Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Food & Health Stories of 2010

Here's a roundup of the biggest food news of the year, and how these developments can affect our health (in a good way).

1. New Health Care Law includes requirements for restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.
Whatever else the health-care overhaul did or did not do, one result is that it should help diners know what they are eating. Eating out is probably the biggest diet-buster in modern life -- something I love to do, by the way -- and when the FDA writes the new rules in 2011 about what restaurants have to divulge, this will be a good thing for our waistlines. Of course, we can choose to ignore the information, but we'll have fewer excuses.

2. U.S. Senate passes Food Safety Modernization Act.
All those food recalls in 2010 were scary, especially the recall of millions of eggs after more than a thousand people got sick from eating contaminated eggs, serve as a reminder that our FDA lacks the authority it needs to keep our food supply safe. This bill is not law yet -- it has to be reconciled with a more stringent bill passed earlier in the House -- but let's hope the new Congress does the right thing and finishes this important work.

3. New York City asks food manufacturers and restaurants to lower sodium content of foods.
This is not a requirement, but a request: that sodium be reduced by 20 percent in most foods over the next five years. Since most Americans consume way too much sodium, anything that makes us more aware of the need to cut salt intake has to be a positive development.

4. Concerns about overfishing leads to greater care in our seafood choices. We need to choose carefully when we eat fish and shellfish. According to Eating Well, here are the six best and the six to avoid. (Albacore tuna, some shrimp and wild Alaskan salmon are good; Chilean Sea Bass and monkfish are not.)

5. "Meatless Monday" trend encourages less meat consumption. I try to limit red meat to once a week, at most, and have a couple of totally meatless (and fishless) days per week. Consuming less meat is good for the environment and our health, among other things. So this is another very positive trend that gained steam in 2010.

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