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Food Insight Blog

Shedding light on the science behind nutrition and food safety.

By: Dayle Hayes, MS, RD Date: 8/29/11

As a Registered Dietitian (RD) who has dedicated more than 30 years of my work and volunteer life to child nutrition, I’m bewildered by the intensity of efforts to ban flavored milk from schools. Petition drives, community forums, hyperbolic sound bites – really? Is this all about 10 or 12 grams of sugar? I wonder if these confrontational tactics are best the thing for improving children’s nutrition. Might our time be better spent collaborating on a school garden, a salad bar, or a campaign to get more calcium into kids?

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By: Kerry Phillips, RD Date: 8/26/11

With obesity rates among Americans at an all‐time high, it is more important than ever to provide people with information about the available options to help manage weight. And, from a health professional perspective, it’s nice to have several options at our fingertips when helping our patients and clients in their weight loss and weight management endeavors.

To help fill this need, the International Food Information Council Foundation has revised its popular brochure, “Everything You Need to Know About Aspartame.” This informative brochure is designed to be a useful resource for consumers as well as health professionals, and provides consumer-friendly information that has been updated to reflect the latest science, including facts about aspartame and weight management, safety, food uses and applications, and benefits for various populations. In addition, the revised brochure has been favorably reviewed by the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

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By: Andy Benson Date: 8/24/11

From front-of-package labels in the United States to traffic lights in Great Britain and Korea to label reviews in the European Union, Australia and New Zealand, nutrition labels have become a hot topic around the world.

Nutrition labelling is mandatory in some countries such as the United States, but only in connection with health and nutrition claims in most others. With the rise of obesity as a public health issue, the nutrition label is getting a closer look from policy makers.

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD Date: 8/22/11

Perhaps this is a question that you ask yourself every afternoon before deciding what to eat for lunch, or maybe taste always wins the day and health is just an afterthought or maybe the change in your pocket will determine how fancy the next meal will be? In his book, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, Dave Grotto, RD has a formula for good health: Taste + Do-ability = Sustainability. In other words, in order to sustain a lifestyle that includes a healthful diet, you have to enjoy the food that you eat and know how to make healthful eating a reality in your busy hectic stress-filled life. I’ve seen Dave present his formula more recently and he’s added two more factors to the equation: familiarity and cost.

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By: Anthony Flood Date: 8/19/11

What made the 2011 International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting so unique and memorable?  Was it the record-number of friends and colleagues from around the world exchanging ideas to enhance food safety?  Was it the brats, the beer, the sights and sounds of Milwaukee – the city made famous by Schlitz, Old Milwaukee and Laverne and Shirley?  Was it the chance to chance to meet Secretary Vilsack?  Yes, yes and yes.

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By: Christiane Schroeter, Ph.D., Agribusiness Department and STRIDE, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Date: 8/17/11

With increasing obesity levels, economists are searching for tools to address the public health problems. A recent webcast hosted by CFARE and IFIC foundation addressed how behavioral economics may improve healthful lifestyle choices. Currently, food policy is based on traditional economics. This approach investigates how we should behave given rational decision-making. Behavioral economics investigates how we actually do behave.

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By: Anthony Flood Date: 8/15/11

Consensus science continues to demonstrate the safety of BPA as a food packaging compound.  Past and present studies confirm that BPA is rapidly absorbed, detoxified and eliminated from the body.  People are exposed to BPA primarily through the diet and according to a new study published on line in Toxicological Sciences (June 2011), the blood concentrations are below detectable levels and lower than those that cause effects in laboratory rodents.  Moreover, as stated by global health authorities, “the majority of effects observed in animal studies are probably not relevant to humans because they involved much higher BPA exposure.”  

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By: Elizabeth Rahavi, RD Date: 8/12/11

What ails you? According to new research from IFIC, maintaining health and reducing risk of disease is at the forefront of many consumers’ minds as they age. Specifically, Americans cite cardiovascular disease (46 percent), weight (32 percent) and cancer (22 percent) as their top health concerns. Along with these issues that can affect us as we age, almost one in five Americans (19 percent) cite healthy aging as a top health concern.

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By: Lisa Gable, President, Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation Date: 8/10/11

This is the time of year to get away with our families on a vacation. It’s also a great opportunity to get the family working together to promote good health and counter obesity. And, by the way, it’s also a great opportunity for families to earn team points in the Together Counts™ program, the national campaign encouraging families to eat meals together and engage in physical activities together.  

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By: Emily Yu, Intern, American University Date: 8/8/11

With the school year right around the corner, I know many parents are once again starting to think about the dreaded question of what to pack in school lunches. I recently spoke to my colleague, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, who not only is a registered dietitian, but is also the mother of 3 kids. She had plenty of good ideas to turn a headache-inducing question into hopefully a sigh of relief. Here are a few of her tips:

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By: Katie Burns Date: 8/4/11

Over the past few days, there has been media coverage reporting on an increasing number of individuals who have fallen ill with salmonellosis associated with having eaten ground turkey. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 77 people in 26 states have been infected with this strain of salmonella in the U.S. since March 1 of this year, with about half of these people having indicated eating ground turkey in the days prior to their symptoms appearing. It was announced on Wednesday that a Class I recall was issued for the associated ground turkey products, which came out of one processing facility.


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By: Lindsey Loving   Date: 8/3/11

In just a couple of weeks, summer will come to an end and kids around the country will head back to school (Where did the time go?). This time of year always conjures up memories of back-to-school shopping. One of my favorite memories was getting a shiny new lunchbox and going lunch shopping with my mom.

I have to say, lunchbox food has come a long way since I was a kid. You may remember the days of tuna sandwiches, chips, and juice drink boxes for lunch. Every day. There wasn’t much variety to speak of! Fruit would go uneaten because there wasn’t enough time to eat it, or sliced fruit would be brown by the time lunch rolled around. Sandwich bread was soggy after a morning without refrigeration. There were no low-fat, low-calorie, or whole wheat alternatives for typical lunchbox fare; plus, “healthy” options just didn’t taste good. And I don’t know about you, but I often ended up running low on energy before the school day ended.

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By: Katie Burns Date: 8/1/11

Registered dietitians are aware of the science behind the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are knowledgeable of the impact poor diet can play on one’s health, but an important component of food and health that is often overlooked or oversimplified is food safety. A significant public health issue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths per year in the United States related to foodborne illness.

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By: Kimberly Reed, Executive Director, International Food Information Council Foundation Date: 7/29/11

As an update to my blog post from May 17 – “Remember the People”: Update from the 2011 World Health Assembly – the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation has been extremely engaged with global stakeholders on the topic of noncommunicable disease (NCD) prevention and control over the past few months.

What are “NCDs”? This is a term that you will be hearing more and more about and it is very likely that you already know someone who has an NCD. In a nutshell, NCDs include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), cause 60% of all deaths globally, with more than 80% occurring in developing countries. WHO attributes NCDs to poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol.


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By: Emily Chin Date: 7/27/11

In Los Angeles, CA, the threat of the “Freshman 15” is scarier than failing out of CHEM 105A or contracting mono. Originally from Northern California, I had little concept of this hidden danger when I packed up my belonging and moved to Southern California. Even before beginning my studies, I joined the USC Men’s Crew team as a coxswain (read: small person that sits in the back of a boat and steers), based purely on my stature. My weight was a factor in my team’s competitiveness. Talk about pressure! Compounded with the 20-hour-a-day cafeteria hours, virtually unlimited “dining dollars”, as well as the occasional illicit beer, I quickly discovered that the “Freshman 15” can easily creep up on you – one moment my jeans are just a little snug; the next month, the waistband leaves a perfect impression on my belly; 3 weeks later, I’m afraid the elastic in my socks is going to cut off the circulation to my feet.

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By: Matt Demsky Date: 7/25/11

College is a time of freedom. It presents the opportunity to receive an education, to meet new people, and, for many, to live away from home for the first time. For the first time, incoming freshmen are able to choose what to eat for every single meal… every day… all semester. Enter the words “Freshman 15”, a term that has developed into a modern-day ubiquity. As I prepare to enter my junior year at James Madison University, allow me to bestow my weight-conscious wisdom upon you.

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By: Emily Chin Date: 7/21/11

And you thought you were just going out for enchiladas.

Where did pizza come from? And pad thai? How about fish and chips or sushi? Take a stroll down the main boulevard of any metropolitan area, and you’re likely to encounter a veritable bevy of cuisine offerings. These restaurants are not just means of conveying calories to our bodies, they can mean so much more: a meeting place; a home to treasured memories; a chance to taste home when away from home; and, for some countries, a carefully planned and executed exportation of culture as a means of food diplomacy.

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By: Jania Matthews & Carrie Dooher Date: 7/18/10

The IFIC Foundation will host a webcast for health professionals to provide key findings from the IFIC Foundation 2011 Food & Health Survey: Consumers Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health. 

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This blog was originally published on, the gateway to food safety information provided by government agencies to help provide science based food safety information to consumers on 6/14/11

By: Howard Seltzer, FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, and Diane Van, Manager, USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline

Summer brings out barbecue grills—and bacteria, which multiply in food faster in warm weather and can cause food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness). Following a few simple guidelines can prevent an unpleasant experience.

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By: Catherine Metzgar, Dietetic Intern, Penn State University Date: 7/13/11

With the release of MyPlate, you may have noticed that dietary fats have been left off of the plate. Rest assured, this does not mean you need to eliminate fat from your diet. In fact, like carbohydrate and protein, fat is a crucial component of an overall healthful diet. Not only do fats provide energy for the body, but they are also a source of essential fatty acids, help keep our skin healthy and aid many vital bodily functions.

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