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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.

<<78910111213141516>> Total issues:151

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June 01, 2011, to June 15, 2011

DSM Opens Nutrition Innovation Facility In U.S.

Dutch life sciences and materials sciences company DSM announced it has opened a Nutrition Innovation Center in Parsippany, N.J.,  whose purpose is to designed to help manufacturers of food, beverage, dietary supplement and personal care products “find a competitive advantage faster than ever before.” The center houses a laboratory and fully equipped pilot plant and sensory analysis facilities that enable the company to optimize production processes, improve product quality, test new ingredients, and analyze and evaluate a wide range of products. The company said its specialists will collaborate with customers to offer applications expertise, product development assistance and scale-up bench top formulation.

Diet Fortified With Prebiotic Fiber Improves Bone Health

U.S. researchers examining the effects of different doses of the prebiotic fibers known as galactooligosaccharides (GOS) on bone health found in a rat study that GOS was associated with increased absorption of calcium and magnesium and, in turn, increased bone density. The rats were fed a normal diet enriched with two, four, six or eight percent GOS, or no GOS, for eight weeks. The GOS was found to decrease pH in the upper large intestine and increase bifidobacteria concentrations. As the dose of GOS increased, so did absorption of calcium. Absorption of magnesium also increased, but this was not dose-dependent. Analysis of bone density found increases at several skeletal sites. The researchers concluded that “GOS seem to have potential to contribute to improved peak bone mass and strength.”

E. Coli Outbreak Is Hurting Produce Sales, But Effect On Organic Industry Will Be Temporary

A British analyst firm focusing on the organic industry says the recent E. coli outbreak in Europe that has killed 22 people and sickened more than two thousand others will probably have limited impact on organic devotees over the long haul. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control traced a German farm and are analyzing 18 sprouts including bean and broccoli to determine if they’re the source of the outbreak. Amarjit Sahota, director of Organic Monitor, says sales of organic produce have taken a hit all over Europe  but he doesn’t expect the outbreak to hurt the organic industry in the long term. Organic buyers are more worried about health issues associated with traditional farming, he notes.

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May 15, 2011, to June 01, 2011

Kraft Seeks To Expand Its BOCA Range Of Soy-Based Meat Alternative Products

Gary Berger, BOCA brand manager at Kraft Foods, said that U.S. retailers are re-locating meat alternatives in the store and giving them more shelf space as more consumers buy non-meat options and the category becomes increasingly mainstream. BOCA is looking to get new consumers to try non-meat products and is working with Weight Watchers to position the brand as a healthy weight management food option. BOCA is facing a growing number of competitors, but believes its healthy soy-based products will enable it to retain its leadership in the meat alternatives market. It defends the safety of its products but has introduced a non-GMO soy range to address concerns of consumers worried about GMO ingredients.

Extracts Of Citrus Fruits Significantly Boost Metabolic Rate, But Not Blood Pressure

U.S. scientists have found that extracts of bitter orange, when combined with certain citrus flavonoids, significantly increase the metabolic rate without affecting blood pressure. For the placebo-controlled study, researchers tested various combinations of ingredients: bitter orange extract (60 percent p-synephrine) alone, p-synephrine plus naringin, and p-synephrine plus naringin and hesperidin on the metabolic rate of 50 volunteers. P-synephrine by itself boosted the metabolic rate by seven percent, compared to placebo. But a 50mg dose of p-synephrine combined with the citrus flavonoids naringin (600 mg) and hesperidin (100 mg) pushed the metabolic rate 18 percent higher than the placebo group. By taking the product twice a day for a year, “the theoretical increase in calorie consumption would amount to over 31 pounds,” the researchers wrote.

Health Canada Knew About Fortified Foods Problems In 2009

In 2009, Health Canada determined there would be some "safety and consumer confusion" issues arising from a 2005 compromise giving manufacturers of food and beverages, including junk food, discretion to fortify their products with nutrients. According to the memo written by a senior adviser to the director general of Health Canada's food directorate, the agency needed to address some issues about food companies' use of a loophole in the regulations to sell fortified food and drinks as natural health products. These concerns include the risk of too much intake of individual nutrients, which in the case of vitamin A in the retinol form might lead to liver diseases and, in cases of pregnant women, birth defects. Newly released documents also revealed that food companies are divided over how to go about food fortification, while the government has yet to propose new regulations.

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May 01, 2011, to May 15, 2011

Cocoa Extracts Show Potential As Weight Management Ingredients

U.S. scientists have found that the polyphenols in cocoa extracts inhibit the action of enzymes essential for digesting carbohydrates and lipids. The findings suggest the possibility that cocoa may someday play a role in weight management products. The researchers tested the effect of three cocoa extracts on various enzymes, including pancreatic lipase, secreted phospholipase A2, and pancreatic alpha-amylase, all of which are important for digestion of fats and carbohydrates. The minimally processed levado cocoa extract, which is high in flavanols, exerted the most inhibitory effect on the enzymes, the researchers found, and is most likely due to their polyphenol content.

Coca-Cola Refuses To Budge On The BPA Issue

Arguing that the use of bisphenol A (BPA) is not only safe but is the only commercially viable way to line beverage cans, the Coca-Cola Company is refusing to give in to demands from shareholders for information about whether it plans to phase out the use of the controversial chemical. More than 25 percent of shareholders at the company’s annual meeting voted for disclosure of the company’s plans, if any, for addressing consumer concerns over BPA use in its beverage cans, and called for phasing out its use. BPA has been linked to neurological defects, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Children Who Eat Family Meals Eat Healthier Foods, Have Less Risk Of Being Overweight

U.S. researchers have found that children and teens who eat with their families a minimum of three times a week are less likely to be overweight or have other nutritional health problems than other children. The researchers looked at data from 17 recent studies that examined eating patterns and child nutrition among 182,000 children between the ages of three and 17. Five of the studies that assessed the link between family meals and nutrition found children who ate with their families three times a week were 24 percent more likely to eat healthier foods and maintain healthy eating habits, the researchers found. Other benefits: a reduction in the odds for overweight (12 percent), eating unhealthy foods (20 percent), and disordered eating (35 percent).

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April 15, 2011, to May 01, 2011

Canada’s Oversight Of Food Safety System Is Deemed Lax

An editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal warns that Canada’s government sectors and private industry are not doing enough to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses. Regulation and oversight of food safety are lax and need to be strengthened. Key problems include inadequate surveillance systems, poor food traceability from “farm to fork,” and a lack of incentives to keep food safe throughout the food chain. "Private and public oversight of food safety should be reformed to ensure sufficiently uniform practices across the country,” the authors write. Though food can never be made completely sterile and risk free, there are measures that can be taken to prevent unnecessary deaths from food contamination.

Dietary Supplement Use Is Common In U.S., National Surveys Confirm

Data from U.S. health and nutrition surveys has found a significant increase in the use of dietary supplements among adults over the last two decades. According to the surveys, more than 40 percent of American adults were using dietary supplements such as multivitamins, calcium, vitamin D and folic acid from 1988 to 1994. The number increased to more than 50 percent in the years 2003 to 2006, with multivitamins being the most prevalent supplement. In that same time period, 61 percent of women aged 60 and over were taking a calcium supplement, up from 28 percent in 1988 to 1994. Intake of folic acid supplements did not increase among childbearing age women: folic acid is widely available in vegetables, beans and legumes, and in processed foods fortified with folate.

Pterostilbene Reportedly More Potent Than Resveratrol As A Healthy Ingredient

Recent research has provided evidence of the potential health benefits of a berry-derived compound known as pterostilbene, whose virtues compare favorably to those of resveratrol, found in red grapes and red wine. Produced by blueberries, cranberries, etc., pterostilbene protects the plants from damage by bacteria and fungi. Researchers are finding that the compound offers benefits in the areas of anti-aging, heart health, oxidative stress and memory support. A key advantage over resveratrol is its bioavailability, which is four times greater. Another advantage is its ability to protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, which suggests a potential use in Alzheimer’s therapy. And pterostilbene was found to be a significantly more potent inhibitor of colon tumors than resveratrol. A commercial pterostilbene ingredient – ChromaDex’s pTeroPure – will likely achieve GRAS status soon.

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April 01, 2011, to April 15, 2011

Probiotics Marketing Needs To Educate Consumers About The Scientific Basis Of Health Claims

Probiotics research is fairly advanced, and more and more consumers are aware of the health benefits of probiotics, but there remains a gap between advanced probiotics science and public understanding. It is the probiotics industry’s responsibility to fill that gap through consumer education and marketing that accurately conveys probiotics benefits, according to industry panelists interviewed by Functional Ingredients. The term “probiotics” may only resonate with 20 percent of consumers, for example, but the term “supports digestive health” does. The problem is that claims made in marketing (and packaging) need to flow from science. They need to be specific, accurate and scientifically proven, as in the case of the digestive health claim, which is backed by numerous clinical trials.

Enforcement Is Key Concern About Forthcoming FDA "New Ingredient" Guidelines

Food industry experts are saying there’s little to fear about the forthcoming “new dietary ingredients” guidelines from the FDA -- which are focused on whether ingredients are safe rather than effective -- except the possibility of aggressive enforcement. Some companies may have to worry about whether they can prove their ingredients qualify as “old dietary ingredients,” which are exempt from the 1994 federal dietary supplements law. The FDA may look more closely at whether an “old” ingredient has been chemically altered enough – to increase potency, for example – to make it a “new” ingredient under the law. Another key concern about the revised NDI rules is whether the FDA will look differently at new ingredients that have already achieved GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status.

Parents Say They Provide Kids A Healthy Home Environment, Except For The Junk Food

A survey by the YMCA finds that 62 percent of parents admit their kids aged 5 to 10 years old eat junk food one to four days a week, while only 14 percent say their kids eat at least five fruits and vegetables a day. Despite these admissions, 89 percent of the parents surveyed rate themselves good to excellent at creating a healthy home environment for their children. But, they say, a lot of distractions make it more difficult to provide a healthy diet. Distractions include social networks, computer games, TV and cell phones. Nearly half of the parents say their children are parked in front of the TV for at least two hours a day five or more days each week.

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March 15, 2011, to April 01, 2011

Company To Market Nutritional Supplement That Offers “Stem Cell Nutrition”

U.S. biotech firm Emergent Health Corp. has formed a division (J.D.I. International) to market a daily nutritional supplement that contains vitamins and minerals and makes a new kind of health claim: promotion of “stem cell nutrition.” According to the company, Vita-Stim Powered MultiVite/MultiMineral is a patented and patent-pending product that also provides 1000 IU of vitamin D. The company said its product “with the Vita-Stim Powered adjunct for stem cell nutrition support” may “open new markets” for a multivitamin/multimineral daily supplement. The company is seeking distributors for the product. The company did not mention how its supplement promotes “stem cell nutrition.”

Europe's Nutricosmetics Market Languishes

Functional food, beverage and supplement experts say the European market for “beauty from within” nutricosmetics – once thought to have huge potential – continues to stagnate, probably because consumers just don’t believe beautiful skin comes from something edible. Perhaps the biggest sign of that disappointment was Danone’s failed skin-health yogurt product, Essensis, introduced four years ago but now vanished from store shelves thanks to poor sales. New nutricosmetics products continue to emerge, but Sweden’s Biovelop, which has a new line of functional beauty ingredients made from oats, says consumers want to apply, not ingest, their personal care products. Julian Mellentin, director of consultancy New Nutrition Business, agrees: "Consumers are a long way from being ready to believe that yogurt or juice can make their skin look better.”

Will Beverage Labeling Initiative Convince Americans To Cut Back On Sugar Consumption?

A new U.S. beverage labeling initiative could provide the necessary incentive for Americans to cut back on consumption of sugar and extra calories, according to medical weight-loss specialist Jessica Bartfield, M.D. As of last month, the front labels of packaged beverages now show the total number of calories in bottles and cans containing 20 ounces or less of a soda or other non-alcoholic beverage. According to Dr. Bartfield, sugary beverages loaded with calories “can be quite a significant contribution to weight gain,” and the hope is that the labeling initiative will have a big educational impact on the public. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported in 2004 that the average American consumes 22.5 teaspoons of added sugar daily –  half from regular soda and fruit drinks.

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March 01, 2011, to March 15, 2011

Scientists, Vegans Contribute To Coconut Oil’s Burnished Image As A Health Food

Coconut oil, once vilified as an artery-clogging fat to be avoided at all costs, has now become the “darling” of the natural foods community, according to a New York Times article. Whole Foods says annual sales growth for the oil has been at the double-digits level for five years. Among the reasons for the shiny new image: scientific evidence that virgin coconut oil, which isn’t partially hydrogenated, isn’t really bad for your health after all. And vegans have discovered that coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature, is a great substitute for butter in baking.

“EcoAware” Moms Add Sustainability To Their Wellness Priorities

A study of more than 4,000 Americans ages 18-65 years has found that today’s mothers are embracing a new dimension of wellness: sustainability, putting them squarely in the category of “EcoAware Moms.” The Global Trend Survey conducted by EcoFocus Worldwide says these new moms – all 51 million of them, 69 percent of the total – control $1.45 trillion in buying power. According to EcoFocus CEO Linda Gilbert, EcoAware Moms believe that the eco-friendly choices they make now – reducing waste, recycling, conserving water and energy – will lead to healthier families. Some of these moms “express regret and remorse” about letting their teenagers grow up in a lifestyle of disposability and “don't want to make the same mistake with their younger kids.”

Food Manufacturers Change Packaging Because Of Concerns Over Tainted Recycled Cardboard

Health worries over boxes manufactured from recycled cardboard have led food manufacturers in Europe to change their product packaging, the BBC reports. Toxic chemicals known as mineral oils, used in printing inks in recycled newspapers, were discovered in some boxes by researchers who said the chemicals had contaminated the food they contained. Some firms have stopped using recycled cardboard completely, while others are making sure the boxes they use are not tainted by mineral oils, which have been associated with inflammation of internal organs and cancer. Swiss government scientists who analyzed pasta, rice and cereals sold in cartons manufactured from recycled cardboard found mineral oil levels ten to 100 times higher than recommended limits.

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February 15, 2011, to March 01, 2011

New IOM Report Fails To Spot Vitamin D Deficiency In North America

This opinion piece asserts that the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) findings that there is no vitamin D deficiency in Canada and the United States highlights the IOM's failure to adequately update its Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) report for vitamin D and calcium. The author claims that the report is limited by the exclusion from the Committee of the most productive vitamin D researchers; an excessive reliance on clinical trials; exclusion of data supporting the conclusion that dietary deficiencies exist among significant parts of the population; and too much emphasis on vitamin D's impact on bone health.

Chocolate Makers Battle Cocoa Price Inflation With, Well, Product Inflation

With cocoa prices up 18 percent since November 2010 – thanks to political unrest in top producer Ivory Coast – chocolate makers Nestlé SA and Barry Callebaut AG have begun to inflate their chocolate products with air to save money. Besides reducing production costs, air bubbles make chocolate confections creamier, more “textured” and lower in calories, according to chocolatiers. In the past, refined sugar was added to products to offset higher cocoa prices but sugar, too, is now more expensive. Nestlé will spend about $24 million in 2011 to market its air bubble-filled Aero chocolate in the U.K. and Ireland. Barry Callebaut is debuting airy “textured” fillings such as Tintoretto, with dark cocoa and caramel flavors. The company also hopes to use less cocoa in processing by creating more intensely flavored chocolate.

Focusing On Dietary Saturated Fat As Villain In Heart Disease May Be Wrong Approach

A perspectives article presented at a symposium in Copenhagen challenges entrenched beliefs that saturated fatty acids increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The authors of the paper suggested that looking at one factor like saturated fat content or blood lipids can be misleading because so many “pathways” affect cardiovascular disease risk. To properly assess cardiovascular risk it is necessary to look at all components of the diet, not just one element like fatty acids. For example, the protein, calcium and other nutrients in cheese may counteract the impact of saturated fat content. One study found that replacing saturated fats and trans fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats actually increased the risk of coronary heart disease.

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February 01, 2011, to February 15, 2011

Fructose Consumption Does Not Lead To More Eating Or Weight Gain - Research

Consumption of fructose, a natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables, does not lead to greater food intake, nor does it affect body weight or fat levels in the blood of overweight or obese people, according to a study that examined earlier research. The review looked at data regarding the normal consumption of fructose and any subsequent development of alterations in lipid or and/or glucose metabolism or weight gain in overweight people. The researchers did not find any relationship between fructose and hyperlipidemia or increased weight, noting that the findings applied to “both normal weight people and people that are overweight or obese." The review was performed by scientists affiliated with a food industry consultancy and with food ingredients provider Tate & Lyle, whose products include Splenda Sucralose and high fructose corn syrup.

Consumption Of Plant Polysaccharides May Boost Healthy Immune Systems

Scientists have found that adding soluble plant fibers to a diet may enhance the immune system response in healthy individuals. Fibers from plants such as fungi, lichens and algae can positively impact key cellular functions, including changes in protein glycosylation. Glycosylation is an enzyme-directed process where a glycan (a type of polysaccharide, or carbohydrate chain) attaches to a protein, fat or other organic molecule. Glycans play various roles, including proper protein folding and cell-cell adhesion, which is used by immune system cells to help keep the body healthy. According to this study, supplementing the diet of healthy individuals with plant polysaccharides increased the subjects’ levels of fully-processed glycans, resulting in a potential boost in their immune responses.

Safer Food Is More Important To Americans Than Government Analyses Suggest

A national survey of 3,511 people has found that Americans would be willing to pay a dollar per person each year – a total of $305 million – to achieve a ten percent reduction in the risk of buying, for example, hamburger tainted with E. coli bacteria. The researchers acted on the assumption that government regulators could better assess the value of improving food safety if they took into account the fact that consumers generally want to avoid sickness, even if it costs a little more. The USDA uses a “cost-of-illness approach to value reductions in morbidity,” the researchers note. But that understates the benefits of improved food safety measures by ignoring hidden costs such as pain, suffering and worry. The survey used a hypothetical food-choice scheme to measure consumer willingness to pay for food safety improvements.

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January 15, 2011, to February 01, 2011

Online Indian Health Food Store Designed To Save Shoppers Time

An innovative online store named Health Rush, based in Bangalore, India, offers a range of healthy products for those who lack the time to shop at conventional health food stores. Products are organized by brands, categories and health concerns, e.g., diabetes, pregnancy or heart problems. Categories include baby foods such as organic milk-based supplements, berries and breakfast cereals (some of which are high in carbohydrates, despite the “healthy” claim). Also offered are green tea-based beverages (but no herbal teas), grains like quinoa and brown rice, flavored whey protein shakes, wheatgrass powder, nuts and seeds, snack items like pita chips, an array of flours (bajra, jowar, soya flour, ragi and sattu), pastas, roasted snacks, unrefined sugars and natural fruit bars. However, the store does not stock cheese, milk or meats.

UK Supermarkets Say Meat Free Is The New Vegetarian

Supermarkets across the UK have started using the phrase "meat-free" instead of "vegetarian" on selected products. Marks & Spencer cite the trend among consumers who are more concerned about eating less meat for health benefits and not ethical reasons. Mintel says 6% see themselves as ‘vegetarian’ but 60% say they ‘eat meat-free foods.’ The "Meat-Free Mondays" campaign by Sir Paul McCartney, several popular books, and statements on sustainability by the UN have helped highlight the benefits of eating less meat. M&S will stock their meat-free products alongside products containing meat while Asda retains a separate shelf. 

Supplements That Claim To Help Diabetics Control Blood Sugar Lack Scientific Proof

A large variety of dietary supplements promise to help Type 2 diabetics control their blood sugar, but experts warn that there’s virtually no scientific evidence backing the claims. Examples of products from alternative medicine companies include Sugar Crush, which contains herbs like common sage, cinnamon, hibiscus, etc., and Blood Sugar, whose main ingredients are cinnamon bark and chromium. A research chemist with the USDA has found some evidence that cinnamon and chromium do increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. But endocrinologist Dr. Daniel Einhorn of UC San Diego says there are only two proven, reliable ways to control blood sugar without using prescription medications: a healthy diet and regular exercise.

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