Master Food and Drink Post, from the archive

 

I pulled this out of my sent e-mail. You can see how even if, in extremis, the pre-Azti-assassination portion of this thread is never recovered, how it still exists. And please don’t forget this material is easily replicable, by me, and anyone.
August 16, 2014 – Women Drinking Two Diet Sodas Per Day Are 50 Percent More Likely to Die from Heart-Related Disease

September 22, 2014 – How Diet Soda May Trigger Diabetes

October 13, 2014 – Is This The End Of Diet Soda? Huge Study Links Aspartame To Major Health Problems; Sales Drop…

October 18, 2014 – UCSF Study Links Soda To Premature Aging, Disease, Early Death

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) — A new study looked at whether America’s thirst for soda speeds up how the body’s cells age.Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco used a sample of 5300 healthy adults. Dr. Elissa Epel worked on the study for 5 years.
“We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight,” said Dr. Epel.

Epel’s team discovered that in people who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages, the ends of their chromosomes, known as telomeres, were shorter.
The shorter the telomere, the less a cell can regenerate thus aging the body, and raising the risk of disease and early death.
“This finding is alarming because it suggest that soda may be aging us, in ways we are not even aware of,” said Dr. Epel.
Researchers found no link in cell aging, however, when drinking diet sodas and fruit juices.
Concerned about possible health effects, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg lost a high-profile court battle to ban large sodas there.
“I’ve got to defend my children and you and everybody else,” said Bloomberg.
He’s now supporting a measure on the November ballot in Berkeley that would add a 1-cent per ounce tax on soda distributors.
Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently tax sodas sold in vending machines.
Still, helped by ad campaigns from various groups, soda companies are on a 4-year winning streak. Thirty bills to levy or raise taxes on sugary drinks have all failed.
The American Beverage Association declined an interview about the study, but insist the researchers did not find a “conclusive” link between soda and cell aging.

October 21, 2014 – Diet Soda: Builds Desire, Decreases Satisfaction

December 4, 2014 – “if you go out seven years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, the cohorts of individuals who are consuming diet sodas have much worse health outcomes,”

 

 
Food and Drink

Compilation from beginning of thread, updated through page 23, January 20, 2015

2008 – US: Organic sales grow by 17.1 percent in 2008.
Sales of organic products in the USA, both food and non-food, reached 24.6 billion US Dollars by the end of 2008, growing an impressive 17.1 % over 2007 sales despite tough economic times, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

2010 – The Organic Trade Association says organic food sales grew 7.7 percent in 2010 to $28.6 billion.

June 18, 2010 – The US has seen “phenomenal” growth in organic food products in the past year

September 3, 2010 – Alcohol consumption in Britain sees sharpest fall since records began in 1948

2011 – Organic Food Sales Hit Record in 2011; Sales Jump 15-20 Percent

February 15, 2011 – BBC News – Why is alcohol consumption falling?

April 24, 2012 – The organic industry showed signs of breaking free from the effects of the recession in 2011. U.S. organic food sales of $29.2 billion in 2011 marked an increase of more than 9% from $26.7 billion in 2010, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2012 Organic Industry Survey released April 23. Organic food share grew to 4.2% of total food sales in 2011, which was up from 4% in 2010 and compared with 1.4% in 2001.

January 9, 2013 – A new National Institutes of Health study found that those who drink four or more cans of diet soda per day are 30 percent more likely to develop depression than non-soda drinkers.

March 4, 2013 – UK alcohol consumption per head down again – 3.3 per cent drop in 2012 • 16 per cent decline in consumption per head since 2004

May 19, 2013 – The alcohol consumption in Ireland has fallen by 20% over 12 years.

August, 2013 – Long John Silver’s reportedly announced on Wednesday that the seafood chain has begun switching all U.S. restaurants to trans fat free cooking oil.
Mike Kern, the company’s CEO, said the move is “part of the evolution of Long John Silver’s to a contemporary, relevant seafood brand.”

September, 2013 – Israel commits to ending water fluoridation by 2014, citing major health concerns
Israel’s Ministry of Health has made a bold ruling against artificial water fluoridation, reversing more than 15 years of forced poisoning via public water supplies in the Middle Eastern country. A recent announcement by Israel’s Supreme Court has declared that a 1974 law permitting — and a later 1998 law requiring — all public water supplies in Israel to be fluoridated are both outdated and invalid, and that all current fluoridation programs in the country will have to end by April 9, 2014, in order to comply with new public safety requirements.
The welcomed ruling came after a petition filed last year by two dedicated individuals, including a representative of Israel’s Association for Dissemination of Health Education, brought to light numerous dangers associated with water fluoridation. These include lowered IQ, brittle bones and teeth and damage to the thyroid gland, serious side effects that are hardly justified by the flimsy and antiquated arguments claiming that ingested fluoride somehow helps prevent tooth decay.
The three Israeli Supreme Court justices who heard the case, along with Israeli Health Minister Yael German, took all this information to task and ultimately concluded that fluoride is, indeed, a public health threat and provides minimal, if any, health benefit to society.

September 26, 2013 – Alcohol Consumption Plummeting In Scotland…an across the board decline of 15% to 30% in less than ten years!

October, 2013 – It hasn’t been a good week for Monsanto and the rest of the biotech industry.
Just three days ago, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders.
At the same time, the County Council for the island of Kauai passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes — among other locations.
And the big island of Hawaii County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.
But perhaps the biggest bombshell of all is now unfolding in Washington state. The mail-in ballot state’s voters are already weighing in on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Knowing full well that 93 percent of the American public supports GMO labeling, and that if one state passes it, many others are likely to follow, entrenched agribusiness interests are pulling out all the stops to try to squelch yet another state labeling effort.

October 7, 2013 – UK alcohol consumption dropped by 3.3 per cent last year and is now at the lowest level this century.

October 17, 2013 – Drinking of alcohol by Russians has dropped by one-quarter over the past three years

January 3, 2014 – US organic food market to grow 14% from 2013-18

January 21, 2014 – Butter is now winning the fat wars
Unilever: ‘We have been too obsessed, overly obsessed’ with margarine
Butter is back.
Despite years of being warned that butter is bad for you, Americans are looking the other way. Sales of the rich stuff now top $2 billion a year in the U.S. — a 65% increase since 2000. The American Butter Institute also reports that per-capita consumption is now at 40-year high of 5.6 pounds.
But what about margarine and other spreads made from vegetable oils? Apparently, they’re so 2012, according to Unilever the consumer products conglomerate that has been behind such butter alternatives as Country Crock and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Last year, the company began promoting Rama, a butter-based spread. Antoine Bernard de Saint-Affrique, head of Unilever’s Food division, told investors last month that he sees a real shift in consumer taste and demand.
“We [at Unilever] have been too obsessed, overly obsessed” with margarine, said de Saint-Affrique. “I’m happy to say that this time is over and we have changed. And we have changed in a very significant way.” (Talk about obsessiveness: As recently as 2010, de Saint-Affrique was quoted as saying, “Some people say it’s bread and butter, but here we say, it’s bread and margarine.”)

February 8, 2014 – Organic food back in vogue as sales increase
Shoppers are now more concerned with the quality of what they eat, say retailers
After years of falling sales, organic food is making a comeback. Supermarkets and food associations say that after a sustained decline, demand for organic fruit, vegetables and dairy produce is on the rise, as consumers become more willing to pay a premium for food produced to higher farming standards.
Experts say that better product availability is helping to drive growth. A powerful organic marketing campaign, set up by growers and retailers, has also played a part. “Early indications show positive growth in the organic market in 2013, after around four years of decline – showing strong appetite among consumers for the environmental, animal welfare and health benefits of organic produce,” said Bob Sexton, chief executive of certification at the Soil Association.
“Not only is the sector back in growth, but businesses that carry the Soil Association organic logo are experiencing relatively buoyant year-on-year growth of 5.3%. There is great potential in the organic sector and, in particular, a growing public demand for organic and food logos that they can trust.”
Sexton said growth was led by dairy products, which are outperforming sales in the non-organic dairy sector. “Organic sales account for 5%, 7% and 5.3% respectively of all milk, yoghurt and eggs,” he said. Organic baby food still makes up more than 54% of all baby-food purchases.”
Latest growth figures from retail analysts Nielsen indicate that overall organic sales grew by just over 1% last year, valuing the UK organic market at £1.24bn.
Abel & Cole, the organic food supplier that came close to collapse when recession struck, released results last week showing it has emerged from huge debts to record a rise in turnover. Sales rose to £38m in the eight months to May 2013, a 24 per cent increase on the same period a year before.
Tesco reports sales of organic bananas are up 60%, while sales of other fruits, such as grapes and apples, have also shown double-digit growth. It says organic dairy products are enjoying a boom. Sales of organic feta cheese, for example, are up 95% at Tesco, while those of organic mature cheddar are up 45%. Organic whole milk sales are up 40% with semi-skimmed up 25%.

February 10, 2014 – McDonald’s U.S. sales feel January chill

NEW YORK — McDonald’s says bad weather hurt its U.S. sales performance in January, representing another setback as the fast-food chain fights to fend off rivals and get its menu right.
Company stock sank 1% to $94.97 per share in morning trading. The world’s biggest hamburger chain says sales fell 3.3% at established U.S. locations last month.
Its global sales figure rose 1.2%, however, lifted by improvements in Europe and the region encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa.
The decline in the U.S. is just the latest disappointment for McDonald’s, which has conceded that its kitchen operations got overly complicated by the pace of new menu offerings. CEO Don Thompson also recently noted that the chain has lost some of its “relevance” with customers. In hopes of attracting more diners, McDonald’s has been aggressively promoting its revamped Dollar Menu, which includes new burgers that cost more than a dollar. The rollout of the Dollar Menu & More was designed to help improve the company’s profit margins without alienating price-sensitive customers who’ve grown accustomed to the idea of paying just a buck for various items.
Still, rivals including Burger King and Wendy’s have been promoting their value menus and special offers as well. More broadly, McDonald’s is trying to adapt to shifting eating habits by introducing items that are positioned as healthy or fresh, such as its chicken wraps and breakfast sandwiches made with egg whites.
The efforts have yet to pay off. According to a regulatory filing, McDonald’s saw customer traffic at established locations decline 1.6% in the U.S. last year.

March 11, 2014 – Cincinatti, Ohio – A new survey shows that teen alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use have declined by 25 percent to 50 percent since 2000.

March 27, 2014 – Energy drinks on fire, but diet soda still in a funk…

March 31, 2014 – The Diet Soda Business Is in Freefall
Low-Cal Carbonated Drinks Sank in 2013; Overall Soda Volumes Down 3%
A nearly decade-long decline in U.S. carbonated soft drink sales accelerated last year as more Americans turned their backs on artificially sweetened diet sodas, according to data published Monday.
The drop-off is a mounting problem for industry giants Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc., which have long depended on zero-calorie sodas to make up the difference as Americans became increasingly concerned about the health effects of sugared drinks.
Overall soda volumes fell an estimated 3% in 2013, the ninth straight yearly contraction and more than double the 1.2% decline in 2012, according to Beverage Digest.

April 1, 2014 – Falling soda sales: Not a trend, but a fundamental shift
FORTUNE — Soft-drink sales have been declining for nine straight years. This is much more than a trend — it’s a fundamental shift in consumer tastes that poses a major problem for soda makers, no matter how diversified their product portfolios might be.
The latest numbers are astonishing, but not surprising. Sales of soda fell 3% by volume in 2013, to the lowest levels since 1995, according to a report from Beverage Digest issued on Monday. That would be a big drop no matter what, but it’s also more than double 2012’s decline. People are moving away from soda at an accelerating rate.

April 1, 2014 – Soda sales continued to hit the skids in the U.S., according to data released yesterday by Beverage Digest, with overall sales declining 3% last year, and leading no-cal brands with artificial sweeteners slipping at more than twice that rate.

April 4, 2014 – For the most part, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been able to offset soft drink volume declines by raising prices even higher, allowing the two companies to grow soft-drink revenue even as U.S. case volume declines. But plunging diet soft drink consumption is dragging down volumes more than can be offset through price increases.
According to Nielsen, diet soft drink sales declined 7.3% from mid-February to mid-march, while regular soda volume increased 0.6%.

April 4, 2014 – Australian beer consumption plummets to 70-year lows

April 4, 2014 – Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won’t save you

April 5, 2014 – It’s Official – Russia Completely Bans GMOs
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that Russia will no longer import GMO products, stating that the nation has enough space, and enough resources to produce organic food.
If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” – Medvedev
Russia has been considering joining the long list (and continually growing) of anti-GMO countries for quite some time now. It does so after a group of Russian scientists urged the government to consider at least a 10-year moratorium on GMOs to thoroughly study their influence on human health.
“It is necessary to ban GMOs, to impose moratorium (on) it for 10 years. While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed. It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers and obesity among animals. Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop it from spreading. ” – Irina Ermakova, VP of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety
Within the past few years, awareness regarding GMOs has skyrocketed. Activism has played a large role in waking up a large portion of Earths population with regards to GMOs. People are starting to ask questions and seek answers. In doing so, we are all coming to the same conclusion as Russia recently came to. In February, the State Duma introduced a bill banning the cultivation of GMO food products. President Putin ordered that Russian citizens be protected from GMOs. The States Agricultural Committee has supported the ban recommendation from the Russian parliament, and the resolution will come into full effect in July 2014.
This just goes to show what we can do when we come together and demand change and share information on a global scale. Change is happening, and we are waking up to new concepts of our reality every day. GMOs are only the beginning, we have many things to rid our planet of that do not resonate with us and are clearly unnecessary. We are all starting to see through the false justifications for the necessity of GMOs, no longer are we so easily persuaded, no longer do we believe everything we hear and everything we’re presented with. Lets keep it going!

April 7, 2014 – You Might Want to Put That Diet Soda Down

April 13, 2014 – Organic Food Sales on the Rise
New data shows the organic food industry grew to $35.1 billion last year
American consumers are increasingly going organic.

April 15, 2014 – Hyderabad, India – Liquor sales plummet. Almost all the districts, except Ranga Reddy, Hyderabad and Nalgonda, have seen a drop in consumption. In Vizianagaram, the drop has been significant. In the state, the revenues went down by 8.58 per cent.

April 16, 2014 – UK alcohol consumption drops 18% in 10 years

May 7, 2014 – Dallas, Texas ends over 50 years of water flouridation
Anti water fluoridation advocates have been successful in the removal of fluoride from the water supply in Dallas, Texas. The ban comes after five decades of water fluoridation, but more and more people around the world have been gathering to put a stop to the practice over the last few years.
“We don’t need it and we’d just save a million dollars that we can use for something else. We’re looking into seeing what we can do immediately so we can get those funds up from now.” – Sheffie Kadane, Dallas City Council Member
“Yeah, this is major big. I knew we would prevail. It only makes sense. We’re spending too much money on an ineffective program.”- Scott Griggs, Dallas City Council Member
The decision was made after activists continually showed up to city council meetings, providing evidence and warning them regarding the risks involved with water fluoridation. As a result, the city could save over $1 million a year that is spent on the industrial chemical, that’s right, an industrial chemical.

May 13, 2014 – Increase in Organic Product Consumption in China due to Food Safety Fears

May 15, 2014 – American appetite for organic products breaks through $35 billion mark. New survey shows organic sales jump nearly 12% in 2013 to a new record. “The U.S. organic market is experiencing strong expansion, with organic food and farming continuing to gain in popularity. Consumers are making the correlation between what we eat and our health, and that knowledge is spurring heightened consumer interest in organic products,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of OTA.

June 12, 2014 – Oregon Citizens Overwhelming Vote to Enforce Ban on Cultivation of GMO Crops
Health Impact News Editor Comments:
I think the citizens of Jackson County in Oregon have taken the right approach towards GMOs: forget about trying to force companies to label them, just ban them outright!
The state of Oregon exports a large amount of their organic and non-GMO crops outside the U.S. to places in Asia, where countries like Japan and China either forbid or restrict the import of U.S. GMO crops. Last year, when an Oregon farmer discovered unapproved GML wheat in his field, presumably the result of field trials by Monsanto many years earlier, several countries banned the import of wheat from the U.S., bringing economic hardship on farmers in Oregon.
Now the farmers and citizens of two Oregon counties have taken political action and passed laws banning the cultivation of GMO crops in their counties.
Oregon counties ban cultivation of GMO crops
Excerpts:
Despite the flood of corporate money poured into two small Oregon counties, local residents voted to ban genetically engineered crops from being planted within their borders.
Although Jackson County itself is home to less than 120,000 registered voters, the measure to ban genetically modified crops (GMOs) made headlines around the nation when it was revealed that large biotech companies like Monsanto were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area in order to affect the vote’s outcome.

June 23, 2014 – Organic Farmers Challenged By Demand Exceeding Supply

June 28, 2014 – Coca-Cola Life introduced as soda sales plummet
Coca-Cola Life, a new “healthy” soda created by Coca-Cola, has been introduced to the market in response to plummeting soda sales.

July 27, 2014 – Record growth of organic food consumption in the U.S. and India.

August 8, 2014 – McDonald’s monthly sales worst in more than 10 years
McDonald’s Corp. served up a disappointing July, largely due to food-safety concerns in Asia as well as widespread problems in the United States, the world’s largest restaurant company said on Friday.
For the second time this week, McDonald’s said that this year’s sales forecast “is now at risk” to be reduced further.

August 13, 2014 – Organic food in Europe on the rise

August 13, 2014 – Soda Consumption Falls to Lowest Level in Decades
Americans are finally starting to realize the dangers of soda, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saying they actively try to avoid soda in their diet, a new Gallup poll revealed.1
This is a significant increase from 2002, when only 41 percent were trying to avoid soda, and a clear sign that, as TIME reported, “the soda craze is going flat.”2

August 16, 2014 – Women Drinking Two Diet Sodas Per Day Are 50 Percent More Likely to Die from Heart-Related Disease

August 20, 2014 – China pulls plug on genetically modified rice and corn
China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China.
The ministry, with much fanfare, had approved the GM rice certificates in August 2009. The permits enabled a group at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan to produce two varieties of rice carrying a gene from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacteria that provides pest resistance. At the same time, the ministry approved production of a corn strain developed by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Biotechnology Research Institute in Beijing. Researchers had altered the corn so that kernels contain phytase, a livestock feed additive that boosts absorption of phosphorus, which enhances growth. All of the certificates were valid for 5 years.
Since the certificates were issued, however, public skepticism about the benefits of GM crops has grown in China. Some scientists conducting GM plant research have been attacked when giving public lectures.
Why the ministry allowed the certificates to lapse is in dispute. Some environmentalists say public worries about GM crops played a decisive role. “We believe that loopholes in assessing and monitoring [GM] research, as well as the public concern around safety issues are the most important reasons that the certifications have not been renewed,” writes Wang Jing, a Greenpeace official based in Beijing, in an e-mail to ScienceInsider.
Others believe agricultural economics also influenced the decision. China has nearly reached self-sufficiency in producing rice using conventional varieties, so the ministry has decided there is no need to commercialize Bt rice in the near future, says Huang Jikun, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy. He says that with commercialization off the table, there was no point in renewing the certifications. Huang says “rising public concerns [about the] safety of GM rice” likely also played a role.
Whatever the reason, the decision marks an abrupt change in fortunes for transgenic rice in China. Five years ago, “China was widely expected to soon put GM rice on the country’s dining tables,” wrote Cao Cong, a China policy expert at University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, in a post on The Conversation, an Australian website. The Bt rice project “is now to all intents and purposes dead and buried,” he wrote, blaming an “anti-GM movement whose power and influence are more than matched by its fervour and sheer, undiluted paranoia.”
Huang says this decision does not reflect a change in China’s overall policy regarding agricultural biotechnology. The government is increasing its support for Bt corn research, other specialists note; GM corn has faced less public opposition, in part because it is primarily fed to livestock.
The researchers behind the affected GM crops could not be reached for comment.

August 28, 2014 –Non-GMO is a trend, not a fad

September 20, 2014 – 5 reasons McDonald’s is falling apart
Another month, another wave of customer defections at your local Mickey D’s. McDonald’s (MCD) posted another disappointing showing in terms of store-level sales for the month of August. U.S. comparable sales slipped 2.8% for the month, falling by an even harder 3.7% worldwide. McDonald’s stock hit a new 52-week low on the news.
These are lean times for the world’s largest burger flipper, especially closer to hme, where comps have fallen in 9 of the past 10 months. Let’s explore some of the reasons for the rut that the fast food giant finds itself in at the moment.
1. Quality is a problem
McDonald’s has been trying to upgrade the quality of its food, realizing that fast casual chains that offer higher-end fare with the convenience of quick-service restaurants are growing at its expense. Unfortunately, its reputation for having crummy food even within its own category isn’t going away.
A Consumer Reports survey of more than 32,000 fast food fans ranked McDonald’s dead last among 21 leading burger chains based on taste. When’s the last time an entrenched consumer brand dramatically reshaped consumer perception of the quality of its grub? It won’t be easy for McDonald’s.
2. The growing menu is causing delays and prep mistakes
McDonald’s is no longer just about burgers and fries, but giving customers more choices also has its drawbacks. McDonald’s hosted a webcast with its franchisees last year, alerting them on growing number of customer complaints about employee unfriendliness.
What’s making customers so unhappy? Industry trade mag QSR puts out its Drive-Thru Performance Study every year, tracking transaction speeds. Last year, it found that the average McDonald’s customer’s wait increased to more than three minutes after placing an order to receive it. That’s worse than the industry average, and a personal worst for McDonald’s.
Connect the dots, and it’s easy to see why the more complicated menu at McDonald’s is doing more harm than good.
3. The world is no longer its oyster
It’s been a rough go for McDonald’s domestically, but it was holding up relatively better overseas until this summer. August has offered a double whammy of international setbacks as a supplier scare has decimated its traffic in China, while Russian regulators shut down several locations on food safety concerns that may or may not have had political motivations.
In short, the same world that was once there for the taking is starting to turn on McDonald’s.
4. McDonald’s is being cast as “the bad guy”
It’s been a year since the Service Employees International Union launched the Fight for 15 protests, trying to get fast food chains to boost their minimum wage to $15. As the country’s largest burger chain, McDonald’s has become the poster child for the campaign.
The end result is that a lot of people think it’s not just the food that’s cheap at McDonald’s. It’s not entirely fair. As big as McDonald’s itself may be, 80% of the restaurants are owned by independent franchisees working on leaner markups. However, those siding with the union’s push to roughly double wages at McDonald’s may be avoiding the chain on principle, even as most of its burger peers are holding up better in terms of comps
5. Going back to basics may not be on the table
A common argument is that McDonald’s just needs to return to its simple roots and the Dollar Menu emphasis that served it so well in its heyday. The problem is that it isn’t likely to work. If McDonald’s scrapped the fancy coffee drinks, premium chicken sandwiches, and gourmet burgers off of its menu, do you really think sales would increase? Outside of a likely improvement in speed of service, it would lose more customers than it would gain by going back to basics.
Yes, a place like Five Guys can thrive without adding shakes, desserts, or fancy sandwiches. The challenge is being able to retain popularity once you start to scale back an expanded menu. This is where McDonald’s finds itself today, seemingly in a winless situation.

September 18, 2014 – three of the leading artificial sweeteners produce an increase in blood-sugar levels in both mice and humans, by disrupting the balance of helpful gut bacteria. High blood-sugar levels, in turn, are the telltale sign of glucose intolerance, a condition which can evolve into diabetes and metabolic disease.

September 19, 2014 – “Our findings suggest that [artificial sweeteners] may have directly contributed to enhancing the exact epidemic that they themselves were intended to fight.”
There’s no reason to think that so-called “natural” sugar substitutes, such as stevia and monk fruit, would have a different effect. plant-based products might impair glucose tolerance just as much as the chemicals they tested.

September 22, 2014 – How Diet Soda May Trigger Diabetes

October 1, 2014 – PepsiCo Launches New Salvo in Cola Wars With Pepsi True

October 6, 2014 – Three out of four British babies are being fed organic food because of parents’ concerns about pesticides and contamination.

October 13, 2014 – Is This The End Of Diet Soda? Huge Study Links Aspartame To Major Health Problems; Sales Drop…

October 16, 2014 –Taylor Swift’s 2014 Diet Coke ad is purrfect! The adorable commercial features the blonde beauty and her feline friend, Olivia Benson

October 18, 2014 – UCSF Study Links Soda To Premature Aging, Disease, Early Death
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) — A new study looked at whether America’s thirst for soda speeds up how the body’s cells age.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco used a sample of 5300 healthy adults. Dr. Elissa Epel worked on the study for 5 years.
“We think we can get away with drinking lots of soda as long as we are not gaining weight, but this suggests that there is an invisible pathway that leads to accelerated aging, regardless of weight,” said Dr. Epel.
Epel’s team discovered that in people who drank more sugar-sweetened beverages, the ends of their chromosomes, known as telomeres, were shorter.
The shorter the telomere, the less a cell can regenerate thus aging the body, and raising the risk of disease and early death.
“This finding is alarming because it suggest that soda may be aging us, in ways we are not even aware of,” said Dr. Epel.
Researchers found no link in cell aging, however, when drinking diet sodas and fruit juices.
Concerned about possible health effects, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg lost a high-profile court battle to ban large sodas there.
“I’ve got to defend my children and you and everybody else,” said Bloomberg.
He’s now supporting a measure on the November ballot in Berkeley that would add a 1-cent per ounce tax on soda distributors.
Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently tax sodas sold in vending machines.
Still, helped by ad campaigns from various groups, soda companies are on a 4-year winning streak. Thirty bills to levy or raise taxes on sugary drinks have all failed.
The American Beverage Association declined an interview about the study, but insist the researchers did not find a “conclusive” link between soda and cell aging.

October 21, 2014 – Diet Soda: Builds Desire, Decreases Satisfaction

October 21, 2014 – Coca Cola shares plunge as soft drinks market loses fizz …

October 22, 2014 – The omnipresent McDonald’s corporation just posted its fourth straight quarter of falling U.S. same-store sales, and now the fast food chain, which has been staring down the grim effects of a public backlash against unhealthy food, may be considering a highly unlikely route to win back customers.
“You’ll see us in some categories looking to different products, possibly organics,” Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson said on a conference call according to Bloomberg.
Already, McDonald’s uses organic ingredients in some foods overseas, but the news of Thompson’s quote has caught many in the holistic health world off guard considering McDonald’s track record. The McDonald’s of Today is Anything But Organic Everyone knows McDonald’s food in America is anything but organic, but the number of ingredients (and genetically modified ingredients especially) in each food item is what has caused most health conscious consumers to abandon them.

November 17, 2014 – Pro football player leaves behind $37 million contract to become a farmer
LOUISBURG, N.C. – A NFL player has left behind his $37 million contract in order to do something he has never done before: become a North Carolina farmer.
According to CBS News, St. Louis Rams center Jason Brown quit football to be a full time farmer and now is on a mission to feed the state’s residents who are hungry.
Brown purchased 1,000 acres of farm land and has started growing crops like sweet potatoes and cucumbers.
“My agent told me, ‘You’re making the biggest mistake of your life,’” Brown told CBS. “And I looked right back at him and I said, ‘No I’m not. No I’m not.’”
Brown learned the tricks of the trade from none other than watching videos on YouTube, since he had never actually farmed a day in his life. He also spent time gathering advice from local farmers in Louisburg.
He is calling the farm, the “First Fruits Farm,” and as part of his plan, Brown is donating the first fruits of every harvest to area food pantries. He just recently finished his first harvest of a five acre plot of sweet potatoes; a whopping 100,000 pounds of food, which he donated to the needy.

December 8, 2014 – FDA prices ‘lost pleasure’ of junk food into calorie count rule
Diners discouraged from ordering high-calorie treats could cost up to $5.27 billion in ‘lost pleasure’ over a 20-year span, according to estimates by U.S. health regulators.
U.S. health regulators estimate that consumers will suffer up to $5.27 billion in “lost pleasure” over 20 years when calorie counts on restaurant menus discourage people from ordering French fries, brownies and other high-calorie favorites.
The lost-pleasure analysis, which is criticized by some leading economists and public health groups, was tucked into new regulations published last month by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which require chain restaurants, grocery store chains selling prepared food, large vending machine operators, movie theaters and amusement parks to display calorie counts.
Public health advocates alerted Reuters to the inclusion of the analysis, which they say makes such regulations more vulnerable to challenges by industry because it narrows the gap between the government’s projections of a regulation’s benefits and costs. Amit Narang, an attorney at Public Citizen, said the lost pleasure calculation could help companies or trade groups to challenge the menu rule in court.
Peter Larkin, chief executive of the National Grocers Association, warned last week the calorie count regulation would impose “a large and costly regulatory burden.” Laura Strange, a spokeswoman for the group, said the grocers would work with supporters in Congress to change the rule, but declined to say whether they would cite the lost pleasure factor.
The FDA said the analysis balances the benefits to consumers when calorie information leads them to eat healthier with the sense of deprivation people may feel when they give up foods they enjoy. The new rule takes effect in a year.
“It increases the quality and objectivity of the analysis of estimated benefits,” said FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Corbett Dooren.
The agency does not believe its use has weakened the menu regulation, since the projected benefits still outweigh the expected industry costs and any lost pleasure combined, she said. At the low end of its estimates, FDA projects that the menu rule will bring net benefits of about 10 cents per person per day.
The FDA did not name or make available the staff economists who conducted the analysis.
Their work is based on a concept called “consumer surplus” long employed by economists to calculate benefits people get from various goods and services which may not be fully captured by market prices. For example, if a government turned a playground into an industrial park, or banned pizza, the pleasure people lose from not having the park or eating a slice counts as a “cost” of the action.
But some leading economists say there is no justification for the FDA’s application of consumer surplus to calorie counts, since the government is not banning a product but just making information available.
Consumers who eat healthier as a result “are presumably doing so because they are now better informed,” said Kenneth Warner of the University of Michigan, one of the nation’s leading experts on cost-benefit analysis. Anything a consumer freely chooses should not be treated as a forced loss of pleasure, he argued.
According to FDA documents, for the lost-pleasure analysis the agency relied almost solely on a 2011 paper by then-graduate student Jason Abaluck. In an interview, he defended the FDA’s decision to reduce its estimate of the health benefits from labeling in part because “healthier foods are worse off on other dimensions such as taste, price, and convenience.”
A revised version of the paper will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal soon, said Abaluck, who now teaches at the Yale University School of Management.
BROWNIE OR APPLE?
In May, Reuters reported that the FDA had applied the lost-pleasure factor when analyzing its proposed rules on electronic cigarettes. Agency economists said factoring in the sense of deprivation smokers would suffer reduced the benefits of tighter regulation by 70 percent.
In a public comment on the proposed rule sent in August, nine leading economists including Jonathan Gruber of MIT and Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland, said there was no economic basis for using consumer surplus in that case, partly because smoking is addictive rather than voluntary.
In its analysis of calorie counts on menus, the FDA projected that the rule would lead to fewer cases of obesity, Type-2 diabetes and heart disease, fewer medical costs to treat those diseases, and less suffering as a result of developing those conditions. It estimates the total economic value of those benefits at $5.3 billion to $15.8 billion over 20 years. The range reflects the uncertainty in how much calorie counts on menus will change people’s behavior.
The agency also put a dollar value on the lost enjoyment consumers might feel if the calorie figures made them avoid certain foods, such as an 800-calorie brownie, in favor of, say, a 100-calorie apple. The calculation does not include any gain in immediate pleasure if the consumer enjoys the apple more than the brownie or feels virtuous for healthier eating.
The agency’s economists estimated the lost pleasure at $2.2 billion to $5.27 billion over 20 years. That range reflects the imprecise science of assigning dollar values to lost enjoyment, they explained. They then subtracted those sums from the rule’s estimated benefits, cutting them significantly.

December 4, 2014 – “if you go out seven years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, the cohorts of individuals who are consuming diet sodas have much worse health outcomes,”

December 10, 2014 – Tens of thousands gather in Dublin for water protest
Crowds have gathered in Dublin to take part in today’s protest against water charges, as gardaí say “in excess of 30,000” congregated in the area around Merrion Square. That figure, however, was hotly contested by organisers who quoted figures in excess of 100,000.
Gardaí reported just two arrests for public order offences. While the majority of protesters gathered peacefully at Merrion Square – where speeches and entertainment took place throughout the afternoon – a smaller group gathered at nearby Government buildings.
A public order unit of the gardaí was sent to Kildare Street after an attempt by some to breach the barrier there, which is blocking access to the front gate of Leinster House.
It’s believed objects were thrown at some gardaí by at least one person in the crowd. RTÉ news reported that a garda was taken to hospital with facial injuries. Gardaí in full riot gear gathered near the seat of Government following the incident, equipped with riot shields and helmets. Gardaí were also seen filming the crowd in the area. Back at the Merrion Square stage, Irish singer-songwriters Glen Hansard and Damien Dempsey were among the performers present, and gave the crowd a rendition of ‘The Auld Triangle’.
“I think there’s something happening in the world, and I feel this is our version of it,” Hansard said.
“The water charge is the straw that’s breaking our backs – people are essentially very dissatisfied with how we are being governed.”
He added: “I’m not political, but the Irish nation has now been forced to be (political) and to come out on the streets.
“We’ve gone through a lot as a nation. It feels like there is more and more screws being put on the people, to pay taxes for this, that and the other. A lot of money that went out of the country in different directions and it is not up to the people to pay it back. I think there is a general sense of anger, a seething dissatisfaction and I’m just like anyone else.”
Earlier, a spokesperson from the UNITE trade union took to the stage and told the crowd that there were between 60,000 and 80,000 people in the area, despite the lower official estimate. That later swelled to a possible 100,000. The large numbers created bottlenecks and prevented movement along some streets, as the protest sprawled along the city centre.
O’Connell bridge is also impassable to traffic as protesters have stayed in the area. Motorists are advised to take precautions, as the protest marches converge on Merrion Square from multiple directions. Dublin Bus advised of delays on all city centre routes this evening until the protests clear. The Dáil proceeded with business as planned.
There were scuffles later in the evening around O’Connell Bridge as gardaí ordered protesters off the road.
December 10, 2014 – Sugar Crush: Why Diet Soda Sales Have Crashed
Diet soda is not as popular as it once was. Sales of low calorie soda fell by nearly 7 percent over the last year, while sales of regular soda dropped just over 2 percent, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen data.
Though soda is still the most consumed beverage in the United States overall, consumption has been declining for several years. “It used to be carbonated soft drinks were it,” says Gary Hemphill, Managing Director of Research for the Beverage Marketing Corporation, a consulting and research firm. “If you were thirsty, and you wanted something fun and refreshing, that is what you would drink. In the 80’s, you saw it broadening, that’s carried on at an accelerated pace.” But while the industry once hoped that diet soda would be its salvation, but the artificially sweetened soda has begun to contract more quickly than its full-sugar counterpart.
The explanation, experts say, is a combination of consumer’s concerns about health and the rapid proliferation of alternatives. Contemporary consumers are particularly concerned about the safety of artificial sweeteners. According to a report on health and wellness from the Hartman Group, a research and consulting firm that specializes in consumer behavior, as compared to 2007, more consumers in 2013 were concerned about avoiding sweeteners like Saccharine, Aspartame (in Diet Coke and Pepsi), and Sucralose, while those concerned about avoiding salt and refined sugar, dropped.
The report also showed a rise in the number of people concerned with genetically modified ingredients—evidence that concern about soda could be part of a larger trend away from processed foods. “The biggest trend in food, really, is a desire for consumers to move away from things that are very processed,” Hartman Group’s CEO, Laurie Demerit “The drumbeat of trend is increasing and there’s now some other ingredients to fill the gap.”

December 16, 2014 – Smoking, drinking, prescription drug abuse by teens is down, survey says
The latest Monitoring the Future survey, released on Tuesday by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, finds children are smoking fewer cigarettes, drinking less alcohol and abusing fewer prescription and synthetic drugs.

There has been a decline in the number of children trying synthetic drugs like K2/Special, also known as synthetic marijuana, in the two years the survey has measured this in all three grades. Use among 12th graders this year was 5.8%, compared to 7.9% last year and 11.3% in 2012, the survey said.
There was also a sharp drop in binge drinking among high school seniors, which is now under 20%, compared to 1998 when binge drinking among high school seniors was at a peak of 31.5%.
The number of young adults who have tried e-cigarettes is up, according to this report, but that’s in large part because e-cigarette use has never been measured before by this survey.

An unrelated study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics found that 29% of teens surveyed in Hawaii in 2013 used e-cigarettes, a number much higher than reported in previous surveys.

The general decline in drug and alcohol use by teens is part of a two-decade long trend among American teens.
“The main highlight is that for most indicators the news is very good,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow. A research psychiatrist and scientist, Volkow said she is encouraged by this significant decline, particularly in synthetic drugs and prescription drugs, which had been a growing problem for teens. She doesn’t, however, think parents and teachers should be complacent. “We need to continue to be very aggressive as far as interventions and to continue to curb abuse.”
An increasing number of children have tried e-cigarettes: Some 17% of 12th graders surveyed had used them in the last month. Sixteen percent of 10th graders did, as had 8% of eighth graders. “If you think about a new device, those rates are very high,” Volkow said.
The patterns for other drug use are similar to other surveys. Researchers have seen a decline over the past five years in use of prescription pain medicine and haven’t seen an uptick in use of other drugs like heroin to compensate for the decline. The rate of abuse of the painkiller Vicodin, for instance, has dropped significantly from the peak abuse use five years ago, according to Volkow. It fell from 9.5% of those surveyed using it to 4.8% now. “This is quite significant because it is so addictive,” Volkow said.
She credited an increase in education campaigns and an increased awareness in the health care system about the abuse for slowing the abuse of these drugs. Government drug buy-back programs have also had an impact, Volkow said.
“We still have a lot of work to do and we can still bring those numbers realistically lower,” Volkow said. Compared to other countries, even with the decline in use, the United States still has a higher drug use rate than many other countries. “We don’t (want to) stand out as a country with high rates of drug abuse among teenagers.”

 

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