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Health & Wellness Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

<<12345678910>> Total issues:151

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December 15, 2017, to January 15, 2018

Restaurants Can’t Ignore Customers Looking To Avoid Certain Foods

Big restaurant chains are swerving from their standardized approach to foods and beverages to better serve customers trying to avoid gluten and dairy. Customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets, have become a market simply too large to ignore. Starbucks, for example, now sells a hot chocolate drink made with steamed almond milk. California Pizza Kitchen offers a gluten-free cauliflower crust for those who don’t eat wheat-based foods. Industry research has found that lactose comes in third, after high fructose corn syrup and GMOs, as America’s most-avoided ingredients. Gluten and wheat came in at No. 7.

Gold Medal, Pillsbury Baking Products Reformulated Without Artificial Colors, Flavors

General Mills’ Gold Medal and Pillsbury baking mixes and frozen baked goods will no longer be formulated with artificial flavors or colors “from artificial sources.” The revamped line of products includes bread, biscuit, brownie, cake and muffin mixes, and frozen cinnamon rolls, muffins, and scones. According to the company, the products were reformulated to help bakeries, restaurants, and food service operations better meet the needs of customers with food intolerances or allergies, or who are following avoidance diets. Revamped Gold Medal muffin, brownie, and cake mixes will be available in June 2018. The new Gold Medal products will also have redesigned packaging with updated graphics, photography, and easier-to-read instructions..

Arca Unit Acquires Clean Label Snack Maker Deep River

One of Coca-Cola’s largest Latin American bottlers and the owner of Wise Snacks has acquired Connecticut-based Deep River Snacks, a clean label, “better-for-you” food company. Fifteen-year-old Deep River, whose annual sales are about $45 million a year, produces “clean and conscientious,” non-GMO snacks for the U.S. market. The company also donates a significant share of its profits to charitable organizations annually. The acquisition will give Deep River access to Arca Continental’s strong distribution network, and will allow the company to invest more heavily in innovation. Arca is Coke’s second largest bottler in Latin America..

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September 15, 2017, to December 15, 2017

U.S. Consumers Need To Know About Benefits Of Unrefined Whole Grains

Australia’s Freedom Foods Group is on a mission to educate American consumers about the benefits of unrefined whole grains, the kind it uses to make its range of Barley+ breakfast muesli products and snack bars. According to the company, the highly refined carbohydrates in the American diet not only do not deliver nutritional benefits like a healthier gut, they increase the risk of disease. Kroger Supermarkets in the U.S. is selling the Barley+ range, with distribution expanding in both the U.S. and Australia. The toasted muesli collection is available in three flavors: cranberry and nuts, pink lady and macadamia muesli, and maple and nut. They retail for $6.49. 

Calif. Dairy Industry Says Non-GMO Milk Is Really A “Non-Issue”

Despite criticism that smacks of mockery, a San Francisco Bay-area dairy is now selling milk labeled “non-GMO,” claiming that cows producing it had never eaten grains containing genetically modified organisms. Clover Sonoma dairy has been in the vanguard of the movement to purify dairy products by removing or keeping out troubling additives like growth hormones. Its cattle feed has been organic for two decades. But organic milk is expensive. So it devised a cheaper way to ease consumer concerns by adopting the non-GMO labeling. Industry experts, however, say it’s a non-issue. "It's really trying to market a distinction without a difference," said the president of the National Milk Producers Federation, whose "peel back the label" campaign is trying to shed some light on the topic. A UC-Davis animal genomics scientist said, “It's like unicorn-free milk. There aren't any GMOs in milk anyway."

Study Claims Sugar Lobby Suppressed Negative Findings On Sugar’s Health Impact

After years of believing that foods containing fat were the major cause of a raft of health problems, scientists and consumers now know that sugar is the real culprit. But the decades-old misperception was not an accident. It was fostered by the sugar industry, which suppressed research as long as 50 years ago that would have rung the alarm bell. A new study reveals that the Sugar Association buried its own scientific findings on the harmful effects of table sugar on rodents in the 1960s. Two studies, known as Project 259, funded by the sugar lobby proved that sugar-eating mice were at greater risk for strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease. The Sugar Association never published the results, but claims now that the reasons were circumstantial.

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August 15, 2017, to September 15, 2017

Hospital Patients With Diabetes Are More Prone To Complications, Longer Stays

Twenty-two percent of German hospital patients are diabetic, and nearly one in four are prediabetic, according to investigators at two German research centers. For the study, researchers screened 3,733 adult patients in Tübingen University Hospital for diabetes and prediabetes for four weeks. They found that diabetic patients tend to stay in the hospital longer and have a higher risk of complications. They recommended that screening patients older than 50 years for diabetes and treating them for the condition would reduce complications and cut the length of hospital stays.

Kind Expands Into Fruit Bite Market With Premium, All-Fruit Products

Snack bar company Kind LLC is entering the $2.3 billion fruit snacks market with gummy fruit bites containing no added sugar. As established food companies have struggled to grow, Kind has managed to ride the healthful snacks wave using natural ingredients and transparent packaging to $1 billion in annual sales. Kind’s fruit bites are made with real fruit – apples, strawberries, pineapples and mangoes – and only fruit. No other ingredients are listed on the packages. The products will be available nationally in coming weeks at the premium price of $4.99 a box. General Mills is the category leader, controlling about 21 percent of the market.

Studies Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Eating Red Raspberries

Eight studies, both preclinical research and human clinical trials, that described the potential of raspberries to boost satiety, control blood sugar, and moderate inflammation, were presented earlier this year at the Experimental Biology conference. Clinical trial participants experienced improvement in glucose control and increased satiety while eating raspberries. Animal subjects in longer-term preclinical studies showed promising effects on the gut microbiota after red raspberry intake. Observations from animal and in vitro studies suggested that future red raspberry research might explore potential good effects on inflammation, obesity, and type 2 diabetes risk.

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July 15, 2017, to August 15, 2017

Protein Bar Company Unveils Line Of Plant-Based Protein Bars, Powders

Protein bar company thinkThin has expanded its product line to include a range of plant protein-based nutritional bars and powders. All of the bars and protein and probiotic powder mixes are soy-free, GMO-free, gluten-free and vegan. Products include Sea Salt Almond Chocolate High Protein Bar, Chocolate Mint High Protein Bar, Belgian Chocolate Protein & Probiotics Powder Mix, and Madagascar Vanilla Bean Protein & Probiotics Powder Mix. They will be sold at Whole Foods Market, Kroger, Target and Walmart nationwide.

Catholic Church Reaffirms Its Position On Gluten-Free Communion Wafers

Gluten-free is a major food trend, and a multi-billion-dollar business. But it hasn’t yet breeched the walls of Vatican City and isn’t likely to anytime soon. The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church recently advised its bishops worldwide that – celiac disease notwithstanding – there will be no messing around with the basic recipe for communion wafers. The reason? Christ ate bread, made with gluten-rich wheat, and drank wine at the Last Supper, declaring that they were his body and blood. The Catholic Church takes those words literally, not symbolically. As one U.S. theologian said, “Christ did not institute the Eucharist as rice and sake, or sweet potatoes and stout."

Cauliflower Pizza Crusts Are A Hit At ESPY Party

Cali’flour Foods says its plant-based, vegan cauliflower pizza crusts garnered rave reviews from athletes and celebrities attending the recent pre-ESPYs sports awards party in Beverly Hills, Calif. According to company founder Amy Lacey, current Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay ordered a year's worth of the crusts after sampling. The company offers two gluten-free varieties made with cauliflower, cheese, eggs, and spices. A new variant is the plant-based Italian crust containing no eggs or dairy. Lacey was inspired to create the new pizza crusts after her own lupus diagnosis and her discovery that certain foods triggered inflammation. The crusts are available nationwide and online.

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June 15, 2017, to July 15, 2017

Vegetarian Diet And Exercise Reduce Fat In Thighs

Researchers in the Czech Republic have determined that a vegetarian diet combined with exercise are more effective than a calorie-reduction diet at reducing subfascial fat in the thighs, a significant contributor to type 2 diabetes. Both subfascial and intramuscular fat are markers of insulin resistance in obesity. The study, conducted among 74 people with type 2 diabetes, found an association between changes in total leg area and subcutaneous fat and subfascial fat on the one hand, and markers of glucose and lipid metabolism on the other hand. Further research is needed to determine how different dietary interventions might affect fat in thighs.

Study Warns That Too Much Vitamin D Can Be Harmful

Vitamin D supplements are beneficial for bone health, but a new study that analyzed data on more than 39,000 adults finds that Americans may be overdoing it. The number of U.S. adults taking daily vitamin D supplements between 1999 and 2014 increased by more than 17 percent, with three percent of the population exceeding the recommended upper dosage limit. Too much vitamin D poses a risk of adverse effects, including abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood and soft tissue, leading to vascular calcification. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU/d for adults 70 years or younger and 800 IU/d for those older than 70 years.

Olive Oil Protects Memory, Learning Ability

U.S. and Italian researchers have determined in an animal study that extra virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy, the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins. The researchers now plan to see whether olive oil added to the diet after the onset of brain disease will stop or reverse it.

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June 01, 2017, to June 15, 2017

Health And Personal Care Sales Booming Online, Led By Amazon

U.S. sales of health and personal care (HPC) products slowed in the first quarter by one percent year-over-year, mainly in brick-and-mortar stores. Online sales were up in the quarter, led by Amazon.com. As of the first quarter of 2017, the U.S. HPC market was valued at $80.6 billion, while Amazon sales represented $1.3 billion. Year over year growth of HPC sales on Amazon in the first quarter was 30 percent. According to One Click Retail, consumers are abandoning in-store shopping for HPC products in favor of online shopping. Within Amazon, the rate of growth for HPC is highest in Prime Pantry, with top categories multiplying revenue by as much as five times.

Low-Fat Dairy Products Linked To Higher Risk Of Parkinson’s

U.S. researchers who analyzed 25 years of diet and health data on nearly 130,000 men and women found that three servings of low-fat dairy products a day were linked with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. No such association was found with whole milk or other full-fat dairy products. People who consumed at least three servings of low-fat dairy a day had a 34 percent greater chance of developing Parkinson's than people who consumed less than one serving a day. Consuming more than one serving of skim and low-fat a day was associated with a 39 percent greater chance of developing Parkinson's. The researchers acknowledged that early Parkinson's symptoms may have affected the dietary behaviors and questionnaire responses of study participants.

Vitamin K: Not Just Found In Leafy Greens

USDA nutrition researchers have shown that the relatively obscure vitamin K, once thought to exist only in leafy green vegetables, is also present in significant amounts in dairy products containing fat, including milk, yogurt, and cheese. Vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot, is found in two natural forms: phylloquinone, which is plant-based, and menaquinones, found in animal products and fermented foods, and produced by bacteria in the human gut. The researchers say more research is needed to determine the role of microbes used in production of dairy products, and their impact on menaquinone content. There is also a need to determine the bioavailability of all menaquinone forms, considering their abundance in the U.S. diet.

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May 15, 2017, to June 01, 2017

Snack Company Intensifies Focus On Allergy-Free Products

Skeeter Snacks (Chicago, Ill.) has renamed itself the Safe + Fair Food Company to serve the 17 million Americans with food allergies. The company, which makes nut-free snacks sold in schools and on JetBlue flights, said its goal will be to develop food brands that are “safe, accessible, fairly priced and delicious.” The company recently acquired Mama Jess Organics, a maker of organic pasta and enchilada sauces, and is itself developing snacks and meals that further its mission of making it “easy and fun to be safe” from allergic food reactions.

Food Companies Further Spirit Of Obama-Era Nutrition Programs

The Trump administration’s USDA has made it a top priority to eliminate Obama-era nutrition initiatives. The agency has stalled or rolled back nutrition standards for school lunches, and postponed rules that require restaurants to put calorie counts on menus. But the changes are not having much impact on food companies that have gotten into the spirit of Michelle Obama’s programs, though perhaps not for altruistic reasons. Companies have financial and political motivations for making changes: consumers are clamoring for more healthful foods, and in smaller portions. The upshot is that big food firms are working with the nonprofit Partnership for a Healthier America to further the Obama legacy, despite what the new crop of regulators says or does. 

Companies Develop Plant Steroid Dietary Supplement Applications

Several companies have collaborated to introduce food and dietary supplement ingredients applications based on a plant sterol ester that has been approved by the EU (EFSA) for use by European food companies. BASF health unit Newtrition partnered with Aenova and Kappa to develop the Vegapure brand of plant sterol ingredient, made with phytosterols known to reduce high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The ingredient is available in several forms, including capsules, sachets and shots.

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May 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Company Recognized As Paragon Of Herbal Product Purity, Transparency

Gaia Herbs of North Carolina has been a stickler for ingredient purity and transparency from the beginning, and so has avoided controversies that have plagued the rest of the herbal supplement industry. Founder Ric Scalzo was more of an herbalist than a capitalist when he launched the company in 1987, before talk of regulation and enforcement. For Scalzo, efficacy of herbal supplements could only be based on purity. The company already uses DNA testing to make sure the raw ingredients it sources are the real thing. That stringency has won the company copious praise from customers and industry organizations, as well as an award from the Nutrition Business Journal (New Hope Network) for supply chain transparency.

Superfood Ingredients Provide Market Opportunity For FMCG Companies

Superfoods rich in nutrients (i.e., antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, etc.) include kale, quinoa, strawberries, blueberries and chia seeds. They are growing in popularity in the U.S., thanks to the growth in information about them, according to Nielsen. Moreover, access to superfoods is on the rise, both in farmers’ markets and on retail grocery shelves. Superfoods can be found in the fresh produce section of stores, but they are also increasingly found as ingredients in food products in other store departments. Chia seeds, for example, can be found in 23 percent of grocery store product categories. Nielsen says this provides a marketing opportunity for food and beverage makers, and other FMCG manufacturers (e.g., soap and diet aids).

Plant-Derived Blend Of Compounds Treats Inflammation As Well As An NSAID

A study to assess the anti-inflammatory effects of a polyphenol-rich spearmint extract mixed with rosmarinic acid found that it reduces swelling and inflammation as well as the synthetic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) indomethacin, and works much better than the plant-derived compound rosmarinic acid by itself. The researchers tested the mixture on a rat model of paw swelling (edema). They said their findings showed there is a “potential synergy” between the compounds in the spearmint extract mixed with rosmarinic acid that targets inflammation. The study was sponsored by Kemin Industries, a nutritional ingredients manufacturer based in Iowa.

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April 15, 2017, to May 01, 2017

MIT Scientists Develop Faster, Cheaper Foodborne Pathogen Detection Method

A new technology developed at MIT may help prevent the 60 deaths and 73,000 illnesses caused each year by the foodborne pathogen E. coli bacteria. The technology is based on a novel type of liquid droplet that binds to bacterial proteins They are then detected by a smartphone much more quickly and less expensively than by existing food safety tests, which often involve placing food samples in a culture dish for two or three days to see if harmful bacterial colonies form. According to one of the scientists who helped develop the process, “The great advantage of our device is you don’t need specialized instruments and technical training to do this.” 

Compound That Checks Cell Aging May Help Prevent A Variety Of Diseases

A naturally-occurring compound – it was discovered in the soil of Easter Island – known as rapamycin may help prevent neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s, by preventing cell aging. The compound has been widely studied because it mimics the effects of dietary restriction, including longer lifespan, at least in mouse studies. Mice taking rapamycin have also shown more fitness, improved cognition, better cardiovascular health, and less cancer. The new U.S. study finds that rapamycin is linked to cellular senescence, when aging cells stop proliferating and secrete toxins that cause inflammation that, in turn, sets the stage for a wide variety of degenerative diseases, including dementia. Rapamycin appears to help stop that process. 

Study Shows Multivitamins Do Not Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease, Mortality

A large, long-term clinical trial has found that taking a daily multivitamin supplement does not reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease any more than a sugar pill does. There was also no conclusive evidence that people whose diet is poor are less likely to experience heart disease (CVD) or early death when they take a daily multivitamin. Lastly, the trial, conducted among 14,000 physicians over age 50 for eleven years, found that taking multivitamins along with eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, dairy products, red meats, processed meats, or key nutrients such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and vitamin D, “had no measurable influence on the effectiveness of a multivitamin on CVD risk in middle-aged and older men.”

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April 01, 2017, to April 15, 2017

Popeye’s Favorite Food Could Help Make Damaged Hearts “Strong To The Finish”

U.S. researchers believe they have solved a big problem in regenerative medicine: how to get blood flowing in developing tissue. Establishing a vascular system – blood vessels down to the tiny capillary scale that deliver oxygen, nutrients and essential molecules – is not an easy undertaking. Worcester Polytechnic Institute scientists experimenting with spinach cultured beating human heart cells on leaves stripped of plant cells. They ran fluids and blood cell-size microbeads through the spinach vasculature after seeding the plant veins with human cells that line blood vessels. Their findings suggest that multiple spinach leaves could be used as a scaffolding to grow layers of healthy heart muscle to treat heart attacks. 

Researchers Find Strong Link Between Healthy Bones And Green Tea

A Chinese analysis of data from 15 studies found that green tea (Camellia sinensis) and a key compound known as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) tend to increase bone mineral density. However, the analysis of data from nearly 139,000 people stopped short of saying drinking green tea was linked to a reduced risk of fractures. The researchers suggest that the benefit of green tea regarding osteoporosis derives from its polyphenol content: as much as 40 percent of water-extractable polyphenols. Other teas contain much less. The researchers also suggest that green tea may act by boosting the creation of cells responsible for bone formation (osteoblasts) or suppressing cells that weaken bones (osteoclasts).

Americans Prefer Natural Therapies For Coughs, Colds – Survey

A survey of American consumers sponsored by a respiratory system dietary supplement brand finds that more than two-thirds of respondents prefer natural supplements to “synthetic, over-the-counter” products to ease coughing. Natural supplements were preferred because they tended not to induce drowsiness, according to Pohl-Boskamp, the makers of Myrtol 300. Sixty-nine percent of Americans said they have gone to work or school without taking cold meds to avoid drowsiness and stay clear-headed. Millennials up to age 35 said they were more likely to try a natural supplement to treat a cough or cold. Myrtol 300 is a blend of essential oils created in Germany and sold in Europe and elsewhere for four decades.
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