Millions threatened by famine
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program warned in May that at least 10 million people in four southern African countries are threatened by potential famine.

The figure is expected to rise when reports from two other countries are completed. Released reports that cover the results of recent joint missions to Malawi, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, and Swaziland said that millions of people are on the brink of starvation. Major food shortages are expected as early as June, continuing through the next main harvest in April 2003.

According to FAO, close to 4 million tons of food will need to be imported to meet the minimum food needs of the sub-region’s population. Almost 10 million people in the famine-threatened countries need immediate emergency food assistance of some 1.2 million tons.

USDA launches online nutrient directory
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service’s Nutrient Data Laboratory has launched a new on-line data resource for nutrient-conscious consumers and dietary professionals.

The electronic directory allows users to look up the amount of a specified nutrient within any one of 1,147 food items. To aid consumers, the information is given in commonly consumed portion sizes.

The directory runs off the lab’s new Nutrient Databank System, which was developed in part to make it easier to disseminate Web-based information. The system’s Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (SR14) features more than 6,000 food items and provides a foundation for most public and private nutrient databases in the U.S.

The database can be found at By clicking on the Reports by Single Nutrients link, users can view a table listing nutrients such as protein, calcium, fiber, carbohydrate, cholesterol, or fats. Users can sort the 1,147 food items in the directory according to nutrient content by clicking on the button by each nutrient’s name.

The system allows people with specific dietary needs or restrictions to look up foods with the nutrients they need. Those who need more dietary fiber in their diet can view foods’ fiber content from highest to lowest. The same is true for calcium and other nutrients.

H&R Flavors sponsors consumer research study
The Haarmann & Reimer Flavor Division is sponsoring an in-depth syndicated consumer research study on consumer preferences in 29 everyday food products.

Nutrition marketing firm MangoLogic, in partnership with Moskowitz Jacobs Inc. and the Understanding & Insight Group, will conduct the study, called “Healthy You!” It will provide insights into what healthy benefits consumers want in everyday foods and determine what consumers are willing to trade off for these benefits.

The study will make specific comparisons of healthful ingredients and the health benefits they promote. More than 7,000 consumers will participate. The results will assist in developing good-tasting formulations containing the healthy attributes that most interest consumers. MangoLogic will also provide Haarmann & Reimer with a database for further inquiries, segmentation results, and target marketing, as well as access to respondents for followup studies.

Haarmann & Reimer is based in Holzminden, Germany.

Another grape compound may have cancer-prevention qualities
A second compound in grapes has properties that give it promise as a cancer-preventing agent, according to an Agricultural Research Service study.

Research chemist Agnes Rimando made the finding at the agency’s Natural Products Utilization Research Unit in Oxford, Miss. She reported that a compound called pterostilbene possesses similar cancer chemopreventive qualities to those found in resveratrol, another compound in grapes. Pterostilbene also showed strong inhibitory activity against breast cancer cell lines.

The evidence remains preliminary and has yet to be evaluated in humans.

Assistant Editor