business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From the New York Times:

"The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday proposed maximum limits for the amount of lead in baby foods like mashed fruits and vegetables and dry cereals, after years of studies revealed that many processed products contained levels known to pose a risk of neurological and developmental impairment.

"The agency issued draft guidance, which would not be mandatory for food manufacturers to abide by. The guidelines, if adopted, would allow the agency to take enforcement action against companies that produced foods that exceeded the new limits … The new limits, aimed at foods for children under 2, do not address grain-based snacks that have also been found to contain high levels of heavy metals. And they do not limit other metals, like cadmium, that the agency and many consumer groups have detected in infant foods in previous years."

•  Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Co., yesterday announced "the establishment of its clinical trial site network in conjunction with pharmaceutical industry sponsors, contract research organizations, and health systems. The announcement comes with Kroger's first trial in active recruitment for colorectal cancer gut and immune health observation.

"In collaboration with Persephone Biosciences, Kroger Health is actively recruiting for the ARGONAUT clinical study to identify microbiome-based biomarkers indicative of colorectal cancer. Beginning in the Toledo, Ohio area, select Kroger pharmacies and its affiliate, The Little Clinic LLC, locations will enroll its initial cohort of 55 people with a variety of colorectal cancer risk levels to advance the understanding of gut and immune health. During the next year, Kroger Health plans to enroll additional participants and increase its locations."

•  From the Los Angeles Times:

"A California law seeking to increase wages and improve working conditions for fast-food workers has been set aside for now, after state officials said an effort by major restaurant and business trade groups to overturn the law had qualified as a measure on next year’s ballot.

"The referendum seeking to overturn Assembly Bill 257 gathered sufficient valid voter signatures, the office of California Secretary of State Shirley Weber certified Tuesday. The group of businesses backing the effort, called the Save Local Restaurants, had until Dec. 5 to submit roughly 623,000 California voter signatures. The proponents submitted more than 1 million signatures, of which more than 712,000 were deemed to be valid, according to the secretary of state’s office.

"The announcement means the law, also known as the Fast Recovery Act, approved last year by the Legislature is suspended until California voters decide on the November 2024 ballot whether to repeal the law."

•  From Food & Wine:

"In case you’re still mourning the discontinuation of Ronzoni’s nostalgic star-shaped Pastina pasta shape, we have some carb news that might lift your spirits. Pasta manufacturer Sfoglini is teaming up with The Sporkful Podcast creator and host Dan Pashman to add three likely-new-to-you pasta shapes to your pantry. The two existing shapes hitting the brand’s roster are quattrotini and vesuvio — fun to look at, fun to wrangle on your fork, and fun to eat. The third is a new shape designed by Pashman himself, called cascatelli.

"We say 'likely-new-to-you' because two of the shapes can be found in small regions around Italy. You may have heard of quattrotini, a pasta shape that’s served once a year during Carnival in a small region of Sicily. The original shape — four tubes connected by a four-sided rectangle — was slightly tweaked to include ridges, making it easier to grab sauce.

"The second shape, vesuvio, was named for its likeness to Mount Vesuvius. Short, round, and anchored by a large base that tapers to a thin cone, sauce collects into the spirals promising a perfect bite every time. This shape can be found in towns around the volcano it was named for, though it’s very hard to find in the U.S."

We're big fans of cascatelli in the Coupe household - we bought it direct from Sfoglini when that was the only way to buy it, and have more recently picked it up at Whole Foods.  And I'm all on board for trying quattrotini and vesuvio. Nothing like adding a little excitement to a department than can be somewhat staid.