Nutrition News: Exotic New Superfoods, Food Safety Measures, NYC Salt Rules

U.S. overhauls food-safety system; New York institutes menu salt labeling. Plus: What’s the next big superfood? 
The search for the next big superfood

Now that chain-store consumers are devouring acai, quinoa and chia seeds en masse, seekers of edgy new superfoods are scouring the world for the next big thing, something packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals … and coated with the allure of the exotic. Warning that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is probably sufficient for health and energy and that unusual foods can be unpredictable and even possibly harmful (for one thing, they may interact unfavorably with medicines), the Los Angeles Times lists a few superfoods gaining favor: Will moringa, E3 live blue-green algae, citicoline, freekeh, turkey tail mushroom or Sideritis be the next kale — or just a big fail? Time and tastes will tell.

Safer food

The federal government has announced that it has finalized its plan for sweeping changes to the U.S. food safety system, making good on a law passed by Congress nearly five years ago and taking steps to more proactively monitor practices and prevent food-borne illnesses. New rules include the requirement that food processing companies keep written records of a food-safety plan as well as a safety activity log and allow FDA inspectors to review them. The FDA will also be granted the authority to inspect plants more frequently. The changes will begin to take effect within the next five years.

Worth its salt?

Soon it will be much more difficult for New Yorkers to overlook the salt content of the foods they order in restaurants. The city’s Board of Health has unanimously approved a measure requiring chain restaurants to include little salt-shaker images on their menus next to dishes that exceed the recommended daily limit of sodium, 2,300 milligrams. The regulations will kick in on December 1, 2015, and affect New York City locations of chains that have at least 15 U.S. eateries. New York has led the way in such restaurant health initiatives as banning trans fats and posting calorie counts on menus. It is the first U.S. city to require salt warnings on chain restaurant menus. It may not be the last.

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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