by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Snack foods

Jun 20 2018

Not-so-smart snacks for kids

I am ever indebted to Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, the Canadian obesity specialist, for keeping a sharp eye out for the more amazing ways food companies push junk foods.

Check out his Weighty Matters blog.  This particular post describes the “Smart Snacks” for kids endorsed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association in partnership with the Clinton Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Check out Freedhoff’s selection of “Smart” items drawn from Amazon’s more complete list of Alliance-endorsed items.  Here is his first example (but don’t miss the others):

These are all junk foods tweaked to make them slightly less junky, thereby raising the questions I always like to ask in these situations: Is a slightly better-for-you product necessarily a good choice?

I’ve written about the Alliance’s partnerships previously.  As Freedhoff explains,

In case you’re not familiar with it, the Alliance For A Healthier Generations is the name given to the partnership program founded between the American Heart Association, The Clinton Foundation, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation with pretty what at first glance looks like pretty much every food industry corporation on earth…[this] is a partnership with the food industry whose job is to promote sales, not to protect health.

Freedhoff asks:

How is it possible that the American Heart Association, The Clinton Foundation, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation would describe a child washing down a bag of Doritos or a Pop-Tart with a can of Diet Coke as them consuming a Smart Snack?

The American Heart Association should not be a participant in this Alliance.  The “Smart Snacks” program’s endorsement by the Alliance covers these particular products but, by extension, the rest of those companies’ products—and the companies that make them.

Mar 5 2018

Forget potato chips. Try jellyfish chips !

I am indebted to BakeryandSnacks.com for this insight into food of the future: jellyfish snacks.

Westerner that I am, I think of jellyfish as exquisite creatures pumping away in the Monterey Bay Aquarium or as horrible stinging aggressors on the beaches of Florida.  Until now, I never thought of eating one.

But now a recent paper extols the potential of jellyfish as chips.

As an example, we have studied jellyfish – a food material mostly uncommon to the Western palate, but a delicacy in traditional Asian cuisine having a gastronomic history of more than a thousand years. It is eaten mainly for its interesting crunchy mouthfeel resulting from a month-long salt preservation using sodium chloride and alum. This preservation drastically changes the texture of the jellyfish from being gel-like to resembling that of pickled cucumbers.

We have used state-of-the-art two-photon microscopy and super-resolution STED microscopy to visualize the rearrangements in the filamentous network constituting the jellyfish mesoglea gel during the transformation from a soft gel to a crunchy texture. We further interpret our data in light of polyelectrolyte theory and a modified Flory-Higgins theory that describes ionic gel collapse in poor solvent to suggest an alternative preservation method. Using ethanol, we thus have created what can be classified as jellyfish chips that has a crispy texture and could be of potential gastronomic interest.

As BakeryandSnacks.com explains:

Jellyfish are widely eaten in Asia, by typically marinating the bell (or body) in salt and potassium alum for several weeks to produce a pickle-like texture.  However, the Western palate is unaccustomed to this food source and the jellyfish is often described as “slimy”​ and “tasteless”.

But now, “Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have developed a technique to turn jellyfish into a crunchy chip, potentially creating a market for aquatic snacks….”

As for nutrition, jellyfish are mostly water and sea water at that; their nutritional composition is like that of sea water, high in sodium but not much else.

Can’t wait to taste one.

Yum?

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Feb 19 2018

Bakery & Snacks: China Market Report

I subscribe to a bunch of newsletters, one of which is BakeryandSnacks.com.  It tracks the market for baked goods and snack foods throughout the world.  Here, for example, is its roundup of articles about that market in China—the fastest growing bakery market in the world.

Special Edition: China market report

China’s bakery sector has been the most dynamic around the world – growing in double digits in the past decade – and shows no signs of slowing down, despite quickly becoming saturated with both large and artisanal Asian and foreign players. To coincide with the country’s Lunar New Year celebrations and proceeding Bakery China – Asia Pacific’s largest event for the bakery and confectionery market to be held in Shanghai in May 2018 – BakeryandSnacks examines the world’s fastest growing bakery market.

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Jul 31 2017

Bakery and Snacks Special Edition: Grain-Free, Gluten-Free

BakeryandSnacks.com is another industry newsletter I subscribe to for keeping me up to date on what’s happening with baked goods and snacks.

Special Edition: Is grain-free the new gluten-free?

Grain-free may still be niche but it’s gaining traction among consumers who perceive it as the next step to better health. ‘Going completely grainless’ is becoming increasingly popular among consumers who are moving away from processed foods and incorporating natural ingredients, such as nuts, legumes and pulses, into their diets that boost their intake of proteins and minerals. The grain-free trend is an extension of the gluten-free trend, which is predicted to reach $4.35b by 2013 in the US, according to MicroMarketMonitor.

And just for fun, I’m adding this fascinating one from the B&S daily feed:

Jan 9 2017

FoodNavigator-USA’s Special Edition on Snack Foods

I always like to share FoodNaviagator-USA’s special editions—collections of articles on one theme, in this case, what’s happening with snacks from the industry’s perspective.

Special Edition: Snacking trends 

What’s hot in snacks? Sprouted grains? Posh jerky? Chickpeas? Gourmet marshmallows? What’s the difference between a meal and a snack, or are the lines becoming increasingly blurred? What’s a suitable portion-size? This FoodNavigator-USA special edition explores the hottest new trends and brands in the market.

Sep 1 2016

Clever food industry ploy: look-alike snacks

Jennifer Harris and colleagues at the Rudd Center have a study out in Obesity on how food companies are making products to meet the USDA’s nutrition standards for snack foods—but look just like the original products that don’t.

These, the press release says, are confusing to parents and children.

A fact sheet provides the evidence.

Students believed that look-alike Smart Snacks and the less-nutritious versions of the brands sold in stores were similar in healthfulness and expected them to taste the same.

No wonder.

This, of course, is the result of “nutritionism,” the defining of the healthfulness of a food by its content of specific nutrients—vitamins, salt, sugar, saturated fat.

The “healthier” versions raise the question: Is a slightly better-for-you product a good choice?

Not necessarily, alas.

This is why food-based standards make more sense.  Snack foods have a place in kids diets, but ideally a small one.

Apr 13 2016

Bakery & Snacks Special Edition: Healthy Snacking

I subscribe to BakeryAndSnacks.com for its information about what’s happening in those industries.  It occasionally collects articles on specific topics.  This one is on healthy snacking.

ESA [European Snacks Association] chief Sebastian Emig says the snacks industry is willing to embrace change to meet demand for healthier, more natural snacks. From the novel Coldbake vacuum process that adds active functional ingredients to foods, to the predicted rise in snacks with savory flavors or sprouted grains, this special edition explores some of the technology and ingredients that could help manufacturers make those changes.

Sprouted grain snack opportunities: flavor, free-from and EuropeThey are still niche – and not cheap to work with – but sprouted grains are set to continue to grow in importance to the snacks industry… Read

Crowdfunding bid to drive development of ‘entirely new’ functional snacksCarritech Research has launched a crowdfunding campaign to expand commercial development and licensing of its Coldbake process, which enables snacks and biscuits to be produced at lower temperatures than traditional methods… Read

Bars of gold: Veggie inclusions to maintain growth in healthy snack bars?With sales of healthy snack bars booming in the US, industry experts predict vegetables and savory flavors could become key weapons in maintaining growth… Read

Insects, wholegrains and air-popping to shape future snack innovations, writes ESA chiefEuropean Snacks Association director general Sebastian Emig discusses innovation drivers in Europe’s snacks market… Read

Zeelandia slashes sugar, fat and calories with ‘healthy’ muffin recipeBakery ingredients and processes business Zeelandia has developed a blueberry muffin claimed to have around a third less sugar and less than half the fat of a regular muffin… Read

Nov 3 2015

Food-Navigator-USA’s roundup of articles on bakery and snack trends

Snacks are trending.  As Food-Navigator-USA’s analysts see it, “there are new opportunities in gluten-free, ethnic breads and gourmet bakery items, while snack makers are tapping into consumer demand for ancient grains and seeds, plant-based proteins, and bean, pea and lentil-based ingredients….Americans are increasingly abandoning three square meals a day for serial snacking.”