Food News Today Transcripts for the week of March 28th, 2011

April 01, 2011

Why raising taxes is not the solution to feeding hungry Americans, The SupermarketGuru consumer panel weighs in on feeding their pets and in health & wellness we find out if slower eating curbs snacking?- for today Wednesday March 30 2011. This is Food News Today.

Good Morning. Today’s broadcast is pre-recorded so please feel free to email me directly with any questions, as there will not be a live chat today. Food News Today is sponsored by ConAgra Foods, who shares with me the desire to provide the most current, interesting and unbiased food news.

Inside Washington, today we take a look at funding foods for the needy.

We continue our interview with Michel Nischan – this week we take a look at the obstacles in low income areas and some of the changes he feels can help solve the problem. Michel is a James Beard Award winning chef, author and the CE0 of the non-profit Wholesome Wave – their mission is to empower those who reside in historically excluded communities to make better food choices.


Consumer Panel Reports: Pet food 

What to feed Fido and Tippy is top of mind for many pet owners these days -- about 62% of US households own a pet, that’s 71.4million homes. Increased awareness of what’s in our people food and a more stringent label reading population has impacted the pet world. Food safety issues trumped all other concerns in overall pet food trends - consumers turned to premium, organic, natural and locally sourced brands. After all, according to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners spent $18.28 billion on pet food alone in 2010. (that’s up almost a billion dollars over the previous year) So what exactly are pet owners feeding their pets? Well from the results of an exclusive SupermarketGuru consumer panel we found that 95% of those surveyed have a dog or cat, and 76% feed it store bought natural, organic or gourmet pet food. 24% serve their pet a mixture of people and pet food, while merely 21% reach for generic pet food. 

Where do they purchase their pets’ foods? 43% purchase their pets food at a specialty pet store, while less than a third buy pet food while shopping for groceries at the local supermarket. 

Then there is the pet obesity question. Data from a study released in mid March indicated that one-fifth of dogs and cats are 30% above their normal weight, putting them in the obese category. The study was done by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention and the nation's largest general veterinary practice, Banfield Pet Hospital, which syncs up exactly with what our panel said - 19% say their pet is overweight. 

And what about those feeding their pets from the dining room table? Over half say they  sometimes do -  35% say never. The question is why? And a third feed their pet people food, say they do it for a change, to stimulate the pet, while 23% say their pet likes it more and 18% say its nutritionally superior. Another 18% just don't want their foods to go to waste. According to the ASPCA you should never feed your pets Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine, avocado, Macademia nuts, grapes, raisins, yeast dough, undercooked or raw meats, eggs or bones, the sweetner xylitol, onions, garlic, chives, milk, salt and never any alcohol – even at those summertime BBQs. For the details just log on to the ASPCA information link below.


In our health & wellness report today we ask “Do Leisurely Meals Curb Snacking”? 

Small plates here, snack sized on the go foods there- snacks are the new breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything in between. They have virtually replaced the strict structured three meals a day for much of the population, who is instead grazing from meal to meal. But do they actually help us eat less overall, or are they adding hundreds of calories to our already maxed out caloric daily intake. Researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands set out to find the answer.

Sofie Lemmens, a postdoctoral fellow at the University, and the lead author of the paper, reported that overall findings demonstrated that those who ate the longer, more drawn out meals, still didn’t change snacking behavior -- although they reported they felt less hungry and more satisfied. IN the study, 2.5 hours after the beginning of the longer/staggered meal, the diners were offered an array of traditional Dutch tea treats like apple cake, chocolate-covered marshmallows, peanuts, chips and waffles, and they ate almost as much as they did after a meal that they had consumed in just 30 minutes. 

Blood samples were drawn before, during and after the meal to compare levels of “appetite” hormones. When participants ate the drawn-out meal, their satiety hormones increased more gradually versus the 30 minute meal- when they spiked more rapidly. Just before the snacking period, blood samples of diners who had eaten a drawn-out meal had lower levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases with hunger and is believed to stimulate appetite. 

Yet the differences in hormone levels did not significantly nor statistically affect how much participants ate of the sweet and salty tea snacks. Sofie Lemmens reports that although hormone levels signaling hunger were low, “the availability of tempting foods overrides the body’s internal messages about when to stop eating.” In essence, our food environment is overriding all the biological cues. There are no set meal times nor meal places any longer. We eat all the time, everywhere we go and it seems like one key in reversing the obesity crisis might be to define meal times and eating more mindfully.

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 also like to receive our advance email - please send them to to sign up. Next weeks stories will be in your Tuesday email.