Eggs make the grade under new smart snacks ruling

Like many other parents, I’ve spent hours planning and packing healthy lunches and snacks for my children to take with them to school. Apples, oranges and grapes featured frequently, as did hard-boiled eggs, packed alongside some pepper or mustard for flavoring. Now eggs can make their way to the classroom on their own.  

Final guidelines issued recently by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service under its Smart Snacks Rule qualifies eggs, specifically hard-boiled eggs, as an option for healthy snacks and a la carte offerings in schools. In a change from earlier renditions of the rule, this final rule exempts whole eggs from limits on both total fat and saturated fat.

Drawing on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and existing voluntary standards already implemented by thousands of schools around the country, this rule carefully balances science-based nutrition guidelines with practical and flexible solutions to promote healthier eating in schools.  In fact, the final rule’s preamble specifically cites the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that identifies eggs as “nutrient dense” and includes eggs in its recommended healthy eating patterns. Schools can include hard-cooked or hard-boiled eggs as snacks or menu items, as long as no fat has been added to them.

One large egg contains varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals plus six grams of protein for just 70 calories, leading to its designation as a nutrient dense food. 

Starting with school year 2014-2015, the Smart Snacks ruling mandated the types of food sold at schools, during the school day, meet certain nutrition standards. This Smart Snacks in School regulation applies to foods sold a la carte, in the school store and in vending machines. The ruling is designed to encourage children to make healthier snack choices that give them the nutrition they need to grow and learn, and conforms to the provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Protein packs and snacks featuring protein have garnered plenty of interest in the consumer sector, stating new entrants are “flooding” into the high-protein market. The packs illustrate creativity and variety that protein packs can display and hard-boiled eggs also present a canvas ready for creative embellishment. There are literally dozens of options for low-calorie and low-fat condiments that can help flavor hard-boiled eggs and we’ve created a few as thought starters. Overall, including hard-boiled eggs in this new ruling allows schools to use a nutrient dense food with plenty of creative options that can both please and nourish students.

To find a supplier of precooked hard-boiled eggs, visit American Egg Board’s newly revised Egg Product Buyers’ Guide.

2016-11-21 15:11:13

Moving from subtraction to addition—food manufacturers switch gears

The clean label movement often forced manufacturers to play the elimination game—which ingredients can we subtract from formulations to make the label simpler, shorter and more attractive to consumers? However, a new focus on “best foods for…” shifts the discussion from subtraction to addition. Which ingredients or foods are consumers seeking to add to their eating regimen in the hopes of reaping health benefits?

A Food Trends Report issued by Google this year analyzed search data and pinpointed five major trends that impact American eating habits. One of the major trends identified in the report relates to the rise of functional foods. The search analysis found that consumers are looking for foods linked to certain physiological benefits. According to the report, searches for the term “best foods for” has grown ten times since 2005, accompanied by words such as “skin,” “energy,” “your brain,” “gym workout” and the like.

These searches and the correlated interest in functional foods focuses a spotlight on ingredients—which, when added to a label, will create a positive impression and capture consumer attention.

More consumers are clamoring for protein, according to views expressed in the annual International Food Information Council Food and Health Survey. A majority or 64 percent of Americans reported they were trying to consume more protein, up from 54 percent last year. This protein focus underlines the potential of applications that include protein-based ingredients such as eggs.

One large egg contains six grams of easily digestible, high-quality protein for just 70 calories. Multiple studies link protein to satiety that aids in weight loss or recommend protein for recovery after a gym workout. In addition to protein, an egg plays host to a wealth of other vitamins and minerals.

Egg ingredients already find their way into multiple formulations and product categories for their functional properties. Precooked eggs however can play a role as a protein inclusion in snack packs, prepacked salad kits or handheld sandwiches.

The best bet for manufacturers is to not only leverage these consumer studies but also communicate product benefits openly to the buying public. Just be sure when communicating that product information fits all viewing formats—Google also reports that more than 50 percent of searches are conducted on a mobile device

2016-11-07 08:46:53