Nutrition claims will continue to ignore low-salt

Food processors have been rolling out lots of low- and no-sugar products during the pandemic but not low-salt ones, said speakers at a 2022 food outlook presentation hosted by The Food Institute.

The pandemic has Americans thinking more about wellness and good nutrition, but that apparently hasn’t gotten them to realize they eat much more salt than they need every day.

Younger consumers also are concerned about sustainability, so sales of products with sustainability claims are likely to increase as Millennials’ buying power increases over the next five to six years, speakers said. Expect more meat-substitute products as well, including lab-grown offerings created cell-by-cell to resemble fish.

Looking at restaurants, the prediction was that restaurant sales levels would not return to what they were pre-pandemic in 2019 until 2023.

Speakers at the presentation included an old boss of mine, Joan Driggs, now vice president, content and thought leadership at IRI, a market research firm. We worked together at Mintel, another market research firm and were both journalists in our former lives.

Other scheduled speakers were:

Mike Kostyo
Trendologist and Senior Managing Editor, Datassential

Chris Dubois
Senior Vice President, Protein Practice Leader, IRI

2022 starting with salad recalls, so beware

The new year is barely upon us and we already are dealing with salad recalls that started in late December. “The FDA announced recalls from Fresh Express, Simple Truth and Nature’s Basket. Many bagged and boxed greens are affected,” reported the Food Network on Jan. 7.

Fresh express announced a recall Dec, 20 of salads bearing its name and store brand names as well because of concerns of Listeria contamination.

My Garden Bar salad
Always wash your lettuce, even if it comes bagged and supposedly pre-washed.

The second recall of Simple Truth Organic Power Greens and Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens happened early this year. “The CDC posted an outbreak warning of E. coli 0157:H7 on January 6th, 2022 linked to boxed salad greens sold in Washington, Oregon, Ohio and Alaska. The power greens have Use-By-Dates through December 20th, 2021, which means products will not be in grocery cases but could still be in home fridges. They were sold at Fred Meyer, QFC and Giant Eagle grocery chains and should be thrown away immediately,” Food Network reported.

A reminder, thoroughly wash all your lettuce, whether bagged or not. Lettuce can be a great place for these pesky bacteria to hide

Brownies with allulose — not exactly like regular brownies

Food processors are constantly looking for a sweetener that will make people think they’re eating sugar while not getting all the harmful side effects of consuming sugar. I wrote recently about one such sweetener, allulose, which some say is better for us than sugar.

I purchased a brownie mix with allulose from Lang’s Chocolates to see how this sweetener works in a baked product and how it tastes. The results were disappointing.

The brownie mix seemed very sticky while I was mixing it and the final baked brownie seemed the same. The end product did not taste all that chocolatey and it had an after-taste which I assume comes from the allulose. In short, it did not taste like a brownie made with sugar.

Continue reading “Brownies with allulose — not exactly like regular brownies”

My first walk around an Amazon Fresh — few low- and no-salt products, few deals

Amazon Fresh Stores have come to the Chicago area, with one now open in the northern suburb of Morton Grove, only a short drive from my house. So I went to check it out. I was disappointed to see none of my favorite low-salt and no-salt products on shelves.

Prices were comparable, or sometimes higher, than other mainstream supermarkets and the only sales I saw were in the produce section.

This is a high-tech store. You can shop and checkout with the Amazon app on your phone, with no need to wait on checkout lines. But the day I visited, everyone was on checkout lines, I saw no one going out through the automatic areas where you could scan your app to pay and exit.

Continue reading “My first walk around an Amazon Fresh — few low- and no-salt products, few deals”

My 2021 Pandemic Low-Salt Turkey Quest

I knew this would be a difficult year to find a low-sodium fresh turkey for Thanksgiving because of the
Pandemic and supply chain issues it had caused. But I was not prepared for how difficult it would be to find what I wanted.

Keep in mind a fresh turkey, one not injected with sodium solutions for self-basting should have about 70 mgs of sodium per serving. Turkeys with liquids injected can range as high as 300 mgs of sodium per serving. And, really who eats just one serving of turkey on Thanksgiving.

My medium-sodium pandemic turkey from Costco, $2.99 a pound.

I’d written you might have to buy a bigger bird than you wanted this year. But what I found was the opposite, larger turkeys, those over 14 pounds, were extremely difficult o find, regardless of salt content.

I started at a local Jewel, an Albertson chain in the Chicago area, where I found Butterball premium turkeys that were loaded with salt. I next tried Whole Foods, one had no turkeys whatsoever, the other had only frozen turkeys. A butcher there told me fresh turkeys would be in a few days later. But when I returned on that day, they had yet to appear.

I then swung by a local Mariano’s outlet (a Kroger chain in the Chicago area). Its website listed a low-sodium Jenny O turkey option but there were none in the store I went to.

Continue reading “My 2021 Pandemic Low-Salt Turkey Quest”

Pandemic food causalities — low- and no-salt products continue to disappear from store shelves

The Pandemic, and how supermarkets and other food sellers have reacted, has certainly made it more difficult to eat healthy. Last Thanksgiving, for example, I wasn’t able to find fresh, low-salt turkeys at Costco for the first time in years.

A recent buy from Healthy Heart Market.

Readers also keep writring me to tell me low-salt products I’ve written about in the past are no longer aavilable at Trader Joes, so I’ve created the hastag #ShameonTraderJoes.

Here’s a list of items I was able to buy pre-pandemic which are no longer available on store shelves in my area:

  • Trader’s Joe’s salt-free shrimp sauce.
  • Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce
  • Mrs. Dash salt-free teriyaki sauce
  • Salt-free fresh turkeys at Costco
  • Low-fat frozen yogurt at Costco (chocolate was dropped pre-Pandemic, but vanilla is gone now too, replaced by ice cream)
  • Low-salt canned olives at several retailers (others still have them)
  • Trader Joes salt-free wheat bread (this disappeared before the pandemic, but its worth mentioning for #ShameonTraderJoes)

Stores are stocking the highest volumes products they sell now, and dropping others to simplify thier supply chain problems. And tjhose of us wanting to eat healthy are suffering as a result.

eI’ve turned to more stocking up when I do find items that can be stored. I’ve also done more shopping online at Amazon and Healthy Heart Market, despite the higher prices and shipping costs involved. I’m willing to pay those prices now, I want to survive this Pandemic and that means not letting the virus, or salt kill me.

Looking for a low-sodium Thanksgiving turkey during the Pandemic — shop early, buy big

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!
Finder smaller, fresh turkeys under 16 pounds could be a challenge this year, shop early, and buy bigger.

Shortages, and talk of soon-to-happen shortages, have become a regular feature of the Covid Pandemic over the past two years. Already, stories are emerging about turkey shortages for Thanksgiving.

Doing some research, I found some of those stories overblown. The shortages are likely to be for fresh, smaller turkeys, those under 16 pounds. Of course, fresh turkeys also are low-sodium turkeys. They haven’t been injected with high-salt solutions like many frozen ones. I wrote about salt differences in turkeys back in 2014, read details by clicking here.

So, if like me, you’re planning to buy a fresh turkey, shop earlier than usual and freeze it until Thanksgiving. And think about buying a larger turkey than you otherwise might to get a better selection. I did that last year after a long quest for a fresh turkey, grabbing a 19-pound bird at a local Whole Foods for our small Thanksgiving gathering in the first year of the Pandemic.

You can easily freeze leftovers for a variety of future uses like your own homemade low-sodium soup or turkey fajitas which I made after last Thanksgiving.

Good hunting, and an early Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Walden Farms’ reformulated Ranch Dressing Tastes Good, But Note the Salt Content

Walden Farms recently announced a rebranding of its salad dressings to feature more natural ingredients.

Walden touts the dressings by saying they are “proudly free from artificial flavors and dyes, made with real vegetables, fruit fibers and ingredients. Offering a full line of specialty condiments and food enhancers with zero calories, zero net carbs, zero sugar and zero fat, Walden Farms uniquely provides consumers with unmatched attributes vs. other brands in the marketplace.”

While I applaud the no fat, no sugar message, I also would like to see some salt-free varieties offered. In e-mailing with a Walden representative, I requested a sample of the lowest salt dressing in the line, the Ranch dressing.

Continue reading “Walden Farms’ reformulated Ranch Dressing Tastes Good, But Note the Salt Content”

Here’s how American eating habits will change post-pandemic

Two-thirds of Americans are re-evaluating their life priorities because of the Pandemic and that spells a change in American eating habits ahead, according to research from British market research firm Mintel.

Mintel’s Jenny Zegler

“In food and drink, US adults say the pandemic caused the most change in where they eat, how they grocery shop and how they approach their diets. Many of these new habits and attitudes will be routine when “the next normal” arrives in the US. Consumers will have more flexible meal needs, a reliance on ecommerce and a proactive approach to health,” writes Jenny Zegler, associate director of food and drink at Mintel.

(A brief disclosure here. I worked at Mintel from 2012 through the end of 2013, heading it’s food and beverage research group. Jenny worked briefly for me before moving on to bigger and better things at Mintel.)

Continue reading “Here’s how American eating habits will change post-pandemic”

The Pandemic isn’t done, and neither are the food shortages that have come with it

The pandemic has meant shortages of various products at mainline supermarkets for the past two years, from the absence of many low-salt products, to even such items as propane for backyard grills becoming difficult to find.

Expect Pandemic-induced food shortages to continue into the fall for a variety of items.

Expect shortages to persist into this fall, reports Today.com, “Rodney Holcomb, a food economist at Oklahoma State University, told TODAY in an email that we can expect to see a shortage of canned foods, but that this has to do more with the container than the actual food,” Today reports. Apparently even aluminum supplies are being impacted b the pandemic.

Also, “Meat and poultry products will still be tight supplies this fall, not necessarily because of a shortage of livestock or poultry but because COVID has processing plants working at less than full capacity,” Holcomb told Today.

A fine line exists between hoarding and stocking up when you see something you use regularly. I have a small basement freezer where I can store meat, poultry and fish items I find on sale.

Hopefully that stockpile will help me ride out shortages this fall and winter.

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