Blog Archives

Removing Fat, Sugar and Salt from the School Snack Menu

Sugary drinks and junk food are out, while flavored water with no calories and fruit cups are in. At least that’s the “Smart Snacks in School” rule USDA-promulgated Thursday under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Smart Snacks, according to USDA, are science-based nutritional incentives designed to get kids to choose healthier options, including more whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits and vegetable and leaner protein.  Foods high in fat, sugar and sodium will be harder to find in the schools.

With the snack rule, the federal government is opening a second front in its war on childhood and teenage obesity.  It has already imposed calorie-cutting guidelines on participants in the National School Lunch Program.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has been championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.  Improving nutrition in schools goes hand-in-hand with the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which encourages more physical activity for youths who are more likely to be spending their time on computers than bicycles.

Thousands of schools have already tossed junk food and colas out of their vending machines and retail stores, but now all the estimated 100,000 elementary, middle and high schools that accept assistance from the National School Lunch Program will have until the 2014-15 school year to comply with the new snack rule, published Thursday in the Federal Register.

The rule sets limits for fat, salt and sugar in school snacks. USDA dropped its controversial plan to apply the snack rule to such events as birthday parties, bake sales, and after school sporting and other event.

It is the first time in over 30 years that national snack rule standards for schools have been updated, according to Michelle Cardoso with The Pew Charitable Trust.

Pew and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are sponsors of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project that works on food safety and health of school foods. According to the project researchers, school snacks add 112 calories a day to the typical elementary school pupil’s diet.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture ‘s Smart Snacks in School rule is an important step for improving kids’ health, setting a minimum nutritional baseline for snacks and beverages sold in schools, said Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “Once those guidelines are fully implemented, the options available to students will be healthy ones.”

“Millions of students currently have widespread access to snacks and beverages that are high in sugar, fat, and sales, but limited access to nutritious options such as fruits and vegetables in school stores, snack bars, and vending machines, ” Black added. “With many students consuming up to half of their daily calories at school, these new standards represent the kind of positive changes we need to help reduce obesity rates among children and teens.”

Black said the next step is for districts to implement the standards, using USDA’s rule as a baseline. “Offering nutritious snacks will help to ensure that the healthy choice is the easy choice for all students, ” she said.

The Kids’ Safe Project has also found children and teens gained less weight over three years if they already reside in cities or state where schools already have strong snack policies.

Making healthier options available in schools also has broad public support, work by the two foundations say. Almost all public schools and more than half of the nation’s private schools do participate in the National School Lunch Program.

Under the new USDA rule, snacks must be limited to 200 calories and include increases in protein, whole grains and nutrients.

USDA snack rule drew more than 250,000 comments when it went up for public review. Language that might have applied the rule to parent bake sales that are a common school fund raising tool drew plenty of response

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants, Vending Machines

Calorie counts are coming to menus and vending machines near you.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has finalized its two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants, similar retail food establishments and vending machines with 20 or more locations.

“Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home – often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters Monday evening. No single action can fix the obesity epidemic, but the labeling is an important step “that will help consumers make smart, healthy food choices for themselves and for their families.”

Some states, localities and large restaurant chains like Panera and McDonald’s are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. “FDA’s menu labeling rules will now provide a consistent nation-wide standard that will apply to many more restaurants and food businesses,” Hamburg said.

The FDA reviewed more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers submitted on the proposed rules, released in 2011. In response, the agency narrowed the types of foods covered to focus on restaurant-type food, built in flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, expanded coverage to include certain entertainment venues like movie theaters and amusement parks and required that certain types of alcohol have labels.

Menu labeling will not apply to independent restaurants, bars or grocery stores, nor to food trucks, ice cream trucks or the food served on airplanes and other transportation vehicles. In addition, restaurants will be allowed to offer daily specials or seasonal menu items — a Thanksgiving dinner, for example — without providing the calorie count.

To give context to calorie information, menus and menu boards will include the statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

Consumers will also be able to request written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

In the proposed rules, restaurants and similar retail food establishments would have had six months to comply and vending machine operators would have had one year to comply. In the finalized versions, they will have one year and two years, respectively.

The rules were required under the Affordable Care Act.

“Menu labeling is the biggest advance in providing nutrition information to consumers since the law that required Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods was implemented 20 years ago,” said Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It will soon seem strange that once it was possible to go into a Chick-fil-A or a Denny’s and not see calories on menus and menu boards. We hope that small chains and independent restaurants provide the same information voluntarily.”

The National Restaurant Association President and CEO, Dawn Sweeney, said in a statement that her organization “strongly believes in the importance of providing nutrition information to consumers to empower them to make the best choices for their dietary needs” and that the association looks forward to “working with the agency as the implementation period begins and toward helping the industry adjust to the new rules.”

Food Safety News

Taking Sides: Menu labeling

Jennifer Hatcher, SVP, government and public affairs, FMI Sometimes we see regulations that were simply designed in a way that makes no sense and will only exacerbate the problems they were supposedly written to correct. The FDA proposed rule for “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments” is one of these poorly designed attempts. Thankfully, a number of legislators in both parties, and both sides of the Capitol, have …

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Supermarket News

McDonald’s removes salads from Russian menu

Bananas from Crimea in Moscow
McDonald’s removes salads from Russian menu

Bulgaria desires a higher compensation from the EU for growers. Despite the country’s small stake in the agricultural market, Bulgarians do expect to suffer significant losses. Greek growers expect problems to be the biggest later this month, or in October. Hopes are pinned on the Turkish market, where the increased export to Russia could cause a shortage there. Meanwhile, the Moldovan government is at its wit’s end. The country is not an EU member, but is part of the ban. To offer growers some compensation, the country is in talks with the World Bank, among others. And in Russian supermarkets, bananas, citrus and kiwifruit from Crimea are emerging.

McDonald’s Russia stops selling salad
The Russian branch of McDonald’s is removing salads from its menu. According to the fast food chain, since the boycott the quality of ingredients has worsened. Because the quality no longer meets McDonald’s standards, the salads have been taken off the menu. Previously, Russian authorities closed down several branches of the fast food chain, after bacteria was found on lettuce leaves. According to McDonald’s, the decision to scratch salads is not connected to the closed restaurants.

Greek worries for seasonal peak
Greek growers on Crete and in Preveza are worried about the consequences of the boycott. The biggest tomato growers can be found in these regions. They fear that prices will go down as other countries, for instance in the Balkans and Spain and Italy, look for new markets. The Greeks are pinning their hopes on the Turkish trade agreement with Russia. “If the Turks can’t meet Russian demand, we expect the Turks to start buying Greek tomatoes,” a Greek tomato grower says.
On Crete, the cucumber harvest is good. Many cucumbers were exported to Russia directly, or through Poland. October will see the peak of the tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and eggplant harvest. The growers are expecting problems finding new markets. In addition, there’s competition from Spanish and Italian producers who export their produce to Greece. Losses of 60 million Euro are expected on a total revenue of 200 million Euro.

In Preveza, cucumber prices are between 13 and 15 cents, which isn’t bad. For other producers, prices are also still at a normal level. Problems are expected to start on September 25. The peak of the tomato season is around this date, a large part of which was exported to Russia via Bulgaria. These growers are hoping for a shortage in Turkey.

In Imathia, the season started off well, but price started going down around August 15. The impact of the ban is limited because the region doesn’t export to Russia. In Filiatra, the consequences are also limited. Decreasing prices are expected, however.

Bananas from Crimea?
In Russian supermarkets, after Belarusian pineapples, bananas from Crimea are now turning up. The ‘local’ bananas are cheaper than the imported bananas being stocked before; 1005 roubles (20 Euro) per kilo for imported bananas, against 56 roubles (1.1 Euro) per kilo for bananas from Crimea. Apart from Crimean bananas, citrus and kiwifruit is also on offer under the label ‘Made in Crimea’.

Vietnam signs trade agreement
According to the Russian press agency, Russia and Vietnam have signed a trade agreement. The Asian country will supply Russia with agricultural produce, including fruit and vegetables. Agreements have been reached on cooperation between customs authorities.

Moldova at wit’s end
The Moldovan government is at its wit’s end. The country is not an EU member, which means it can’t make use of the EU compensation. The government is now negotiating with various parties, to raise an amount of 146 million lei (33 million Euro) in order to compensate apple and plum growers. To be able to offer the growers compensation, the country is turning to the World Bank, among others, for a financial boost of 10 million dollars.

Bulgaria wants higher compensation
Bulgaria is requesting a higher European compensation for fruit and vegetable farmers. The Bulgarian agriculture minister, Vassil Groudev, is working on getting temporary extra European support from the European Union. The government of the Eastern European country insists on extraordinary measures to compensate growers of some fruit and vegetable varieties. Compensation for apples and pears alone is not sufficient. Bulgaria expects more compensation with the other fruit and vegetable varieties. Despite the small stake in the agricultural market, the country expects to suffer great losses due to the Russian ban of European products.

Publication date: 9/10/2014
Author: Rudolf Mulderij
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

IPC celebrates 60 years of Tater Tot-inspired menu creativity

When Tater Tots began arriving in grocery stores in 1954, they quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America. During the next sixty years, foodservice operators capitalized on tot popularity, enthusiastically integrated them into menus ranging from quick service to white tablecloth, and the Idaho Potato Commission noted that the tot is both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity.potato-totsIn its 60th year, potato tots continue to be a source of inspiration for potato creativity. 

The IPC boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme. For signature housemade tots, operators will add aromatics (truffles), herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage), and proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab) to the mix before frying. Other operators raise the bar by stuffing the tots with elaborate fillings like Parmesan or blue cheese, braised pork and curried chicken. Still others use the classic Tater Tots as a base for loaded tots, poutine, nachos, chili and breakfast scrambles.

In honor of the Tater Tot 60th birthday, the Idaho Potato Commission urges operators to fire up a potato tot special. To research tot recipes or for help with All Things Potatoes, visit foodservice.idahopotato.com, While on the site, check out the IPC’s comprehensive recipe database, refer to a helpful size guide and Idaho potato preparation tips, and find answers and solutions to operational and culinary FAQs.

Tater Tots are a registered trademark of Ore-Ida, a division of the H.J. Heinz Co.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

IPC celebrates 60 years of Tater Tot-inspired menu creativity

When Tater Tots began arriving in grocery stores in 1954, they quickly caught on as a snack food, a side dish and the foundation for casseroles at dinner tables across America. During the next sixty years, foodservice operators capitalized on tot popularity, enthusiastically integrated them into menus ranging from quick service to white tablecloth, and the Idaho Potato Commission noted that the tot is both an inspired potato product and a springboard for potato creativity.potato-totsIn its 60th year, potato tots continue to be a source of inspiration for potato creativity. 

The IPC boasts a collection of innovative tot recipes and variations on the theme. For signature housemade tots, operators will add aromatics (truffles), herbs (parsley, rosemary, sage), and proteins (crumbled bacon, shredded crab) to the mix before frying. Other operators raise the bar by stuffing the tots with elaborate fillings like Parmesan or blue cheese, braised pork and curried chicken. Still others use the classic Tater Tots as a base for loaded tots, poutine, nachos, chili and breakfast scrambles.

In honor of the Tater Tot 60th birthday, the Idaho Potato Commission urges operators to fire up a potato tot special. To research tot recipes or for help with All Things Potatoes, visit foodservice.idahopotato.com, While on the site, check out the IPC’s comprehensive recipe database, refer to a helpful size guide and Idaho potato preparation tips, and find answers and solutions to operational and culinary FAQs.

Tater Tots are a registered trademark of Ore-Ida, a division of the H.J. Heinz Co.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Vidalia onions featured in Applebee’s new farm-to-table menu item

The Vidalia Onion Committee and Applebee’s have partnered to bring consumers a unique summer dish that boasts Georgia pride and farm-fresh flavor with the introduction of the new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin, part of Applebee’s new summer menu.

Applebee’s is offering this promotional menu item, which features a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce, through Aug. 17.caplbApplebee’s will offer a new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin as part of its summer menu. The dish will feature a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce.

The Kansas City, MO-based, 2,000-unit casual-dining brand of DineEquity Inc. estimated it will use as many as 23,000 pounds of onions per week during peak times this summer.

To launch the new dish, Applebee’s hosted a press conference at its restaurant in Dunwoody, GA, near the very first Applebee’s location in Decatur, GA. The restaurant was aptly named “VidaliaBees” for the day on April 25 as it accepted the ceremonial first Vidalia onion from representatives of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Applebee’s Executive Chef Michael Slavin and brand representatives showcased the recipe.

“We are thrilled to provide our unique, sweet Vidalia’s to Applebee’s,” Susan Waters, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said in a press release. “This flavorful dish provides a great opportunity to educate consumers on the seasonality and versatility of Vidalia onions.”

The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990. Applebee’s has a special connection to Georgia, as Bill and T.J. Palmer opened the original T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Atlanta in 1980.

“Forget the polar vortex, and bring on summer fun,” Peter Czizek, Applebee’s vice president of culinary and menu strategy, added in the press release. “Our new menu is full of authentic flavors, and we can’t wait for our guests to taste how Vidalia onions take our steaks to the next level.”

Applebee’s is promoting the new menu item with a national television ad campaign combined with public relations and social media outreach.

The Vidalia Onion Committee and representatives from Applebee’s also introduced the Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin to food bloggers during a luncheon event on April 26 as part of a weekend field tour in Vidalia, Georgia. The committee will continue to promote the Applebee’s menu item on their social media platforms as well.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Vidalia onions featured in Applebee’s new farm-to-table menu item

The Vidalia Onion Committee and Applebee’s have partnered to bring consumers a unique summer dish that boasts Georgia pride and farm-fresh flavor with the introduction of the new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin, part of Applebee’s new summer menu.

Applebee’s is offering this promotional menu item, which features a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce, through Aug. 17.caplbApplebee’s will offer a new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin as part of its summer menu. The dish will feature a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce.

The Kansas City, MO-based, 2,000-unit casual-dining brand of DineEquity Inc. estimated it will use as many as 23,000 pounds of onions per week during peak times this summer.

To launch the new dish, Applebee’s hosted a press conference at its restaurant in Dunwoody, GA, near the very first Applebee’s location in Decatur, GA. The restaurant was aptly named “VidaliaBees” for the day on April 25 as it accepted the ceremonial first Vidalia onion from representatives of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Applebee’s Executive Chef Michael Slavin and brand representatives showcased the recipe.

“We are thrilled to provide our unique, sweet Vidalia’s to Applebee’s,” Susan Waters, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said in a press release. “This flavorful dish provides a great opportunity to educate consumers on the seasonality and versatility of Vidalia onions.”

The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990. Applebee’s has a special connection to Georgia, as Bill and T.J. Palmer opened the original T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Atlanta in 1980.

“Forget the polar vortex, and bring on summer fun,” Peter Czizek, Applebee’s vice president of culinary and menu strategy, added in the press release. “Our new menu is full of authentic flavors, and we can’t wait for our guests to taste how Vidalia onions take our steaks to the next level.”

Applebee’s is promoting the new menu item with a national television ad campaign combined with public relations and social media outreach.

The Vidalia Onion Committee and representatives from Applebee’s also introduced the Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin to food bloggers during a luncheon event on April 26 as part of a weekend field tour in Vidalia, Georgia. The committee will continue to promote the Applebee’s menu item on their social media platforms as well.

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Gallery: A look at Price Chopper’s Market Bistro menu (part 2)

Supermarket News

Gallery: A look at Price Chopper’s Market Bistro menu

Supermarket News

Seafood Expo: What’s on the menu

It’s been a cold winter, but the sun is shining here in Boston. I’m here for the newly renamed Seafood Expo North America (formerly the International Boston Seafood Show). Tomorrow morning I’ll be attending the panel “Molecules can kill — Plus, other fun facts about food allergies!” While those facts might not meet most people’s definition of “fun,” the issue of food allergies is an important one and a topic often overlooked outside the bakery department.

The panel “How can we increase seafood consumption in the U.S.?” will benefit from both the supermarket and QSR perspective with speakers from Long John Silver’s and Demoulas Market Basket.

As far as I know Chipotle doesn’t offer any seafood products, but Joshua Brau, director of the company’s Food With Integrity program, will be talking about lessons learned from sustainable food systems in the “Putting the ‘food’ back in seafood’” panel. With Chipotle’s bold sustainability messaging — that most recently includes an extended ad that received 12 million views on YouTube as well as a sponsored Hulu TV series — it will be interested to hear what he has to say about the seafood industry’s sustainability efforts.

Supermarket News

GE Salmon, Apples Keep Genetic Labeling On Legislative Menu in Olympia

Usually the Washington Legislature will steer clear – at least for a while – of a topic voters have settled in a recent initiative. That unwritten rule might ordinarily keep bills for labeling genetically modified food off the table for a while since voters narrowly nixed that idea in deciding against Initiative 522.

House Bill (HB) 2143, calling for labeling genetically engineered salmon, may be an exception to that rule. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling on an application for a fast-growing GMO salmon is expected later this year.

State Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee), a sponsor of HB 2143, says that since Washington state already requires labeling salmon as either “farmed” or “fresh,” it only makes sense to also label “transgenic” fish. The bill also prohibits raising GMO fish with fins in state waters.

The state’s aquaculture and biotech industries oppose HB 2143. In testimony this past Friday in Olympia, industry representatives charged that the bill was introduced to stigmatize genetic technology and generate fear.

They also said that the bill is unnecessary and claimed state law already prohibits transgenic fish in aquaculture. And they reminded a committee hearing on Friday that state voters have already spoken in their 51-49 percent rejection of I-522 last November.

Proponents said the state has to protect Washington’s native salmon population, and they claimed those fish stocks would be threatened by FDA approval of the first GMO animal approved for human consumption. FDA is reviewing comments on the issue and has not promised a delivery date for a decision. The application under consideration is from Aqua Bounty Technologies.

Testing is also now under way in Washington state and New York, both apple-growing regions, of two varieties of the non-browning Arctic Apple. The Arctic Apple is being developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., of British Columbia.

The Yakima-based Northwest Horticultural Council, representing the region’s fruit industry, wants USDA to reject the GMO apple to avoid marketing confusion for traditional and organic apples. The council says it has no concerns over food safety.

Another bill in Olympia could apply to the Arctic Apple. A USDA decision on the Arctic Apple could come this year.

Food Safety News

After Outbreak, Chicken is Back on the Menu at Tennessee Campus

Chicken is back on the menu at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Crossroads Cafeteria, confirms Chuck Cantrell, the school’s associate vice chancellor for Marketing and Communication.

The news comes after an outbreak of Salmonella and Campylobacter affected at least 25 people who had eaten at UTC’s dining facilities since Aug. 20 and complained about illnesses involving fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

“Since the number of cases dropped off dramatically and quickly and we haven’t had any new reports, it would appear that any problem has likely been resolved,” Cantrell wrote to Food Safety News in an email.

Although the source of the outbreak has not yet been identified, chicken was the main suspect. It was pulled off the menu and “All of the chicken products in stock at the time of the suspected infection have been replaced,” Cantrell says.

All UTC dining facilities have scored high in the county health department’s periodic and unannounced inspections, with marks of 95 to 99 out of 100 possible points.

“The Health Department has not identified anything specific product or any process that needs to be addressed or changed, so all of the necessary procedures are in place.” Cantrell says.

Food Safety News

Potatoes and salad on the menu at September EPC meeting

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Eastern Produce Council returned from its summer hiatus Sept. 10 with a meeting at the Manor, here, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission and Dole Fresh Vegetables.

Following a cocktail hour that allowed friends and business associates to reconnect, the sponsors gave interactive presentations that engaged the gathering of produce professionals in attendance.

Dole led off the presentation with a demonstration 9Eastern Produce Council Executive Director John McAleavey (center) is joined by EPC First Vice President Vic Savanello of Allegiance Retail Services and EPC President Paul Kneeland of Kings Food Markets in front of the Big Idaho Potato Truck, which made a special appearance Sept. 10 at the Manor in West Orange, NJ. The Idaho Potato Commission was one of the sponsors of the EPC dinner meeting.of its new chopped salad line by Amy Tobin of Amy Tobin & Co.

Next, Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail/international for the IPC, introduced the commission’s ‘Tater Team,’ a trio of enthusiastic young adults who are in the midst of a cross-country tour in the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck.

The ‘Tater Team’ drew laughs from the crowd with their collection of stories from the tour, especially their tales from the New York metropolitan area, where the EPC membership is based.

In addition to promoting Idaho potatoes, the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck is raising awareness of the Meals on Wheels program, which provides meals on a daily basis to more than 1 million seniors in need.

Also in attendance at the meeting were the members of the Eastern Produce Council’s new Women’s Leadership Committee, which held its first meeting prior to the EPC dinner.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Foodservice industry realizing mushrooms on the menu is the way to go

Foodservice outlets of all types and levels have shared in the success by providing customers with mushroom meatless and blended entrees since the Mushroom Council started its Swapability and Swap It and Top It campaigns last year.

And industry professionals — growers, marketers and others — are all helping to promote the idea to their foodservice customers of swapping out less healthy, more expensive forms of protein for mushrooms.

Edelman---FLIP-6-13-6-webChef Richard Blais’ new Earth and Turf Burger being served at the Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta. The burger blends Portabella, white button and shiitake mushrooms with ground beef.It’s impossible to list all the ways that restaurants are using mushrooms in place of some proteins today, and others are offering them as toppings.

Celebrity chef Richard Blais, whose company TrailBlais, is a partner in a hamburger chain in Atlanta called Flip Burger Boutique. At one of the restaurants he recently introduced what he named the Earth and Turf Burger, a gourmet burger, which blends Portabella, white button and shiitake mushrooms with ground beef. The item was met with such great success at the Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta that the promotion was positioned to continue and expand to additional outlets throughout the summer.

Epic Burger, a popular burger chain in Chicago, launched a highly successful Mushroom Monday campaign to market to consumers following Meatless Monday diets. The campaign offered 20 percent Portabella burgers on Mondays.

“It is truly a testament to the changing consumer behavior that a burger chain is not only promoting a meatless mushroom dish but finding it a hugely profitable program,” said Bart Minor, president of the Mushroom Council.

Fred Recchiuti, general manager of Basciani Mushroom Farms, in Avondale, PA, said there is another very important factor besides the great health and nutritional benefits to foodservice operations replacing a portion of protein with mushrooms-and that’s an economic one.

“A couple of months ago McDonald’s announced that it is dropping the one-third pound Angus burger from its menu due to the cost of Angus beef,” said Recchiuti. “School lunch programs are on very tight budgets. They cannot afford Angus beef, and they are under tremendous pressure to increase the nutritional level and reduce the amount of fat in the foods they serve. Mushroom alternatives, additions and toppings are already being implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for school lunch programs.”

Some national foodservice restaurant chains are jumping on the Swap It or Top It campaign in numerous and major ways.

Aware that consumers are more health, nutrition and weight conscious than ever before, mushrooms are already appearing on some progressive national restaurants, such as P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps made with chicken, mushrooms, green onions and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks with cool, crisp lettuce cups. Or, the “SkinnyLicious” grilled turkey burger made with mushrooms at the Cheesecake Factory.

“Also supporting the Swapability trends is that restaurant operators that started offering lower calorie mushroom specials on their menus are reporting increased traffic,” Recchiuti recalled from a power point presentation made by the Mushroom Council. “But those that did not had decreased traffic. It looks like we’re riding a good train.”

Paul Frederic senior vice president of sales and marketing for To-Jo Mushrooms Inc., in Avondale, PA, said that the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo in Monterey, CA, July 26-28 was “the best ever show from our perspective,” primarily due to the outstanding response the company received for its new “Bella Blended” meatballs.

“We’re right in a ‘sweet spot,’” said Frederic. “Mushrooms are good and are good for you. They are low in calories, low in fat, have no cholesterol and are a perfect meat alternative. The product fits perfectly with people’s concerns today.”

He also noted that quick serve and casual restaurants, including major chains, were most notably drawn to the “Bella Blended” mushrooms, for not only economic reason, but also because today’s restaurant patrons want healthier foods.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines