Apple Cider Vinegar and Type 2 Diabetes By: Vidisha Paranjpe University of Memphis MS Clinical Nutrition/Dietetic Intern

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been a staple in households for years. It is used mostly for cooking and cleaning purposes. Recently, ACV has become a trendy product. Claims have emerged that ACV aids weight loss, lowers blood sugar levels, and relieves diabetes symptoms. It is important to assess these claims and see if they are correct.

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Apple Cider vinegar and Type 2 Diabetes 

  • Diabetes is linked to high blood sugar levels.
    • Insulin is a hormone in our body. Its job is to absorb sugar from our blood and bring it into our cells.
    • Insulin does not work as well in type 2 diabetics.
  • High blood sugar can cause issues such as:
    • Headaches, liver disease, early ageing, eye problems, and digestion issues.
    • It is usually treated with diet, exercise, and medicine.
  • There is some evidence to show that ACV may help lower blood sugars in type 2 diabetics.
  • Research shows that ACV can help increase insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar after sugary meals, and slightly reduce fasting blood sugar.

 

Apple Cider and Weight Loss

 Weight loss can help improve diabetes symptoms.

  • There is some proof that acetic acid (the main factor in ACV) can help people lose weight.
  • Some studies have shown that ACV helps people feel more full, so they eat less overall.
  • There is also evidence that taking 1-2 Tbsp. of ACV per day helps lower belly fat.

 

How to add it to your diet

 Cooking: add to salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, marinades, smoothies, or condiments.

  • Add to water: Anywhere as little as 1 teaspoon to up to 2 tablespoon.
  • Pill: Not as effective. May cause throat injury.
  • Tip: For best results use an organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Bragg’s is the most popular brand.

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Side effects

 ACV is safe if consumed in moderation.

  • Some medications might react with apple cider vinegar.
    • Check with your health care provider before taking ACV
  • High doses of ACV may cause your throat to burn.

Conclusion

 ACV has shown to have many health benefits. To get the health benefits from ACV It is vital to still do regular exercise and follow a healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and saturated fat. ACV does not “cure diabetes,” but it can possibly help manage blood sugars and weight. More research should be done on this topic.

 

 

References
Johnston CS, Kim CM, Buller AJ. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004; 27(1): 281-282.
  1. Brighenti F, et al. Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects. European journal of clinical nutrition. 1995; 49(4): 242-247.
  2. White AM, Johnston CS. Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007; 30(11): 2814-2815.
  3. Johnston CS, et al. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010; 56(1): 74-79.
  4. Liljeberg H, Björck I. Delayed gastric emptying rate may explain improved glycaemia in healthy subjects to a starchy meal with added vinegar. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1998; 52(5): 368-371.
  5. Ebihara K, Nakajima A. Effect of acetic acid and vinegar on blood glucose and insulin responses to orally administered sucrose and starch. Agricultural and biological chemistry. 1988; 52(5): 1311-1312.
  6. Budak NH, et al. “Functional properties of vinegar.” Journal of food science. 2014; 79(5): R757-R764.
  7. Iman M, Seyed AM, Barahoyee A. Effect of apple cider vinegar on blood glucose level in diabetic mice. Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2015; 20: 163.
  8. Sjöström, C. David, et al. “Differentiated long-term effects of intentional weight loss on diabetes and hypertension.” Hypertension 36.1 (2000): 20-25.
  9. Hamman RF, et al. Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes. Diabetes care. 2006; 29(9): 2102-2107.
  10. Östman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck, I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 59(9): 983-988.
  11. Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry. 2009; 73(8): 1837-1843.
  12. Hill LL, et al. Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005; 105(7): 1141-1144.

Natural sugars vs. Added sugars By: Rasha Abounassif University of Memphis, Dietetic Intern

The most common question asked nowadays is “what is the difference between natural sugar and added sugar?” Well, I can definitely say that it is quite a debatable topic. In this week’s blog post, we will be discussing how to distinguish between natural and added sugars, any benefits contributed from sugar intake and healthy tips for reducing sugar intake in your diet.

 

First of all, what is sugar? Natural sugar is an element in carbohydrates that is naturally found in foods. Carbohydrate foods contain a simple sugar known as glucose. Glucose is essential for the body to be able to produce energy and break it down. Natural sugars are also found in fruits which is known as fructose.2

 

Added sugars mainly make up sweeteners and processed sugars from the food and beverages that we consume on a daily basis.1 Sucrose is known to be an added sugar since it is a combination of both fructose and glucose. The table below shows the different names of added sugars found at the back of food labels that should be avoided.2

 

sugar graphhttps://www.choosemyplate.gov/added-sugars

 

Added sugars tend to increase your calories without meeting your daily nutritional needs. Foods that are high in fat and calories primarily come from added sugars which provide the body with nonessential nutrients and low fiber. It has been recommended to enhance your meals with nutrient-dense foods by incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains while limiting the amount of added sugars.2,3

 

The American Heart Association have recommends reducing the amount of added sugars to not exceed our daily extra calories for the day. It has been claimed that women should not consume more than 25 grams or 100 calories of added sugars daily. In regards to men, they should not consume more than 36 grams or 150 calories of added sugars daily.2

 

For many years now, we have been consuming high amounts of sugar in our diets, which is a great precursor to obesity. Decreasing intake of added sugars in your diet will cut down on unnecessary calorie-intake which will help in maintaining weight and a healthier lifestyle by preventing risks such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. A heart-healthy diet generally involves consuming less than 10% of your calories from added sugar. Following the MyPlate guidelines is a great way to eat a healthy, balanced meal by incorporating the different types of food groups into your diet.3

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www.heart.org

Tips on how to reduce added sugars in diet:

  1. Drink unsweetened beverages or better yet water
  2. Drink juices that contain 100% fruit juice, as well as, 2% milk or skim milk
  3. Eat fresh fruit in place of desserts, sweets, or chocolate
  4. Eat frozen fruits instead of packaged or canned fruit with additional sugars and syrup

References:

  1. Choose Foods and Beverages with less saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/added-sugars
  2. American Heart Association: Sugar 101. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sugar-101_UCM_306024_Article.jsp#.WPVpp1PyuRs

Dietary Guidelines 2015 – 2020: Added Sugars. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/#added-sugars

American Diabetes Month

By Marcy Kaufman, University of Memphis Master’s Clinical Nutrition Intern

November 1st marks the beginning of the National Diabetes Awareness Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a National Diabetes Statistics report in 2014, stating 29.1 million people in America has diabetes, and approximately 8.1 million of those people are undiagnosed.1 The number of those diagnosed with diabetes has nearly doubled since 2000.2 The CDC also estimates 1 out of 3 adults (nearly 86 million Americans) are living with prediabetes, and ninety percent do not know they have prediabetes.1 Many of you know what diabetes is, but it is always good to have a refresher course. Type 1 diabetes, commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the body can no longer produce insulin, and is diagnosed as type 1 if the body has a special autoimmune antibody present in the blood. In type 2 diabetes, the body can produce insulin; however, the cells have built a resistance to the insulin present in the blood and very slowly brings glucose inside.

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Although diabetes is a manageable disease, it cost the United States over $245 billion dollars in total medical costs, lost work and wages for those diagnosed with diabetes in 2012.1,3 There is an immense amount of medications and technology endocrinologists and nurse practitioners can prescribe to diabetics, and they are always expanding. Let us first discuss the medications the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved.

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In December 2015, Eli Lilly gained approval for their first long-acting insulin, Basaglar. If you have treated those with diabetes, then you might be familiar with other long-acting insulin, such as Levemir and Lantus. Actually, Basaglar is a biosimilar version of Lantus which most consumers would call the generic version. Sanofi has made its own concentrated version of Lantus known as Toujeo, approved by the FDA in February 2015. You may have seen some advertisements on television of this drug recently. Since Toujeo is a concentrated dose of Lantus, a diabetic takes a lesser volume of this new drug to have the same effect. A new innovative drug produced by Novo Nordisk received FDA approval in September 2015 called Tresiba which is considered an ultra-long-acting insulin. Tresiba has action time up to 42 hours in duration, allowing for more flexibility in the lives of diabetics.4

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While medications are a sure fire method of treating and preventing hyperglycemia, many diabetics have found technology have improved their self-management, including wearable, implanted, and smart phone apps. Abbott Company has invented a patch to wear on the back of one’s arm which monitors blood glucose levels called the Free-Style Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. A wand device reads the sensor through clothing to allow the user more discretion when checking their blood glucose levels. Viacyte is producing a device named VC-01 which encapsulates insulin-producing stem cells. Once implanted into the diabetic’s body, the device will act as an artificial pancreas. The product is still in clinical trials; however, the company expects the device to go to market in five years. A professor in the United Kingdom invented a wrist-watch sized implant (InSmart) which has a gel barrier, releasing insulin to match the person’s blood glucose levels. However, the insulin within the device must be replaced every two weeks. There are also several smart phone apps to assist a person with diabetes to better manage their blood glucose levels, as well as, keep track of their carbohydrate intake. These smart phone apps are, but not limited to, Diabetik, Fooducate, mySugr Junior, and Glooko. The Diabetik app allows the user to set remainders to take medications and perform certain activities. Fooducate has an immense food database to allow the user to enter foods and the app then suggests healthier options. Although these technologies are not required to manage blood glucose levels, they can make life easier on the individuals, especially those who are tech savvy.5

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Lastly, with the upcoming holiday season, it would be helpful to mention some tips on lowering holiday stress for diabetics. When a person typically thinks of holiday gatherings, they tend to imagine being among friends and family, as well as being surrounded by mountains of sweet treats. This can a difficult time for diabetics to stay on the straight and narrow from all of the party planning, shopping, cooking, and did I mention the sweets. Although it may not be feasible to avoid all the desserts, cookies, and cakes during the holiday season, try to limit the processed foods, and consume more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Prioritizing activities and planning ahead of time can also reduce stress levels, so everything is not left to the last minute. We probably all know how important a good night’s sleep can help one’s stress levels. Sticking to a sleep schedule can reduce stress that the holidays tend to bring on.6

Even though diabetes is a chronic disease that can cause a myriad of complications, including retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy, this disease is completely manageable. Medication, technology, and nutrition education can help the diabetic to maintain their blood glucose within normal limits. Dietitians, Certified Diabetes Educators, and Endocrinologists are a necessity to provide information and tips on lowering stress during the holidays.

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References:

  1. http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics/2014statisticsreport.html
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/slides/long_term_trends.pdf
  3. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics
  4. Dubois W. Coming Soon to a Pharmacy Near You. Diabetes Self-Management. 2016;33(3):88-91.
  5. Davies N. Wearables, Implants, and Apps, Oh My: smart technology for diabetes self-care. Diabetes Self-Management. 2016;33(2):28-31.
  6. Wynn P. Diabetes Resources: lowering holiday stress. Diabetes Self-Management. 2016;33(5):14.

Whole Grains

By: Ashley Hobar

            Grains are considered to be a large part of a healthy, balanced diet. According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended amount of grains on a 2,000-calorie meal plan, should be 6 ounce-equivalents per day. In addition, at least half of this amount should be whole grains. A whole grain food item is unrefined and contains the endosperm, the bran, and the germ. Whereas refined grains have had the bran and the germ removed during processing.

To meet the recommended daily amount of grains, U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend measuring food items in one cup- or one ounce-equivalents due to the fact that some foods are more concentrated or airier than others. For example, one slice of bread is equal to one ounce-equivalent of grains. On the other hand, a half cup portion of cooked brown rice is also equal to a one ounce- equivalent of grains.

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How do you consume at least half of total grains as whole grains?

 

There are a couple different techniques to consume at least half of total grains as whole grains. The first method is to consume 100-percent whole grain food items for half of your grain servings per day. One ounce-equivalent of whole grains contains 16 grams (g) of whole grains. This means that if you were to consume three ounce-equivalents per day, you would be eating 48 g of whole grains per day. Many food items are beginning to label how many grams of whole grains are in a box or a serving. However, you can also determine the amount of whole grain in a food item by looking at the placement of the grain in the ingredient list. If it is a 100-percent whole grain food, then the whole grain should be the first ingredient – or the second ingredient after water.

The second method of consuming half of your total grains as whole grains is to consume foods that contain both whole grains and refined grains for all six of your ounce-equivalent grain servings per day. If a food item has at least 8 g of whole grains per ounce-equivalent, then it is considered to be at least half whole grains. Again, looking at the ingredient list can help determine the amount of whole grains in the food item.

 

 

 

 

Why should we eat whole grains?

Important nutrients are found in the bran and germ of a whole grain kernel. When a grain is refined, it removes fiber, iron, and other important nutrients. The bran is the outer protective shell for the grain and contains high amounts of fiber and B vitamins. The germ contains the seed for a possible new plant and also contains B vitamins, some protein, healthy oils, and minerals. The endosperm is also an important part of the grain and contains starch, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Since the refining process removes nutrients from grains, most refined grains are enriched with iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid.

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Food for thought:

 

Individuals who have a hard time switching to 100-percent whole grains should choose enriched grains when possible. Even individuals who consume all of their grains as whole grains should choose some grains that are enriched with folic acid. Folic acid fortification in grain products is important and has been successful in reducing the incidence of neural tube defects in infants.

In addition, grain products that are high in added sugars and saturated fat should be limited. However, some of these items, such as cookies, cakes, and some snack food, can still be included in moderation and fit within a healthy meal plan.

 

What about Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and wheat allergies?

 

Gluten is a protein that is found in a variety of wheat product that some people have difficulty digesting. People who cannot tolerate gluten includes the estimated 1-2% of the population with celiac disease, 0.2-0.4% of the population with a wheat allergy, and 1-6% of the population that have what is considered “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (NCGS). However, there is still more research that needs to be done on the NCGS group. With that being said, there is no reason for rest of the population to eat a gluten-free diet.

For those that do need to avoid gluten and wheat products, gluten-free does not necessarily have to mean grain free. There are still plenty of delicious options for individuals who cannot consume gluten or wheat. Some of these options include grains such as amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rice, and gluten-free oats (oats should be considered gluten-free; however, they are often contaminated during processing).

 

References:

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/chapter-1/a-closer-look-inside-healthy-eating-patterns/#callout-whole-grains

http://wholegrainscouncil.org/

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and Vegetables

By: Kimberly Boone, University of Memphis Master’s Candidate and Dietetic Intern

 

How many of us have heard heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, lets just say there is definitely validity to that statement. In this months blog we will be discussing how to distinguish a fruit from a vegetable, why all fruits and vegetables are vitally important to include in our diets, healthful ways of preparation, and tips to include more of them in our daily routine.

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A fruit is classified by botanist as being the mature ovary of a plant that develops from a flower. Fruits are also the part of the plant that contain seeds either internally or externally. With this definition in mind, although commonly referred to as being vegetables, avocados and cucumbers are technically fruits. All other parts of a plant i.e., stem, leaves, bulbs, flowers, seeds and roots, are vegetables (1). For example, celery is a stem. Lettuce is composed of leaves. Broccoli is the flower. Onions are bulbs. Beans are seeds. Carrots are roots, etc.

When compared with their animal-derived counterparts, fruits and vegetables are generally lower in both calories, fat and sodium. Since they do not contain a liver (primary organ responsible for the production of cholesterol) neither fruits nor vegetables contain any dietary cholesterol. Moreover, fruits and vegetables contain beneficial phytochemicals such as antioxidants and are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C (2,3).fruits-and-vegetables

Simply put, the intake of fruits and vegetables provides health benefits. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk for developing chronic diseases such as heart disease (including heart attack and stroke), obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eating those that are higher in potassium i.e., sweet potatoes, white beans, bananas and prunes, may also help to lower blood pressure. Additionally, the consumption of fruits and vegetables may protect against certain types of cancers. In fact, 32 out of the 33 foods listed by the American Institute for Cancer Research as being “Foods that Fight Cancer” are fruits and vegetables (4). Dietary fiber helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Fiber-containing foods also provide a feeling of fullness and assist to maintain regularity in bowel function. Folate (folic acid) aids in the synthesis of red blood cells and is especially important for women of childbearing age to reduce the chance of neural tube defects during pregnancy. Vitamin A benefits the eyes and skin while vitamin C helps to protect against infections, aids in wound healing and increases iron absorption (2,3).

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According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, people should aim for 2 cups of fruit a day, and 2 ½ cups of vegetables. In reality, the usual adult eats 1 cup of fruit a day and about 1 ½ cups of vegetables (5). In the South we have what is called the “southern style” way of cooking. This usually includes the addition of bacon grease, butter, and salt finished off with frying in many cases. This preparation style leads to the degradation of many of the nutrients explained previously.   Several nutrients, such as vitamin C and the B-vitamins, are heat sensitive. Instead of boiling a vegetable to death or tossing in a fryer, lightly sautéing or steaming are better options to keep the nutrient content intact (6).

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There are several tips and tricks addressing how to include more fruits and vegetables into the diet. Buying foods in season leads to cheaper cost and usually better flavor. Purchasing easy to prepare vegetables and fruits , such as frozen, prewashed or steamable bags, will make it more convenient. It is also important to purchase a variety of vegetables and fruits and avoid the monotonous staples. Experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor. You could even let your child go with you to help pick out a new fruit and vegetable every week to make it a family affair (7).

There are a myriad of reasons as to why fruits and vegetables should be consumed regularly. Turns out, the generations ahead of us were not being cruel when telling us to, “Eat your broccoli!” and scolding us when they caught us feeding it to the family dog. Fruits and vegetables are indeed necessary to achieve an optimum meal plan. They can be a delicious addition to our daily routine in order to benefit our health and quality of being!

fruits-and-vegetables-arranged-in-heart-shape

 

 

 

References

  1. http://vric.ucdavis.edu/main/faqs.htm.
  2. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-nutrients-health.
  3. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/fruits-nutrients-health
  4. http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/
  5. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf
  6. http://www.fruitandvegetable.ucdavis.edu/files/197179.pdf
  7. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables-tips

Malnutrition By: Sally Harper

Malnutrition is defined as an imbalance between nutrient requirement and intake, resulting in deficits of energy, protein, or micronutrients that may negatively affect growth, development, and other outcomes. Standardized diagnostic indicators are used to identify and document pediatric malnutrition. The World Health Organization adopted the National Center for Health Statistics classification in 1983 as the international reference to classify children as malnourished. Anthropometry, is commonly used as an indicator to estimate the nutritional status of populations and to monitor the growth and health of individuals. A variety of statistical scales are used worldwide to describe anthropometric parameters and diagnose malnutrition in children.

Subjective Global Assessment (SGA) has been used for 25 years and is a method for evaluating nutritional status based on a practitioner’s clinical judgment rather than objective measures. SGA identifies an individual’s nutrition state with consideration of factors that influence nutrition status. SGA could be adapted to identify malnutrition and to predict post-surgical nutrition associated morbidities that lead to increased time staying in the hospital. Deflects in height-for-age is the most frequently used criteria for diagnosing malnutrition. However, height alone does not reflect risk of morbidity. Pediatric patients with malnutrition may never reach their full genetic potential for height.

Growth charts that pertain to gender and age are available through the World Health Organization. The chart is broken down into increments of: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 months with values of z scores and percentiles. Z scores involve normal distribution; they describe how far a child’s weight is from the average weight of a child at the same height. It is easy to see if someone is underweight because he or she would have a score outside of the reference population distribution. A z score showing a decrease in weight-for-age is used to define growth failure. Percentiles are often easier to interpret than z scores; unlike z scores they are usually not distributed and less useful in finding the extremes in a group.

Malnutrition is probably under recognized due to lack of definition, screening practices, and failure to prioritize nutrition as part of patient care. One of the most important consequences of nutritional depletion is depression of the immune system, especially cell-mediated immunity. Dietitians should use as many data points as possible to document malnutrition. When evaluating the nutritional status of children, dietitians are encouraged to physically exam patients for signs of protein depletion. Hopefully, with the help of dietitians, the prevalence of pediatric malnutrition will decrease.

For the Love of Chocolates

For the Love of Chocolate

By: Elizabeth Alexander

 

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I felt inspired to write about chocolate and why I really love chocolate. I grew up with it. See, my mother made candy. For a living. So I interviewed her to get the information straight from the source for a little insight on this upcoming holiday staple.

Hey, Mama. Thanks for making some time to Skype. Could we do a little Q&A session about your time working at Mars?

Sure, sweetie. What do you want to know?

 

Well, what was the job opening you applied for?

For a food scientist. I started with R&D.

What did you help research and develop?

We were taking the idea for a granola bar (Kudos) from “bench top to pilot plant.”

Remind me of why the original Kudos bar was too big.

We sent it off for nutritional analysis, and it had as many calories as our candy bars!

You had to send it off for nutritional analysis? You didn’t know the nutritional content of the ingredients you were using?

Well, no. We had these small reference books for the basic ingredients like milk and sugar, and an encyclopedia of fats. Anything more than that, you had to go to the closest college campus for help. But we didn’t have the resources for quantitative analysis.

So you didn’t change anything in the actual product? You just made the bar smaller?

Pretty much

Is this when nutritional labels started to make a difference?

No, they rarely did. Even after they were mandated, there was only a fuss if it was in the news, like with the red dye.

Weren’t there claims about chemicals in foods causing hyperactivity in children?

Something like that, so we changed the dye to make whoever happy because that’s what was making their children misbehave.

How was the dye changed?

Instead of a chemical dye, we used one made up of ground up beetle.

While we’re talking about red dye, you did end up needing to change it again, right?

Ha! Yeah, for a completely different reason. They wanted to be able to say our candy was kosher, and rabbis would come inspect our plants to ensure procedure was being followed.

So bug dye isn’t kosher?

Apparently not.

Can you remember another time something in the news instigated a change?

People got all wound up about palm oil, so we switched to soybean oil. Which was a shame really; the soybean oil hides flavors that come through when we used the palm oil.

My early memories are of you answering the phone saying, “Sensory.” What did you do in the sensory labs?

I held taste panels. We called them performance panels.

What all did you taste?

Everything! The raw materials, the in-process materials, and the final products.

How often was that done?

Every shift

I also remember you having an “off-site” taste panel every week. Why was that?

You know how everything smelled like chocolate. We would become acclimated pretty quickly. Meeting somewhere off site before we even went in the plant was the best way to maintain our quality control.

So what did you never want to taste?

Off notes, any flavors like wet cardboard, musty, green or grassy, or burnt rubber.

So, tell me about the time the peanut butter tasted like watermelon.

We used a mislabeled barrel of “natural peanut flavoring” that turned out to have been a barrel of “natural watermelon flavoring.”

Where was the watermelon from?

It was flavoring that should have been sent to the Waco plant to make Starburst and Skittles.

If that was over the weekend, what do you think the loss was?

I know it was enough the insurance company had someone come talk with me and I had to show him. Yep, here’s the peanut butter that tastes like watermelon.

I remember you explaining what agar is. Why was there a Microbiology lab in a candy factory?

Well, microorganisms are everywhere.

And which ones were y’all testing for?

Indicator organisms, Staphylococcus aureus, streptococci, yeast and mold. Just random swabs around the plant to ensure food safety. If we were testing for anything pathogenic, it was contracted out.

How often did you do that?

Every shift

And last but not least, do you remember when high fructose corn syrup became predominant?

It couldn’t have been long after I was hired, so around 1979. I remember a (sugar supplier) truck driver told me about how much business they were losing from Coca-Cola because they had switched to high fructose corn syrup and how the refinery was in danger of going under.

Was it used in your products?

Oh, sure. It was easier to work with.

Easier to work with how?

It’s a thin syrup, very thin compared to regular corn syrup. That made the machines easier to clean, and less labor intensive overall. Oh, and baked goods stay moister, so it was used in the Twix cookies.

Why not the other products?

Because it tastes terrible. It’s so sweet; it burns the back of your throat, similar to glycerin.

Similar to glycerin?

Glycerol. It’s a sugar alcohol. Glycerin was one of the raw materials, which is why we tasted it. It burned your throat like any alcohol would. High fructose corn syrup did, too.

Thanks, Mama. For taking the time to refresh my memories and share some details about food manufacturing.

Well, you’re so welcome. Good luck writing all that up.

So this time of year, and any time of year, I’m still grateful for support of the chocolate industry. My mother was the one who first taught me the importance of quality research, knowing what you’re really eating, and above all, it has to taste good.