Natural Foods Merchandiser

Natural Foods News Bites

The sweet lowdown
The Sugar Association has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to define the term natural, presumably in an effort to keep sucralose manufacturers from defining their product that way. The Sugar Association commissioned a Harris Interactive poll, which showed that 83 percent of the 1,000 respondents supported a regulation governing use of the term natural. The majority also said that using artificial or synthetic ingredients or processes should disqualify a product from using the term. "Consumers in our survey overwhelmingly agreed that FDA should adopt the natural standards set forth by [the Department of Agriculture] for meat and poultry as the standard for all food [producers] wishing to make a natural claim," said Andy Briscoe, the association's president.

Meanwhile, Ventana Health Inc. has launched what it claims is an all-natural, zero-calorie sweetener approved by the FDA. Zsweet is made with a blend of erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol, and food extracts commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Zsweet does not use herbal extracts or dietary supplements and does not chemically alter any ingredients, according to a company news release. In addition, the product claims to be healthy for diabetics without raising blood sugar levels. It flows, measures and tastes like sugar, the company says. In addition, erythritol has been shown to prevent dental cavities.

Spearheading quality
For asparagus aficionados, there's no time like spring, when the spears are plentiful and prices are low. Soon, they may find they can buy their favorite vegetable more often, without breaking the bank. Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, are developing a new breed of asparagus. Selecting male and female plants for characteristics such as spear size and quality, yield and disease tolerance, the researchers produce higher yields of marketable asparagus, so it can be sold at lower cost. Researchers say that while the trials are promising, it will be several years before the new variety, DePaoli, can be sold in markets.

Sam goes sustainable
Wal-Mart announced plans to source all of its wild-caught seafood from sustainable fisheries, as identified by the Marine Stewardship Council. The company said it will begin this initiative later this year in its supercenters and Neighborhood Markets, and hopes to have sustainably caught seafood in all its stores within three to five years.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 4/p. 22

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