Oslo, Norway—Studies have shown that the intake of recommended doses of folic acid (a naturally occurring B-vitamin) from the period before conception to early pregnancy can prevent neural tube birth defects. Now, Christine Roth, M.Sc., Clin.Psy.D., from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo has led a study (published October 12, 2011 by JAMA) that investigated whether maternal use of folic acid supplements was associated with a reduced risk of severe language delay in children at age three years.

Elmwood Park, NJ—After an investigation that began in 2009, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has come down hard on some defendants that made weight-loss claims for the herb, hoodia. FTC claims the group claimed its ingredient could treat obesity (an unsubstantiated health claim), suppress appetite, reduce caloric intake and more; the ingredient didn’t always contain authentic Hoodia gordonii.

Washington, D.C.—In a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), U.S. Senator and Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) urged inquiry into whether the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is effectively implementing dietary supplement safety legislation passed in 2006.

It is an exciting time to be involved with the sweetening of our foods and beverages. Chief among the factors driving change is the movement toward healthier foods, which for many consumers starts with how they ate sweetened. Manufacturers big and small are taking notice, and leveraging their changes in an effort to grab consumer attention. Food and commodity prices are other influencers, affecting product formulation across the manufacturing industry.

2011 has been another ride on the financial roller coaster. Anyone who has not felt the tremors, bumps and absolute death drops of the economy is extremely lucky. The same is true of small and large businesses alike, even though there are some rays of hope breaking through the cloudy economic storms. It’s arguable that the natural and organic industry is among the bright spots.

Introducing Ayala’s Herbal Water, a line of zero-calorie, USDA organic herb-infused drinks. Varieties such as Lemongrass Mint Vanilla and Cinnamon Orange Peel comprise the 16-oz. plastic bottle offerings, while Sparkling varieties are available in 25.4 and 12 oz. glass bottles. Ayala Laufer-Cahana, M.D., developed Herbal Water in 2005, and now they are available nationwide.

Now available: The Fountains of Juice, a line of vitamin-packed, low-calorie juice drinks that comes in four varieties: Beetox (from beet root); Eat, Drink and Be Berry! (aronia berry); One-in-a-Melon! (watermelon); and CherryO! (tart cherry). Each drink contains 60–90 calories per 16-oz. bottle and is sweetened with stevia. The products are said to drink like water, with no aftertaste and no coated mouth feel. Drinks are free of caffeine, sodium, gluten, preservatives, GMOs and added sugar.

Sophie’s Kitchen introduces vegan seafood for seafood lovers who maintain special diets or have seafood allergies. Varieties include breaded vegan shrimp, vegan calamari, vegan squid rings and more. This product offers 100% vegan, cholesterol-free food that is also a good source of fiber. The line contains no trans-fat, genetically engineered ingredients, preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors.

Green Valley Organics now offers a peach yogurt that is lactose free and gluten free. This real cow dairy yogurt includes pieces of juicy, sweet organic peaches at the bottom of the cup. Other yogurts in the line include Plain, Vanilla, Honey, Strawberry and Blueberry in 6-oz cups. Green Valley Organics is introducing a new larger size (24 oz.) of it best-selling Vanilla yogurt. The Plain and Honey yogurt also are available in the larger size.