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FDA Unveils New Nutrition Facts Label

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Written by Hannah
20 May 2016
Today, the FDA released the highly anticipated and much talked about new nutrition facts label. 
According to an article on the FDA’s blog, “the changes [to the nutrition label] are based on updated science that reinforces the link between diet and chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.” The FDA hopes that design changes to the label will make it easier for consumers “to see essential information at a glance; including calories and information about serving sizes and servings per container”.
Most of the buzz about changes to the nutrition label has surrounded new requirements about declaring added sugars; however, there are also other important additions.  Other changes to the label include new or updated Daily Values (DVs) – the reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed and the basis of the percent Daily Value (% DV).There are also new requirements on what nutrients must be declared, including:  Vitamin D and potassium; both nutrients of which the FDA believes consumers aren’t getting enough.
You can read more about the changes on the FDA’s blog or via the FDA press release announcing the label changes. 
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Farewell to Trans Fats

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Written by Hannah
16 June 2015
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food. 
The agency will give food manufacturers three years to reformulate products or petition permission for specific PHO uses. Following the compliance period, no PHOs will be allowed to be added to human food unless they otherwise approved by the agency.  
Many Ready to Eat (RTE) products currently on store shelves will require reformulation or discontinuation all together in order to comply with this new regulation. RTE frostings are just one category that will require significant revamping. Do you have baking products you need to reformulate? We can help! Raymond-Hadley's dry baking mixes are already compliant - trans fat free!  
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Gluten-Free Fact vs. Fiction

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Written by Hannah
21 April 2015

With Celiac Awareness month on the horizon in May, now seems as good a time as any to clarify some of the on-going myths surrounding gluten-free living. Our good friends at Wegmans have created a succinct and helpful overview of many of the misconceptions. Following is a excerpt from Wegman's blogger and dietician, Trish Kazacos', most recent article "Dispelling Gluten-Free Myths." If you're living a gluten-free lifestyle or just interested in being educated on the subject, I hope you'll find this information helpful.

Myth: Celiac disease is a digestive disorder.

Fact: Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder that is triggered by gluten proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, their immune system responds by attacking tiny finger-like structures called villi in the small intestines. Damaged villi cannot fully absorb the nutrients needed to stay healthy, which can lead to various symptoms or potentially serious health conditions.

Myth: Few people have celiac disease and their main symptoms are abdominal gas or bloating.

Fact: An estimated 1% of the population (or 3 million Americans) have celiac disease yet only 17% of them are currently diagnosed (hence, one reason for Celiac Awareness Month). While abdominal gas and bloating are viewed as classic symptoms, not everyone with celiac disease has GI symptoms. There are over 300 symptoms including fatigue, joint pain, skin rash, depression, infertility, and headaches. Symptoms can vary from person to person.

Myth: I should just try a gluten-free diet first, to see if feel better, before I talk to my doctor.

Fact: A simple blood test is the first step to help determine if someone has celiac disease. In order for the test to be reliable you must be consuming a regular, gluten-containing diet for at least several weeks before the test is performed (otherwise it could produce a false negative result). Always talk to your doctor first before going on a gluten-free diet.

Myth: Gluten-Free Foods are Healthier

Fact: Naturally gluten-free foods like plain fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, milk, meat, poultry, seafood and gluten-free whole grains are wonderfully nutritious. However, some products that are developed to be gluten-free (e.g., breads, pastas or crackers) may be missing key nutrients like B vitamins, iron or fiber. Why? While refined starches (like those from corn, potato or tapioca) and white rice flour are commonly used in gluten-free products, they are low in fiber and are not required to be fortified. Plus, some gluten-free products have more calories than comparable gluten-containing products. So, while it is possible to eat a healthy gluten-free diet, not everything that is gluten-free is healthier.

Myth: It's easy to find gluten-free foods. Now that the FDA has defined what it means every food that is gluten-free must be labeled as such.

Fact: The FDA's ruling on gluten-free labeling is voluntary, meaning that not every food that is gluten-free will have a gluten-free claim on the label. However, any FDA-regulated product that has a gluten-free claim must meet specific minimum criteria in order to make that claim.

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The Cost of Excess

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Written by Hannah
17 March 2015

Clean your plate was always the motto in our house when I was growing up, not a crumb was to be left behind, regardless of whether or not one was full or liked the meal that was served.  Right or wrong, there’s value in consuming all that we take or produce.

As Americans with wealth and access we are especially prone to overconsumption, but what happens with all that waste?

In the United States approximately 60 million metric tons of food goes to waste annually with a value of $162 billion. What’s worse, more than half of that waste (about 32 million metric tons) ends up in landfills.  Simply managing that waste ends up costing local governments about $1.5 billion a year, according to a recent report compiled by the Waste and Resource Action Program.

Waste is not uniquely an American issue; however, it’s a global problem.  About a third of all food produced is not consumed, which experts estimate costs almost $400 billion a year. The Waste and Resource Action Program’s report notes that if nothing is done, consumer food waste may cost $600 billion a year by 2030. 

Money aside there is an environment impact to food waste too, but how can we help? Many cities across the country have complex and successful recycling and composting programs.  It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged municipal program to make an impact, however.  Just last week our boys came home from school with a flyer to make Wednesdays waste-free.  Children who bring their own lunch are encouraged to pack food in reusable containers and make an effort to be especially mindful on every day (not just Wednesdays) to prepare and consume their food in a way that leaves behind zero waste.

Could it really be that simple--Waste –free Wednesday? Probably not, but it’s surely a great place to start!

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Ancient Grains Sprouting Up

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Written by Hannah
19 February 2015

If you thought you had discovered all of the ancient grains that seem to have an unending ride on the wave of what’s trending, think again.  The oxymoron of all oxymorons, there seems to be no shortage of “new” ancient grains - there’s sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, farro, kamut and teff.  The latest wave is sprouted grains.  Popping up all over (no pun intended) the sprouted version of these power packed grains is taking the market by storm, according to London-based New Nutrition Business which is highlighted a recent article from Store Brands reports that “sales of products featuring sprouted grains are on track to reach more than $250 million by 2018”.  

Store Brands describes the sprouting process like this: “a seed is basically a storage container for grain, keeping everything inert until the conditions are just right for the germ to digest the endosperm and begin growing. And at that point, studies show, the nutrients held by the plant become more bioavailable in the human body.”

So what’s the draw?  Enhanced nutritional benefits!  Sprouted grains contain a higher amount of soluble fiber than that found in "regular" grains. Sprouted grains also contain higher levels of certain minerals and vitamins and stand up to heat processing better than regular grains, according to consumer advocacy group Whole Grains Council. In addition, these "good grains" are naturally gluten-free and provide a healthy snacking alternative to those looking to avoid carb heavy snacks. 

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