By Bernard Pacyniak
getting fresh: Doom for food dyes?
Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to catch one of the more recent missives from the Center for Public Science (CSPI) -- you know, that Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy group headed by Michael Jacobson, often referred to by some as the “Food Police.” Its press release dated June 29 and entitled “CSPI Says Food Dyes Pose Rainbow of Risks” references a 58-page report co-authored by Jacobson on the dangers of food dyes in our food supply.
CSPI doesn’t mince any words in the report, singling out three dyes -- Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 -- as containing carcinogens. It also cites Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 & Yellow 6 as causing allergic reactions in some people. Finally, it points out that Red 3, which “has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen,” is still in the food supply.
As a result, CSPI has called on the FDA to ban all dyes.
For many of those you know me, I tend to have fairly liberal views on a wide range of subjects, from politics to religion. Nevertheless, when it comes to CSPI, I have to admit that the group’s sensational tactics have irked me many a time. Their life-and-death argument about food paints too bleak and simplistic a picture for me, particularly when it makes references to Fettuccini Alfredo as “heart attack on a plate” or soda as “liquid candy.”
At the same time, the organization was recognized by no less than the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a Harvey W. Wiley Citation in 2007, the agency’s highest award. To its credit, CSPI has made politicians and producers much more aware of food safety.
CSPI’s take on dyes once again reflects the urgent “prophet-of-doom” style of past proclamations. In this instance, however, I’m afraid the agency’s plea to the FDA to ban all dyes can’t be summarily brushed aside.
Consider this quote from James Huff, the associate director for chemical carcinogenesis at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program, which was part of the press release: “Dyes add no benefits whatsoever to foods, other than making them more ‘eye-catching’ to increase sales. CSPI’s scientifically detailed report on possible health effects of food dyes raises many questions about their safety. Some dyes have caused cancers in animals, contain cancer-causing contaminants or have been inadequately tested for cancer or other problems. Their continued use presents unnecessary risks to humans, especially young children. It’s disappointing that the FDA has not addressed the toxic threat posed by food dyes.”
CSPI also references the British government’s move to phase out most dyes by Dec. 31 as well as the European Union’s latest requirement, which begins July 20, of having a warning notice on most dyed foods. It predicts that the label notice - “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children” - likely will be the death knell for dyes in all of Europe. The watchdog group points out that Mars’ Starburst Chews and Skittles contain synthetic dyes in the United States, but not in Britain.
In speaking to a few suppliers of natural as well as artificial colors, there’s quite a bit of doubt associated with scientific studies involving dyes and hyperactivity in children. Nevertheless, as events across the pond demonstrate, perception can become reality. I sense the same chain of events happening here. As a result, I urge you all to monitor this topic closely, regardless of where you stand on the artificial versus natural debate.
Just think: When was the last time you saw Fettuccine Alfredo on a restaurant menu?
Kraft Foods to sell Cadbury's Romanian business
Kraft Foods of Northfield, Ill., today announced that it has signed an agreement to sell Cadbury's Kandia-Excelent chocolate, soft cake and sugar confectionery business in Romania to Oryxa Capital, an international investment fund, for an undisclosed sum.
The sale includes Kandia-Excelent brands (Rom, Magura, Kandia, Laura, Sugus and Silvana, and others), related trademarks and the manufacturing facility in Bucharest. Approximately 530 Cadbury Romania employees work for Kandia-Excelent. Kraft Foods will retain the Cadbury international brands, including Halls candy.
This sale follows the European Commission's decision to approve Kraft Foods' acquisition of Cadbury plc conditioned on the divesture of the Cadbury’s Kandia-Excelent chocolate and soft cake business and Cadbury's E. Wedel business in Poland, which was announced on June 28. Both of these sales are subject to the Commission's approval.
Kraft Foods has annual revenues of approximately $48 and is the world's second largest food company, making products for consumers in more than 160 countries. Its portfolio includes 11 iconic brands with revenues exceeding $1 billion, including Oreo, Nabisco and LU biscuits; Milka and Cadbury chocolates and Trident gum.
Cocoa flavanols could be part of a healthy diet, Mars reports
New findings indicate that cocoa flavanols may be an important part of a healthy diet for people with cardiovascular disease, which affects more than 80 million Americans, according to research by a team of internationally renowned researchers, including scientists from Mars, Inc.
The breakthrough study conducted at the University of California San Francisco and published in the “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” (“JACC”) found that daily cocoa flavanol consumption more than doubled the number of circulating angiogenic cells (CACs) in the blood. These cells have been shown to have vessel repair and maintenance functions, which can contribute to healthy blood vessels. Poor blood vessel function is recognized as an early stage in the development process of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including coronary artery disease. Increasing levels of CACs also have been associated with a decreased risk of death from cardiovascular causes, according to a 2005 study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine.”
Other cutting-edge research has demonstrated that physical activity and experimental drug therapy can increase CAC levels. However, the study published in “JACC” is the first to demonstrate such benefits from a dietary intervention. In this randomized, double-masked, controlled dietary intervention trial, study participants drank either a high-flavanol cocoa drink, containing cocoa made with the Mars Cocoapro process (which guarantees a consistent flavanol level) or a low-flavanol nutrient-matched control cocoa drink twice a day for 30 days.
The study also showed that drinking high-flavanol cocoa significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and improved blood vessel function by 47% compared to low-flavanol consumption in optimally-medicated adults with severe cardiovascular disease. This research supports findings previously published by Mars scientists and their academic collaborators, who have found a positive correlation between cocoa flavanols consumed and subsequent improvements in flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of vessel health, or the ability of a vessel to relax.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Carl Keen, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Internal Medicine at University of California Davis and one of the study authors. “It’s not often that we’re able to identify a natural food compound that can demonstrate a benefit on top of traditional medical treatment.
Study author Christian Heiss, MD, Heinrich-Heine University, added, “Perhaps most importantly, for the first time, we found that cocoa flavanols might even directly mobilize important cells that could repair damaged blood vessels. The benefits are substantial, without any observed adverse effects."
Hagen Schroeter, PhD, Mars, Inc. scientist and study co-author, noted that “Together with academic partners, Mars Incorporated has been studying cocoa flavanols for nearly two decades. This is one of the most fascinating and potentially far-reaching findings we’ve uncovered in recent years, opening a completely new avenue of research to understand how cocoa flavanols might benefit human health. Of course, more research is needed to confirm and build upon these observations, but we’re intrigued by the potential for flavanols in the context of dietary and pharmaceutical strategies for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases.”
Retailer's favorite new confectionery, snack products reflect industry trends
For the third year in a row, buyers at the SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO used scanners to track their interest in new items in the ever-expanding New Product Showcase. Most of the top products scanned at the 2010 EXPO, held in May in Chicago, followed the hottest trends in the confectionery and snack segments.
"New and innovative products are the lifeblood of our industry,” says Larry Graham, president of the National Confectioners Association (NCA), which sponsors the EXPO. “In fact, 25% of annual confectionery and snack sales are attributed to products introduced in the past two years.
“The SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO was designed to be the best resource to discover the hottest and most profitable new products around,” he adds. “Finding new products is the number one reason people attend the show. In calculating the retailer scans' in the New Product Showcase we are able to track trends in new product development to provide valuable insight to trade customers and manufacturers alike."
The majority of new products in the Showcase fell into at least one of seven emerging trends identified by the NCA earlier this year: chocolate-covered products, new twists on classic candies, aerated confections, natural ingredients, gourmet items, fruit flavors, dark chocolate.
More than 13,000 products and companies were scanned at the 2010 EXPO. The top ten confectionery products highlighted an ongoing trend in kid's novelty items, with half of the top scanned items fitting into this category. Another surprise is the comeback of lollipops in new shapes and flavors - three types were featured in the top 10, and another four were included in the top 25 scanned items.
As retailers strive to meet the needs and demands of their shoppers, gourmet and healthier choice items also have reached new levels of popularity, a fact reflected in the scans.
Top 10 scanned confectionery products at the 2010 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO
Top 5 scanned snack products at the 2010 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO:
- No. 10: Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Mini by The Hershey Co.
- No. 9: Jelly Pop from Decoria Company, Ltd.
- No. 8: Jumbo Push Pop by Bazooka Candy Brands
- No. 7: Pop Rocks Chocolate by Pop Rocks, Inc.
- No. 6: Dark Chocolate Acai Blueberry and Goji by Brookside Food, Ltd.
- No. 5: Snow White Gift set from Pez Candy, Inc.
- No. 4: Disney licensed items by Imaginings 3, Inc.
- No. 3: M&M's Pretzel by MARS Chocolate North America
- No. 2: ICEE Fizzing Lollipops by Koko's Confectionery & Novelty
- No. 1: Cocktail Classic jelly beans by Jelly Belly Candy Co.
- Nov. 5: Chocolate Covered Candy Coated Kettle Corn by Kimmie Candy Co.
- No. 4: Freeze Dried Fruit Snacks by Crunchies Food Co.
- No. 3: Biscotti Crisps and Seasoned Nuts by Sahale Snacks
- No. 2: Nutorious Nut Confections by Nutorious
- No. 1: Silly Seeds by Sunflower Food Co.
"Each of the most popular scanned products reflect one or more of NCA's top seven confectionery and snack trends for 2010," Graham notes. "Based on the interest level verified by customer scanning reports at the SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO, we can expect to see them stocked at retail locations soon."
The 2011 SWEETS & SNACKS EXPO will be held May 24-26 at Chicago's McCormick Place. For more information about exhibiting, contact Grace Woodyard at 1-202-534-1440.
Sweet of the week: Newman's Own Organics Licorice Twists
The first licorice twist made with organic ingredients comes from Newman’s Own Organics of Aptos, Calif. It’s available in today’s favorite flavors, black and strawberry, as well as two new fruit flavors, pomegranate and tangerine. The candy is low in fat and sodium, and is free from trans fat and cholesterol. The suggested retail price is $2.99 per 5-oz. package.