HEALTH

CDC: Influenza-related illnesses climb national baseline

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA In a typical season, the percentage of visits for influenza-like illnesses doesn’t crest the national baseline — an indicator that influenza is nearing a peak in the season — until late December with the spike peaking in mid-February.

Already this year, the number of influenza-related illnesses have climbed well above the national baseline.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, already 26 primarily Southern states are reporting widespread activity, and no state is reporting less than local influenza at this time. The vast majority of illnesses being tested are that of the novel H1N1 virus — accounting for 99% of all subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC.

The 2009/2010 influenza season doesn’t officially start tracking until Oct. 4, CDC noted.

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Research center finds dairy-free probiotic

BY Michael Johnsen

DUBLIN, Ireland Researchers at the Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin, Ireland, may have found a dairy-free alternative to probiotic-rich yogurt in apples, according to new research published earlier this month in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies.

The aim of the study was to apply a probiotic microorganism (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) to fresh-cut apple wedges and measure entrapment and stability of the microorganism.

Researchers also monitored if application of the probiotic significantly influenced eating quality.

The result — a potential new candidate for probiotic supplementation that “will provide an alternative probiotic food choice for consumers and could be particularly appealing to children,” according to Christian Rossle, lead researcher. “Minimally processed freshly prepared fruits are a popular item and are perceived as healthy by consumers. They are therefore an ideal vehicle for incorporation of other functional components such as probiotics.” Rossle envisions the probiotic-enriched apples would retail from conventional chill counters of supermarket stores.

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Survey finds families missing out on nutrients

BY Michael Johnsen

EDISON, N.J. Nearly 50% of respondents to a survey about dietary supplement habits feel that they or their families are missing out on essential nutrients in their daily diets, and the majority, 63%, believe they are missing omega-3s, essential fatty acids.

“Supplementation is an important option to help Americans achieve the nutrients they need in order to reduce the impact of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease,” stated Joseph Brasco of the Center for Colon and Digestive Disease. “It is essential that the public be provided with simple and easy-to-understand information about purity and the source of product, appropriate dosing and how and when to add supplements to a healthy diet so that we can better use nutrition to stave off disease.”

However, even as consumers are aware they are missing omega 3s from their diet, only 26% of consumers and their families take a fish oil, a good source of omega 3 fatty acids. Cost, lack of perceived need and confusion are primary barriers for consumers when deciding to take dietary supplements, such as fish oil.

Of those who take fish oil supplements as an additional source for omega 3 fatty acids, 94% look for assurances of purity as the most important factor when choosing a particular supplement.

The survey was conducted by Equation Research on behalf of Croda, an ingredient manufacturer of omega 3 fish and plant oil concentrates.

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