — including coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks — vary not only in their pick-me-up powers but also in their nutritional benefits. Find out which ones offer the most (and least) perks.
Caffeine content: A typical cup of coffee (8 fluid ounces) contains 80 to 100 milligrams.
Perks and minuses: While black coffee contains an almost nonexistent amount of calories (about 5 per cup), too much cream and sugar will quickly change that. On the plus side, coffee is rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants that may benefit brain and heart health.
In this week’s news: Tofu firms up its fan base; Butter Image Rehab 2014 continues; and a soda giant refreshes its ingredient list.
Tofu, Always Blending In, Takes a Mainstream Approach
Given tofu’s admirable protein content, lack of cholesterol and relatively high amount of calcium, you’d think health reasons might be its biggest selling points. Yet those qualities didn’t seem to matter so much among women ages 20 to 35 in new research from Brian Wansink’s Cornell Food and Brand Lab. When the researchers told the study’s non-tofu eaters about the health benefits, just 12 percent said they’d consider giving it a go. But when the scientists talked about price or showed an easy ten-minute recipe with the tagline “Cooks Like Chicken,” nearly 50 percent of non-users jumped on the bandwagon. Whether it tastes like chicken seems beside the point: The three most popular uses — tofu scramble, tofu stir-fry, salad mix-in — seem to accommodate just about any mystery meat.