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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Katie Burns Date: 7/30/10

Next Monday marks the start of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP)’s Annual Meeting, and it could not come at a better time.  There has been recent media attention to food safety issues, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and the safety of seafood from the Gulf shore in the wake of the BP oil spill.  Additionally, our 2010 International Food Information Council Foundation Food & Health Survey results indicate that 44% of Americans feel that foodborne illness from bacteria is the most important food safety issue today. 

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By: Mary Alice Shreve   Date: 7/28/10

As a Gulf Coast native, “cocktail and tartar sauce” were part of my vocabulary by age six. I grew up learning how to peel shrimp, cast with a rod and reel, and check a crab trap. I will never hesitate to devour a basket of fried crab claws (even as a future Registered Dietitian), and I turn my nose up at so-called seafood restaurants that do not offer fresh Gulf fare. In my hometown of Mobile, Alabama, we had “crawfish boils” for graduation parties, and raw oyster eating contests are still a favorite pastime among locals. Needless to say, I am one of many who come from communities that thrive off seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. 

In the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon blast and subsequent oil spill, the question on Gulf Coast residents and the rest of the nation’s minds alike is, “What about the seafood?” In May, the Louisiana State University Agcenter and the University of Minnesota interviewed over 1,000 consumers concerning their attitudes toward seafood and the oil spill. The researchers found that 44% of those who expressed that the spill has affected their seafood eating habits are opting not to consume seafood from the Gulf. The survey also found that 89% of those interviewed were “at least somewhat concerned” about how the oil might impact the Gulf’s seafood .

With that in mind, here are some facts to set the record straight about seafood safety in relation to the oil spill:

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD   Date: 7/26/10

I’m back in Washington, D.C. after a trip to the wonderful city of Chicago to attend the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) 2010 Annual Meeting & Food Expo, where food science experts from around the world representing academia, industry, and government gather to learn about the latest innovations in food science and technology.  While I gained several new insights pertaining to the latest food science innovations at the conference, what impressed me the most was an introductory session on food nanoscience.  There’s a lot to learn about the potential benefits of this emerging technology. The following is a brief overview of what I learned.

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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 7/23/10

Have you ever thought about how many foods we eat are processed? It may not always be obvious which foods we eat are processed, but in reality, nearly all of our food is processed in some way. Bagged lettuce and potatoes, apples piled high on grocery store counters; packaged fresh organic chicken breast; canned, no-sodium-added vegetables – are all processed!

So what’s the big deal about processed foods? Obviously these are healthful foods, so why are so many people telling us to avoid processed foods?

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 7/22/10

The issue of antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans has received considerable media attention recently, with reports appearing on both television news programs and popular newspapers.  The government is also paying attention to this issue.  Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy & Commerce, Subcommittee on Health assembled for the again recently to discuss antibiotic resistance and to gain additional insights into understanding the possible link between antibiotics in food–producing animals and the impact of their use on human health and antibiotic resistance.  I observed the Subcommittee on Health's Hearing on Antibiotic Resistance last week, where the use of science to inform policy and legislative actions was heard loud and clear during the opening remarks.  Many agree that this is a complex issue and an emerging public health concern and that more definitive research needs to be done before placing limits or controls on their use in food–producing animals.

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 7/21/10

You buy food all the time, I bet you’ve never once thought about it.  That is, the true benefits of what food packaging actually brings to you, me, our family and friends and the intrinsic value effective packaging has in keeping food at prices we can all afford.  In this post, I would like to share with you a few key takeaways from a short course I took at the recent IFT Annual Meeting in Chicago over the last few days. 

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By: William Fisher, Vice President, Science & Policy Initiatives, Institute of Food Technologists Date: 7/16/10

Don't miss a critically important and timely session at the IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo, "Communicating the Contributions of Processed Foods and Addressing Public Perceptions".  The session will be held on Tuesday July 20th from 8:30-10:00am in room S404abc at Chicago's McCormick Place.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD Date: 7/15/10

This week more than 3,600 professionals working in the area of school foodservice gathered in Dallas, Texas, for the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference. I was on hand to gain insights on this important group of professionals who are charged with providing school breakfast and lunch to millions of American children. As a registered dietitian who had to complete rotations in school foodservice during my internship program, I have tremendous amount of respect for the work that these professionals do. If you are interested in the realities of school lunch, you should watch the second episode of Top Chef D.C. where the chefs/contestants were charged with having to take over the cafeteria at a local middle school and create healthy, kid-friendly meals spending only $2.68 per child, which is the reimbursement rate schools receive for each child who is eligible for free lunch through the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD  Date: 7/13/10

Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Agriculture convened a public meeting to hear oral testimony from the public related to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee Report, which the federal government will use to develop the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In total, 49 oral comments were provided by various stakeholders including private citizens, academia, professional societies, practitioners, and advocacy and industry groups.

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 7/9/10

Back in March 2009, President Barack Obama made a pledge to target food safety and to set the stage for modernization of our current food safety system.  This pledge came on the heels of one of the biggest food recalls in history involving peanut paste and peanut butter products. Out of that pledge, came the formation of the Food Safety Working Group – a collaborative effort to help modernize food safety.  In an announcement today, the Working Group shared its progress in improving food safety. Today’s announcement touched on strengthening inspections; improving response and recovery and communication technologies.  The web site is a tangible part of the improvements made to date. 

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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak & Alison Vaux-Bjerke  Date: 7/7/10

Today the International Food Information Council Foundation released its 2010 Food & Health Survey, which examines what Americans are doing regarding eating and exercise, health habits, and food safety practices.  The results show that Americans are highly concerned about their weight.  In fact, weight loss drives diet and physical activity changes more than any other factor. 

The 2010 Food & Health Survey highlights the shift of Americans’ thinking toward awareness of the link between body weight and health.  With the emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity by First Lady Michelle Obama, the messages about the importance of a healthful and active lifestyle that food and nutrition professionals have been preaching for years are gaining momentum in the mainstream.  And the movement will only continue to gain momentum with the release of the government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans expected later this year.

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By: Kerry Robinson, RD and Jennifer Arougheti (Undergraduate Dietetic Student and IFIC Foundation Intern)

The FIFA World Cup is down to a few remaining teams and soccer fever is in full swing!  Fans from around the world are gathering to see which country comes out on top.  Yet, regardless of which teams are eliminated during the upcoming games, there is no denying that the strength, commitment, and endurance of all World Cup athletes is inspiring. 

Maintaining energy and strength during a tournament is not easy.  Here’s some advice on how you can eat right to stay energized during endurance exercise, whether it be a marathon, swimming, or your own soccer tournament.

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Time to check-in to  see  much progress has taken  place with our New Years Resolutions.  We are now that we are mid way through the year so what better time to take a look at how we're doing on our New Years Resolutions. 

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By: Mary Alice Shreve   Date: 6/29/10

The summer grilling season has arrived and with it comes a smorgasbord of good eats. Regardless of if your mouth waters at the sight of ribs or if burgers and dogs are more your style, you can have your ‘Q and eat it too with these tips for keeping your grilling healthful. The grill-meister, the sous-chef, the green bean casserole-bearing guest and the apple pie artist alike can learn how to enjoy a balanced meal with healthy offerings. 

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By: Katie Burns Date: 6/25/10

Summer vacation is upon us, and kids will start enjoying the long days by playing outside, going to sleepovers and pool parties, and seeking air conditioning and independence at the mall or the movie theater.  For parents of food-allergic children the lack of structure and supervision is certainly a cause for concern: how can I keep my child safe?  Fortunately, summer fun doesn’t have to stop on account of food allergies.  With some planning, food allergic children, and their parents, can safely enjoy the summer!

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By: Win Jenkins-Ford Date: 6/23/10

If you’re like me and trying to eat a more healthful diet especially while getting ready for the bathing suit season, you might want to pay special attention to what I have to share: You can have your fat and be healthy too!   

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By: Katie Burns   Date: 6/21/10

As Mother Nature proves to be fickle with hot summer thunderstorms, tornados and flooding as well as other disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, it is as good a time as any for a reminder on how to be food safe in the event of a power outage in a weather–related emergency.  Here are a few thoughts for you to keep in mind:

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By: Gwen Vito  Date: 6/18/10

We are all familiar with many traditional ballpark favorites: cheeseburger, chicken tenders, French fries, hot dogs, not to mention the peanuts and cracker jacks. But is it possible to maintain a healthful diet inside the stadium? As it turns out, yes! Many ballparks nowadays are adding healthier, yet still delicious, options to their menus.

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By: Lindsay Maurath   Date: 6/17/10

Fitting in weekly workouts is challenging enough without adding nutrition into the mix, but the next time you pack your gym bag you may want to think about throwing in a granola bar.  Despite recent media coverage, a snack may be just as important as your sneakers in making the most of your workout.  The argument over a pre-workout snack has long been the subject of debate.  To eat or not to eat, how much, what and when are common questions that come up in the discussion. 

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Note: With the release of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee report, we wanted to highlight some of our reflections on the discussions over the past couple of years.  This blog was originally posted on 5/18/10 following the final Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meeting and sums up many of the findings in the report.                                                                                                                                                           

By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD

Currently, the United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is in the process of finalizing their Committee report to inform the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will be jointly produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services. Once finalized, the report will be used to set nutrition standards for all federal food and nutrition policy.

After listening to the Committee deliberations over the past two years, it has become clear that for the first time, the emphasis of this report will focus on reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among the U.S. population. Earlier editions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans focused on a healthy population and provided recommendations for food groups and nutrients to encourage helping Americans reduce their risk of nutritional deficiencies and chronic disease.  Today, however, in an effort to help Americans achieve a healthful diet, the Committee is placing a special emphasis on foods that are high in fiber and whole grains, as well as nutrients such as vitamin C, A, E, and D, calcium, and potassium. These foods are known as nutrient-dense foods.

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