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The Wizard of Lightbulb Moments

The Wizard is constantly scanning industry news to maintain our trend forward stance. These “Lightbulb Moments” are quick insights on critical shifts in trends, research, and other happenings impacting food and beverage companies.

The Worst Diets That You’ll Want to Avoid in 2020

According to Nutritionists  1) The HCG Diet 4) The Keto Diet 7) Juice Cleanses 10) The Alkaline Diet 11) Whole30 19) The Dukan Diet 21) The Atkins diet 22) Meal Replacement Shakes 23) Paleo Diet 25) Raw Food Diet


Lightbulb Moment: This post is super short because if you get me (as a registered dietitian) started on what is wrong with these diets, and why I agree with this article, we will be here all day.  Before engaging a trend, be fully versed in what it represents.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them? Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Test reveals unreliability of facial recognition tech

A test by artificial intelligence firm Kneron revealed that 3D masks and photos can be used to fool facial recognition systems like those used by payment systems and airports.  “This shows the threat to the privacy of users with sub-par facial recognition that is masquerading as ‘AI,'” Kneron CEO Albert Liu said.  Masks and simple photographs are enough to fool some facial recognition technology, highlighting a major shortcoming in what is billed as a more effective security tool.  The test, by artificial intelligence company Kneron, involved visiting public locations and tricking facial recognition terminals into allowing payment or access.  Those systems, which resemble the ones seen in airports, use a person’s face rather than a PIN or a fingerprint to validate user’s identity.  Such masks, in theory, could allow fraudsters to use another person’s face—and bank account—to go shopping.  More alarming were the tests deployed at transportation hubs.  At the self-boarding terminal in Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ largest airport, the Kneron team tricked the sensor with just a photo on a phone screen.  The team also says it was able to gain access in this way to rail stations in China where commuters use facial recognition to pay their fare and board trains.


Lightbulb Moment: Learn about the limitation of AI and don’t be a blind follower.  In consumer research, AI has a huge “creep factor”.  AI can reinterpret the past but not actually predict the future.  Careful where you put your strategy eggs, don’t bank on a brittle technology.

Want to keep up with AI and the research behind it?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Coalition pushes for ‘low-carb’ diet to be added to 2020 Dietary Guidelines

A coalition of doctors, academics, and American consumers called the Low-Carb Action Network (LCAN) is urging US nutrition leaders to include a low-carb diet as part of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).  The newly-formed group of low-carb diet advocates pointed to a “large and growing body of scientific research” that demonstrates how carbohydrate restriction is a safe and effective dietary strategy to prevent “and even reverse” chronic diet-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.


Lightbulb Moment: What is concerning about this group is that they are NOT made up of Registered Dietitians!  There is no reason a low carb diet should be part of the Dietary Guidelines.  Low carb diets are for diabetics, who are NOT the general public.  This is a push for ignorance backed by bad science.  And this time they want to make the government help villainize carbs.  Stand up for true science!

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Taco Bell has developed a meat substitute that looks and tastes like ground beef

Taco Bell, which has yet to jump on the plant-based protein trend, has developed two meatless menu items for international consumers including a Crunchy Taco filled with “meat” made of pulled oats and legumes. The meatless plant-based ingredient, which looks and tastes like ground beef, is seasoned with Taco Bell’s proprietary spices. The taco is topped with shredded lettuce, cheese and creamy chipotle sauce. Over the past week, the so-called Oatrageous Taco became a permanent item in Spain after first testing in Finland. It will land on European menus in summer 2020. The meatless menu offerings come as Taco Bell restaurants in the U.S. have avoided partnering with plant-based leaders such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.


Lightbulb Moment: Love the fact that Taco Bell created their own simpler meatless offering made from oats and legumes.  What is the ingredient dec? When will it hit the USA? Holding our breath!

Want to keep up with competitor product launches?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Sprouts Whole30 Shopping List to help New Year’s resolutioners

Sprouts Farmers Market has published a Whole30 Shopping List for those who want to reset their health, habits, and relationship with food by participating in the January Whole30.   “Think of the Whole30 like pushing the reset button for your health, habits and relationship with food,” said Whole30 Co-Founder Melissa Urban. “Our short-term elimination program helps you identify foods that may be having a sneaky negative impact on your energy, sleep, digestion, mental health, cravings, allergies, or joint pain, and use what you learn to create the perfect sustainable diet for you…”  Those interested in Whole30 can learn more about the program at six store events — in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas San Diego and West Hollywood, CA. The first 100 customers will receive a free copy of New York Times bestseller.


Lightbulb Moment: Does Sprouts understand that the Whole30 diet vilifies key food groups and thus excludes vital nutrients from the diet? Did they know diets such as these are not sustainable and do not often result in long term successful weight loss?  The diet, in fact, eliminates foods that Sprouts sells – so, in fact, is encouraging customers not to buy products they stock.  Maybe they didn’t know.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Time-restricted eating slashes weight and blood pressure in people with metabolic syndrome, finds study

Limiting food consumption to a ten-hour window each day can lead to weight loss, lower blood pressure and more stable insulin levels. This is according to a pilot study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, which found that time-restricted eating – a form of intermittent fasting – improved the health of participants who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.


Lightbulb Moment: Intermittent Fasting is not as flashy as Paleo or Keto, but it is far safer, more sustainable, and produces longer-term weight loss that sticks. It also doesn’t vilify any food or food groups.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them? Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Protein bars under fire from consumer group

High-protein products, in particular high-protein bars, are not as healthy as perceived by consumers, while there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that consumption of protein above the recommended intake levels provides healthy individuals with additional health benefits, says a report. The report revealed that chocolate is the main ingredient in almost 40% of the protein bars it surveyed, with many also being high in saturated fat and containing added sugar and salt. The research also found that over 1 in 3 people (37%) surveyed think protein bars are ‘healthy’. However, when comparing current protein intakes among adults with what’s recommended, both men and women are already consuming more protein than they need from their diet. High-protein bars are comparable to a standard chocolate bar in their calorie, fat, saturated fat, and salt content. Safefood investigated the benefits of consuming extra dietary protein. Its research looked at the nutritional content of 83 high-protein snack foods and drinks available for sale in supermarkets on the island of Ireland. These foods included protein bars, yoghurts, yoghurt-style products and milk drinks. There is no consistent or conclusive evidence to suggest that consumption of protein above the recommended intake levels provides healthy individuals with additional health benefits.


Lightbulb Moment: Unless you are a competitive athlete, there is no benefit to additional protein in the diet.  But what you can gain from a high protein diet is kidney damage, impaired cognitive function, constipation, and bone loss.

Want to keep up with diet trends and the clinical health research behind them?  Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

FDA grants temporary marketing permit for Ruby chocolate

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advanced Ruby as the fourth type of chocolate. Barry Callebaut, a manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, has been granted a Temporary Marketing Permit (TMP) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), clearing the way to market ruby as chocolate in the United States. Ruby’s unique taste, color, and composition, made from the ruby cocoa bean, required a TMP from the FDA for it to be marketed as the fourth type of chocolate. The TMP is an important step towards establishing ruby chocolate as the fourth type standard of identity for chocolate after dark, milk, and white chocolate. The TMP allows Barry Callebaut to formally measure consumer acceptance, in support of a future petition for such a new standard of identity. Ruby chocolate has been introduced by more than 60 brands across all continents. In the United States, ruby has already been introduced in recent months as ruby cacao bars, ruby truffles, and more.


Lightbulb Moment: Great job BC!  Ruby chocolate is an interesting trend since its birth began in technology, not food.  There is nothing to compete with it so an amazing breakthrough.

Want to keep up with ruby chocolate and other technological births?  Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

Proposed bill aimed at plant-based meats

A new Federal bill introduced to congress would require all plant-based and cultured beef products to be labeled as “imitation.” The Real Marketing Edible Artificials Truthfully Act of 2019, also known as the Real M.E.A.T. Act, was co-sponsored by representatives Anthony Brindsi, a democrat from New York, and Roger Marshall, a republican from Kansas.  So far, the battle over food identity standards has taken place on the state level. Similar proposals already have appeared in more than half of the country’s state legislatures. They have been enacted in several states, including Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi. Most are being challenged in court. Meat processors argue that using terms like “beef” or “burger” on alternative protein is misleading and confusing to consumers.  The bill claims that the lack of a federal definition for beef has “led some to begin marketing imitation products as meat or beef, creating the opportunity for marketplace confusion and consumer fraud.” Others, such as the Good Food Institute, are defending the practice on free speech grounds. Proposals such as the Real M.E.A.T. Act, they claim, are intended to prevent plant-based alternatives from cutting into conventional meat sales.


Lightbulb Moment: This battle started with Dairy and has now moved to meat.  Research has shown that consumers are not confused but the underlying question is, do non-meat products have the right to be called something they are not?  Is it simply false advertising? Let’s have meat products start calling themselves “salad” and let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Want to keep up with the meat labeling battle and players behind them?  Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

CBD can disrupt fetal development

According to the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, components of marijuana, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can cause brain and facial birth defects if used during the first trimester. The development of the embryo in this time period is very similar across all vertebrates. Having the same results across animal models reinforces the findings. Concerns over its safety, especially during tender times such as pregnancy, are mounting and more research is looking into its potentially adverse side effects. There is no comprehensive research studying the effects of CBD on the developing fetus, pregnant mother or breastfed baby. The FDA is continuing to collect and study the data on the possible harmful effects of CBD during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.


Lightbulb Moment: Were you wondering why Cannabis was not granted GRAS status?  This is just one of dozens of studies showing cannabis is not the miracle drug that social media likes to make it out to be.  But cheer up, all drugs turn out to be two faced.  They can help and they can hurt.  The most important thing is to be aware of a drug’s limits.

Want to keep up on the latest government, industry, and consumer research on cannabis?   Schedule a Capabilities meeting with us and see what we can do for you.

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