|Food Bites 2012|
Science, the media and an undiscerning public!
The lean finely textured beef (LFTB) debacle that's played out over the past weeks demonstrates the dominance of media bias, public relations spin and the power of blogs and social media over science. Because of the way the issue has been framed, anyone from the scientific community or anyone at all who tries to interject facts into the discussion is put in the position of defending “pink slime”.
Most retailers and restaurants have bowed to consumer pressure and announced that they will no longer use LFTB. Unfortunately, they have little choice. The issue has become so sensationalised that consumers are demanding that it be removed from ground beef.
This issue hit home because we understand how the product has been misrepresented. We can see how the misrepresentations may cause irreparable damage to the manufacturers of LFTB and result in the loss of jobs. The issue is a setback for food safety and beef industry as a whole.
Dr James Marsden, Distinguished Professor of Food Safety and Security, Kansas State University
Red meat is bad for you? Burger off!
What is really striking is that the eat-meat-die-young panic keeps rearing its ugly head so regularly, based on study after study with equally feeble risk ratios and numerous confounding factors.
This suggests that the constant desire to scare those of a carnivorous bent has little to do with the evidence – which is shakier than a cow with BSE – and more to do with the prejudices of those who want us all to live a less red-blooded lifestyle. The particular desire to promote lentil-munching over hot dogs and burgers rather suggests a general sniffiness towards mass-produced food, too.
The most accurate answer to the question of whether red meat and processed meat are bad for you is this: we just don’t know. My hunch is that the health risks are non-existent – in practical terms, they are pretty much irrelevant – but given the difficulties of conducting this research, it’s hard to believe we could ever know if one particular type of food is especially bad for us. Still, that won’t stop the medics and the researchers from trying to enforce their food rules on us anyway.
Rob Lyons, spikedonline.com, commenting on the latest red meat scare. Do read his sage analysis refuting this and other scare studies
The food of the future
The world diet in 2062 or 2112 will be as unfamiliar to most people today as our own cosmopolitan diet of fast food and ethnic cuisines would be to our great grandparents in 1912. The new foods will be the result of fierce demand and resource pressures on food worldwide, astonishing new technologies, and emerging trends in diet, farming, healthcare and sustainability...
Julian Cribb is an Australian science and agriculture writer and author of The Coming Famine: the global food crisis and what we can do to avoid it. Read more of this fascinating article
The rise and fall of white bread
A Washington Post article commemorating the moment in 2009 when whole wheat bread sales surpassed white for the first time in US history explained this reversal. Growing awareness of the importance of the fibre and nutrients found in whole grains played a role, but so did status aspirations. Today, the article observed, whole wheat bread “signifies the sophistication of your palate, your appreciation for texture and variety…. The grainier you like it, the more refined your sensibilities. The darker it is, the greater your chance for enlightenment.”
Industrial white bread has completed its two-hundred-year trajectory from modern marvel to low-class item... It used to be, ‘Oh, you poor thing, you have that nasty brown bread.’ … Now it’s, ‘Oh, you poor thing. You have that nasty white bread.’
From the new book "White Bread: A Social History of the Store-Bought Loaf" which looks at how America came to hate the processed loaves not just because of health - but because of class, status and race
"Buy small South African business" campaign
"The hope is – that as South African consumers, we become less seduced by big brands and their advertising illusion and rather start an active support of local entrepreneurs and small business.
... for South Africa to prosper, it’s not the outdated notion of creating jobs that’ll do it – it’s the creation and support of a thriving entrepreneurial infrastructure. One where South African brands are exported to Europe and the US for a change – rather than the other way around.
The key to this prosperity is however not more workshops and talking about how we need small business – it’s about getting off our asses and finding products and services to buy from entrepreneurs and then telling others about the ones you really like.
Conscience Consumerism – one where you make active and informed purchasing decisions about what and from whom you are buying from – is the answer.
So our marketing and business prediction of the biggest emerging trend in South Africa in 2012 – is that we being to Buy Small South African Business. We keep money circulating within our communities and actively go out of our way to source, support and sing about great local small business.
It takes a bit of work and effort but our country’s future depends on the success of the ones that take the leap and start their own thing. They’re not going to stay in business unless they can do business with you.
If you’re reading this – make Buy Small SA Business your mission in 2012. It’s a revolution worth supporting."
Metal cans at the tipping point!
"There is a tremendous opportunity in developing cost-advantaged alternatives to the retorted metal can. ConAgra Foods processes more than five billion cans of food a year. We see the metal can at the same tipping point as the glass-to-plastic conversion was in the ’90s in the food industry.
Mark Yunker, principal packaging engineer, Research, Quality and Innovation, for ConAgra Foods
In praise of prepared food!
"If American eating habits are really going to change in the coming decades, it will be because of innovations in chain restaurants and grocery stores, not because everyone is making their own chicken stock. The trends toward less time, less cooking, and broader availability of premade foods is irreversible, and efforts to fight against it are doomed, in most cases, to fail.
"But premade foods can become healthier, and semi-prepared foods — like the pre-cut vegetables that now dot many supermarket produce aisles — can make cooking easier. It’s great to cook food from scratch, but it’s not, as so many suggest, a necessary prerequisite for eating healthily."
Ezra Klein, writing in The Washington Post
The new eco-issues that all food brands need to consider
"Q: Which food issues are consumers are aware of, and how will this change over the next few years?
Dan Crossley, principal sustainability adviser at Forum for the Future, read more
On building billion-dollar brands
Fundamentally, great brands thrive during both good times and bad when they communicate basic human truths that speak to the needs and interests, concerns and dreams of the global consumer.
PepsiCo CMO, Salman Amin, read more
Food allergies are not rampant
"Living with a food allergy or intolerance can be a huge hassle. So it’s surprising how many people think they have sensitivities to certain foods — and alter their lives accordingly — when they really don’t.
“Research shows that as many as 20 percent of people claim to have food allergies when the number is actually around 3 to 4 percent,” says Hugh Sampson, director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.
Consumers Union of United States, read more
Technology will drive the natural foods business
"The benefits food technology brings in terms of convenience and palatability should not be underestimated – there’s nothing convenient about a coconut and there’s little that’s palatable about unroasted coffee beans. It is convenience and palatability that people want most – as well as health benefits – and those are two elements that many foods cannot deliver in their raw and natural state.
Julian Mellentin, from Ten Key Trends 2012 report, New Nutrition Business
Convenience, convenience, convenience
"For consumers, convenience is by far the most important dynamic, and will continue to be so over the next five to 10 years, according to any number of prognosticators. Consumers are willing to pay more for convenience as their work habits and lifestyles change. The same can be said even for shoppers in developing nations. It's a tradeoff many are willing to make, especially as disposable income rises in many countries. It's all about time, and the consumer would rather buy time than prepare food."
Diana Troops, News & Trends Editor, Food Processing Magazine. Read her article: 2012 Food Industry Outlook: A Taste of Things To Come - Healthier foods, more nutraceuticals, greener everything and other challenges and consumer trends for the new year.