Classic cocktails return
Cocktails made popular during the “Rat Pack” days of Frank, Dean, and Sammy, Prohibition, and even earlier times are making a comeback at bars and restaurants. The number of cocktails referred to as “classic” on menus has increased by 76% since 2009, reports market research firm Mintel.

The gimlet, for instance, has a 63% increase on menus since 2009, followed by the Sazerac (57%), sidecar (50%), and Manhattan (35%), according to Mintel Menu Insights. The popularity is due to a number of factors, including bartenders learning about the history and evolution of cocktails, better ingredients, and nostalgia, stated Kathy Hayden, Senior Foodservice Analyst at Mintel.

Adult obesity cases rise
The rates of adult obesity in the United States continue to increase, with no state having a prevalence of less than 20%, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recently released its 2011 map that details the prevalence of adult obesity in the U.S., and it does not bode well for the health and wellness of the population. The numbers range from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi. In fact, at 29.5%, the South had the highest prevalence of adult obesity followed by 29.0% for the Midwest, 25.3% for the Northeast, and 24.3% for the West. There are 39 states with a prevalence of 25% or more, and 12 of these states have a prevalence of 30% or more. They are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.

Blocking bitter notes
Certain compounds that can inhibit bitter notes of various ingredients show promise as bitter masking agents of whey protein hydrolysates, according to a study published in Journal of Food Science. Some of these compounds may be useful in whey protein-fortified flavored beverages.

The researchers examined a number of different sweeteners, salts, amino acids, and volatile compounds and found that some were more effective at inhibiting bitterness of the whey protein hydrolysates alone and in chocolate-flavored and vanilla-flavored beverages. The results showed that sweeteners, especially fructose and sucralose, were the most effective at inhibiting bitter notes of whey protein hydrolysates while boosting desired flavors in the beverages. Salts and nucleotides also inhibited bitterness, but they intensified their own flavors or dulled sweet taste or other desired flavors of the beverages.

The study, “Bitter Taste Inhibiting Agents for Whey Protein Hydrolysate and Whey Protein Hydrolysate Beverages,” appeared in the August 2012 issue of Journal of Food Science.

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Food waste causes concern
Americans throw away about $165 billion worth of uneaten food yearly, which is about 40% of the food supply in the U.S., according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. While this is an extreme amount of food wasted, the NRDC says there are ways that farmers, retail operators, and consumers can reduce food waste.

Grocery stores lose $15 billion a year in unsold produce alone. These businesses need to streamline their operations, for instance by reducing the amount of fresh foods in their display cases and stands, according to the NRDC’s issue brief, “Wasted: How America is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill.” Consumers contribute to the growing amount of food waste too by purchasing more food than they will ever be able to eat before it spoils. Consumers need to shop smarter by buying only the amount of food that they need. Even the government needs to address this matter by establishing national goals to reduce food waste.

Increasing nutrients with electricity
An electric current can “supercharge” the nutrients in a sweet potato, increasing them by 60%, report researchers from the University of the Ryukyus in Japan.

The researchers put sweet potatoes in a salt solution, which conducts electricity, and passed different amounts of electric current through the water–salt solution for five minutes. The results showed that 0.2 amps of current was the best amount for increasing nutrient activity; it increased the antioxidant levels by 1.4 times and total polyphenol content by 1.6 times compared to untreated sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are nutritional powerhouses on their own, and the electric current treatment, which does not seem to affect the flavor of the potato and is inexpensive, is a way to further improve public health and nutrition, said Kazunori Hironaka, the lead researcher of the study. The researchers have conducted similar research on white potatoes, noting that electric current increased the polyphenol content by 60%. The electric current stresses the potato, and to protect against this, the potato produces more polyphenols.

The study results were presented in August 2012 at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

College students shape food trends
Today’s college students may help shape food trends and affect the food industry for years to come, according to a new report published by CCD Innovation and Packaged Facts.

The report, Collegiate Gen Y Eating: Culinary Trend Mapping Report, explains how factors like personal relationships, a variety of restaurant choices, and campus foodservice expose college students to new foods and may ultimately affect what they buy and what they demand the food industry provide. The report’s analysts conducted several online quantitative research studies in late 2011 and early 2012 asking college students how their eating habits and food preferences had changed after arriving at school and why. They noted four themes, saying that the students were more aware of nutrition, want more flavorful foods, seek comfort and indulgence in food choices, and look for products that can be prepared quickly or eaten on the go.

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Methyl cellulose may improve satiety
An ingredient used as a texturizer and binding agent shows promise in promoting satiety, according to research presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Methyl cellulose, a coldwater–soluble white powder derived from cellulose, is commonly used to improve the texture and bind other ingredients in baked goods, sweet and savory snacks, and other products. Conventional versions of the ingredient quickly pass through the stomach and do not act as a satiety agent. Researchers from Dow Wolff Cellulosics, which manufactures methyl cellulose, have developed a type of methyl cellulose they call Satisfit-LTG that forms a gel at body temperature that they say stays in the stomach for a longer period of time, thereby increasing satiety.

The researchers discussed the results of a controlled clinical trial in which subjects who consumed Satisfit-LTG reported a reduction in hunger sensations that lasted for two hours. After the two hours, the subjects could eat a meal of as much food as they wanted, and the researchers found that there was a statistically significant reduced intake of calories at this meal. The ingredient may show promise in cold foods like yogurt and smoothies, but more research on this is needed, said the researchers. 

What’s new with food companies
3M Food Safety has received AOAC–PTM Certification (#071202) for its 3MMolecular Detection Assay.

Bunge has opened a new culinary kitchen at its Ingredient and Innovation Center in Bradley, Ill. The facility has an industrial kitchen, a corporate dining room, and video capabilities.

Kemin, Ball Horticultural Co., and Ball’s wholly owned subsidiary, Chrysantis Inc., have formed a partnership that gives Kemin exclusive license of zeaxanthin extracted from Ball’s patent-protected marigold hybrids.

Nexira has opened a facility in Mumbai, India, that will offer a range of ingredients for beverages, confectionery, and more.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has doubled the size of manufacturing and office space and added a state-of-the-art kitchen to its headquarters in Waukegan, Ill.

Nu-Tek Food Science has signed an agreement with Barentz Europe to distribute Nu-Tek Salt Advanced Formula Potassium Chloride to food manufacturers in Europe.

Palsgaard is constructing a new emulsifier processing plant in Johor, Malaysia. It is scheduled to open in 2013.

Wild Flavors recently completed its acquisition of Cargill’s global juice cold blends and compounds business.


Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]