TIME Diet/Nutrition

How the Nation’s Nutrition Panel Thinks You Should Be Eating

Ease up on sugar and saturated fats — but don't worry so much about cholesterol

New recommendations for U.S. dietary guidelines released on Thursday included the surprise suggestion that cholesterol should not be a nutrient of special concern—but added that sugar and saturated fat are still worth worrying about.

In a move that happens only every five years, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, an independent group of 14 experts advising Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), released a proposed update for what Americans should be eating. The proposal is over 500 pages long, but summed up the guidelines as follows:

“The U.S. population should be encouraged and guided to consume dietary patterns that are rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains. These dietary patterns can be achieved in many ways and should be tailored to the individual’s biological and medical needs as well as socio-cultural preferences.”

One nutrient was obviously missing: cholesterol. The committee confirmed that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern, which is great news for egg lovers. As TIME reported last week, evidence shows the amount of cholesterol coming from food isn’t really that worrisome.

MORE Ending the War on Fat

The recommendations do come down pretty hard on saturated fat—recommending less than 10% of total calories from saturated fat per day—but they don’t recommend against cutting down on total fat as they have in the past. Guidelines launched in 1980 helped boost the low-fat craze of the 2000s.

“To decrease saturated fat, one needs to reduce the intake of foods high in saturated fat,” says vice chair of the committee Alice Lichtenstein of Tufts University in an email to TIME. “Hence, the recommendation is to primarily choose low and non-fat dairy products and lean meat. Otherwise, there is no recommendation to reduce total fat intake or use fat free foods.”

That didn’t sit well with some, since some research suggests saturated fat doesn’t deserve our level of fixation. “They don’t move at all on the issue of what kinds of fats to eat. They continue to recommend limiting saturated fat and supporting polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats,” Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, said. “I would have liked the guidelines to be a little more neutral on saturated fat.” The form of fats that remain a source of concern are trans fats. (Nissen was also not on the committee).

MORE Know Right Now: Why Low-Fat Diets Might Not Solve Your Health Problems

But overall, nutrition experts were satisfied with the guidelines. “Wow. I love it. Really I am impressed,” says Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. “The emphasis seems to be ‘here is what your diet should look like overall and if it looks like this, you can’t go very wrong.’ The question is how we rally around it and how effectively it survives the political process.” (Katz was not on the advisory committee).

The new guidelines touch on sustainability, and the fact that the average American diet has a high environmental impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and land, energy and water use. They note that a diet that’s better for the environment is high in plant-based foods and lower in calories and animal-based foods. Some examples of these diets are the Mediterranean diet, a healthy vegetarian diet and a healthy U.S.-style diet.

The committee also reviewed highly caffeinated beverages like energy drinks and concluded that there is still not enough evidence on their safety, but that limited data suggest health problems like caffeine toxicity and cardiovascular events are possible. The committee says they should not be consumed by kids. The group also reviewed the sugar supplement aspartame, and said that while it appears safe, there may be some risks that deserve further research.

The new recommendations, which were decided on by an independent group of 14 experts, still have to undergo a review before getting the green light from Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. The public is also urged to provide comments at http://www.DietaryGuidelines.gov.

Read next: 6 Facts About Saturated Fat That Will Astound You

TIME Food & Drink

This Caviar May Be the Most Expensive Food in the World

At $114,000 a kilo, this dish is not for everyone

A fish farmer in Austria is offering a caviar dish that he says is worth $114,000 per kilo.

The white caviar “Strottarga Bianco” concoction includes rare albino sturgeon dried roe sprinkled with gold leaf, according to the website for Walter Gruell’s fish farm. The dish is only available on customer order.

“It is certainly not a product for everyone, but there is definitely a market for extremely exclusive products especially when they are something new,” said Gruell’s son Patrick, who helped develop the caviar, according to Yahoo News.

According to the Guinness World Records, the most expensive food on record is also a caviar: Almas, from the Iranian Beluga fish, sells for roughly $35,000 per kilogram.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

2,500 Tons of the Food We Eat is Fake

olive oil pouring
Getty Images

Fake alcohol was the biggest offender

Do you really know what’s in your cheese?

New evidence may cast some doubt on the purity of your favorite foods. Interpol, the international criminal police organization, announced that it seized thousands of tons of fake food in a joint operation with Europol over the past two months—including seemingly benign mainstays like mozzarella, eggs, bottled mineral water, strawberries, cooking oil and dried fruit—in 47 countries.

Adulterations cut across all kinds of categories. In Italy, 31 tons of seafood were labeled as “fresh” but had actually been previously frozen, then doused with a chemical containing citric acid and hydrogen peroxide to hide that it was rotting. At an Italian cheese factory, officers found expired dairy and chemicals used to make old cheese seem fresh. They also found that mozzarella was being smoked in the back of a van with burning trash as a heat source.

Egyptian authorities seized 35 tons of fake butter and shut down an entire factory producing that was sold as tea. In Thailand, officials destroyed 85 tons of meat that had made its way into the country without health and safety testing. And in the U.S., the FDA found that illegal dietary supplements were being sent through the mail.

All of that fraudulent food was seized in markets, airports, seaports and shops between December 2014 and January 2015. The crackdown, known as Operation Opson IV, is the largest effort of the agencies to target such inappropriately or mislabeled food and ultimately removed 2,500 tons of food and 275,000 liters of tainted drinks out of the food supply, Interpol says. Last year, Operation Opson III seized about 1,200 tons of fake food in 33 countries.

Read more: Waiter, There’s Fox In My Donkey Meat: The Global Scandal of Food Fraud

The most counterfeited product of all was alcohol. In the U.K., officials ferreted out a plant distilling fraudulent brand-name vodka, made in antifreeze containers and treated to take out the chemical smell. Officials in Rwanda found a shop selling a local brew that had been poured into used brand-name bottles to pass it off as more expensive.

It isn’t new, but the practice of substituting a less expensive ingredient for a pricier one, or finding ways to dilute a product, is increasingly the subject of scrutiny. One 2014 study by Oceana found that 30% of shrimp sold in the U.S. are mislabeled, and Europe’s recent horse meat scandal has made people across the world second guess what’s on their dinner plate when they’re served beef.

“It is a problem everywhere,” says Markus Lipp, senior director for food standards at United States Pharmacopeia, a non-profit organization that develops standards for ingredients in pharmaceuticals, foods and dietary supplements and maintains a database of known instances of food fraud. (U.S. Pharmacopeia was not involved with the Interpol/Europol investigation.) “Too good to be true is actually a real thing,” Lipp says. “If I get something really, really cheap but it’s usually very expensive, it might not be the right thing.”

In countries with more effective regulatory agencies, food fraud happens less, but consumers can be smarter about their food purchases wherever they live, Lipp says. Buying the not-as-processed version of a food makes it less of a target. Whole coffee beans, for example, are more distinct in form and shape—and more difficult to adulterate—than the ground variety.

Same goes for ground brown burgers. “Everyone can tell a horse from a cow,” Lipp says. “But if it’s a patty, it gets much more difficult to tell horse meat from cow meat.”

The more intact our food, Lipp says, the more distinguishing features it has. Buying it in its natural state, or as close to that state as possible, “will aid us in helping to prevent adulteration or buying adulterated products,” he says.

TIME Food

Heinz Is Now Selling Sriracha-Flavored Ketchup

Because sometimes regular ketchup just isn't enough

Sriracha lovers, rejoice! Heinz is bringing a new ketchup flavor featuring the popular hot sauce to U.S. shores.

The new condiment, rather mundanely called Heinz Tomato Ketchup Blended with Sriracha Flavor, is available now at retailers including Walmart and Target. Heinz says this new version of ketchup will be delicious on a lot of things that regular ketchup would be super weird on, like chicken and eggs. A taste test over at the Huffington Post determined that the ketchup has a bit more kick than old-fashioned Heinz but is still pretty far off from the hot and spicy flavor of straight sriracha.

The sriracha ketchup retails for $2.69 for a 16-ounce bottle.

TIME Food & Beverage

Pepperidge Farm Makes Massive Bagel Recall

Pepperidge Farm logo.
PRNewsFoto/Pepperidge Farm/AP Pepperidge Farm logo.

No illnesses have been reported

Pepperidge Farm is recalling about 46,000 packages of bagels because they may contain undeclared peanuts or almonds.

The recall includes plain, everything and cinnamon raisin bagels, as well as whole wheat, cinnamon raisin and brown sugar mini bagels.

The company said Friday that no illnesses have been reported. The fear is that traces of peanuts or almonds in the bagels could set off allergic reactions.

The affected bagels were sold in 23 states.

TIME Television

There’s Going to Be a Game of Thrones Pop-Up Restaurant in London

All men must dine

Book your flights and pack your furs, because if you’re a Game of Thrones fan you’ll want to head to London for a three-day feast in a pop-up version of Westeros.

To celebrate the release of Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray, HBO is throwing a “one-of-a-kind epic banquet.” You can’t just log on to Open Table for a reservation, though. Instead, hungry fans must angle for an invite by entering a competition to win seats at the table.

Full details of the banquet are being kept under wraps (where is Varys when you need him?), but the lucky few who manage to score a reservation will be treated to a five-course meal complete with cocktail pairings fit for the finest of King’s Landing.

If the prospect of dining with Lannisters doesn’t put you off the meal, the feast will take place over the course of three days between Feb. 13-15 at the Andaz in London. Presumably all negative Yelp reviewers will be sent invitations to a pop-up Red Wedding event in the near future.

[Via The Verge]

TIME Food

McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson to Retire

Key Speakers At The Year Ahead: 2014 Conference
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images Don Thompson, president and chief executive officer of McDonald's Corp., speaks at the Bloomberg Year Ahead: 2014 conference in Chicago on Nov. 21, 2013.

"It's tough to say goodbye to the McFamily"

The president and CEO of McDonald’s will retire effective March 1, the company’s board announced Wednesday, after 25 years with the world’s largest restaurant chain.

Don Thompson will be replaced by Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook, who was elected by the board to take his place. McDonald’s still sits atop the fast food throne, with more than 36,000 locations worldwide and some 69 million customers in more than 100 countries per day.

“It’s tough to say goodbye to the McFamily, but there is a time and season for everything,” Thompson said in a statement. “I am truly confident as I pass the reins over to Steve, that he will continue to move our business and brand forward.”

TIME global health

What the Gates Foundation Has Achieved, 15 Years On

Sunny days: Melinda and Bill Gates in 2014, one year before their self-imposed deadline arrived
Scott Olson; Getty Images Sunny days: Melinda and Bill Gates in 2014, one year before their self-imposed deadline arrived

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

Much has been done over the foundation's first decade and a half — with more still to do

There are a whole lot of things you may or may not get to do in the next 15 years, but a few of them you can take for granted: eating, for one. Having access to a bank, for another. And then there’s the simple business of not dying of a preventable or treatable disease. Good for you—and good for most of us in the developed world. But the developed world isn’t the whole story.

The bad—and familiar—news is that developing nations lag far behind in income, public health, food production, education and more. The much, much better news is that all of that is changing—and fast. The just-released Annual Letter from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation makes a good case for hoping there is still more to come.

The 2015 letter represents something of a threshold moment for the Foundation. It was in 2000 that the Gateses began their work and set themselves a very public 15-year deadline: show meaningful progress in narrowing the health, income and resource gap between the world’s privileged and underprivileged people, or be prepared to explain why not. So far, nobody—neither the Gates Foundation nor the numerous other global health groups like the World Health Organization and UNICEF—have much explaining to do.

The number of children under five who die each year worldwide has been nearly cut in half, from a high of nearly 13 million to 6.5 million today. Polio has been chased to the very brink of extinction, and elephantiasis, river blindness and Guinea worm are close behind. Drought-tolerant seeds are dramatically increasing agricultural yields; economies in the once-desperate countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now matching the developed world in rate of annual growth. Up to 70% of people across the developing world now have access to wireless service, making mobile banking possible—a luxury in the West but a necessity in places there is no other banking infrastructure.

The trick of course is that progress isn’t the same as success. The 13 million babies who were dying a year in the years before the Foundation began, for example, factored out to a horrific 35,000 every single day. Slashing that in half leaves you with 17,500—still an intolerable figure. For that reason and others, the Gateses are turning the 15-year chronometer back to zero, setting targets—and framing ways to achieve them—for 2030.

The most pressing concern involves those 17,500 kids. The overwhelming share of the recent reduction in mortality is due to better delivery of vaccines and treatments for diseases that are vastly less common or even nonexistent in much of the developed world—measles, pneumonia, malaria, cholera and other diarrheal ills. Those are still the cause of 60% of the remaining deaths. But the other 40%—or 2.6 million children—involve neonates, babies who die in the first 30 days of life and often on the very first day. The interventions in these cases can be remarkably simple.

“The baby must be kept warm immediately after birth, which too often doesn’t happen,” Melinda Gates told TIME. “This is basic skin-to-skin contact. Breast-feeding exclusively is the next big thing, as is basic cord care. The umbilical cord must be cut cleanly and kept clean to prevent infections.”

HIV may similarly be brought to heel, if not as easily as neonate mortality. A vaccine or a complete cure—one that would simply eliminate the virus from the body the way an antibiotic can eliminate a bacterium—remain the gold standards. But in much of the world, anti-retrovirals (ARVs) have served as what is known as a functional cure, allowing an infected person to live healthily and indefinitely while always carrying a bit of the pathogen. Gates looks forward to making ARVs more widely available, as well as to the development of other treatment protocols that we may not even be considering now.

“We’re already moving toward an HIV tipping point,” she says, “when the number of HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa who are in treatment will exceed the number of people becoming newly infected.”

Food security is another achievable goal. Even as Africa remains heavily agrarian—70% of people in the sub-Saharan region are farmers compared to 2% in the U.S.—yields remain low. An acre of farmland here in America may produce 150 bushels of corn; in Africa it’s just 30. The problem is largely rooted in our increasingly unstable climate, with severe droughts burning out harvests or heavy rainstorms destroying them.

“Millions of people eat rice in Africa,” says Gates, “and rice has to be kept much wetter than other crops. At the equator it’s staying drier longer, but when the rains do come, they hit harder.”

In the case of rice and corn and all other crops, the answer is seeds engineered for the conditions in which they will have to grow, not for the more forgiving farmlands of the West. In Tanzania, site-specific seed corn has been made available and is already changing lives. “That seed,” one farmer told Gates when she visited in 2012, “made the difference between hunger and prosperity.”

Finally comes banking. Across Africa, only 37% of people are part of the formal banking system, but up to 90%, depending on the area, are part of the M-Pesa network—a mobile banking link accessible via cellphone. The Pesa part of the name is Swahili for money and the M is simply for mobile.

“Today too many people put their money in a cow or in jewelry,” Gates says. “But it’s impossible to take just a little of that money out. If someone gets sick or you have another emergency, you simply sell the cow.” Mobile banking changes all of that, making it much easier to save—and in a part of the world where even $1 set aside a day can mean economic security, that’s a very big deal.

Nothing about the past 15 years guarantees that the next 15 will see as much progress. The doctrine of low-hanging fruit means that in almost all enterprises, the early successes come easier. But 15 years is a smart timeframe. It’s far enough away that it creates room for different strategies to be tried and fail before one succeeds, but it’s close enough that you still can’t afford to waste the time you have. Wasting time, clearly, is not something the folks at the Gates Foundation have been doing so far, and they likely won’t in the 15 years to come either.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

There’s Now Coffee to Help You Fall Asleep

coffee
Getty Images

A new product mixes coffee with a sleep-inducing herb

Imagine brewing coffee as a nightcap. That’s what Deland Jessop says he and his wife have begun to do with Counting Sheep Coffee—a new product designed to allow coffee lovers to drink a cup before bed without being kept awake for hours.

“Instead of a glass of wine, we’ll brew up a cup of coffee instead,” said Jessop, who launched the company in 2013.

When his wife complained that she couldn’t enjoy coffee after 3 p.m., Jessop turned his home into a makeshift lab to search for a possible solution. After experimenting with a variety of herbs and supplements, he says he stumbled upon valerian—a plant that has been used as a mild sedative in Europe for centuries. He mixed it with decaf to mask the pungent smell, and sleep coffee was born.

Jessop notes that Counting Sheep Coffee is a food product, not a drug to help with sleep. Valerian is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a food ingredient.

Experts don’t know exactly why the plant such a potent sleep-inducer, but there’s little known risk of side effects (other than the obvious drowsiness), says University of California San Francisco associate professor Stephen Bent. “In the studies that have been done, it’s been show to be safe,” he says. “It has a long traditional history of being used to induce sleep.”

The product first appeared at Bed, Bath & Beyond in 2013, and is now sold in several regional supermarkets.

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