Monthly Archives: January 2014

Are you ready for some football?

FoodFacts.com can’t wait! We’re busy planning the party. We’re sure many of you are too. Unfortunately many of the traditional Super Bowl foods we all know and love are laden with calories, fat and sodium. And we just couldn’t resist putting a healthier spin on some of those favorites. We think you’ll find them to be just as flavorful and satisfying as the old standards.

Buffalo Wings are standard Super Bowl fare. The restaurant-style wings we’re all familiar with are pretty unkind to our diets. They’re deep-fried. And the typical serving (two wings) contain an average of over 850 calories, 62g of fat, 25.6g of saturated fat and 1418 mg of sodium Let’s be honest, no one stops at two wings. So here’s our take on lighter Buffalo Wings:

What you’ll need:
2 pounds chicken wings split at the joint
¼ cup good quality hot pepper sauce

What you’ll do:
Put the wings in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the wings to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
While the wings are boiling , preheat your broiler
Drain the wings and arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet
Broil about 6” from the heat source for 5 or 6 minutes, then turn and cook another 5 minutes
The skin should be browned and blistering.
Remove from the broiler and place in a large bowl
Drizzle with the hot sauce and toss to coat

The serving size for this recipe is 4 to 5 wings. Each serving contains 240 calories, 12g of fat and 710 mg of sodium.

How about some blue cheese dressing for those wings? The average blue cheese dressing will cost you over 240 calories and over 25 g of fat for just two tablespoons. Try this instead.

You’ll need:
½ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon 2% milk
¼ cup mayo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
pinch of cayenne pepper
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
salt and pepper

What you’ll do:
Whisk together the yogurt, milk mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne. Fold the blue cheese in gently and add salt and pepper. Refrigerate the dip overnight.

For two tablespoons, this dip has 91 calories and 8 grams of fat. That’s a sizeable difference!

Let’s not forget about those loaded nachos with beef, beans, cheese and hot peppers. A typical serving of nachos like these runs over 800 calories, with over 50 grams of fat, with over 20 of those grams attributable to saturated fat. That’s pretty bad, considering the serving size is only 4 to 5 chips worth.

Our version is a lot lighter. And while they’re not loaded the way the restaurant versions are, they’re quite flavorful and spicy.

What you’ll need:
36 organic baked tortilla chips
1 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack Cheese
1 14.5 ou can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 plum tomatoes chopped
½ red onion finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

What you’ll do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray
Spread the chips in a single layer on the sheet
Sprinkle with cheese
Cover with remaining ingredients
Bake 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted

A serving size here is 9 nachos (so double the serving size for the traditional loaded version). That serving will contain only 222 calories and 1 gram of fat.

So now that we have some healthier options lined up for game day, we can turn our attention to other important issues. Like which of the new commercials will win our favor this year … and how incredible do you think that half-time show will be?

Have a great Super Bowl Sunday!

Starbucks is getting ready to help you avoid morning lines

If you’re like millions of American consumers, you’re visiting your favorite Starbucks each morning — right along with plenty of other devoted Starbucks coffee lovers. And while you’re there, you may be ordering a breakfast food item. Starbucks is actively trying to promote their foods right along with their coffee. But we all know there’s usually a crowd, and you’re usually waiting to pick up your order. FoodFacts.com thinks plenty of people would be happy to avoid all that, wouldn’t they?

Starbucks has already put the latest technology to work in their stores with two very popular mobile apps that allow you to pay via your smartphone. And now they’re preparing to incorporate mobile ordering into those same apps.

Yesterday, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz confirmed plans to allow customers to place orders through Starbucks’s mobile app and pick them up later. “I can tell you that we understand the value that that will create for our customer base,” Schultz said. He added, “You can assume that over time we will lead in this area.”

Pre-ordering would make sense for Starbucks as the coffee giant increasingly focuses on food, which is its fastest-growing segment. ”Everything we’ve seen so far encourages us that we’re just beginning to go after what is a big, big food opportunity,” CFO Troy Alstead said yesterday. Food is more complicated to prepare than coffee and can slow down service in Starbucks stores. “We’re definitely looking to increase the speed of our lines,” spokeswoman Linda Mills told Quartz today.

Some restaurant chains, like Chipotle, already allow mobile pre-ordering. Starbucks’s big advantage in this area would be that so many customers—over 10 million—already use its mobile app to pay for their orders.

But there are plenty of complications to consider. Will the company prioritize pre-orders, or in-store orders? The company wants to make buying coffee and food as easy and fast as possible, but not if it comes at the expense of sales. Which is probably why Starbucks is being so deliberate about the program’s careful development.

When Starbucks has all the complications ironed out, you’ll be able to use their app to avoid their lines. Order before you go, pick it up and pay. It will help save time (and any annoyance associated with waiting) and help you get to your favorite coffee a lot more easily than you may be used to.

http://qz.com/170492/starbucks-is-getting-ready-to-let-you-order-coffee-before-you-get-to-the-store/

New nutrition labels on the horizon for the first time in 20 years!

It’s a mantra around here … ALWAYS read nutrition labels. How can you know what you’re eating unless you do? But while you’re consistently reading those labels, odds are you sometimes have some questions regarding the information they’re trying to impart.

That idea hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Food and Drug Administration. Nutrition labels as we know them today have read exactly the same way for the last 20 years. The FDA says that knowledge about nutrition has evolved over the last 20 years and nutrition labels need to evolve along with our knowledge. 20 years ago, we were all hyper-focused on fat. Remember all those fat-free products lining our grocery store shelves back then? And 20 years ago, we weren’t quite as focused on serving sizes as we are today.

As the agency considers revisions, nutritionists and other health experts have their own wish list of desired changes.

The number of calories should be more prominent, they say, and the amount of added sugar and percentage of whole wheat in the food should be included. They also want more clarity on how serving sizes are defined.

“There’s a feeling that nutrition labels haven’t been as effective as they should be,” says Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “When you look at the label, there are roughly two dozen numbers of substances that people aren’t intuitively familiar with.”

For example, he says, most of the nutrients are listed in grams, the metric system’s basic unit of mass. Jacobson says people don’t really understand what a gram is.

Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says 20 years ago “there was a big focus on fat, and fat undifferentiated.” Since then, health providers have focused more on calories and warned people away from saturated and trans fats more than all fats. Trans fats were separated out on the label in 2006.

The nutrition facts label “is now 20 years old, the food environment has changed and our dietary guidance has changed,” says Taylor, who was at the agency in the early 1990s when the FDA first introduced the label at the behest of Congress. “It’s important to keep this updated so what is iconic doesn’t become a relic.”

The FDA has sent guidelines for the new labels to the White House, but Taylor would not estimate when they might be released. The FDA has been working on the issue for a decade, he said.

There’s evidence that more people are reading the labels in recent years.

According to an Agriculture Department study released this month, a greater percentage of adults reported using the nutrition facts panel and other claims on food packages “always or most of the time” in 2009 and 2010 compared with two years earlier.

The USDA study said 42 percent of working adults used the panel always or most of the time in 2009 and 2010, while older adults used it 57 percent of the time during that period.

One expected change in the label is to make the calorie listing more prominent, and Regina Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said that could be useful to consumers. Her group represents the nation’s largest food companies.

It’s not yet clear what other changes the FDA could decide on. Nutrition advocates are hoping the agency adds a line for sugars and syrups that are not naturally occurring in foods and drinks and are added when they are processed or prepared. Right now, some sugars are listed separately among the ingredients and some are not.

It may be difficult for the FDA to figure out how to calculate added sugars, however. Food manufacturers are adding naturally occurring sugars to their products so they can label them as natural – but the nutrition content is no different.

Other suggestions from health advocates:

- Add the percentage of whole wheat to the label. Many manufacturers will label products “whole wheat” when there is really only a small percentage of it in the food.

- Clearer measurements. Jacobson of CSPI and others have suggested that the FDA use teaspoons instead of grams on the label, since consumers can envision a teaspoon.

- Serving sizes that make sense. There’s no easy answer, but health experts say that single-size servings that are clearly meant to be eaten in one sitting will often list two or three servings on the label, making the calorie and other nutrient information deceptive. FDA said last year that it may add another column to the labels, listing nutrition information per serving and per container. The agency may also adjust recommended serving sizes for some foods.

- Package-front labeling. Beyond the panel on the back, nutrition experts have pushed for labels on the package front for certain nutrients so consumers can see them more easily. The FDA said several years ago it would issue guidelines for front of pack labeling, but later said it would hold off to see if the industry could create its own labels.

Tracy Fox, a Washington-based nutrition consultant, says clearer information is needed to balance the billions of dollars a year that the food industry spends on food marketing.
“There’s a lot of information there, it’s messy,” she says. “There may be a way to call out certain things and put them in context.”

FoodFacts.com certainly believes that better nutrition label information can lead us all to making better food choices — and can lead to manufacturers taking greater care when producing food products. Transparency in labeling is so important. We all deserve to understand the actual serving size of every product we purchase. We all deserve to understand the sugar content of the foods we’re eating. And we’d all have a more precise knowledge of our foods if nutrient content was expressed in teaspoons here in the U.S. We’re looking forward to seeing the changes that the FDA will put forward that will help us become more educated, aware consumers!

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fda-says-nutrition-facts-label-will-get-makeover

First Lady Michelle Obama announces Subway’s three-year commitment to promoting healthier choices to kids!

First lady Michelle Obama has made a lasting impact in the lives of Americans with her Let’s Move! initiative. Her work to ensure that all children grow up and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams have focused on making healthy choices easier for all American families. Our First Lady has turned a much-needed spotlight on the issue of childhood nutrition. FoodFacts.com has been especially impressed by and grateful for her choice of this particular issue and for her dedicated work to get this important message out to the American people.

Today, our First Lady joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and Subway along with Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, and Justin Tuck at a local Washington, DC, Subway Restaurant, to announce a three-year commitment by the chain in support of her Let’s Move! initiative to promote healthier choices to kids, including launching its largest targeted marketing effort to date. In addition to strengthening its already nutritious menu offerings to kids, Subway will launch a new series of campaigns for kids titled “Playtime Powered by Veggies,” aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and will set new standards for marketing products to families.
“I’m excited about these initiatives not just as a First Lady, but also as a mom,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “Subway’s kids’ menu makes life easier for parents, because they know that no matter what their kids order, it’s going to be a healthy choice.”

Subway Restaurants’ commitment answers the First Lady’s call last fall at the first ever White House Convening on Food Marketing to Children, where she urged the private sector to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthier products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.

“Subway restaurant’s commitment today builds on the brand’s already strong track record of offering healthier choices to kids, for which it has been lauded by families and health advocates alike,” said PHA Board Chair James R. Gavin, III, MD, PhD. “The new and significant investment it is making today will not only help make fruits and vegetables fun for kids, it will also offer busy moms and dads easy, healthy choices for their families when they’re on the go.”

“Ending childhood obesity is a cause that has been near and dear to Subway since we introduced the Fresh Fit for Kids Meals in 2007,” said Suzanne Greco, vice president of R&D and Operations for the Subway brand. “With this partnership with PHA, we will now reach millions of kids as part of a healthier eating education campaign, making it our largest outreach campaign to date. From a sign on each restaurant’s door that says ‘Playtime Powered by Veggies’ to a video collaboration with Disney’s The Muppets, we will build upon our ongoing efforts to create even better choices for families. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in the industry when it comes to speaking to children and their families. Now we are letting everyone else know what that standard is.”

As part of its commitment, the Subway restaurant chain will:

-  only offer items on its kids menus that meet strong nutritional guidelines informed by federal standards for the national school lunch program, including offering apples as a side and low-fat or non-fat milk or water as a default beverage.

-  deliver $41 million in media value in the next three years to market healthier options to children and families, with a specific focus on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. This is the brand’s largest kid-focused marketing campaign to date, and includes general marketing, in-store merchandising, television, social and digital media and public relations.
-  focus all kid-focused in-store merchandising and marketing on only the healthier options available in its restaurants. This includes training materials which will be updated to teach Sandwich Artists to encourage kids to choose apples.

Playtime Powered by Veggies. We can’t wait to see this campaign in action. We’re thrilled to see Subway putting the First Lady’s initiatives to work and answering her call to the private sector to promote healthier choices for our children. And we’re hopeful that Subway’s efforts will motivate other chains to make similar commitments to the lives of our kids!

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/23/first-lady-michelle-obama-announces-commitment-subway-restaurants-promot

Under $2.00, under 200 calories – 7-Eleven introduces new egg white breakfast sandwich

We live in a very calorie-driven food world, motivated by consumers who appear to care more about calorie counts than content. It’s evident everywhere. Processed diet foods claim millions of fans, even though the majority of product ingredient lists and nutrition facts are pretty poor. Canned soups are relied upon as low-calorie, “healthy” lunch choices, when the remainder of the story contained in their ingredients is far from positive. And fast food is no exception to this rule. There are plenty of examples of this phenomenon, especially when it comes to breakfast. With products touting turkey sausage and egg whites served on whole grain breads and muffins, all too often, their accompanying ingredient lists tell a completely different tale.

Now, 7-Eleven has introduced a brand new egg white breakfast sandwich that’s under 200 calories and costs just $1.99. Sounds like a dream come true for the calorie-crazed.

According to 7-Eleven, the sandwich offers consumers fluffy egg whites, lean Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese on a whole wheat English muffin. Sounds healthy enough.  Here at FoodFacts.com most of us are in agreement that 7-Eleven’s prepared breakfast sandwiches may not be the freshest offerings available. So we’re pretty skeptical about that “fluffy” egg white claim. They go on to say that their customers can even request to have their breakfast sandwiches toasted, or they can heat them up in an in-store microwave  in some locations. And sometimes, the sandwiches are in a small heated case, so they’re already warmed. Regardless of which option consumers choose, said sandwiches aren’t being prepared to order and may or may not have been sitting around for awhile. For some of us here, that’s somewhat off-putting. But we know there are many out there who don’t share that opinion.

The best we could do here was the nutrition facts that are readily available. The new sandwich contains just 180 calories, while boasting 13 g of protein, 5 g of fat, 2.5 g of saturated fat and 580 mg of sodium. And for those that are incredibly calorie conscious, those are pretty good numbers. When you consider that the 7-Eleven English Muffin Breakfast Sandwich with Egg, Sausage and Cheese weighs in at 390 calories, 25 g of fat, 9 g of saturated fat and 750 mg of sodium, the new egg white offering is definitely a leaner option.

“Our primary task was to create a great-tasting breakfast sandwich for people looking for a better-for-you alternative,” said Kelly Buckley, 7-Eleven vice president of fresh food innovation. “We have fresh-cut fruits, salads, yogurt parfaits and healthy, low-calorie sandwiches, and we wanted a breakfast option that fell into that better-for-you category without sacrificing taste and quality.”

“Many people are looking to make better choices, but not at the expense of flavor, quality, convenience or value,” Buckley said. “Eating away from home adds extra challenges for those looking for healthier food options. We wanted to remove that dilemma for the morning crowd who prefers a hot breakfast that is low-calorie, low-fat and high-protein.”

Honestly, the problem for us (as you may have guessed) is that we can’t get an ingredient list just yet. We’re trying, but it doesn’t seem to be available. So we’re not quite ready to say that this new sandwich is a better choice and can’t attest to the quality of this trimmed-down product. And while 180 calories, less fat and sodium are all admirable, it’s hard for us to weigh in until we can have a clear idea of the ingredients used to create this breakfast.

Sorry 7-Eleven, we’ll have to save that “Oh, thank Heavens” exclamation until we have a clearer concept of what’s really in this new hot or toasted or warm breakfast.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/7-eleven-introduces-low-cal-143000335.html

Foods that work to ease your headaches

When you feel a headache coming on, you’re most likely going to reach for acetaminophen, motrin or aspirin. You might try taking a nap. Or if you have sinus troubles, you may take an over-the-counter medication designed to help ease your congestion. But there are more natural ways to take the pain away. Next time, try some of these ideas and you may just beat the headache as a result!

Coffee
Caffeinated coffee can actually combat headache pain. While many think this remedy is unfounded, it really isn’t. Caffeein can reduce the size of blood vessels that have expanded to cause a headache. It can work. But you’ve got to drink that coffee cautiously. Since coffee is a natural diuretic, drinking too much can dehydrate your body and make your headache worse. Drink a cup, not a mug and wait to see if it’s had the desired effect.

Watermelon
When we dehydrate, one of the unpleasant side effects can be a headache. Rehydration can often reduce or eliminate the pain. But water isn’t the only thing you should reach for. Watermelon is a water-rich fruit, but it also contains magnesium, which has proven to be effective for headaches as well.

Baked Potatoes
Did you know that a lack of potassium can be responsible for chronic headaches? While the first food we think of in terms of rich potassium sources is a banana, there are some foods that will give you an even bigger potassium boost. Baked potatoes contain 725mg of potassium each. A banana contains 465. Try a baked potato for your next headache.

Almonds
Much like caffeine works to constrict blood vessels that have expanded during a headache, almonds can relax blood vessels. This is considered to be a preventative effect. So if you include more almonds in your diet, you’ll experience less frequent headaches.

Salsa
Sinus headaches can be particularly painful and frequent during certain seasons of the year. Congestion is the culprit here and many who experience sinus headaches will say that the pressure and pain can be intense and unique. To target congestion, spicy foods like salsa can actually help to clear congestion and reduce pressure. But you’ve got to make sure that it’s a spicy salsa, not mild. It’s the hot ingredients that do the trick.

Spinach
Spinach isn’t just full of iron, it also contains magnesium and potassium, proven to help relieve headache pain. So you can ease your pain by eating the vegetable, or you can incorporate it into juices or smoothies. It will work just as well.

These simple foods are a great way to help your headache heal naturally, without having to rely on over-the-counter medications. If you’re prone to headaches, there can sometimes be unpleasant effects from taking those meds often. Little things like a strange taste in your mouth, or dried out nasal passages, fatigue or the inability to sleep are all fairly common. FoodFacts.com hopes you’ll try some natural approaches that will help the pain without the problems!

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/6-best-headache-healing-foods.html/?a=viewall

Taco Bell introduces new Grilled “Stuft” Nacho

While we know that we probably have a different view of food products than average consumers, FoodFacts.com has always held to the unspoken rule that when manufacturers use “creative spelling” within the name of a product, odds are it’s not going to be good. The product in question will most likely have an unpleasant ingredient list with more than a few items we don’t like or it will be unreasonably loaded with fat, sugar or salt. It’s a general observation we’ve been able to make over the last decade or so and it’s pretty much held true across the board. Can you think of any product that spells cheese “Cheez” that you’d actually volunteer to consume? That’s just one example that readily comes to mind.

Now, Taco Bell is promoting their latest product … the Grilled “Stuft” Nacho. And we have to admit that even before attempting to research this new offering, we were tipped off by the “creative spelling” of the word stuffed. While we’re trying to nail down the ingredient information for this one, we haven’t come up with much yet. Except that Taco Bell is claiming five ingredients. Seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, their new zesty nacho sauce, crunchy red strips and cool reduced-fat sour cream.

O.k. before we even get to the idea that we have no idea what’s actually in the two varieties of nacho cheese sauce, we just need to ask … what the heck are crunchy red strips???? What are they supposed to taste like??? Tortillas, red peppers, tomatoes, maybe???? All by itself, this ingredient is rather off-putting, even for fast food.

This product shouldn’t be confused with nachos. In the first place, the serving is one Grilled Stuft Nacho. It’s a triangle-shaped tortilla shell (the shape of a tortilla chip). That shell is grilled and then stuffed with the aforementioned ingredients.

While we couldn’t get any further along with the ingredients, we did get the nutrition facts for an item that’s priced more like a snack than your average fast food lunch. Did we mention it only costs $1.29. Since it’s priced along the lines of a McDonald’s Snack Wrap, we’re going with the idea that the Grilled Stuft Nacho isn’t actually intended to be a lunch item. But frankly, you may as well have a Big Mac or a Whopper instead.

One Grilled Stuft Nacho has a super-sized calorie count of 570 with 32g of fat, 7g of saturated fat and 960mg of sodium. That’s the same kind of nutrition information you’ll find associated with the biggest of burgers at most of the popular fast food chains.

We’re happy to say that our old rule-of-thumb regarding “creative spellings” has held up once again. You can usually consider it code for “what’s in here is so bad for you that we can’t actually call it by its real name.”

http://herald-review.com/blogs/decaturade/eating-badly-taco-bell-s-new-grilled-stuft-nacho/article_ea647faa-fd36-59e5-af6e-23e8c862aa8a.html

Live long and prosper. Eat cranberries!

It isn’t often that a study is published that speaks directly to foods that extend longevity. Of course we understand that our lifestyles play a significant role in our life span, as does our genetic history. But a recent study has reported that supplementing our diets with cranberries can have an influence on life span, and it’s pretty fascinating.

Published last month in Experimental Gerontology, researchers report that cranberry supplementation reduces cancer-causing oxidative damage and oxidative stress response in fruit flies. The health benefits of the supplement were significant enough to lower age-specific mortality rate and extend the lifespan of the fly during any of the three life stages of the insect; health, transition, and senescence. In humans, these stages equate to young adulthood, middle age, and old age.

Researchers felt that the long-lasting effect of cranberry supplementation is probably to to its ability to change signaling pathways and epigenetic status. The findings suggest that cranberries may be a viable option for aging interventions in humans of different ages. The three life stages in question reflect distinct changes that occur as we age. At the molecular level, these adjustments involve gene expression and oxidative damage to important molecules in our body. These stages pertain to how our cells become less able to handle metabolism and stress over time. The behavioral and cognitive aspects to aging are associated with a decline in locomotor activity, learning and memory.

Authors noted that it’s challenging to develop effective aging interventions. Often an intervention starting in young adulthood might be costly and impractical to implement and may miss interventions that are effective in certain life stages.

For example, curcumin — a substance in the popular South Asian spice turmeric — was discovered to be beneficial when implemented early in life (the health stage) but harmful if given late in late life (the transition or senescence stage). Conversely, the molecule sodium butyrate was shown to have the opposite effect by increasing lifespan when given during later life stages of the fruit fly, but not earlier.

In the current study, researchers fed a high-sugar diet supplemented with 2 percent cranberry extract to groups of 100 to 200 flies that were sequestered in separate vials. Flies that were given the cranberry supplement during the health stage had a 25 percent longer lifespan than flies that didn’t receive any cranberry in their diet. Flies in the transition and senescence phases of their lives also benefited from having cranberry in their diet, living 30 percent longer than controls.

Overall, the study was the first to show the beneficial effects of cranberry supplement regardless of age. “To our knowledge, cranberry is the first case showing that a pharmaceutical or nutraceutical can promote longevity when administered during any of the three distinct life stages,” the authors concluded. “Future studies are warranted to determine how cranberry extends lifespan during different life stages. Such studies are important because different mechanisms may be involved during different life stages.”

So if cranberries are a part of our regular diet throughout our lives, there may be significant benefits for our life span. That’s a big advantage to be gained from such a small berry. And FoodFacts.com likes the idea that we can cook with the fresh berries, or add some dried to our salads and vegetable dishes, or enjoy a good quality cranberry juice. Antioxident power. Tart, interesting flavor. Great color and texture. And now cranberries might help us live longer, too!

http://health.yahoo.net/articles/aging/cranberries-can-help-you-live-forever

Because mechanically separated chicken isn’t bad enough …

That pink slime in the photo here … that’s mechanically separated chicken. We know, we know … that’s not what you think of when you hear that term. It  sounds like the actual meat is being separated into pieces by a machine.

Here’s the actual definition:

Mechanically separated meat (MSM), mechanically recovered/reclaimed meat (MRM), or mechanically deboned meat (MDM) is a paste-like meat product produced by forcing beef,pork, turkey or chicken, under high pressure through a sieve or similar device to separate the bone from the edible meat tissue. The process entails pureeing or grinding the carcass left after the manual removal of meat from the bones and then forcing the slurry through a sieve under pressure. This puree included bone, bone marrow, skin, nerves, blood vessels in addition to the scraps of meat remaining on the bones. The resulting product is a blend of muscle (meat) and other tissues not generally considered meat.

While manufacturers claim that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with mechanically separated meat, it’s not exactly appetizing. FoodFacts.com is pretty positive that no one actually wants to consume ANYTHING that contains bone, marrow, skin, nerves and blood vessels. Since the “substance” made the news a few years back and consumers had a fairly unanimous “ewww” reaction, certain manufacturers have refrained from using it. But it’s certainly still out there in a variety of products. And some of those products are produced for institutional use.

Tyson Foods is recalling 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The products are being recalled after being connected to Salmonella illnesses at a Tennessee correctional facility where the chicken was served. Seven patients have been identified with Salmonella infection, including two who have required hospitalization.

The recalled products were only shipped “for institutional use” nationwide and are not available for consumers to purchase at retail outlets.

Maybe that should make us feel better??? Consider that foods meant for institutional use can make their way into some schools, universities, hospitals, churches, government facilities and military bases — in addition to the prison that has already been affected. As disturbing as mechanically separated chicken may be, mechanically separated chicken infected with salmonella is certainly more disturbing. Hopefully Tyson’s recall has this incident completely covered.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/01/tyson-recalls-mechanically-separated-chicken-in-salmonella-outbreak/#.UtiSnouzKph

Caffeine wakes up your memory!

For generations, coffee drinkers have attested to the idea that their favorite hot beverage helps “keep them sharp.” Tea drinkers have insisted that a hot steamy cup is more than just comforting, it’s a “pick me up,” too. A new study suggesting that caffeine might actually enhance memory could be a reasonable explanation for those claims.

There are many ways people consume caffeine, including in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate, says the study’s lead author Michael Yassa. It doesn’t matter what the source is, the effect of caffeine will likely be the same, he says.
Yassa and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University recruited 160 young, healthy participants, who did not regularly consume caffeinated products. The participants studied a series of images, then five minutes later, took either 200 milligrams of caffeine in tablet form, about the amount of caffeine in a strong cup of coffee, or a placebo.

The next day, participants were asked to identify images they had seen the day before. Some images were new, and some were similar but not exactly the same. For example, if they were shown a picture of a yellow rubber duck originally, the next day, it was a picture of a rubber duck that was shorter and thicker, says Yassa, who was at Johns Hopkins when the study was conducted but now is an assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California-Irvine.

Findings published in the journal Nature Neuroscience: The people who consumed caffeine were more likely to correctly identify the similar items as slightly different from the original picture. The brain’s ability to recognize the difference between two similar but not identical items reflects a deep level of memory discrimination, Yassa says.

Another example of pattern separation is remembering where one’s car is parked today vs. yesterday, he says. “This type of discrimination is involved in every facet of memory,” Yassa says.

The researchers also had participants consume 100 milligrams and 300 milligrams of caffeine and found 100 milligrams was not effective at getting the memory boost, Yassa says. The 300-milligrams dose was no more effective than 200 milligrams, and at the higher amount, people started to report some side effects such as headaches and feeling jittery, he says. “The 200-milligram might be the most optimal dose to get this memory boost.”

One strong cup of coffee might contain 200 milligrams of caffeine, he says. A typical espresso has 80 milligrams, so a double-shot latte will have 160 milligrams, he says.

Other research has found that low doses of caffeine have beneficial effects on attention and focus, Yassa says. A few studies on caffeine’s effect on humans have found little or no effect on long-term memory retention, but numerous studies in animals have shown that caffeine has a beneficial effect, he says.

While this study is encouraging, he cautions that high doses of caffeine can have negative effects, such as anxiety, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and headaches. “I’m not going to stop drinking my coffee, but it’s important to be aware of the costs and benefits,” he says. “Drinking coffee late at night is not going to be helpful for most people.”

Everyone in the FoodFacts.com community is aware of the negative effects of overdoing caffeine. But we also know there are plenty of coffee and tea drinkers out there who will appreciate the findings of this study. It’s another good reason to enjoy their favorite morning brew, especially in these chilly winter months!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/01/13/caffeine-boosts-memory/4457591/