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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Lindsey Loving Date: 5/27/11 

With all the talk about local, organic, natural, and biotech, it’s enough to make someone’s head spin! Probably not many would have predicted that these terms would be important to consumers, but we have become a country focused on food. And not just taste (although taste is still the most important factor in consumers’ food and beverage purchase decisions, according to the latest IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey) – where our food comes from and how it’s produced have been topics of increasing interest. It’s not uncommon for food issues to be discussed at the dinner table or around the water cooler.

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By: Robyn Flipse, MS, RD   Date: 5/25/11

Are you someone who thinks you are better off choosing a granola bar over a candy bar when looking for a diet-friendly snack in a vending machine? Would you also select the fruit juice over the fruit drink for the same reason? If so, you may be suffering from “calorie confusion”, a condition that leads you to irrationally believe that the nutrients in some foods and beverages magically cancel out the calories, when in fact, all of the calories we consume are counted the same way by your body. 

Calorie confusion spreads whenever someone tries to rank foods and beverages into those with “good calories” and those with “bad calories” based on whether they are “nutritious” or not. This simplified interpretation of the concept of nutrient-density has allowed people to feel it is okay to eat more than they need of certain foods and beverages because they are good for them.  But that is not how energy balance works, and this calorie confusion is contributing to the rise in obesity rates.


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By: Kay Sisk, Dietetic Intern and Graduate Student, Case Western Reserve University Date: 5/23/11

As the aging population of America grows, some researchers are taking a closer look at age-related health issues.  Age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia, was a common theme of Midwest Muscle Day (held on May 10th in St. Louis, MO).  The seminar brought together food scientists, clinical researchers and educators to discuss current research in muscle health and ways to prevent and treat muscle loss.  During the seminar, it was suggested that it may be beneficial to integrate food science, food processing and current research in this field. 

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By: Jania Matthews   Date: 5/20/11

My days are spent in an environment that focuses on food, health, and nutrition so attending my first BlogHer Food conference is a welcome experience. BlogHer's mission is to create opportunities for women who blog to pursue exposure, education, community, and economic empowerment.  It feels great to be in the company of women who have a passion about blogging and food. 

Food is such a broad term and can mean different things to different people.  While some focus on food for health and nutrition others see food strictly as a something to enjoy.

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Note: This blog is being co-published on the Global Health Council Blog .

By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, International Food Information Council Foundation  Date: 5/17/11

This week, I am attending the 64th World Health Assembly (WHA), an annual gathering of health ministers and global health leaders, in Geneva, Switzerland, as a civil society delegate with the Global Health Council.  I am here because of WHA’s focus on noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevention and control.  NCDs include heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, and are responsible for two-thirds of all deaths globally.  

The outcomes from WHA, like those coming out of the First Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and NCD Control last month in Moscow (to which the IFIC Foundation provided input), will inform the U.N. General Assembly discussion on the same topic in September.

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By: Kay Sisk, Dietetic Intern and Graduate Student, Case Western Reserve University   Date: 5/16/11

May is Older Americans Month, sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging.  The theme of this year’s celebration, “Older Americans: Connecting the Community,” pays respect to the many ways in which adults 60 years and older contribute to our communities.  This year, Older Americans Month also highlights the many ways technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier and more engaged lives.

One fun event that promotes fitness and fosters connections among older adults is the Community Center Video Game Tournament.  Across the county, older adults can visit a participating community center and register for the Nintendo Wii video game tournament.  One category of these interactive games is muscle-strengthening exercise, an activity that’s key for healthy aging.

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By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD   Date: 5/13/11

I would love to have lunch with Jamie Oliver. He’s charming, witty, and we have so much in common – fresh food prepared from scratch, children’s health, and serving the best possible food in schools. I’ve read that he has had a “tough time” with the second season of his U.S. TV series since “[Nothing] that was planned has come off" (New York Daily News, March 9, 2011).

For some R-and-R and an incredible lunch, I’d like to invite Jamie to join me in Gallatin Gateway just south of Bozeman, Montana – where the blue ribbon trout stream that starred in “A River Runs Through It” will be a short walk from our table. We could enjoy some early morning catch-and-release – and then join Chef Jason Moore and his assistant Bobbi Jo for lunch at the Gallatin Gateway School. We’d have to share our table with ten or twelve exuberant students, but I know that Jamie loves to eat good food with kids.

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By: Robyn Flipse, MS, RD   Date: 5/11/11

One of the most important sections in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) is Chapter 5, which describes how to put together all the foods we need to reach our nutritional goals. We are told to follow a “healthy eating pattern” that is not a rigid prescription, but a flexible plan that can accommodate our personal food preferences within the framework of our socio-cultural and ethnic eating traditions.  That means all Americans do not have to eat the same foods to have healthy diets, but rather, that there are an infinite number of possible food combinations that allow each of us to meet our nutritional needs over time.

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By: Tony Flood   Date: 5/9/11

May 8 – 14, 2011 marks Food Allergy Awareness Week.  It is a week that it is recognized by government and advocacy groups alike with the goals of increasing awareness about a very serious illness that may trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction.
In the U.S., the Centers for Control and Prevention estimates that food allergy affects approximately 5 percent of children under the age of 5 and 4 percent of older children.  It is also estimated that the statistics are similar for adults.  Until there is a cure,  more research and education are important to protect consumers with a life threatening food allergy.

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By: Jania Matthews   Date: 5/6/11

Today’s environment is literally all about food. Food is discussed each and every day, in multiple platforms, through multiple perspectives.  For some the interest in food relates to weight and health, and for others it’s about safety and even joy—yes, I believe some people are interested in food for the mere palatable joy. 

With that in mind, allow me to introduce the International Food Information Council Foundation 2011 Food & Health Survey.  This year’s Survey, like the iterations that came before, takes the pulse of consumers’ attitudes toward food safety, nutrition, and health topics.  Each year, the IFIC Foundation gains valuable insight from consumers relating to food and nutrition and this year was no different. 


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By: Sarah Romotsky, Dietetic Intern   Date: 5/4/11

It goes without saying that the speaker line-up for this year’s Atlantic Food Summit (held on April 26 in Washington, DC) was both diverse and impressive.  Star speakers drew a capacity crowd, with Sam Kass (Assistant White House Chef), José Andrés (Chef and Owner, ThinkFoodGroup) and Alice Waters (Chef and owner of famed restaurant Chez Panisse) featured on the program, as well as government leaders Kathleen Merrigan (USDA) and Michael Taylor (FDA) providing Agency perspectives on agriculture, nutrition and food safety. 


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By: Kay Sisk, Dietetic Intern and Graduate Student, Case Western Reserve University   Date: 5/2/11

Yesterday, as we flipped the calendar to May, the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) kicked off National Physical Education and Sport Week in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

This week, more than 3 million students are expected to participate in this national initiative to increase physical activity before, during and after school.  This year’s theme, Let’s Move in School, encourages parents, teachers, school administrators and policy makers to increase physical activity and bring quality physical education to schools through a comprehensive physical activity program.  It also supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

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By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, IFIC Foundation   Date: 4/28/11

Today, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, along with thousands of other employers across our nation, celebrate and support our children by participating in the annual "Take Your Child to Work Day." 

By bringing your son or daughter (or grandchild or other young person who you mentor) to your place of work, you expand their perspective on life.  They will finally have an understanding of "what mom or dad does every day.". More importantly, you will give them context on how their future professional career will connect to what they are doing in school today.   We also hope "Take Your Child to School Day" will encourage young people to think about careers in communication, education, nutrition, food safety, or science.

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By: Andy Benson   Date: 4/27/11

Here at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation we are very much aware that today’s food supply is global in nature, with many foods and food ingredients traveling around the world so consumers have access to a wide variety of safe, nutritious and appetizing foods.

So we were delighted to learn that a new food and health communications organization has just opened its doors in Argentina, to provide expert insight to the southern part of our western hemisphere.  

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By: Kris Sollid, RD   Date: 4/25/11

April is National Soyfoods Month, so before we flip the calendar to May, let’s pay homage to one of the world’s most versatile and popular foods. Soybeans originally hail from China, where they’ve been a staple of Asian diets since the 11th Century BC. But, it wasn’t until the 18th Century AD when soybeans were introduced to North America. Today, soy-based foods continue to grow in popularity worldwide as emerging science reveals their many potential positive health benefits.

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By: Kerry Phillips, RD   Date: 4/22/11

Happy Earth Day!  What comes to mind when you think of Earth Day? Is it “green-living” or recycling? How about environmentally-friendly or sustainable food production practices

Interest in where our food comes from, sparked by a desire for more healthful foods, has spawned a newfound appreciation for “local foods.” This topic was the basis for a recent educational webinar, co-hosted by the IFIC Foundation and the Council on Food, Agricultural, and Resource Economics (C-FARE), that featured expert insights on the definition of local foods; the nutritional, economic and social tradeoffs of local versus other foods; and consumer insights regarding local foods.  If you missed the webinar, you’re in luck! Here are the key takeaways from the “Low-Down on Local Foods:”


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By: Ann Bouchoux   Date: 4/21/11

Man, I am so confused.  You’d think a couple of decades of nutrition science communication would make everything easy to understand, but, nooooo.

Those of us who write about, think about, and read about nutrition are often confused by the eagerness of some folks to jump on the Evil-of-the-Day bandwagon.  We’re confused by  news that a certain food component is going to kill you outright; and those who seem to accept as fact that this one nutrient or behavior, or whatever, is consigning us to poor health and an early grave.  We’re confused because we can’t believe anyone would actually accept such a simplistic view about health—which is a pretty complicated topic.


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By: Tony Flood   Date: 4/18/11

Many of you may have likely heard of the recent study that looked at multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus in U.S. meat and poultry.  The study researchers found 47% of the samples tests were contaminated with S. aureus.  The study also indicated that fifty-two percent (52%), were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.  We spoke to Mike Doyle, PhD of the University of Georgia to see what had to say about this study, Staphylococcus aureus and most importantly food safety.

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By: Robyn Flipse, MS, RD   Date: 4/14/11

What do mushrooms, ground beef and tomato paste have in common besides the makings of a great sauce? All three deliver umami, the term given to the fifth taste. Distinct from the salty, sweet, bitter and sour, umami is described as “meaty” or “savory,” and gets its name from the Japanese word for “delicious.” It may also provide the means to lower the sodium content of American diets, while retaining, and even enhancing, flavor and variety.


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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD   Date: 4/12/11

As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Health can often be seen in the same vain. However, how we choose to live our lives can have profound impact on how we age. Whether you are in your 20s, 40s, 60s or beyond, eating a balanced diet, not smoking and getting in regular physical activity can all have an impact on how you age.

According to a recent government report Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being, there are an estimated 39 million Americans ages 65 years and older in the United States representing just over 13 percent of the total population. The older population in 2030 is expected to be twice as large as in 2000, growing from 35 million to 72 million and representing nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population. Where will you be in 2030, starting a family, sending children off to college or caring for your parents, or, perhaps, entering your retirement years?

Regardless of your stage in life you can start aging gracefully today by using this information to help reduce your risk of chronic disease, improve overall well-being, or minimize the effect of a current health concern:


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