Sweets make you popular, online ads tell kids

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Cake company offers calorie-controlled Christmas



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Cake manufacturer, Anthony Alan Foods, has announced that it will be launching a range of Weight Watchers branded cakes, designed for the dieter at Christmas time.

The move comes at a time when consumers are increasingly looking for healthier, less fatty alternatives to commonly perceived "bad" foods.

The range includes slices of traditional Christmas cake, with 136 calories and 0.4g of saturated fat, and individual servings of Christmas pudding, which contain 233 calories and 0.8g of saturated fat.

There are also mini festive yule logs, with 89 calories apiece, and mince pies, with 148 calories, and these contain 1.8g and 2g of saturated fat respectively.

Marketing director, Sarah Morgan, said: "Christmas may be a time of indulgence but many consumers are still on the look-out for healthier options," according to just-food.com.

"Retailers who ignore them are turning business away," she added.

Further information: http://www.just-food.com/news_detail.asp?art=61625

Salad bowl wins top packaging prize



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The first prize in this year's DuPont Awards for Innovation in Food Processing and Packaging has been awarded to a single-serving steel bowl with a peelable lid, aimed at businesspeople that are pushed for time.

The design by Crown Food Europe was created for a French producer of ready-meals launching a new range of meat-based luxury salads.

The Peal Seam lid technology involves a peelable flexible aluminium lid, which is sealed onto a 99mm polymer-coated ring.

This is seamed to the 314ml polymer-coated steel bowl with a tab for easy removal, and a white internal polymer coating reinforces an image of freshness and hygiene.

Crown's success, winning a DuPont "Diamond" Award, suggests that "food to go" and an emphasis on healthy freshness are areas driving the packaging sector at the present time.

Saurin's product manager, Laurence Masce, said of the bowl: "It protects product taste, fits neatly into handbags, briefcases or lunchboxes without spilling and allows consumers to enjoy their salads straight from the bowl.

"The lightweight and durable package truly offers a new level of simplicity and meets demands for modern 'on-the-go' lifestyles and healthy meals."

Sponsored by DuPont in collaboration with the National Food Processors Association, the awards recognise innovation in the plastic packaging industry.

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61922-packaging-portable-prize

Pomegranate juice increasing in popularity



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Tesco has reported that pomegranate juice is the fruit drink experiencing the fastest growth in popularity in the UK.

Sales of pomegranate juice have rocketed by 300 per cent, according to retail analysts Taylor Nelson AC Nielsen, and now reach some 500,000 litres a week.

Experts are predicting that the juice will soon overtake the popularity of more traditional fruit juices such as tomato and grapefruit, to join orange, apple, pineapple and cranberry as Britain’s favourite fruit juice drinks.

Pomegranate juice boasts a range of holistic properties, and it is said to have more polyphenol antioxidants than any other drink, including red wine, green tea, blueberry juice, cranberry juice and orange juice.

It is also believed to be a good source of folic acid, which is essential for the healthy development of babies.

The health benefits of pomegranates are beginning to be explored by scientists, and a team at the Lipid Research Laboratory in Haifa, Israel, have shown that the juice is effective at fighting heart disease.

The UK pomegranate market is currently worth £921 million.

Further information: http://paktribune.com/news/index.php?id=113617

London restaurants show dramatic price rise



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A guide to London's restaurants has found that the cost of a slap-up meal in the capital has risen at three times the speed of inflation, approximately 5.7 per cent in the last year alone.

The Harden's annual guidebook, compiled from a survey of approximately 8,000 members of the public, found that the average cost of a dinner for one, with the cheapest wine, is now £36.82.

This compares with £35.79 for the previous year, and reflects a price rise across all tiers of four per cent.

Furthermore, the authors found that four restaurants in the London area were now charging £100 for a three-course meal with a half-bottle of house wine, coffee and a tip.

The conclusion drawn is that the restaurant business in London is reaching a new peak, further evidenced by the number of new restaurants that are opening.

There are 142 new restaurants due to enter the market this year, a seven per cent rise on last year, and only 67 closures, compared to 82 listed in the previous edition of the guide.

Co-editor, Richard Harden, told the Independent: "Overall, the London restaurant scene has enjoyed something of a boom over the past 12 months, having seen record levels of openings, and the top end of the market, in particular, is flourishing."

Further information: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1738441,00.html

Britons cooking up a storm



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The British are growing increasingly confident in the kitchen, with one in three considering themselves "adventurous" as chefs.

This is one of the findings of a survey into cooking trends in UK households, conducted by the cruise company Ocean Village, and it should be heartening to those concerned for the health of a nation described as in the grip of an obesity crisis.

The average person in the UK now spends 69 minutes cooking a meal, a time that soars to one hour and 47 minutes if attempting to impress friends with a dinner party.

More men described themselves as innovative home cooks than women, and another influence on habits was the increase in foreign travel.

Almost three in five of the 1,000 questioned said they were inspired to cook by the foods they had tasted while abroad, with Mediterranean-style food emerging as the outright favourite.

Traditional British food came second, with Asian in third place.

Amanda Johnson of the British Dietectic Association, said the findings were "welcome news", and indicated that habits were changing, according to the Scotsman.

"There's been a huge growth in the number of programmes and information in the media from celebrity chefs about cooking," she said.

Further information: http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/article306417.ece

Heinz completes HP acquisition



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Heinz has completed its acquisition of HP Foods from Group Danone, first announced in June, for a cash sum of $820 million.

The transferred portfolio of products include the leading Worcestershire Sauce brand Lea & Perrins, the HP range of sauces, and a license to market the range of Amoy stir-fry sauces in the European market.

Also included in the deal are three factories, two in Birmingham and Worcester in the UK, and one in New Jersey in the US, which together with the Head Office in London employ 400 people in total.

HP had sales of $300 million last year, and Heinz expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings for the 2007 fiscal year, which begins on May 4th next year.

Heinz has said it will not be making any decisions concerning the future of the four sites until a comprehensive review has been undertaken.

William R. Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer, commented: "The addition of Lea & Perrins, HP sauces and Amoy Asian sauces complements Heinz's leadership in our core condiments and sauces businesses, especially in Europe and North America."

Further information: http://pittsburgh.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/stories/2005/08/15/daily12.html

New bottle design for Mumm



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Mumm champagne is to be relaunched with a new packaging design, in spite of a previous packaging initiative having been undertaken in 2000.

The brand's owner, Allied Domecq, feels that it lacks heritage status as it stands, according to Brand Republic.

In particular, the new image will place greater emphasis on the trademark red sash, which represents the French "Cordon Rouge", the symbol of the Legion of Honour.

The neck foils will also be revamped with a matt finish, and will come in different colours to make it easier to distinguish between varieties, including demi-sec and rose.

In spite of being the brand famously shaken and sprayed at the end of the Grand Prix, Mumm has seen a decline in sales over the past year.

According to an ACNielsen report it has slipped from fourth to ninth place among the UK's leading champagne brands.

Further information: http://www.brandrepublic.com/bulletins/design/article/491204/mumm-champagne-overhauls-emphasise-heritage/

Children short on food role models, say parents



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A survey of parents carried out on behalf of the supermarket chain Somerfield last month has suggested a widely held belief that the fight to improve children's health is hampered by popular TV programmes.

More than half of the 1,949 parents interviewed, 59 per cent, singled out the cartoon character Homer Simpson, with his love of beer and doughnuts, as a negative influence.

At the same time, one in ten felt that the housemates in the summer-long "Big Brother" series should not be glamorised for their unhealthy lifestyles, particularly excessive drinking.

Meanwhile, TV campaigns to raise nutrition standards were generally considered a disappointment.

Jamie Oliver's efforts to raise the standard of school meals were branded "naff" by 21 per cent of parents, and Dr Gillian McKeith, of Channel 4's "You Are What You Eat" fame, was deemed "uncool" by a sixth.

As for the parents themselves, 54 per cent said their children were successful at making them buy the foods they wanted, while 57 per cent avoided confrontation on the subject of healthy eating.

Somerfield spokeswoman, Lisa Webster, said: "the research suggests that we need some new and credible role models that can help in the campaign to make healthy eating cool amongst kids."

Further information: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/3797.html

Sunday roast the toast of the table



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The traditional Sunday roast dinner is the nation's favourite meal, according to a new study.

A survey of 1,000 individuals by Avenance found the dish to be the number one meal for 40 per cent of the population.

Chicken Tikka Masala and Sweet and Sour Chicken were the two runners-up, with the traditional take-away fish and chips slipping to fourth place.

However, other traditional British meals fared poorly in the study. Only three per cent of respondents named Stew and Dumplings as their favourite food, with even fewer voting for Sausages and Mash, reports Caterer Search.

"The advent of fast food and the popularity of international cuisine mean people’s tastes have moved away from traditional British dishes," said Mark Parfait of Avenance, commenting on the findings.

Further information: http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2005/08/15/302141/Sunday+roast+voted+nation's+favourite+meal.htm

Yorkshire vending machines sell "lassi"



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A yoghurt-based Indian fruit drink that has proved popular in the food hall at Harrods, as well as throughout Asia, is to be sold from vending machines in the UK for the first time.

Three flavours of "lassi", strawberry, mango and "sweet", are being placed in dispensers in a range of locations in Yorkshire this week.

If the "not-for-profit" pilot takes off, the idea may spread to the rest of the UK.

Following government concern at the health value of products served from vending machines nationwide, Bradford-based Mumtaz Foods are installing their machines in schools, hospitals and workplaces.

Mumtaz are paying for the installation, operation and restocking costs, in return for a free space to locate the machine.

Sold for £1, all profits are being donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) service.

Rab Nawaz, a spokesman for the company, said: "All we need is the space to site the machine and the opportunity for people to see and buy a lassi drink," according to the Hindustan Times.

He added that the drink was beginning to become as well-known and popular in the UK as the samosa.

Further information: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1464261,001100020009.htm

New water heater steams ahead



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A new steam-based water heating system claims to be able to solve problems of plugging and fouling that currently plague food processors who use heat exchangers.

As heat exchangers work by conducting heat between fluids through a wall, rust is also a commonly experienced problem, explains FoodProductionDaily.

Hydro-Thermal's EZ Heater also claims to be cheaper than the heat exchangers currently in use in the food industry.

The saving stems from the fact that the direct injection of the steam from the boiler into the water stream means all the energy is absorbed.

Water enters at one inlet, and steam at another, before travelling down a diffuser where it is injected into the water via small holes.

Water can flow through the heater at speeds of up to 600 gallons per minute, heating the water to 121 degrees C, and has the added advantage of being self-cleaning.

Gary Zaiser, CEO of Hydro-Thermal, said: "The company has spent the last 12 months perfecting the EZ Heater and testing it in industrial, food, chemical, pulp and paper and concrete manufacturing facilities across the country."

Further information: http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/news/news-ng.asp?n=61942-ez-heater-water-steam

Green Party calls for organic school meals



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The London Assembly Green Party has criticised the amount of organic food that is included in children's school meals in London.

Following celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's campaign to increase the amount of money spent on ensuring fresh, nutritional school meals, the group is now calling on boroughs to meet Soil Association recommendations as well.
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