Food safety and sex appeal: top trends for 2008

J.M. Hirsch, the food editor at the Associated Press, writes that the proliferation of foodie culture and its obsessive desire for provenance, coupled with growing worries over food safety — have combined to create a whirlwind of information about food and drink.

Here are the top trends for 2008:

• Local foods

Organic has jumped the shark. Locavore was named word of the year by The New Oxford American Dictionary. But local does not equal safe.

• Varietal

Consumers now want to know the specific varieties of ingredients and breeds of animals it was produced with.

• Food safety

Unlike government, marketers work quickly. For example, some toy catalogs already labeled their products "lead-free" in time for the 2007 holiday season.

Expect food companies to be as nimble, touting new and increased safety measures.

Over a year after I started promoting it, maybe food companies will get serious about marketing microbial food safety and leave the food porn in the gutter.