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Health Science

USA Set To Add Sesame As 9th Major Allergen Requiring Labeling

Photo: Shawn Hempel // Shutterstock

The United States currently requires foods that contain eight different major allergens to be labeled with a warning for those who may react to them. These include tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, milk/dairy, fish, shellfish, and eggs.

Soon, the country will also be adding sesame, the ninth most allergenic food source in the United States, as the ninth major allergen to require those warnings.

Sesame’s updated status comes with passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 14th. The Senate already passed the bill back in March, meaning it now heads to President Biden’s desk. According to Allergic Living, the President is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The USA is not the first country to add sesame as an allergen, as the EU, Australia/New Zealand, and several other countries already do so. However, this represents a major step forward in getting more awareness around these lesser known food allergens and making sure consumers are aware if a product contains something they could react to.

As part of the FASTER Act legislation, the FDA will also begin developing and implementing a risk-based model for establishing other food allergens that may also be labeled in the future. Some of the other common food sources this might pertain to in the future would be celery, mustard, or sulfites.

The Secretary of Health and Human Service has 18 months to work on this, as well as reporting on potential therapeutics that could treat allergens and ways to help prevent their onset.

Congress’s passing of the FASTER Act marks some of the biggest food safety legislation enacted since 2011, when President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) into law.

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#foodbeast Brand Fast Food Health Plant-Based Restaurants

The Halal Guys Just Launched PLANT-BASED GYROS

As plant-based options continue to increase at restaurants globally, many companies have defaulted to teaming up with big plant-based names to make faux meat products.

The Halal Guys just went the extra mile, however, and created their own plant-based gyro cones that are cooked on a rotating spit, just like regular gyro meat would be.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Their new Meatless Gyro, a limited-time offering, is a gluten-free and plant-based alternative to the standard gyro meat. The Halal Guys version is made with pea protein, brown rice, coconut oil, Halal Guys spice mix, beets, mushrooms, and paprika. A serving of the Meatless Gyro comes with 21 grams of protein.

Of course, when at The Halal Guys, there’s all of the toppings you can add to the rice, lettuce, and protein option. One of those is tzatziki, which normally contains dairy, but The Halal Guys has created a plant-based version of that as well. That iteration uses aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooking chickpeas, to get to a similar texture on the sauce.

Foodbeasts Elie and Oscar got a chance to try the Meatless Gyro early. To Elie, the plant-based gyro version held up texturally to the original, while Oscar loved that it could be shaved off the cone the same way as regular gyro meat would. It had the same level of flavor since it uses the same Halal Guys spice blend, with Elie noting it was a tad more “earthy.” 

As for the plant-based tzatziki, it was a little thinner than the original due to the aquafaba, but it paired really well with the vegan gyro meat. For the overall meal, both Elie and Oscar noted that they felt really good and not bloated after eating it. 

“I’m definitely gonna be getting this meatless gyro into my rotation,” Elie noted afterwards.

Photo courtesy of The Halal Guys

Also joining The Halal Guys menus is a refreshing eggplant hummus, which combines eggplants and chickpeas for a refreshing snack, dip, or addition to your meal. Oscar even dipped his sandwich into it, combining the two for what he described as a “nice addition.”

The new Meatless Gyro and Eggplant Hummus will be available at participating Halal Guys locations nationwide starting for a limited time. You can get it in sandwich or platter form with all of the usual fixings, including that plant-based tzatziki for those looking to keep everything animal free.

Created in partnership with The Halal Guys.

Categories
Health News Plant-Based Science

Plant-Based Filet Mignon Is Now A Reality

Photo: Juicy Marbles

The plant-based meat wave is no longer just that and truly the green movement is here to stay, with the ebbs and flows of the notion mellowing out as a dietary constant. The popularity and mainstream appeal of Impossible and Beyond Meat are the banners for this declaration, with more plant-based innovations on the way. One of which happens to be a game changer courtesy of Juicy Marbles: plant-based filet mignon.

Co-founders of Juicy Marbles, Tilen Travnik, Luka Sincek and Maj Hrovat, managed to create a plant-based cut of filet mignon without any use of 3D printing, GMOs or laboratory alterations. The secret lies in how Juicy Marbles was able to use soy protein to mimic the muscle texture and marbling of real meat by arranging and layering the protein fibers from the bottom up using a patent-pending machine they call the Meat-o-matic Reverse Grinder™ 9000. Playful name aside, the reality of this applied technique is groundbreaking.

“The biggest challenge was getting the right fiber alignment and intramuscular fat structure – the marbling. The most expensive steaks in the world are known for their lush marbling. It takes a lot of energy and a rare breed of cow to attain that. With plant meat, we control it and, thus, over time, can scale up our steak production and bring down the price. Eventually, we’ll be able to make the most premium meats attainable for everyone,” explains Luka Sincek.

Photo: Juicy Marbles

So thanks to Juicy Marbles, the world’s first plant-based steaks can be purchased on their website and ship to the 48 states and throughout Europe for a limited time only.

According to the Juicy Marbles website the cuts of meat have a firm texture “while the linear fibre placement results in juicy chunks tearing away softly, like real muscle.”

With the possibility of actual plant-based cuts of meat being available directly to consumers, it will only be a matter of time before the flood gates open for other proteins to get a fully plant-based treatment in the form of individual cuts of meat that have an uncanny resemblance to the real thing.

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Grocery Health Packaged Food

Hidden Valley Ranch Now Has A Dairy Free Option

Photo courtesy of Hidden Valley Ranch

Ranch dressing is known for having buttermilk and not being friendly to those with dairy or lactose issues.

That doesn’t have to be a hindrance to those wanting to sample ranch anymore, however, as Hidden Valley Ranch just announced a dairy-free version of their iconic condiment.

As the most ubiquitous bottle of ranch out there, this makes the dressing way more accessible to those who couldn’t consume it before, and makes it an option for those on lactose-free, vegan, or flexitarian diets.

Hidden Valley Ranch normally contains egg yolk and buttermilk in it, according to information on the brand’s website. This new plant-based version swaps those out for soy protein isolate. The company also claims to have no animal-derived ingredients in the new Plant Powered Ranch.

Bottles of the plant-based Hidden Valley Ranch will be available in stores nationwide starting in April 2021. A 12 ounce bottle comes at a suggested price of $3.49.

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Culture Fruits & Vegetables Health Nightlife Plant-Based Restaurants

This Creative Eight Course Plant-Based Meal Is Attracting Vegans and Non-Vegans Alike

As a vegan, I know about all the new products, restaurants and Netflix documentaries. I have vegan friends and share some of the same vegan views. At times, in this vegan bubble of mine, I even begin to believe everyone’s becoming vegan. A simple conversation with a relative quickly dispels that notion. The reality is that within the United States, vegans only make up an estimated 3% of the entire population. That’s like comparing an edamame, to an, I don’t know, elephant. 

A recent study reveals the silver lining, as veganism has increased around 300% in the last 15 years. That’s an incredible explosion within a short space of time. You can credit the internet with this “mushroom” cloud of a diet shift. Whereas the initial conversation siloed around animal rights, over the years it’s expanded to include climate change and personal health and wellness. More specifically, two important factors for any new way of approaching things; advances in technology and just plain ol’ hands-on human ingenuity. 

One person forging her own brand of human ingenuity is Executive Chef Mimi Williams of Counterpart Vegan in Echo Park, California. Using 100% market fresh ingredients and plant-based processes, she creates familiar staples that are nearly indistinguishable from their original meat-based iterations. This is in stark contrast to many vegan spots that feature alternative protein-heavy menus, which are great advances as well, yet different. 

Raised in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, Williams was one of only a handful of Black families in the community. She shared a household with her parents and six brothers of Sicilian/Creole descent. Although she didn’t resemble most of her neighbors, Williams had a strong family support system. One could say she grew up with a traditional family in a non-traditional setting.

While her mother seemingly loved cooking and wanted Williams to learn, she recalls initially being resistant, feeling forced into doing a thing based on her gender expectations. Learning how to cook felt more like work than fun. Noticing that, her father encouraged her to cook things that interested her. That encouragement was the magic needed to open the floodgates of the world of food.

Williams’ was pushed to explore alternative diets during a period in which her father experienced health complications. With his doctor citing less meat consumption as a course of action, her family subsequently became early adopters of a mostly plant-based diet. By this time, Williams had become the de facto cook for her family, with her siblings frequently requesting her food.

At first, it took awhile to adjust to a mostly plant-based lifestyle, but after witnessing her father’s health improve firsthand, she was convinced the diet change was the right decision. These experiences helped Williams develop a perspective on food many Black people don’t have. She discovered veganism some years later during pregnancy after realizing she could no longer consume meat.

Honing her craft at restaurants across America, Williams’ still carries the same spirit of fearlessness and creativity her father encouraged as the current Executive Chef of Counterpart Vegan. Joining the team in 2019, she set about revitalizing Counterpart’s array of offerings. She credits a period of stagnant creativity as the stimuli behind her latest eight course tasting menu.

Consisting of familiar foods inspired by her upbringing, the flavors feel authentic. Some of the offerings include heirloom tomato carpaccio with a tasty and tangy vegan feta, pappardelle made from beets, seasoned squash ravioli and an unforgettable tiramisu as the finale. Williams’ new menu is a fine dining experience vegans and non-vegans alike can enjoy. She says she wants people to walk away feeling a sense of hope, and that when they share, “I didn’t know you could do that with this type of food,” that’s how she knows she’s on the right track.

If you’re looking for some momentary respite from quarantine, while supporting small businesses during the pause of outdoor dining, Chef Mimi will be offering a condensed version of the tasting menu as take-out for two. The dinner package will include a salad, appetizer, pasta, dessert, and likely, two non-alcoholic drinks.

There will be 25 of these dinner plates available to all guests and can be pre-ordered on Tock. The dinner package will be available every Friday and Saturday for pick-up, from 6PM-8PM.

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Grocery Health Packaged Food

Kraft Mac & Cheese Goes Gluten-Free To Close Out 2020

Photo courtesy of Kraft

The gluten-free and Celiac disease communities just got a second hit of good news to cap off 2020. In addition to gluten-free OREOs launching at the start of next year, gluten-free Kraft Mac & Cheese is now available in stores nationwide.

Kraft made the pasta using brown rice and corn, and tailored the blend to meet the FDA’s standards for gluten-free. This means that the ingredients used to make the mac and cheese do not come from gluten-containing grains (ie. wheat), or are processed to remove gluten to the point where there is less than 20 parts per million of gluten in the final cheesy pasta.

The mac also retains the original’s consistency and cheesy flavor, meaning that gluten-free consumers should be getting a comparable experience to those who’ve been eating Kraft’s mac for years.

With two of the world’s most ubiquitous brands moving to add gluten-free versions of their signature products, accessibility to these types of foods just became a whole lot easier.

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Grocery Health Packaged Food Sweets

Gluten-Free OREOs Are Officially Launching In 2021

Photo courtesy of OREO

For those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance issues, finding snacks that cater to those diets on the shelves is difficult, and may even come at a slightly steeper price. Studies have shown that gluten-free snacks can often cost significantly more than their counterparts.

Such snacks are about to get a lot more accessible though, as OREO, one of the largest cookie brands globally, is releasing their own line of gluten-free treats.

Available in standard and Double STUF variety, both sets of cookies will come certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), one of the most trusted and widely accepted standards worldwide. While they have no regulatory or enforcement authority, the set of audits companies have to go through to receive this certification are stricter than the rules set for “gluten-free” definitions by the FDA, the EU, and other governing bodies.

This ensures that for those who have gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, these cookies should provide minimal risk. It also gives OREO a whole new market of customers to purchase their cookies.

Gluten-free OREOs will arrive in markets starting in January 2021.

Categories
Grocery Health

Alka-Seltzer Gum Now Exists For Minty Heartburn Relief

Look, when you’re in a tough spot like catching heartburn after taking down your customary order of In-N-Out with all the secret menu fixins while on a date, the situation is unique to say the least. Relief could come in many forms, though not all at once — until Alka-Seltzer came through in the clutch.

Available now, Alka-Seltzer Extra Strength Heartburn Relief Gum is providing discrete relief for all. The dual layer gum combines a fast acting antacid with ‘cooling flavor crystals’ to simultaneously provide cooling heartburn relief and minty fresh breath. Tell me this isn’t a game changer.

You can choose between two flavors: cool mint and peppermint. So the only choice to be made is between two flavors, instead of having to buy two separate things in an antacid and a pack of gum. Happy chewing, Foodbeasts.