Center for Science in the Public Interest
Center for Science in the Public Interest
News Article | May 4, 2017
School lunch programs in the U.S. will no longer be required to meet all of the nutrition standards set in the Obama era, the Trump administration announced this week. The news means that school lunches won't necessarily see the cuts in sodium and boosts in whole grains that were outlined in the Obama administration's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which aimed to improve child nutrition. Specifically, rather than requiring that all grain products served in school lunches be whole grains, the government will allow schools to request exemptions to this requirement for the 2017-2018 school year, said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who signed a proclamation outlining the changes on Monday (May 1). And instead of requiring schools to continue reducing sodium levels in school meals, the government will let schools keep sodium levels where they are now, at least through 2020. In addition, schools will be allowed to serve 1 percent flavored milk, instead of just nonfat flavored milk. [10 Ways to Promote Kids' Healthy Eating Habits] Perdue said the changes were being made because existing nutrition requirements for school lunches were too stringent and had resulted in higher costs for school districts. In addition, Perdue said, some children weren't eating the healthier food. "If kids aren't eating the food and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program," Perdue said in a statement. However, some nutrition experts expressed concern about the new standards. "While the health impact of reopening this rule is unknown at this point, it's clear [that] having American schoolchildren eat fewer whole grains is not heart-healthy," Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association, said in a statement. Relaxing the sodium requirements is also worrisome, she said. "If we don't move forward with the sodium standards, there could be serious health consequences for our kids," such as increased blood pressure, as well as higher risk of heart disease and stroke, Brown said. Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer watchdog group, also called the new sodium policy concerning. "Ninety percent of American kids eat too much sodium every day," Wootan said in a statement. "Schools have been moving in the right direction, so it makes no sense to freeze that progress in its tracks and allow dangerously high levels of salt in school lunch." The new policy does not affect the requirement for fruits and vegetables in school lunches or standards for food served in vending machines set in the Obama-era act.
News Article | May 15, 2017
The plan is based on guidelines from the World Health Organization and other organizations, and PepsiCo has signed an agreement with PHA to independently verify, report, and share its progress towards achieving these goals, the company said in a press release . Goals include making at least two-thirds of its global beverage portfolio to have 100 calories or fewer from added sugars per 12-oz serving; at least three-quarters of its global foods portfolio to not exceed 1.1 g of saturated fat per 100 calories; and at least three-quarters of its global foods portfolio to not exceed 1.3 mg of sodium per calorie. CEO Indra Nooyi said the company will continue to place great emphasis on transforming its product portfolio “to meet changing consumer and societal needs.” The non-profit Partnership for a Healthier America was founded in 2010, in conjunction with former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, to work with the private sector in tackling childhood obesity. One example of a food and beverage company that has pledged product reformulation through PHA is Dannon, which first teamed up with the non-profit in 2014 and has made significant progress in improving the nutrient density of its overall portfolio and committed to a slew of reformulations to reduce sugar and fat in its products. Partnerships with food manufacturers in the private sector are an important tool in combating childhood obesity, according to former First Lady: “Food companies are racing like never before to create healthier versions of their products. Even convenience stores are selling fruits and vegetables,” she told delegates at the PHA's inaugural summit. Through partnerships like this, manufacturers have cut an estimated 6.4 trillion calories from the US food supply chain through product reformulations and packaging changes, according to Margo Wootan , the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But at the same time,” Wootan said, “When you look around still the majority of options on restaurants’ children’s menus are unhealthy” and in supermarkets the products displayed at eye level and in end caps “are often soda, chips and unhealthy food. Not the bananas and broccoli.” “The deck is still stacked against people. They can eat well, but it takes a lot more effort and we need to teach them. We need to make it more possible for people to eat well on a regular basis when they want to,” she told FoodNavigator-USA in a previous interview. Shifting this status quo is one reason PepsiCo credits for its commitment. "Our agenda for the next ten years includes ambitious goals to further improve the nutritional profile of our products and expand our range of wholesome and nutritious offerings,” Nooyi said. “We are deeply committed to working to achieve these goals, and we welcome Partnership for a Healthier America's role in reporting on our progress."
News Article | May 1, 2017
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue (C) talks to the media at the White House in Washington, U.S. April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (Reuters) - The Trump administration on Monday relaxed some rules aimed at making U.S. school lunches healthier, a move viewed by health advocates as a direct hit on former first lady Michelle Obama's signature issue. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, in one of his first acts after his Senate confirmation last week, signed a proclamation that postpones sodium reductions, makes it easier to serve foods without whole grains, and allows the return of chocolate- and strawberry-flavored milk with fat. "Certain aspects of the standards have gone too far," said Perdue, speaking at an elementary school in Virginia. The change comes as Donald Trump, one of the more fast-food-friendly presidents in recent years, has vowed to slash regulation. The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was championed by Michelle Obama and became a rallying cry for her critics after it set school lunch maximums for calories, cut sodium and artery-clogging trans fat, and required more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The federally funded U.S. school lunch program, started by President Harry Truman in the 1940s, is overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and feeds more than 30 million, mostly low-income, children. Healthy lunch proponents expressed the most concern about relaxing efforts to reduce excessive dietary sodium, which is linked to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. "This will lock in very high levels of sodium in school lunches," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy for Center for Science in the Public Interest. The sodium limit for a high school lunch is now about 1,400 milligrams, or three-fourths of the recommended daily maximum, Wootan said. Perdue's proclamation delays plans to reduce that to 1,080 milligrams this school year. The ultimate target is about 740 milligrams in the 2022 school year, Wootan said. "Federal nutrition programs should provide nutritious food - that's just good government, not nanny state policies run amok," said Wootan, who added that many schools have adopted the standards and worked through early problems with ingredient availability and taste. The School Nutrition Association, which represents both the industry that sells food to schools and cafeteria workers, has lobbied to weaken the rules, particularly with regard to sodium. Many large food companies are suppliers to the U.S. school lunch program, including Tyson Foods Inc, Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] and General Mills Inc. Domino's Pizza Inc delivers to schools as part of its "Smart Slice" program.
News Article | May 23, 2017
US consumer, health, and food safety groups have filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), challenging a rule they argue undermines the integrity of the nation's food safety system, according to a release from the Center for Science and the Public Interest (CSPI). Chemical and food manufacturers often seek to add chemicals to food, typically to enhance flavor, add nutrients, or prevent spoilage, the CSPI said, adding that chemicals often leach into foods from processing equipment and packaging. While Congress has required FDA determine that chemical additives are safe before they can be used on food, the FDA rule allows manufacturers to decide for and by themselves—in secret—what can be added to foods. The groups assert this rule is unconstitutional and illegal. "The public expects, and the law demands, that FDA ensure the safety of Americans’ food," CSPI said. The groups suing the FDA for allegedly illegally delegating that authority to self-interested food and chemical manufacturers include the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Defense Fund and Environmental Working Group, represented by legal counsel from CFS and the environmental law firm Earthjustice. They also allege that while Congress mandates an open and public process, the FDA allows manufacturers to make these decisions about food ingredients without any disclosure to either the FDA or the public. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Federal law requires the FDA to ensure that substances used in food are safe, taking into account consumers’ entire diet and all exposure to the chemical and similar chemicals, CSPI said. But any substance designated as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by FDA or by a food or chemical company can bypass the rigorous pre-market review and approval process applied to food additives. This exemption was initially created to cover ingredients that are widely known to be safe, such as vegetable oil, but has been applied in recent practice to novel chemicals and is now a loophole that has swallowed the law, the CSPI said. Under pressure from industry, in 1997 and again in 2016, FDA adopted a practice that allows food and chemical manufacturers to decide for themselves, without notice to FDA or the public, that food chemicals are safe—even if the chemicals are new, not widely studied, and not widely accepted as safe, CSPI said. CFS filed suit in 2014 to challenge FDA’s use of an interim rule that initially put this practice into place; and that successful challenge forced FDA to stop using the interim rule and instead finalize the GRAS rule, CSPI said. Today’s lawsuit challenges the final rule that formalizes this practice. “FDA has a duty to ensure the products we buy and feed our families are safe,” said Cristina Stella, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety and co-counsel in the case. “The secretive GRAS system makes it impossible for FDA to carry out its core responsibility to the public.”
News Article | May 8, 2017
CARMEL, IN (May 8, 2017) - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) decision upholds years of research on sucralose - the sweetening ingredient in the original SPLENDA® Sweeteners - that shows it to be safe and does not cause cancer. The decision was published as an open access Scientific Opinion in EFSA Journal1, and rejects allegations made by a small Italian lab regarding a study in mice that they conducted. EFSA concluded that "the available data did not support the conclusions of the authors (Soffritti et al., 2016)2." EFSA noted numerous issues with the Ramazzini Institute study on sucralose, including: Ramazzini Institute has been criticized previously by the regulatory and research community for not complying with recognized research standards in its sweetener studies. The U.S. Congressional House Committee has also expressed concerns that funding of this lab may not meet adequate scientific integrity standards. The recent EFSA opinion further reinforces the importance of considering recommended research standards when reviewing scientific studies and their results, particularly when the research, as in the case of this latest Ramazzini study, utilizes unconventional methodology and employs scientific practices that have already been found to be problematic for data interpretation. It's important to remember, for food ingredients, industry does not set the guidelines for what type of research must be done. These are set by health and safety research authorities from around the world. The safety of sucralose has been demonstrated by a wide body of research. FDA and other regulatory agencies reviewed more than 110 scientific studies designed to meet the recommended research programs set by expert health authorities for investigating the safety of a new food ingredient. Reviews of these studies have led to consistent conclusions that sucralose is safe, including for women who are pregnant or nursing and for children. SPLENDA® Sweeteners are a safe choice. The science EFSA just dismissed has been used by some, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), to put sweeteners on their "avoid" lists. As EFSA's review confirms, this is not warranted and is particularly bad counsel when it comes to sucralose-sweeteners like SPLENDA®. SPLENDA® is one way consumers can safely reduce their added sugar and calorie consumption, which we know is important to long-term health. It would be prudent for CSPI to reconsider their advice based on the latest science and determinations from leading food safety authorities. EFSA's decision puts good science first, and it is consistent with the movement to bring greater scrutiny to poorly designed studies that draw false conclusions and unjustifiably alarm consumers. This is a topic we are particularly passionate about at SPLENDA®. We invite others to commit to evaluating research using rigorous scientific judgment and apply sound research findings before making recommendations or sharing opinions. We invite people to learn more about the safety of sucralose. A review of the regulatory and scientific rationale in determining the potential for sucralose to cause cancer is available here. Overconsumption of added sugar is a rising health concern, and low calorie sweeteners like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener help millions of people every day lower their added sugar intake for healthier eating without sacrificing the sweet moments in life. We support people in taking small steps to live a little healthier each day - whether that means cutting back on empty calories, managing weight, staying active and more. For information on how to make simple changes for a healthier you, visit Splenda.com. For more information on EFSA's review of the Ramazzini Institute study of sucralose, visit the report in the EFSA Journal. Based outside of Indianapolis, Heartland Food Products Group is a global leader in the production of low-calorie sweetener products, creamers, beverage concentrates, coffee, and nutritional drinks. Visit Heartland at http://www. . The SPLENDA® Brand is the most recognizable and iconic low calorie sweetener ("LCS") brand in the world, having sold more than 100 billion yellow packets since its launch in 1991. Today, the SPLENDA® Brand is the clear #1 LCS brand in the $72 billion global sweetener market with market shares that are more than twice those of its nearest competitor. Since the acquisition of the SPLENDA® Brand in 2015, Heartland Food Products Group has launched SPLENDA ZERO™ Liquid Sweetener and now SPLENDA® Naturals Stevia Sweetener, expected to be the greatest innovation in the brand's history. 1. EFSA ANS Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food) et al. (2017). Statement on the validity of the conclusions of a mouse carcinogenicity study on sucralose (E 955) performed by the Ramazzini Institute. EFSA Journal 2017;15(5):4784, 14 pp. https:/ 2. Soffritti, M., et al. (2016). Sucralose administered in feed, beginning prenatally through lifespan, induces hematopoietic neoplasias in male swiss mice. Int J Occup Env Health, 22, 7-17 http://dx. .
News Article | January 20, 2016
"A week after the federal government released its latest recommendations for healthful eating, the 2015-20 Dietary Guidelines have touched off a food fight. Acknowledging that the "scientific integrity" of the drafting process has been called into question, Congress has asked the National Academies of Science to review "whether balanced nutrition information is reaching the public," and set aside $1 million for the effort. Meanwhile, nutritionists, public health specialists and experts in preventive health are vying to critique the government document, fill in its gaps and "spin" the guidelines to support their interests." "Why Mainstream Researchers Think the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Lack Scientific Rigor" (Washington Post) Editorial: "Healthy Guidelines: Despite Its Critics, The New Food Plan Is Sensible" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) "What’s New in the Dietary Guidelines" (New York Times/Well) "New Dietary Guidelines Take Bite Out Of Sugar, Salt" (Columbian) Opinion: "The New US Dietary Guidelines Miss A Huge, Crucial Issue" (MSNBC/ Dr. Neal Barnard) "Who’s Mad About The New Dietary Guidelines? Cancer Experts, For One" (MSNBC) Press Release: "New "Dietary Guidelines" Recommends Eating Less Sugar & Meat" (Center for Science in the Public Interest) "New Dietary Guidelines remove restriction on total fat and set limit for added sugars but censor conclusions of the scientific advisory committee" (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
News Article | April 29, 2016
Five U.S. senators are urging FDA to ban retail sales and marketing of bulk powdered caffeine after the 2014 deaths of two men who consumed too much of the substance. Last week, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and families of the men who overdosed to raise awareness about the dangers of . . .
News Article | April 21, 2016
The debate over genetically modified foods is about to get a lot more heated in Washington, D.C. DuPont Pioneer’s new waxy corn hybrid and a Penn State plant scientist’s “anti-browning” white button mushroom are the latest additions to a fast-growing pile of new genetically engineered crops that have so far avoided any government regulation. New gene-editing techniques like CRISPR are making this possible, and they are underscoring the fact that the regulatory system hasn’t kept up with the breakneck pace of biotechnological innovation. It’s not for lack of trying. Last summer, the White House called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Food and Drug Administration to “modernize” the federal system for regulating “products of biotechnology,” including crops. In line with that, in February the USDA informed the public of its intent to change its system for regulating genetically engineered organisms. The USDA does the bulk of the regulating when it comes to genetically engineered crops, under a law called the Plant Protection Act, to protect other crops and the environment from “plant pests.” Specifically, the agency regulates a crop if it has been genetically engineered using a plant pest, meaning that the donor, the recipient, or the vector for delivering the new gene qualifies as a plant pest. That made a lot more sense for the previous generation of genetically engineered crops, commonly called GMOs. Most were made using a soil bacterium to deliver a new gene, were modified with a gene taken from a bacterium, or both. That triggered the “plant pest” regulatory mechanism. Newer techniques like CRISPR can modify the genome without inserting a new gene and don't rely on plant pests, so they don’t trigger that mechanism. So far, the agency has determined that more than 30 genetically engineered crops are not subject to its regulations. The fact that genetically engineered crops are escaping regulation only because they don't meet the legal definition of a plant pest means the system is not working, says Gregory Jaffe, director of biotechnology for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It’s not a science-based determination.” Just how the USDA’s system might change is hard to predict. In February, the agency proposed several hypothetical approaches, which ranged from doing nothing to substantially increasing the USDA’s ability to review and regulate genetically engineered crops. In the near future the agency will review public comments on those proposals. It will also consider the results of a newly launched study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The scientists, policy experts, and industry representatives in the study group are tasked with helping the USDA, FDA, and EPA prepare for the future by describing the scientific and technological advances likely to emerge in the next five to 10 years. They are also charged with determining whether future genetically engineered organisms could pose “different types of risks to existing products and organisms.” Bernice Slutsky, senior vice president of domestic and international policy at the American Seed Trade Association, says regulators should be careful not to use the term “gene editing” too loosely. These techniques can be used in many different ways, and lumping the applications together “doesn’t provide enough nuance in terms of the ultimate product,” she argues, which could lead to unnecessary overregulation. For example, CRISPR gives developers the ability to make very small, precise edits to the genome, such as the deletion of a single gene. In many cases the outcome is no different from one achieved using traditional techniques that rely on chemicals or radiation to induce mutations, says Slutsky. Crops developed that way are not regulated. “If you can get to the same product end point through traditional breeding as you can through a gene-editing method, why would you treat them differently from a regulatory perspective?” But it could take years to finalize new regulations, and the uncertainty could stifle innovation. “A lot of developers are holding back until they know what the rules are,” says Slutsky. In the meantime, it’s likely that the gene-edited crops that are developed will continue to earn unregulated status—and some may even find their way to grocery stores.
News Article | December 25, 2016
Taxes on sugary drinks had a banner year in the US, with six new laws passed across the US. But advocates for the preventive health measures are warning that the Trump administration could threaten or even reverse momentum. “I think there is going to be some battles to be fought to maintain ground and not lose ground,” said David Goldberg, a spokesperson for Healthy Food America (HFA), a key supporter of these taxes. In October, the World Health Organization urged all nations to consider a sugary drink tax to curb obesity, cut health care costs and increase revenue for health services. WHO has found that a 20% increase in price led to fewer people consuming sugary drinks. It said taxes would have the greatest positive impact on the young and people with low incomes. Sugary drink tax success in the US has followed momentum internationally. Several countries have introduced the taxes in recent years, including Mexico, which introduced the tax in January 2014 and the UK, which is set to introduce its sugary drink tax in 2018. When 2016 started, Berkeley, California was the only US jurisdiction with a sugary drink tax, which passed in 2014. But this year, Americans voted by referendum to institute the taxes in four cities, and city officials passed taxes in two other metropolitan areas: Philadelphia and Cook County, Illinois – a 5.2 million person jurisdiction that includes Chicago. Now, sugary drink tax supporters see the US federal government as a threat to these developments. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned against lobbyists, but his transition team included Michael Torrey, a lobbyist who runs a firm that helps the main soda lobby, the American Beverage Association. Torrey was tasked with helping set up the Department of Agriculture team, according to the New York Times. And in early December, Trump named fast food executive Andy Puzder as head of the labor department. “We just have to be vigilant and try to protect gains that have been made in recent years,” Goldberg said. “But meanwhile, regardless of what the lobbyists are doing at the federal level, we think local communities will keep making progress”. New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning), said progress on soda taxes has been outstanding, but it was difficult to predict how Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress would act towards public health initiatives. “Nobody seems very interested in public health in the group that’s coming in, but we have to wait and see – it doesn’t look promising,” she said. “If I were Coca-Cola, I’d be in Congress right now”. The beverage industry, for its part, said the success of sugar tax laws has been exaggerated. “The pro-tax advocates are going to areas that are more predisposed to taxes and I just don’t see taxes sweeping the middle of the country and people in the middle of the country wanting more government intervention,” said Lauren Kane, an American Beverage Association spokeswoman. She noted that the taxes won by popular vote in some of the healthiest cities in the country: Boulder, Colorado and San Francisco. But that skepticism has not stopped the industry from spending millions of dollars to combat these local laws. The 2016 sugar tax votes were some of the most expensive ballot measures nationwide, with the American Beverage Association, spending $38m to try and defeat the measures. Pro-sugar tax campaigns, meanwhile, were backed by billionaire donors such as Laura and John Arnold, whose foundation donates to HFA, and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who donated nearly $20m to efforts in California’s Bay Area. The taxes are also being introduced after decades of falling soda sales as consumers move away from sugary drinks in favor of healthier options. “The reality is that they [the beverage industry] are facing a public that understands the increased health risks from sugar drinks and they are facing local policy makers and local community advocates who know what their communities need,” said Jim O’Hara, the director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit that supports sugar taxes. O’Hara said local needs would outweigh national political debates about these local health laws. “Mr Trump will be the president of the United States,” O’Hara said. “He’s not going to be the mayor or governor in cities or states across the county”.
News Article | September 21, 2016
Sugar has become the nutritional villain du jour, but just how bad is our addiction? The answer is tricky. Philadelphia recently passed a tax on sugary drinks, several other places have proposed them, and the government this year recommended we limit our intake of added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories, underscoring how significant elected officials believe the problem is. But while determining exactly how much sugar we're consuming is a complicated business — government figures are estimates— the data and industry trends indicate we've actually made progress in cutting back. On average, Americans' total consumption of caloric sweeteners like refined cane sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is down 15 percent from its peak in 1999, according to government data. That's when we consumed an average of 111 grams of sugar a day (423 calories). After plateauing in recent years, consumption was down to 94 grams a day (358 calories) last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which calculates the figures by estimating how much of the caloric sweeteners produced are never eaten. But that level is still higher than the 87 grams Americans consumed on average in 1970. A major factor for the drop appears to be the decline in soda consumption, as the high-fructose corn syrup used to sweeten drinks like Sprite and Mountain Dew has been on the decline. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in Philadelphia, said it could take many years before the positive effects from the reductions in soda consumption to turn up in health data. But he also noted that factors like the growth in snacking, the availability of food in more places, and oversized restaurant dishes can fuel obesity. "Sugar is a problem, but sugar is not the only problem," Farley said. And though it's lower, sweetener consumption of 94 grams a day is still the equivalent of roughly two and half cans of Coke. That far exceeds the government's recommendation to limit added sugar to around 50 grams a day (200 calories) for someone on a 2,000-calorie diet. Notably, a per capita consumption figure doesn't account for the wide disparities in intake among individuals. The way the USDA estimates sweetener consumption also means the specific figure could be higher or lower. The agency changed its methodology in 2012, which meant a sharp reduction in how much sugar it said we consume. Emails obtained by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which supports soda taxes, show that a sugar industry group wanted the change and hoped for "as low a per capita sweetener consumption estimate as possible." There's always room for "improvement and refinement" in making food consumption estimates, said Michael McConnell, an agriculture economist who specializes in sweeteners at the USDA. But he said the change in methodology was applied retroactively, so any trend the numbers show would still be consistent. Even if the numbers are inexact, others agree the downward trajectory in sweeteners makes sense. That's because soda consumption started falling around the same time, and is down 24 percent since 1998, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest. Michael Jacobson, executive director of the CSPI, thinks it's a major factor — and perhaps the entire reason — for the drop in sweetener consumption. The American Beverage Association, the trade group for Coke and Pepsi, says soda isn't the driver of obesity rates, since those levels have climbed as soda drinking has declined. Gary Taubes, a science author, believes the influx of sweeteners and refined carbohydrates in diets has likely fueled obesity, but notes there's ambiguity in the evidence. And Cristin Kearns, a former dentist who has been uncovering documents showing the sugar industry's influence on nutrition science, noted that "manufacturers are getting crafty" about the types of sweeteners they use, such as juice concentrate, meaning they might not show up in consumption figures. As sugar comes under fire, food companies are using sophisticated new methods to reduce sweeteners without sacrificing sweetness. Consider the use of "sweet taste boosters" that amplify smaller amounts of sweeteners. The ingredients are listed as "artificial flavors" on packages, according to Senomyx, a California company that makes them. Earlier this year, MycoTechnology began making a "bitter blocker" that reduces the need for sweeteners that mask bitterness. The Colorado company says it is made from a mushroom extract and can be listed as a "natural flavor." Some companies have also switched back to "real sugar" to give their products a more wholesome image, even though there may be no difference in calories. While the overall decline in sweeteners reflects the drop in high-fructose corn syrup, the consumption of refined sugar has actually edged up in recent years. In that small regard, sugar is enjoying a revival.