Nutrition News Bites- March 21st, 2011

by Rachel Perez

Local

Chow Down for Munch Madness with The Boston Globes Restaurant Tournament

Welcome to Munch Madness 2011, a gastronomical competition in search of Boston’s top restaurant.  The Boston Globe will pit 64 restaurants against one another, asking readers to vote for their favorite eateries.  The Final Four will occur March 29-30, with the championship on March 31-April 1.  Go to www.boston.com/munchmadness for a list of contestants, and join each Wednesday in the Globe’s food section for updates.

Agriculture

Alliance to Feed the Futurelaunches on National Ag Day

National Ag Day on March 15th was the start of “Alliance to Feed the Future,” a group of 48 organizations from all sectors of the food chain including industry and academia.  Their mission is to build public understanding of food production, food technology, and modern agriculture.  “The Alliance will be a clearinghouse of resources to increase consumer understanding of the [role modern agriculture plays in providing safe, affordable, and nutritious food],” says Dave Schmidt, President and CEO at the International Food Information Council, who coordinates the Alliance.

Farmers benefit from federal court decision on EPA livestock regulations

Federal court of appeals ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot require livestock farmers to apply for Clean Water Act permits unless their farms discharge manure into U.S. waters. The ruling was welcomed by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), National Pork Producers Council, and other groups that filed suit against EPA.  “We are pleased that the federal courts have again reined in EPA’s unlawful regulation of livestock operations under the Clean Water Act,” comments AFBF President Bob Stallman.

Science

Vitamin E supplements may be associated with decreased risk for neurological disease

A pooled prospective study observed 1 million Americans, and found that those who took vitamin E supplements for at least five years were one-third less likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, it results in degeneration of nerve cells, paralysis, and death.  Published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, the authors said the data does not support new recommendations.  However animal research on vitamin E’s antioxidant effect and delayed ALS symptoms may explain possible biologic mechanisms.

AHA issues new scientific statement on weight loss surgery

Last week the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement focused on bariatric surgery and cardiac risk factors.  The report stated that despite dangers in bariatric surgery, the procedure can result in long-term weight loss and significantly reduce health risks including diabetes, high cholesterol, liver disease and heart problems in severely obese adults.  Surgery should be reserved for patients who can undergo surgery safely, have severe obesity, and have failed attempts at medical therapy.

Hard liquor drinkers may have increased risk of pancreatic cancer and death

According to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people who drank at least three hard liquor drinks per day but never smoked were 36% more likely than nondrinkers to die of pancreatic cancer.  There was no association of increased risk with people who drank beer or wine.  The prospective study followed more than a million men and women from the Cancer Prevention Study II cohort for 24 years, and noted 6,847 deaths due to pancreatic cancer.

Food Policy

Movie theaters and grocery stores fight calorieposting regulations

Movie theater and grocery chains are urging the FDA to change a proposal that could require them to post calorie counts for the food they serve.  This is in response to national menu labeling standards for large chain restaurants, which did not specifically address concession stands or grocery stores.  Those in favor of calorie posting say that the regulations are intended to apply broadly to help give consumers more information on what they are eating.

America to reduces food shipments to Japan temporarily

The U.S. is expected to send less food to Japan in coming weeks due to shipping difficulties and decreased demand as the nation focuses on emergency work.  Japan is a lead buyer of U.S. grains and meats, and the top buyer of U.S. corn.  Although there are no immediate food shortage concerns due to large quantities of rice in stockpiles, Japan’s long-term food needs remain unknown.

Food

How Bacon Sizzled; The story of foods ascent on social media

The rise of social media and foodie blogs has influenced the spread of culinary trends, including the rise of bacon and the celebrity status of cupcakes.  Now online outlets feed the food scene at a much faster rate, outpacing traditional top-down approaches from food and gourmet magazines.

Insects as Food: From yuck to yum.

The Dutch government is funding research for insect breeders, supporting insects sold as human food with possible legislation that would cover insect farms, health and safety standards, and marketing.  Insects are a sources of protein and do not use up environmental resources compared with meat production, but selling the idea to the public may be a challenge.

Video: How will Japans earthquake shake American seafood supply?

Watch a discussion between restaurant owner David Pasternack and seafood wholesaler Joe Buonadonna for insight on the effect of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami on U.S. seafood supply and sales.

Rachel Perez is a second year Nutrition Communications student.  Feel free to email her at rachel.perez@tufts.edu with feedback or any nutrition nibbles you might find!

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