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The Corn Refiners Association petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) several years ago requesting a name change for high fructose corn syrup. According to the Association, the change was to alleviate confusion about the ingredient. However, some believed it was nothing more than a way to trick consumers who had become wary of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Between 1970 and 2005, corn sweeteners like HFCS replaced cane and beet sugars at an increasing rate and became the leading substitute for sucrose because of its lower cost. Analysis conducted in 2005 found that HFCS-42 (one of the popular blends of HFCS) cost an average of $13.6 cents per pound compared to beet sugar that averaged $29.5 cents per pound. Because of its liquid form it is easier to blend in foods than sugar and has become a common sweetening agent in soft drinks, sports drinks, and condiments as well as numerous other processed foods.
Last month the FDA formally rejected the name change request largely because the FDA defines sugar as a solid, dried, and crystallized food and not liquid syrup. Did you know that HFCS is just one of many sweeteners produced through the corn refinery process? Let's get to know some of them--and take a look at the corn syrup debate.
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When you read the ingredient listing on a nutrition label, do the sugar terms jump out at you? Perhaps listings like sugar, brown sugar, or honey cause you to pause. What about listings such as evaporated cane juice, malt or turbinado sugar? Do they register as sources of added sugar?
Sugar has been in the news quite a bit recently. Learning ZoneXpress, a USDA national strategic partner, announced a new educational poster highlighting the sugar content found in popular beverages. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) just released a newly updated position paper regarding full-calorie and low-calorie sweeteners. Why is there so much attention on sugar?
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School groups are always trying to raise money to support their activities. Tougher economic times and tightened school budgets make fundraising from candy sales or bake sales commonplace. My daughter did her fair share of making delicious puppy chow for lunchtime sales to support the National Honor Society. Our son has sold scores of candy bars to benefit the band.
In an attempt to formulate new school nutrition regulations, state health officials in Massachusetts recently took some heat for their proposed ban on bake sales. Legislation set to go into effect in August would prohibit selling sweets in school during the day as well as immediately before and after the school day. After an outcry of concern with the impact the legislation would have on fundraising efforts, Massachusetts state officials backpedaled on the bake sale ban. This is not the first state to try to tighten up control on sweets in school. Back in 2010, a school district in Michigan banned cupcakes for school celebrations.This recent potential ban caused many to ask if bake sales should be banned.
But what if they were turned into educational opportunities?
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Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified raw yellowfin tuna as the source of a salmonella outbreak that reached more than200 people throughout 24 states and the District of Columbia. Salmonella Bareilly was the organism and many of the people that became sick had eaten spicy tuna rolls. As a result of the outbreak, the Moon Marine USA Corporation in Cupertino California voluntarily recalled their product labeled as "Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA." Nakaochi Scrape is the scraped backmeat from the spine of the tuna. It resembles ground fish and is generally served raw, often in spicy tuna and other rolls.
Over the past several months we have heard a great deal about lean finely textured beef (LFTB), commonly referred to as pink slime, in our food supply. Now that attention has turned to the pulverized fish, many are asking if it is the fish version of pink slime.
Ken Gall, Extension Associate at Cornell University and member of the National Seafood HACCP Alliance Steering Committee believes comparing the two processes of removing meat from bones is unwarranted. This is because additional processing and ammonia treatment is required to create lean finely textured beef but not for tuna scrape. While this differentiation is helpful, it still leaves questions. If tuna scrape doesn't require additional processing or chemical treatments, what is it and is it something we should be concerned about?
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Earlier this year, Coach Tanya blogged about the changes being made to school lunches, but five years ago, the state of California had already started to cut down on junk food in school cafeterias. With the changes that were made in California high schools, there have been some interesting findings that may help reduce childhood obesity. The law in California put limits on the amount of fat, sugar and calories that are found in their cafeteria’s, along with the foods and snacks that are available on school grounds, such as vending machines.
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A new children's book entitled Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action was released last week with mixed reviews over concerns about the books use of graphic images and a potentially unhealthy diet message. Author and illustrator Ruby Roth's previous book That's Why We Don't Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things provided children in vegetarian homes with a colorfully illustrated explanation to help them understand their family's eating style. (Learn more about the origin of the book here.) Vegan is Love continues the conversation into a deeper context by tackling tougher topics like animal testing and the use of animals as entertainment.
Ruby Roth told ABCNews.com that her book is intended to introduce ideas of compassion and action that help children think, eat, and treat the environment differently. Some of the biggest concerns from critics relate to how children may feel regarding the suggestions to boycott visits to the zoo, circus, or aquarium in addition to avoiding the inclusion of meat or dairy in the diet. Child psychologist Jennifer Hart Steen shared her concern with Matt Lauer on the "Today" show about how children may process the overall message especially if they don't follow a vegan lifestyle. There is also some concern regarding the illustrations especially for younger children.
Here is what the author has to say about her new book.
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Earlier this year the First Lady unveiled the new school lunch guidelines. The revised USDA nutrition standards require schools to update menus to increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free fluid milk or low-fat dairy while lowering sodium, saturated and trans fat levels.
Implementing the revised standards is expected to increase food costs for many school districts that are already facing tight budgets. However, creative food service administrators have already begun providing healthier meals while still maintaining their bottom line. One creative program that has caught their attention seems to be a quick service option with a goal to "provide added nutrition benefits to the most popular entrée served in schools to help give kids energy to learn, grow and play." When administrators notice how the cost effective quick service option easily meets the revised USDA guidelines while also collaborating with reputable organizations like the Whole Grains Council, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the School Nutrition Association, the program certainly increases in credibility. So what quick service program is targeting schools?
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Perhaps you have seen one of the new Burger King ads with David Beckham, Jay Leno, or Salma Hayek or heard about the controversy related to the pulled one for Mary J Blige. In either case, more than likely you have heard the company has added new menu items. With the first major food expansion since the chain launched in 1954, we thought it was important to take a closer look.
Critics suggest the new menu additions like frappes, fruit smoothies, specialty salads, and snack wraps are very similar to the menus items of their top-rated competitors. While the 10 new menu items do match McDonald's offerings rather closely, perhaps the new updates are also a sign of the times. With a saturated fast-food market, maybe offering nutrition conscious options is a necessity just to stay competitive. Regardless of the reason for the new menu items, here are the nutrition details for the new choices to help you decide if they are right for you and your family.
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If I offered you lean ground beef with the assurance that it was high in protein, low in fat, and tested to be free from Salmonella and E.Coli, wouldn't you think it was the best beef in town (except if you are a vegetarian of course)? Would you think the meat sounded as good if I told you it contained lean meat "trimmings" and had been treated with ammonium hydroxide?
There has been a lot of talk about pink slime in the news recently, even though this isn't new and has been reported about previously. The movie Food, Inc talked about it back in 2008. British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver taught about it on his ABC series Food Revolution several years later. Last year Taco Bell faced a lawsuit and a media firestorm over accusations that they used fillers in their taco meat. So why all the hype now about the use of anti-microbial agents and meat trimmings especially when the USDA has repeatedly cited the process to be generally recognized as safe (GRAS) with an update as recently as last year?
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Meat and poultry provide consumers with a great source of high biological value protein as well as other key nutrients such as iron, thiamine, and zinc. However, they also provide a source of saturated fat and cholesterol, both linked to heart disease. It is possible to enjoy meat and poultry in your diet while also limiting saturated fat and calories but it requires accurate nutrition information. Unfortunately, vague meat labeling laws of the past have only required nutrition labels for products that included added ingredients such as marinades or sauces. The lack of complete information made figuring out the best and worst meat choices while shopping a navigational nightmare.
Beginning this month, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) have implemented rules for packaged meat and poultry that will make informed shopping much easier and take the mystery out of meat shopping.
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Over thirty years ago, advances in technology created the first test tube baby. Twenty years later continued advancements introduced the world to Dolly the first cloned mammal. A decade later, the FDA declared that genetically engineered foods were "not inherently dangerous" and would not require special regulations.
As controversial as these technological advancements may have been, they may be nothing compared to what scientists in the Netherlands are working to create in a test tube now.
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Last year wasn't one of the best sales years for Taco Bell. Perhaps it was because of a lawsuit early in the year but regardless of the reason, Taco Bell and their parent company Yum Brands Inc. seek to make this year better. With the hopes of increasing interest in the Mexican style fast-casual dining chain, they are rolling out two new test market initiatives with specific competitor markets in mind.
Last month nearly 800 Taco Bell test restaurants across 12 western U.S. states began trialing new breakfast options. The initial breakfast test market began with four cities and favorable response led to the increased test market to begin making a presence in the $42 billion food on the run breakfast market. New "First Meal" items focus on egg and steak, sausage or bacon stuffed burritos and wraps. Taco Bell has also included recognizable name brands like Cinnabon, Johnsonville, Tropicana, and Seattle's Best in the hopes of boosting interest as well. With a price range from $.99 to $2.79, more people may begin thinking "outside the bun" when it comes to breakfast.
In addition to the expanded test market of the new breakfast line, initial testing is under way for the new menu items that they hope take Taco Bell in the direction of gourmet food. Biggest Loser Chef Lorena Garcia has created the new Cantina Bell burrito, burrito bowl, and soft tacos menu items. Increased focus on nutrient rich ingredients such as seasoned white rice, black beans, and corn salsa appear to take aim at fresh-Mex competitors Chipotle Mexican Grill and Qdoba. Unfortunately, the initial testing market for Cantina Bell is restricted to the Bakersfield, California and Louisville, Kentucky areas for now. If all goes well, you may be seeing the new menu near you by the end of the year.
If neither of these new initiatives is in your area but you love Taco Bell, have no fear because the countdown has started for a new culturally cool concept that just might be.
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I’ve had sugar on the brain for the past few weeks. For one, I have been testing some lower-sugar dessert recipes for my hospital’s patient menu. Then, my husband came home from work and said that one of his employees said he heard that sugar is just as addictive as heroin and cocaine. “What’s up with that?” he asked.
Well, what’s up with that, for those of you who don’t know, is that recent studies have shown that sugar poses dangers to health (such as chronic disease and premature death) that justifies controlling them like alcohol and tobacco products.
I don’t think anyone would argue with the authors that many people consume an excessive amount of sugar every day—up to 500 calories or 30 teaspoons of the sweet stuff. In fact, sugar consumption has tripled over the last 50 years. Foods with added sugars can be abused and are connected to high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and liver damage.
However, is it the government's place to step in?
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Over the weekend, family and close friends said goodbye to Whitney Houston while the public watched. Like many famous iconic stars before her, the questionable circumstances of her premature death could easily overshadow the career and contribution she offered while alive. The Queen of Soul and Whitney's Godmother Aretha Franklin hopes people will remember her for her artistry instead of her challenges with substance abuse.
Before her death, the younger generation may have only known Whitney for her famous "crack is whack" comment to Diane Sawyer during a 2002 interview. Postmortem sales indicate she has been re-introduction to them as "the voice" many of us have always known and loved. Digital copies of her music skyrocketed the day after her death with I Will Always Love You leading the way. Although she holds the Billboard's record for most consecutive number one singles at seven between 1985 and 1988, Whitney may be worth more dead than alive as speculation suggests she may well earn millions this year posthumously. Unfortunately, this will likely add her to the Forbes list of top earning dead celebrities with other musical iconic greats like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon.
Listening to many of her greatest hits again this past week brought back memories of years and experiences gone by that for me will forever be tied to her music. Like when I repeatedly listened to All at Once trying to get over a lost love or times hanging out with college friends waiting for the iconic How Will I Know video to come on VH1 and the hope it brought for new love could be found. One Moment in Time has always spoken to the athlete in me and the drive to find that "sweet spot" where ability meets performance. When I hear Whitney's Superbowl rendition of The Star Spangled Banner, it not only stirs patriotic pride but also the realization of how powerful the song is to unify people as well.
Sadly, Whitney Houston's death is the silencing of her iconic voice that as a LA Times reviewer clearly noted in 2009, she didn't understand or embrace was a national treasure that resided within her to be protected. However, even larger of a loss than a voice to the world is her role as a mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and friend to those that loved her most. So what can we learn from the loss of Whitney Houston?
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First, it was the launch of the Let's Move Campaign to encourage change toward healthier eating and fitness habits. Then there were updated school lunch guidelines to match-up what is served in public schools with the MyPlate healthy eating guidelines. Now for the first time in nearly twenty years the military will get a nutrition overhaul aimed to help more Americans beat obesity.
Last week the First Lady joined the Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs at the Little Rock Air Force Base to announce the new Health Services focus. The Military Health System obesity and nutrition awareness campaign will provide a large revamp to nutrition standards and meal service to our military men and women, retirees and their families. Each year the military discharges about 1,200 entry-level candidates because of their inability to meet fitness and weight standards. At the same time, the Defense Department spends nearly $1.4 billion on obesity related health problems including diabetes, heart disease, and osteoarthritis. The Department of Defense believes the new changes will help reduce costs and increase military readiness by improving the overall health of the military population. At the same time, our military will be setting a powerful example for the rest of the nation. Here are some of the changes expected in the coming months.
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