Understanding the microbiome is the ‘next frontier in medicine’

Most of the trillions of bacteria and other organisms that live in and on our bodies — our microbiome — are in our intestinal tract, “where they are capable of influencing virtually every aspect of our health,” writes Rene Ebersole in FERN’s latest piece, published with Cooking Light. No paywall

Alcohol industry funding NIH study into benefits of drinking

An ambitious 10-year study undertaken by the National Institute for Health, which examines whether daily drinking can have positive health effects, is largely funded by the alcohol industry. It raises questions about the integrity of the trial and whether NIH employees broke the agency’s fundraising policies.

Kraft Heinz’ iconic products face changing consumer tastes

Thousands of workers have been laid off and several factories shuttered since the Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital helped facilitate Kraft’s acquisition of Heinz in 2015. Now, at the end of the trademark cost-cutting cycle that follows many 3G deals, Kraft Heinz must grapple with changing consumer preferences, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Food company coaches schools on ‘whole-grain waiver strategy’

A food service management company that operates in 600 U.S. school districts is offering them, in the words of its vice president for nutrition, “instructions” on how to get a waiver from the USDA requirement to serve whole-grain-rich bread, pasta, and baked goods to their students, said The Lunch Tray.

For Millennials, convenience tops the grocery list

Members of the millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, are less likely to go to the grocery store than Baby Boomers or Gen X-ers and spend less per person when they do go to the store, write two USDA economists. "Millennials are demanding healthier and fresher food — including fruits and vegetables — when making food-at-home purchases, and they place a higher preference on convenience than to other generations."

USDA to extend ‘flexibilities’ for school food, maybe for years

In a Federal Register notice today, the USDA announced it will extend its “three flexibilities” for school menus — salt, whole grains, and flavored milk — into the 2018/19 school year. It will also invite comment on the “long-term availability of the flexibilities,” which Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue introduced at an elementary school on his sixth day in office.

Self-loathing common among overweight and obese people

Research by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity found that "about 1 in 5 adults engage in body-specific self-loathing behavior," says the Danbury (Conn.) News Times. "It’s even more more common among adults who are obese, with 52 percent of them admitting to internalizing their weight bias."

DC’s food lobby splinters amid squabbles

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, a giant among trade groups, is beginning to bleed members, with Nestlé the latest foodmaker to pull out, says Politico. "Complacency and a lack of leadership" at GMA are a factor, along with the hurly-burly of competing for sales in an evolving marketplace, it says.

Three more districts join big-city alliance that stresses healthy school food

School districts serving Philadelphia, Baltimore and Las Vegas joined the Urban School Food Alliance, which now serves 3.6 million students in 10 of the largest U.S. districts with a combined $735 million a year in purchases of food and supplies. The alliance launched a procurement initiative in 2014 for antibiotic-free chicken, and said this year that its members would not relax school lunch standards despite a USDA offer of flexibility on salt and whole grains.

SNAP benefits inadequate for healthy diet

A comparison of food stamp benefits and federal dietary guidelines finds that the premiere U.S. antihunger program "only covers 43-60 percent of what it costs to consume ... a healthy diet," says North Carolina State University. "The study highlights the challenges lower-income households face in trying to eat a healthy diet."