Monday, February 20, 2012

Around The Culinary World

Hello again everyone! It’s Monday once again, and in some areas of the country, it’s beginning to show hints of spring. Of course, those of us who live in the Midwest know this is all a big scam. We get hints of warm weather and then BAM 2 feet of snow in March. Still, we’ll enjoy the warmer than usual temperatures while we can.

Outside of warmer temps and some hints of spring, Monday brings with it another reason to celebrate – it’s time to take a trip ‘Around The Culinary World’ and check out all of the food news for the week. It was an interesting week to say the least, food living up to its name, a big change in legislation and a change of perspective for one candy manufacturer. Let’s dive into the food news for this week!

Jelly: the unsung hero of the sandwich world; peanut butter’s best friend, breakfast’s ally, a sidekick for sandwiches everywhere. Fruit based jellies (as well as jams and preserves) are great, versatile culinary tools that add a touch of sweetness and a whole lot of flavor to whatever medium you choose to use them in. The problem is, the jelly market is crammed full of competition. From the big players like Smuckers to small, regional brands, there are a lot of options out there for the jelly buyer. Luckily, Kitchen Daily has compared the best available mass market (strawberry) jellies so you don’t have to. The winner of the competition may surprise you. Check out their ‘best of’ list HERE.

Last week we talked about the inhalable caffeine product, AeroShot, which boasted the ability to transfer about 1 large cup of coffee worth of caffeine to the user via inhalable powder. AeroShot was able to skirt around FDA rules and regulations at the time of its release because it hit the shelves as a dietary supplement, rather than a food product. At the time, I noted that the product would begin growing, barring a setback from the FDA. Well, the FDA has come knocking and AeroShot has some questions to answer. According to the FDA, they’re not sure that AeroShot has the grounds to call itself a dietary supplement (meaning they could be intentionally avoiding the FDA rules in order to sell their product) in addition the FDA wants to test the product to make sure it’s safe for consumer use. AeroShot stands behind the safety of their product, stating that so long as the consumer follows the instructions on the label, it is safe for consumer use. Read more about the FDA’s look into this new medium HERE.

Mars Inc. manufacturer of products such as Skittles, Juicy Fruit chewing gum and the Snickers candy bar, among others, announced last week that they will be making a dramatic change to their product offerings. The company stated that beginning in 2014 (or by the end of 2013) they will no longer offer any candy bar over 250 calories. The company stated they were making this change “as part of their broad-based commitment to health and nutrition”. In addition to the shrinking sizes, Mars also announced that they intend to reduce the sodium levels in their products by 25% by 2015.

This is a bold move for a candy manufacturer, but one that should not go unnoticed. It’s refreshing to see a major candy manufacturer actually taking steps to make their product healthier, to admit that some portions of their product are simply not sensible serving sizes and then make the changes themselves, rather than passing the responsibility off on the consumer. While this will likely mark the end of the ‘king size’ candy bars made by Mars, I’m interested to see if the company actually adjusts the size of their candy bars or if they simply adjust the ‘serving size’ region of their nutritional information. (Taking a candy bar and breaking it into two servings for example, in order to get the calories below their threshold). My initial reaction is that they are in fact changing the size, but we’ll keep an eye out for any future updates on this story. Read more about this change HERE.

Sometimes, you get exactly what is advertised. If a restaurant sells itself in a certain way, sells products based on a certain theme and constantly makes references to a theme or event, they just might mean it. One customer found out the hard way that this particular restaurant chain wasn’t kidding in their advertising. What happened and where? Check it out for yourself HERE.

The organic food industry is still sort of jumbled and scattered depending on the product and region it originates from. Occasionally, farmers have had difficultly in getting a legitimate organic product onto their certified list, simply because the price of becoming certified offset any potential profit. In addition, others complained it was too easy to become certified organic, citing some competition that did not offer a sustainable product. What complicated matters even further was the fact that there were two standards for organic; depending on the region of the world the food was produced in. U.S and Canadian farmers found it difficult to export their USDA certified organic products overseas, where EU regulations would not certify the product as organic. The same was true for EU farmers who attempted to send their certified organic products to the US. This closed off another large market for any organic farmer, greatly impacting their ability to continue operating an organic farm.

Last week, both groups finally reached an agreement that will help both organic farmers and consumers alike. The European Commission of Agriculture and the USDA agreed to begin accepting certified organic products from each other and will allow them to be marketed without prejudice. This change goes into effect on June 1st, and should allow the world of organic food offerings to grow, which is always good from the consumer’s perspective. You can read more about this agreement, including each department’s guidelines, and where they found common ground, HERE.

That’s all the culinary news that’s fit to blog about this week. We’ve got an exciting week of recipes lined up for you. I’m taking to the kitchen tomorrow night to create a 100% original, brand new dish. It’s actually a medium we haven’t dabbled into too often on the blog, so I’m eager to give it a try. Maggie follows me on Wednesday with a very unique concept that features one of her favorite flavors. Be sure to stop in tomorrow night to see what I have cooking. Until then,


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