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Food Science & Innovation Weekly News Round-up - May 17 2019

Food Science & Innovation Weekly News Round-up - May 17 2019

Each week we collect the top stories and latest news in food trends and production, making it easy for you to stay current on science and innovation.

Why scientists see fiber as more important than ever

Fiber is the sensible shoes of good nutrition: boring, but necessary. For decades it was assumed to be useful simply for bulking up food waste and keeping the digestive tract tidy. Unlike nutrients with sexier reputations, it was never touted for its power to reduce stress, alleviate mental fog or boost sleep—until now. But getting enough fiber to fertilize the gut takes real foods. A study published last year evaluated more than 10,000 human participants and found that eating more than 30 unique types of plants a week produced the most abundant and diverse gut microbes; participants who ate less than 10 had by far the least. Read more at Bon Appetit

Cargill promotes beef with new packaging

After consumer research conducted by Cargill indicated that freshness and protein content are priorities among retail meat consumers, the company announced the launch of a new ground beef packaging strategy. Cargill’s Our Certified line of ground beef features chub packaging that calls out the product’s key attributes, specifically that the package contains fresh, ground beef that offers 18 grams of protein per serving. Read more at Supermarket Perimeter

Synthetic biology is changing what we eat, here’s what you need to know

Plant-based versions of favorites such as burgers, shrimp and cheese are seeing booming sales in restaurants and supermarkets. These products are largely made using synthetic biology, a branch of science that “applies principles of genetic engineering to create life forms from scratch.” Synthetic biologists identify the gene sequences that give certain foods or fibers their inherent qualities, like the gooiness of cheese or the tensile strength of silk. While there is plenty of funding to see these startups succeed, there are also still many unanswered questions about these technologies. Read more at CivilEats

Nutrition bar manufacturing: A quality assurance perspective

Nutrition bars provide significant health benefits to a diverse population of consumers, from on-the-go athletes and clean-label focused millennials, to weight- and health-conscious baby boomers and lunchbox-toting kids. Today, this functional food category is valued at US$6.875 million, according to Mintel’s 2018 “Snack, Nutrition and Performance Bars—U.S.,” and is expected to reach $7.735 million by 2022. But bars are complex in formulation, with a wide variety of ingredients and product claims, lending the category to a range of quality assurance (QA) concerns. Read more at Natural Products INSIDER

Millennial parents driving change in children’s beverage market

The beverage market for children is a tricky business that requires a special approach to both innovation and marketing. While fun shapes, vibrant colors and character merchandising may garner the attention of children, formulation must appeal to the purchasing parent, and taste ultimately is what matters. Millennials represent a large constituent of the parent demographic, and many have a different approach to parenting than previous generations, according to insights from research firm Packaged Facts. Millennials have a definitive perspective on what’s important including all-natural, non-G.M.O., no and low sugar, and no artificial ingredients. Read more at Food Business News

Aleph Farms raises $12 million with invest from Cargill

Aleph Farms, an Israeli company that grows meat from cattle cells, raised $12 million in a funding round led by VisVires New Protein, which included support from Cargill, Strauss Group and other venture capitalists. The company was founded in 2017 in partnership with the Israeli food-tech incubator The Kitchen. The injection of capital will allow Aleph to accelerate product development and transform its prototype into a commercial product. Read more at Food Dive

Could the gut-brain axis be the key to fighting age-related cognitive decline?

Modifying our microbiome with prebiotic fibers could help lower levels of brain inflammation and boost brain function during aging, according to new research in mice published in Nature’s Molecular Psychiatry. The first of its kind study suggests that there is evidence that microbes in the gut play an important role in regulating brain function, especially emotional processing and behavior. Read more at Nutraingredients

It’s not just salt, sugar and fats: Study finds ultra-processed foods drive weight gain

The rise of ultra-processed foods has coincided with growing rates of obesity, leading many to suspect that they've played a big role in our growing waistlines. But is it something about the highly processed nature of these foods itself that drives people to overeat? A new study suggests the answer is yes. Conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the study is the first randomized, controlled trial to show that eating a diet made up of ultra-processed foods actually drives people to overeat and gain weight compared with a diet made up of whole or minimally processed foods. Read more at NPR