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Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Nestle and General Mills, which are part of a parent company called Cereal Partners Worldwide and the second-largest cereal producers in the world, have announced a massive new plan to cut the amount of salt and sugar in their cereals…outside of the United States and Canada.
Twenty cereal brands popular with children and teenagers will be part of the initiative, as the companies pledge to cut 24 percent of the sugar and 12 percent of the salt in the products, Reuters reports. The move follows a 2003 program in which the companies increased the nutritional profile of their cereals, including making large cuts in salt and sugar. From Reuters:
CPW Chief Executive Jeffrey Harmening said the plan builds on efforts started in 2003 to improve the nutritional profile of cereals. The group has cut almost 900 tonnes of salt and more than 9,000 tonnes of sugar from its recipes since then.
“A certain number of moms don’t want their kids to have as much sugar as they do right now, so that is a barrier for some to purchasing breakfast cereal,” Harmening told Reuters at CPW’s new global innovation centre in the Swiss town of Orbe.
The move comes as food and beverage companies seek to preempt tougher regulation due to the global obesity epidemic by offering healthier products or smaller portions.
The World Health Organisation estimated there were over 42 million overweight children under the age of five in 2010. It says obesity in Europe is already responsible for up to 8 percent of health costs and up to 13 percent of deaths.
Image: Cereal, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Two types of cancer that affects children have declined in frequency since more pregnant women started taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy and folic acid has been added to grain products like cereals, a new study has found. The benefit is in addition to the number of neural tube defects that are known to be prevented by the supplement. The New York Times has more:
The study, published online May 21 in Pediatrics, found no difference in the incidence of all childhood cancers combined. But for two types, the difference was significant.
The incidence of primitive neuroectodermal tumors, a nervous system lesion, declined by 44 percent, while the incidence of Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer, declined by 20 percent.
The scientists acknowledge that no causal relationship can be inferred from the finding. Still, the lead author, Amy M. Linabery, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota, said, “We feel that this is a positive message — folic acid fortification is not increasing rates of cancer.”
She continued: “We’ve generated some new hypotheses, but we need follow-up studies.”
Image: Pregnant woman with vitamins, via Shutterstock.
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Dr. Travis Stork, one of the hosts of the daytime television show “The Doctors,” was quoted this week in a press release saying he is “passionate about choosing products with whole grain as the first ingredient.” As The Boston Globe’s health blogger Deborah Kotz writes, the release came from the packaged foods company General Mills, which makes such sugary cereals as Trix and Lucky Charms. Kotz writes:
In a phone interview, Stork acknowledged that he was being paid by General Mills to promote whole grains but emphasized that this didn’t mean he was “endorsing General Mills” or telling parents to buy the company’s Lucky Charms, Trix, or Cookie Crisp — even if they do have whole grain as the first ingredient.
“I’m a spokesperson for whole grains,” said the emergency room physician who became famous after appearing on the reality show The Bachelor. “But I also think we should reward companies that increase the nutritional profiles of their products.”
One glance at the nutrition facts label of Trix, however, tells me that General Mills hasn’t done much to improve the cereal. While whole grain corn is the first ingredient, sugar is the second, processed corn meal is the third, and corn syrup (another sweetener) comes fourth. The product contains 10 grams of sugar — down from 13 grams last year — and just one gram of fiber.
“What whole grains do is that they give you more fiber, which makes you feel full longer and also slows the absorption of sugar,” said Stork.
When I pointed out that the General Mills’ sugary kid cereals labeled whole grain had just one or two grams of fiber, he responded, “You’re raising a valid point, which is why I tell people to read the nutrition label.”
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
A new “peanut butter” flavor of the Cheerios cereal brand, a favorite with kids, has upset many parents of children with food allergies. The Washington Post reports that at least one national allergy support group for parents, Allergy Moms, is raising the alarm, arguing that children may inadvertently share the snack with a peanut-allergic child.
“It has become the norm to have toddlers walking around with bags of cereal to snack on,” [Allergy Moms founder Gina] Clowes told the Post. “Toddlers are notoriously messy eaters. It [would] be difficult to distinguish this variety from ones that are ‘safe’ and one misplaced peanut butter Cheerio can cause a serious reaction.”
On the Cheerios website, the new product, which is multi-grain and low in calories, is described as a way to “indulge in real peanut butter taste without derailing your diet.” A warning on the page also states, “Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter contains peanuts. Cheerios has a commitment to allergen management. We can say with complete confidence that Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter will not cross-contaminate other Cheerios varieties. As always, if you’re concerned about allergies, we highly recommend that you always consult the allergen listing and the ingredient label on any product you may consume.”
Last week, a 7-year-old Virginia girl died at school, with exposure to peanut products the suspected cause. An estimated 8 percent of American children live with some sort of food allergy.
(Image via: http://www.cheerios.com/)
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