News bites, January 2007
Sound Consumer January 2007
Pepsi buys Naked Juice
PepsiCo, Inc., the world’s number two beverage company, has announced that it’s buying the Naked Juice company for an undisclosed amount. Naked Juice, the maker of all-natural juices and smoothies, reportedly has sales of more than $150 million.
This is Pepsi’s third North American acquisition this year, part of an effort to expand its portfolio of healthier foods. Earlier this year PepsiCo purchased IZZE Beverages, which makes sparkling juice drinks, and Stacy’s Pita Chips. Pepsi also owns Frito-Lay and Quaker Oats. (Reuters)
Family meals still on decline
Despite scientific evidence that families eat more nutritiously and children are less prone to high-risk behaviors when families eat together regularly, family meals continue to decline. The Nutrition Education Network reports that between work schedules and extracurricular activities for the kids, family meals together tend to get squeezed out.
A national survey found that children who regularly eat with their families have fewer behavior problems in school. They also are less likely to get involved in drugs, alcohol and early sex. (Washington State University)
No fluoride for babies
The American Dental Association (ADA) is recommending fluoride-free water for infants and warning that fluoridated water should not be mixed into formula or foods intended for babies 1 year and younger. The ADA says giving babies fluoridated water makes them susceptible to dental fluorosis, which is seen as white spotting, yellow, brown and/or pitted permanent teeth.
Research published in 1997 revealed that formula-fed infants were vulnerable to fluoride overdosing, but the ADA didn’t issue an alert until 2006 and then, only to ADA members, not the general public. (New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation)
High-protein diet linked to cancer
A preliminary study suggests that eating a high-protein diet may increase the risk for cancer, while eating a low-protein diet may protect against certain cancers. Dr. Luigi Fontana at Washington University in St. Louis says premenopausal breast cancer, prostate cancer and certain colon cancers are linked with high levels of IGF-1, an important growth factor that stimulates cell proliferation. His research shows that low-protein diets may reduce IGF-1, independent of body weight. (Washington Post/Am. Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
USDA approves GE rice
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a genetically engineered (GE) rice that illegally contaminated commercially grown long-grain rice last year. The formerly unapproved rice can tolerate steady doses of the herbicide glufosinate, commonly known as Liberty. The California Rice commission says short-, medium- and long-grain rice from California has tested negative, so far, for the Liberty Link gene. (Gmwatch.org/Organic Trade Association)
Eco-farming helps world’s poor
New research suggests that sustainable farming methods can help the poorest farmers in developing nations out of poverty. Scientists found that organic practices, such as crop rotation, increased crop yields by an average of 79 percent while reducing use of costly pesticides and precious water.
The study, possibly the largest of its kind, looked at more than 280 projects in 57 of the world’s poorest countries. Researchers hope the data will encourage better land management. (Ecological Farming Assoc./Environmental Science and Technology Journal)
Flu shots contain mercury
Ninety percent of this season’s flu vaccines reportedly still contain a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosal. Yet a survey of 9,000 Americans by the organization, Put Children First, found an overwhelming majority have no idea flu shots contain any mercury. In 1999, government agencies called for the removal of Thimerosal. Critics say an internal analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control showed a correlation between autism and injected mercury. (Putchildrenfirst.org)
Plants “talk” to insects
When attacked by pests, plants produce chemical distress signals that alert natural predators of those pests to where their next meal can be found. Research by David James, an entomologist at Washington State University, found that the chemicals released by plants under siege also inform nearby plants of impending attack. The research appears to offer the potential for improving biological control of crop pests around the world. (Washington State University)