Food News Today transcripts for June 22nd, 2011

June 24, 2011

Has extreme couponing gone too far - for both supermarkets and shoppers? We visit a restaurant where you fish for your dinner, and how nanotech in our foods will be regulated. For June 22nd 2011. This is Food News Today.

Good Morning, immediately following Food News Today, we continue with a live discussion in our chat room below. Please sign in and join us. Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.


First up, I encourage you to go to and take our sweet bell pepper quick poll - you can influence what’s on the shelves of your local supermarkets and on top of that, you will be entered to win an iPad2!  For those of you watching live, there's a direct link to that survey to the right of the screen.


The big story on our facebook page this week has been food allergies, with the latest news boasting 1 in 13 kids having a food allergy (by the way the study got the information directly from parents - doctors diagnosis was not used talk about reporting bias...)  heres what PK Storm had to say: "I think the gluten, meat and other food related issues that cause parents to remove huge food catagories from their familys diets is what is really making them sick. I do empathize with allergy sufferers, but there's a huge difference between a sensitivity and a full blown allergy."



Our first story is a combination of consumer and retail trends, last week was the season finale of Extreme Couponing - and may I be the first to say… Good Riddance!  When I saw the first episode of “Extreme Couponing” on TLC last December, my sense was that the viewing public would learn new ways to save money and be reinvigorated to use coupons each time they shop.  I was wrong.


Hundreds of emails from shoppers later I am now convinced that the concept did more harm than good. Scores of magazine and newspaper articles later, despair has set in. No longer feeling good about saving $10, or 10% to 20%, shoppers are comparing themselves to the "extreme-savings famous," becoming depressed that they are not able to buy $1,000 or more groceries for 25 cents.

Watching and reading about these (may I say?) obsessed savers, makes me wonder just how long it will take them to use the 200 rolls of toilet tissue or 12 gallons of mayonnaise that is stored in their custom-built store room.Which of course the cost of has never been disclosed.

And it is no surprise to see the backlash from supermarkets that are now revising their couponing policies to avoid driving themselves out of business and Target has also most recently joined this list clarifying their their couponing policies. Putting these manic shoppers up as role models for the average person, who has a full-time job, cooks, and takes care of their families, is wrong. If we do want to highlight how to save money on groceries can we please do it in a way that empowers with realistic tips that won't take 30 to 50 hours a week of one's life?

On we ran a quick poll to discover just what our readers' grocery savings strategies are as a result of the promotion of “Extreme Couponing”: 73% of our panel said they are spending one hour or less planning their savings/shopping trip — less than 1% spend more than 4 hours. Is time money? For our consumer panel it certainly is with 59% saying, “Saving time is equally important as saving money.”

Even without the tens of hours a week clipping away, 64% report they save between 11% and 40%. 

Here is what others had to say:

Molly Werner-Garza "... that show is Extreme Hoarding and I don't do that... it is going to ruin it for everyone who wants to carve out a bit of a savings for their own family and that is really sad."

Dee Danford "It is very frustrating when you go to get 1 or 2 of a good deal and the whole shelf is empty…."

Joanne Rose "I honestly think it's disgusting and greedy what those people do. Saving money is fine, but they are out of control and everyone will pay. Rite Aid has recently changed their coupon policy and others are sure to follow soon."

Erica Powell "Lots of angry (mean) comments. Wow. I think Extreme couponing is a great concept if u have a purpose for the stock other than just collecting it, then it becomes clutter."


Probably the lowest part of the show is where they show these coupon masters dumpster diving in order to go thru other peoples garbage to find unused coupons. This from the network that brings us "I didn't know I was pregnant", "toddlers & tiaras", "freaky eaters" and of course the updated "Kate plus 8". 


Out of washington this week is a new effort where the FDA is making moves to clear up nanotech guidelines with a new draft guidance that seeks to more accurately and adequately define nanoparticles and advise industry on how to use them.   The guidance could significantly impact the development, release, and use of new food products.  The Federal Government last year allocated $1.6 billion from the proposed Budget to the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI)! And why, might you ask would "foodies" even have an interest in nanotechnology, a science based on matter that is approximately 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of one sheet of paper?  The USDA and CSREES's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's (AFRI) plan to use nanotech to study and improve upon food safety, agricultural biosecurity, bioactives in functional foods, general health and wellness, and product traceability and identity preservation.  What is nanotech? Well, it is the reduction of ingredients into nanometer-sized particles. A nanoparticle is between 1 and 1,000 nanometers; a single nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.  Its applications range from antimicrobial attributes to their superior delivery of certain nutrients.  Before you think that I am talking decades in the future - look around. There are already many products on stores shelves that employ nanotech. Used throughout the food industry, as antimicrobials on cutting boards and in food packaging. Despite their widespread use, the definition, characterization and regulation of nanoparticles by government bodies has not been set.  Nanoparticles were previously characterized and defined by size, but now government agencies are realizing that despite size, particles of different matter have different properties – and need to be regulated differently. Of course, the next issue will be about if and how to label such foods. Yet another label!


In Food Sense we head to Japan, where a new restaurant chain concept gives new meaning to the terms involvement. How often have you wondered just how fresh that fish you just ordered actually is? When was it caught? Delivered to the restaurant? or where did it even come from? At Zauo, a chain restaurant in Japan, shows why we don’t need to worry anymore, because you literally fish for your dinner.  Zauo, set up like a pseudo lake or ocean-with booths that are shaped like boats and a giant fish tank running through the restaurant allows customers to throw a line and wait for a catch - and when you successfully catch one you get a discount!  And if you don't have the fisherman's patience, or skill, no worries - you can just order off the menu and the waiter takes care of the rest. Catch or no catch, you can have your fish prepared in a variety of ways, sashimi, grilled, steamed, simmered or fried. Perhaps a new trend that can expand to making your own food - hmmm...we could call that home cooking I suppose.



For Food News Today, I’m Phil Lempert, thanks for joining us. If you have a colleague in retailing, the media or a blogger who would like to also receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next week’s stories will be in your Tuesday email.