The Weekly: December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012

IFT Top Stories

U.S., China to continue food safety cooperation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has renewed an agreement with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) to enhance cooperation between the United States and China on food and feed safety. The two countries entered into the original agreement in 2007, and this announcement extends the agreement for an additional five years.

The agreement includes:

  • Enhancement of the FDA’s ability to identify high-risk food products entering the U.S. from China.
  • Collaboration to facilitate inspections of facilities that process and produce food.
  • A focus on high-risk foods frequently exported from China to the U.S., including canned and acidified foods, pet food, and aquaculture.
  • The creation of processes for the FDA to accept relevant, verified information from AQSIQ regarding registration and certification.

In November 2008, after the two countries signed the original agreement, the FDA opened offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. These offices have enhanced public health protection by strengthening the FDA’s relationship with Chinese food safety authorities, performing inspections, conducting outreach to Chinese industry representatives regarding FDA requirements, and gathering information on trends and events that affect the safety of food exported from China to the U.S.

Press release

McCormick forecasts 2013 flavor trends
McCormick & Co. Inc. has unveiled its Flavor Forecast 2013. Now in its 13th year, the report is an annual spotlight on the emerging trends that the company expects to drive in terms of flavor innovation over the next several years. In its second year as a global report, the Flavor Forecast showcases trends and flavors taking root in cultures spanning Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, Latin America, and North America.

With the Flavor Forecast 2013, McCormick has identified five trends that the company believes will drive new product development and innovative menu additions over the coming years. Ten accompanying flavor combinations illustrate how these trends are coming to life through taste.

“Around the world, we’re seeing a fascinating collision of tradition and innovation. Authentic, real ingredients are still at the core—though now they’re being enjoyed in unique, updated ways that reflect a much more personalized approach to cooking and eating,” said McCormick Executive Chef, Kevan Vetter.

Here are the five leading global food trends with 10 flavor combinations featured in the McCormick Flavor Forecast 2013:

  • No Apologies Necessary. Diving headfirst into sumptuous flavors to enjoy the gratification of a momentary escape. Flavor combinations: Decadent Bitter Chocolate, Sweet Basil & Passion Fruit; Black Rum, Charred Orange & Allspice.
  • Personally Handcrafted. A hands-on approach showcasing the very best of ourselves. Flavor combinations: Cider, Sage & Molasses; Smoked Tomato, Rosemary, Chile Peppers & Sweet Onion.
  • Empowered Eating. Creating health and wellness harmony through a highly personalized, flexible approach. Flavor combinations: Farro Grain, Blackberry & Clove; Market-Fresh Broccoli & Dukkah (blend of cumin, coriander, sesame, and nuts).
  • Hidden Potential. A waste-not mentality, uncovering the fullest flavors from every last part of the ingredient. Flavor combinations: Hearty Meat Cuts, Plantain & Stick Cinnamon; Artichoke, Paprika & Hazelnut.
  • Global My Way. Discovering the unlimited flavor possibilities of global ingredients, beyond traditional roles in “ethnic” cuisines. Flavor combinations: Japanese Katsu Sauce & Oregano; Anise & Cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce).

Press release

Potential buyers for Hostess brands: Retailers vs. food companies
On November 20, Hostess announced that mediation with its bakers union had failed and that the 82-year-old company would proceed with liquidation plans. The good news is that the company’s iconic brands, such as Twinkies and HoHos, may not be gone for good. According to the latest ePerspective post by Jeff Lotman, CEO of Global Icons, there may be multiple buyers of the individual product brands under the Hostess umbrella or there may be a single buyer who acquires them all.

Lotman shares his insight on the companies interested in bidding for the Hostess brands, and also offers his own opinion on which company would gain the most from the purchase. From his perspective, a retailer such as Kroger would have the most to win because it would have the exclusive rights to the Hostess brand and sub-brands, which would be an enormous overall boost to retail store traffic. Do you share Lotman’s opinion? Or do you think a company such as Grupo Bimbo is more likely to buy the brands? Share your opinion and see what else Lotman forecasts by reading IFT’s ePerspective blog.

Jeff Lotman’s ePerspective post

IFT Research Briefs

Breakfast sales grow as Americans look for healthier options
According to latest research from Mintel on the breakfast food market in the United States, the majority (69%) of respondents who eat any breakfast foods during the week consider low cholesterol or heart healthy claims important when selecting food they typically eat for breakfast. Additionally, around the same number (65%) think low-fat and high-fiber are significant health-related attributes when selecting breakfast foods.

The majority (57%) of respondents who eat any breakfast foods during the week would be willing to spend more on better quality prepackaged breakfast foods, shows Mintel’s consumer research. Furthermore, 41% would like to see more organic prepackaged breakfast products.

Overall, the breakfast foods category has experienced solid growth during the recession, with a 20% increase in dollar sales from 2007–2011, going from $10 billion in 2007 to $12 billion in 2011. Furthermore the market is forecast to continue to grow by nearly 26% from 2012–2017 to reach a predicted $15.7 billion.

“Eating at home to save money and the convenience of many products in the breakfast category likely aided in its impressive sales growth,” said Carla Dobre-Chastain, Food Analyst at Mintel. “While price will continue to play an important role when it comes to breakfast foods, Mintel’s research shows that consumers are willing to pay more for higher-quality breakfast products. Therefore, manufacturers and retailers need to strike a balance between price and quality in order to stay at the top of the market.”

What’s more, despite 45% of respondents enjoying pancakes for breakfast, 40% frozen waffles, and 33% packaged sausages, it is in this traditional breakfast food category where consumer demand for healthy claims is higher. Indeed, 52% of respondents to Mintel’s consumer research would like to see more healthy variants of waffles on the shelves, 48% more healthy variants of pancake mix, and 37% healthier sausages.

Press release

Cinnamon may reduce blood sugar levels after eating
A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that adding cinnamon to hot farina cereal may reduce blood glucose levels in healthy normal-weight and obese adults. Researchers at Ball State University found that the addition of 6 g of cinnamon (about 2.5 teaspoons) to the cereal reduced blood glucose concentration by 24% during a 2-hr period after eating.

In this randomized, crossover study, 30 men and women, ages 18–30, were given one of two test meals: plain hot cereal or hot cereal with cinnamon. Participants were tested two times, receiving each breakfast once. Blood samples were taken seven times over a 2-hr period after the start of the meal. The addition of cinnamon to the cereal helped to flatten the glycemic response and reduce fluctuations in blood glucose in both the normal weight and obese study participants during the time following the meal.

Critical questions for future research, the authors wrote, are whether the reduction of blood glucose is maintained with long-term cinnamon supplementation and, if so, whether the reduction can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. They conclude that cinnamon “may offer nutrition and dietetics practitioners and their clients a unique botanical-based preventive approach to modify blood glucose.”

Abstract

Poll: U.S. public supports continued investment in nutrition assistance
A new poll published in Public Health Nutrition from researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) shows that the U.S. public broadly supports increasing or maintaining spending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The majority of Americans, including a majority of SNAP participants, also supported policies to improve the nutritional impact of SNAP by incentivizing the purchase of healthy foods and restricting the purchase of sugary drinks.

U.S. Congress is expected to debate changes, including potential cuts, to SNAP and other components of federal nutrition policy in the coming months as part of the stalled 2012 Farm Bill. More than one in seven Americans receives benefits from the SNAP program each month.

“This study provides decision-makers with a clear statement of public support for continued federal investment in preventing hunger and severe poverty through the SNAP program,” said lead author Michael Long, a doctoral candidate at HSPH. “As Congress debates a new Farm Bill, these results show that SNAP participants and the broader public support innovative changes to the program that address the present obesity epidemic and the growing epidemic of diabetes and other diet-related diseases burdening so many of our nation’s families.”

U.S. adults reported widespread support (77%) across all political parties and demographic groups for increased or maintained federal spending on SNAP. Americans also supported a range of policy proposals intended to help SNAP participants improve their diets, including:

  • Providing additional money to SNAP participants than can only be used to purchase fruits, vegetables, or other healthful foods (82%).
  • Educating SNAP participants by providing nutrition or cooking classes (74%).
  • Removing sugary drinks from the list of approved SNAP products (69%).
  • Providing SNAP participants with more food stamp dollars to guarantee that they can afford a healthy diet (65%).

Concerns about stigmatizing SNAP participants have been raised as a barrier to removing sugary drinks from the program’s list of permissible purchases. This is the first nationally representative poll to assess SNAP participants’ support for the policy. The researchers found that a majority of SNAP participants (54%) who responded to this survey supported removing sugary drinks from SNAP benefits. Of the 46% of SNAP participants who when initially asked did not support removing sugary drinks, almost half (45%) subsequently supported removing sugary drinks when asked if they would support the policy if it also included additional benefits to purchase healthful foods.

Study

Food, cancer risk associations are clearer with larger reviews
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that studies linking food to cancer risk may be debatable.

For the study, the Harvard Medical School researchers selected the first 50 ingredients they found in randomly-chosen cookbook recipes. That list included meats and fish, vegetables, dairy products, bread, and spices. The researchers ran each ingredient through a medical journal database search to see if there were any studies tying how much of it people consumed to their risk for some type of cancer. For 40 out of the 50 ingredients—including veal, celery, cheese, and mustard—there were a total of 264 such studies. Of those, 103 suggested the ingredient was tied to an increased risk of cancer, and 88 to a decreased risk.

Studies on some ingredients, such as onions, carrots and tea, almost all showed a decreased cancer risk, and for others, like bacon and sugar, most or all findings showed a higher risk. But for many foods, study results were all over the map. The average effect shown in each study was about a doubling of cancer risk or a halving of risk, depending on which direction the association went for a particular ingredient in a particular report. However, in larger reviews that included multiple studies, the links between each particular food item and cancer risk were typically smaller or nonexistent.

The authors recommend people to not over-interpret individual studies and instead to look to guidelines that have been published based on more comprehensive reviews.

Abstract

Vitamin K may strengthen bones
A study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the little-understood protein osteocalcin may play a significant role in bone strength.

Funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the study details how fractures in healthy bones begin with the creation of incredibly tiny holes, each measuring only about 500 atoms in diameter, within the bone’s mineral structure. In the case of a slip, trip, or fall, the force of the impact on a bone physically deforms a pair of joined proteins, osteopontin and osteocalcin, and results in the formation of nanoscale holes. These holes, called dilatational bands, function as a natural defense mechanism, and help to prevent further damage to the surrounding bone. However, if the force of the impact is too great—or if the bone is lacking osteopontin, osteocalcin, or both—the bone will crack and fracture.

“This study is important because it implicates, for the first time, the role of osteocalcin in giving bone the ability to resist fracture,” said Deepak Vashishth, Head of the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Since osteocalcin is always the point of fracture, we believe that strengthening it could lead to a strengthening of the overall bone.”

Now that osteocalcin is known to participate in bone fracture, new strategies for strengthening the bond between osteocalin and osteopontin can be investigated, Vashishth said. Augmenting the body’s natural supply of osteocalcin, for example, could be one possible strategy for treating osteoporosis and other conditions leading to increased fracture risk. Osteocalin must be in its carboxylated form to get absorbed into bone, and the protein is carboxylated by vitamin K. Vashishth said future studies could investigate the relation between vitamin K intake, osteocalcin, and bone strength.

“Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium. We believe there’s more to the story than just calcium, and the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K—wouldn’t it be great if eating spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan to investigate this link in future,” said Vashisth.

Study (pdf)

U.S. Hispanic Millennials prefer meals that reflect their heritage
Sixty-five percent of U.S. Hispanics are Millennials, ages 22–35, and, consequently, significantly influence the ethnic group’s overall eating attitudes and behaviors, according to The NPD Group, a global information company. NPD’s food and beverage market research finds that heritage plays an important role in food preparation for U.S. Hispanic Millennials as it does with U.S. Hispanics in general.

Ready-to-eat, fresh, and from scratch are the most common food forms during Hispanic meal preparation, according to NPD’s NET (National Eating Trends) Hispanic research, which captures in-home and away-from-home food and beverage consumption habits of U.S. Hispanics by level of acculturation. Stove-top preparation dominates Hispanic meals more than non-Hispanic meals due to the types of dishes being prepared, especially at lunch when Hispanics typically prepare large meals. U.S. Hispanics are much less likely to microwave.

U.S. Hispanic Millennials display a preference for Hispanic dishes that reflect their heritage, NET Hispanic finds. Hispanic dishes (excluding frozen) are included in 7% of all meals consumed by Hispanic Millennials compared to 2% of non-Hispanic Millennial meals. Sandwiches are included in 16% of non-Hispanic Millennial meals and 10% of Hispanic Millennial meals. Rice, a popular U.S. Hispanic food, is included in only 3% of non-Hispanic Millennial meals.

“U.S. Hispanics are youthful and therefore represent future opportunities for food and beverage marketers, especially now that their population growth is coming more from births than immigration,” said Darren Seifer, NPD Food and Beverage Industry Analyst. “Understanding which product categories appeal to each Hispanic consumer group will be critical to effectively connecting with these consumers and understanding the situations and motivations that drive category consumption will enable food companies to influence future sales to these groups.”

Press release

Grilled, seared foods may contribute to age-related diseases
A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows that chemicals in charred, seared, and fried foods may over time kick-start the body’s ability to add new fat cells and increase the risk of age-related diseases. Over time, the human body shuts down the ability of young fat cells to mature and accumulate lipids. But, according to the researchers, grilling, searing, and frying create glycated proteins, which result from proteins chemically bonding with sugar.

“When you put proteins and sugars together at high temperatures, there is a chemical reaction, and that creates flavor and texture, which we think of as good things,” said Kee-Hong Kim, Assistant Professor of Food Science at Purdue University. “Research suggests that these glycated proteins are involved in age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease.”

Kim wanted to see whether glycated proteins affect the speed at which precursor, or immature, fat cells turn into mature fat cells. Using a cell culture, Kim saw no change in how quickly those immature cells accumulated lipids, which is stored as fat in cells, but he did notice something else.

“Older animals don’t generally accumulate new fat cells. Those precursor cells lose their ability to become mature as we age,” said Kim. “But when exposed to glycated proteins, immature fat cells started to differentiate and accumulate lipids like they would in a younger animal. When we continuously consume glycated proteins, we might turn on the ability of precursor cells to mature.”

Kim found that the byproducts of glycated proteins—advanced glycation end products (AGEs)—interfere with cellular processes that should kill immature fat cells in older animals. That means those animals, or people, may accumulate more fat cells than they should, and those cells store compounds that can lead to inflammation and certain types of diseases. AGEs interact with a protein called p53, which usually begins cell death and aging programs for immature fat cells. With p53 disrupted, the immature fat cells survive and can accumulate lipids.

Kim believes glycated proteins may be a factor in obesity and a number of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some types of cancer. Next, he plans on confirming his findings in an animal model.

Study (pdf)

 

IFT Company News

Symrise wins German Sustainability Award
Symrise AG has won the German Sustainability Award 2012 in the “Germany’s Most Sustainable Initiatives” category for its sustainable procurement of vanilla in Madagascar. Symrise works directly with more than 1,000 vanilla farmers in Madagascar, taking an active role in supporting village communities, while processing vanilla locally. The award underlines Symrise’s leadership in taking on entrepreneurial, social, and environmental responsibility. Now in its fifth year, the German Sustainability Award Foundation recognizes companies which take on a special degree of responsibility and combine economic success with social responsibility and environmental protection in an exemplary manner.

“Receiving the German Sustainability Award fills us with enormous pride,” said Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, CEO of Symrise AG. “It is a significant recognition of our sustainability efforts and particularly of our team in Madagascar, who support the local farmers there on a daily basis. With the socially and environmentally responsible procurement of vanilla, we have developed a sustainable model of success. Our goal is to create added value—for Symrise, our customers, and other stakeholders associated with our company, such as local partners and suppliers. With this initiative, we have achieved this goal.”

Symrise has continually expanded its activities in Madagascar over the years as part of its strategy of sustainable development. As the entire procurement process takes place locally, from cultivation and harvesting, to the fermentation of the beans, all the way through to extraction, the company makes a notable contribution to local value creation. To ensure that its projects in the areas of environmental protection, income diversification, nutrition, health, and education continue to blossom over the long term, Symrise works with a network of qualified partners, including international development organizations, NGOs, and local farmers’ associations.

Press release

Barry Callebaut acquires Petra Foods’ cocoa business
Barry Callebaut, a manufacturer of high-quality cocoa and chocolate products, has reached an agreement with Petra Foods Ltd. Singapore to acquire its Cocoa Ingredients Division. Petra Foods’ Cocoa Ingredients Division is the largest cocoa products supplier in Asia with sales revenue of $1.3 billion and 1,700 employees in fiscal year 2011 (ended Dec. 31, 2011). The business has a global footprint across four continents with 405,000 metric tons of bean-grinding capacity in seven processing facilities, and four sales offices.

The integration of Petra Foods’ Cocoa Ingredients Division will make Barry Callebaut the largest global cocoa processor. The transaction also includes a long-term agreement with Petra Foods’ branded consumer division to supply it with cocoa products covering 75% of its total needs. The transaction is subject to approval by Petra Foods’ shareholders as well as regulatory authorities. The closing of the transaction is expected in summer 2013.

The acquisition is in line with Barry Callebaut’s strategy for future growth based on the four pillars: expansion, innovation, cost leadership, and sustainable cocoa. The acquisition will strengthen Barry Callebaut’s cocoa position, which is crucial for supporting the company’s industrial chocolate growth and expanding its offering to industrial chocolate, outsourcing, and gourmet customers. In addition, the acquisition will boost Barry Callebaut’s sales volume in the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America by 65%. Barry Callebaut will also be able to strengthen and further diversify its cocoa sourcing and processing activities in origin countries by creating a second strong sourcing base in Asia, besides West Africa.

Press release

Cargill acquires Wipro’s Sunflower Vanaspati brand
Cargill has signed an agreement with Wipro Ltd. to acquire its flagship brand Sunflower Vanaspati, being marketed in the hard fats category. Sunflower Vanaspati is a premium brand in state of Maharashtra, India. Vanaspati is a hydrogenated vegetable fat commonly used in India as a substitute for butter. The scope of the acquisition is limited to the product brand only.

This acquisition strengthens Cargill’s existing portfolio of leading edible oil and vanaspati brands and also expands its market reach in India’s palm oil and its derivatives including vanaspati market. Apart from marketing its edible oil portfolio that includes brands such as Nature Fresh, Sweekar, and Gemini, Cargill already locally produces and markets vanaspati under its brands Rath, NatureFresh Purita, and Gemini.

“Acquiring Sunflower Vanaspati underscores Cargill’s long-term commitment to growing our consumer food business in India. It is an excellent fit with our existing strong brand portfolio through which we serve a significant consumer base across the country,” said Siraj Chaudhry, Chairman Cargill India.

Press release

Organizations partner to harmonize sustainability measurement
As the consumer goods industry continues to drive sustainability throughout the supply chain, there is an increasing need for a globally-harmonized approach to measure and communicate product lifecycles. The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) and The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) have formed a joint program to tackle this issue.

CGF, a global industry network of over 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders, has made progress in assessing the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of its member company’s operations. In June 2011, the Board collectively agreed to measure those emissions of business operations using the World Resource Institute/World Business Council on Sustainable Development GHG Protocol and report through the Carbon Disclosure Project, the recognized global GHG standard and reporting mechanism for companies.

TSC is an independent organization of diverse global participants with over 90 members representing the world’s largest suppliers and retailers, non-profit and government organizations, and leading academic institutions in the area of product sustainability. TSC’s goal is to design and implement harmonized, transparent, and scalable science-based measurement and reporting systems to measure environmental impact of product sustainability that will be accessible for all producers and users of consumer products.

The joint CGF/TSC program will advance this work by focusing on product life cycle impacts, which will benefit from a single global framework to share information between companies, regulators, consumers, and NGO’s. Such a framework will enable everyone in the value chain to improve sustainability performance by gaining transparency and better understanding into the environmental impacts of individual consumer products and their life cycles. The partnership between CGF and TSC will accelerate the development and implementation of this global framework. It will pursue harmonization with other similar initiatives in which CGF are already actively engaged.

Press release

Brynwood Partners divests Sun Country Foods
Brynwood Partners VI L.P. has sold its investment in Sun Country Foods Inc. to Continental Mills Inc. The transaction closed Dec. 10, and the terms and conditions were not disclosed.

Sun Country Foods, headquartered in Norwood, Mass., with a manufacturing facility in Manhattan, Kan., manufactures and markets Kretschmer Wheat Germ brand. Founded in 1936 by Charles Kretschmer, the brand has a 90% market share in the U.S. wheat germ category and is offered in two flavors: Original Toasted and Honey Crunch. Sun Country Foods was formed by Brynwood VI in 2011 to acquire the Kretschmer Wheat Germ brand from The Quaker Oats Co.

“We are delighted to announce the divestiture of Sun Country Foods, Brynwood VI’s second portfolio company sale in the last month,” said Hendrik J. Hartong III, Chairman, Sun Country Foods and Senior Managing Partner, Brynwood Partners. “We are grateful to all of the Sun Country Foods employees for their hard work and dedication to the business. We wish Continental Mills much success with this great brand.”

Press release

USDA awards $4.5 million in grants to research the common bean
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded five grants totaling $4.5 million in support of research to improve the production of the common bean, a main staple produced throughout food insecure areas of the world, including East and Southern Africa. The awards were made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in coordination with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID provided the funds for the grants.

The funded projects will work to address challenges to common bean production faced by smallholder producers. The program is part of the government-wide Feed the Future Initiative, U.S. President Barack Obama’s whole-of-government global hunger and food security initiative which supports country-driven approaches to address the root causes of hunger and poverty and forge long-term solutions to chronic food insecurity and under-nutrition. The partnership is also part of the USAID-USDA Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, which addresses food security needs by linking U.S. research and scientific innovations to effective adaptations in the fields across developing countries.

“This new research will help us solve critical production and disease constraints in common bean, the most important grain legume in human diets,” said Julie Howard, Chief Scientist with USAID’s Bureau for Food Security. “Because common bean is the primary staple crop for over 200 million Africans and cultivated mostly by women, the potential impact of more productive, disease-resistant varieties on household nutrition and incomes in our Feed the Future countries is substantial. We are pleased to support this collaborative approach to tackling some of the most challenging problems affecting legume productivity, one of Feed the Future’s primary research themes.”

Funding in fiscal year 2012 was awarded to the following institutions:

  • Iowa State University, $250,000: Routine and reproducible transformation system for the common bean
  • Michigan State University, $1,900,000: Developing and delivering common bean germplasm with resistance to the major soilborne pathogens in East Africa
  • University of Nebraska, $250,000: Development of transgenic beans for broad-spectrum resistance against fungal diseases
  • University of Nebraska, $1,100,000: Genetic approaches to reducing fungal and Oomycete soilborne problems of the common bean breeds in Eastern and Southern Africa
  • Cornell University, $1,000,000: Improving bean yields by reversing soil degradation and reducing soilborne pathogens on small-holder farms in Western Kenya

Press release

IFT Regulatory News

French government moves to ban BPA in food containers
On Nov. 28, 2012, the French National Assembly approved the proposed Bisphenol-A (BPA) ban bill. It amended the Senate version by notably dropping medical devices (with the exception of tubes with DEHP) from the bill, but hastened the implementation date for all food containers with BPA to Jan. 1, 2015.

The modified bill would limit the ban to food containers where BPA is in direct contact with the food content (instead of “food containers with BPA,” thus excluding items such as containers where BPA is on the outside label). In addition, it would ban the manufacture and sales of baby bottle mouthpieces, pacifiers, and teething rings containing BPA. Most notably, the revised bill would shorten the interim period for the full implementation of the ban (to all food containers with BPA in direct contact with the food) to Jan. 1, 2015.

Since the National Assembly amended the text which had been voted by the Senate, the proposed bill will go back to the Senate for a second reading, which is expected to take place early 2013. If there are still differences between the two versions after the second Senate vote, the Presidents of the both Senate and the National Assembly will name a “Commission Mixte Paritaire (CMP)” (French equivalent of a U.S. Congressional Conference Committee) with seven Députés and seven Senators. The CMP will propose a unique text to be voted by both Assemblies.

Even after being approved, the bill would need to be examined at the European level. EU Regulation 10/2011 on plastic materials and articles intended to come into contact with food is applicable to containers in polycarbonate, such as water bottles. As such, it supersedes any French legislation applicable to those products. On the other hand, legislation on epoxy resins used in metal cans is not harmonized at the EU level (i.e., is of Member States’ competence). Therefore, if in theory, the Commission can strike down the part of the BPA bill which falls under EU Regulation 10/2011, it cannot do it in its entirety. Under current conditions, it would be up to the Commission and other Member States to take France to the European Court of Justice if they believe the BPA ban is not scientifically justified and is a breach of single market rules. The French Government is aware of these shortfalls and explains that once the BPA ban bill is approved, the Government will lobby other Member States to expand the ban to the entire EU-27.

USDA report (pdf)

NYC sugary drink ban may require logistical changes for restaurants
According to Reuters, New York’s ban on large-size sweet drinks will cause headaches for soda makers and restaurants who say they will face logistical hurdles such as needing to retool manufacturing, change distribution systems, and introduce new plastic cups.

The ban, the first of its kind in the United States, is due to take effect in March and would prohibit sugary soft drinks larger than 16 oz from being sold in restaurants, movie theaters, and food carts, while still permitting their sale in stores that do not prepare food, such as convenience stores.

In late November, lawyers for plaintiffs in the beverage and restaurant industries asked the judge overseeing the case, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich, to move up oral arguments from January to an earlier date. Some businesses will need as many as three months to “retool” their operations if forced to comply with the regulation, the lawyers said in a letter to Kornreich, who could rule on whether to move up arguments at any time.

The lawsuit, filed in October, claims the NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg-appointed health board overstepped its authority in passing the regulation without the city council’s approval. It also argues the ban is arbitrary, since it only affects certain types of drinks and businesses.

Reuters article

FDA expands irradiation uses for meat, poultry
According to Food Safety News, two new rules published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offer expanded options to meat and poultry producers who use ionized radiation to kill pathogens in product. The first rule allows for the irradiation of unrefrigerated raw meat. Previously, only refrigerated or frozen meats could be irradiated, but the FDA says research on the meat treated at higher temperatures shows that this application poses no health risk.

The second rule ups the dose of absorbed ionizing radiation in poultry from 3.0 kilogray (kGy) to 4.5 kGy. While this higher dose is already allowed in meat and molluscan shellfish, the limit had remained at 3.0 kGy for poultry until now.

The two rules were issued in response to two petitions filed in 1999 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS). Irradiation is considered a food additive because it is a process that “can affect the characteristics of the food,” explains the agency. The treatment therefore falls under the jurisdiction of the FDA, which regulates all additives, even though FSIS oversees meat safety.

Food Safety News article

Raw meat irradiation rule (pdf)

Irradiation in poultry rule (pdf)

USDA implements tighter oversight of ground poultry
After two Salmonella outbreaks linked to ground turkey sickened at least 148 people in 2011, the U.S. federal government has decided to implement stricter pathogen controls for raw ground poultry products. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) has announced in a policy statement that all manufacturers of raw ground turkey or chicken foods must update their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans in order to address potential dangers highlighted by the 2011 outbreaks. These plans are designed to minimize contamination by targeting the riskiest parts of the production process and implementing safety measures at these points. All meat and poultry plants have been required to have a HACCP plan in place since 1996.

The FSIS will begin verifying that the plans have been updated starting in 90 days. This notice also describes how FSIS will determine whether the association of not-ready-to-eat meat or poultry product with an outbreak would make subsequently produced like-product adulterated.

In addition, the FSIS is expanding its Salmonella Verification Sampling Program for Raw Meat and Poultry product to include all forms of non-breaded, non-battered “comminuted” poultry—chicken or turkey that has been mechanically separated or deboned and then further chopped, flaked, minced, or somehow reduced in particle size product. Previously, only ground poultry was tested for Salmonella.

Finally, the FSIS is likely to develop Campylobacter standards for these products following validation of an analytical method.

You can submit comments on this notice. All comments must be received by March 6, 2013.

Notice (pdf)

FDA sued for withholding data on food animal antibiotics
According to Food Safety News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to “withhold agency data regarding the sale of antibiotics for use in food animals” is unlawful, according to a lawsuit filed by the Government Accountability Project (GAP) Dec. 5.

Drug companies are required to report basic information about antibiotic sales to the FDA under the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA). The data is supposed to help the agency track potential ties between usage and the increase in antibiotic resistance.

The FDA publicly releases a limited summary of ADUFA data each year, but withholds almost all of what companies report, according to GAP. This lawsuit comes after the FDA failed to respond “properly” to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by GAP. The group sought data concerning the amount of antibiotics sold for use in food animals in 2009, classified by animal type and dosage information.

GAP said they made the request in February 2011, and has “exhausted all other steps to get the information, short of litigation.” In the end, the FDA denied GAP’s request, claiming that the requested data is “confidential commercial information,” according to the group.

Food Safety News article

New USDA policy to hold, test meat, poultry product shipments
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that in Feb. 2013 the agency will require producers to hold shipments of non-intact raw beef and all ready-to-eat products containing meat and poultry until they pass agency testing for foodborne adulterants.

“This new policy will reduce foodborne illnesses and the number of recalls by preventing contaminated products from reaching consumers,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. “Many producers hold products until test results come back. We’re encouraging others in the industry to make this a routine part of operations.”

The new policy requires official establishments and importers of record to maintain control of products tested for adulterants by FSIS and not allow the products to enter commerce until negative test results are received. FSIS anticipates most negative test results will be determined within two days. The policy applies to non-intact raw beef products or intact raw beef products intended for non-intact use and that are tested by FSIS for Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli. Also, the policy applies to any ready-to-eat products tested by FSIS for pathogens.

FSIS developed the “hold and test” policy, which will reduce consumer exposure to unsafe meat products, based on public comment and input received on a Federal Register notice published in April 2011. FSIS estimates if this new requirement had been in place between 2007 through 2010, 49 of the 251 meat, poultry, and processed egg product recalls that occurred during that time could have been prevented.

Press release

USDA updates food safety research priorities
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) has updated its research priorities to keep pace with ever-changing issues and opportunities in food safety and public health related to the meat, poultry, and egg products FSIS regulates. Scientific research and resources from outside the agency complement internal efforts to ensure that food safety inspection aligns with existing and emerging risks across the farm-to-table continuum.

“Our goal is to effectively use science to understand foodborne illness and emerging trends,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. “External research is critical to our public health mission and ultimately serves as another tool at our disposal to protect the food supply for over 300 million Americans.”

The agency’s priorities are presented as suggestions for researchers interested in pursuing food safety objectives that are relevant to FSIS regulated products. FSIS convenes an internal Research Priorities Panel to review the priorities and to identify potential additions to the priorities list. The panel includes representatives from all FSIS disciplines. The panel meets every six months, solicits updates from program areas and stakeholders, and then votes on updates to the priorities list. The recommended updates are vetted through the FSIS Data Coordinating Committee and the Agency’s Management Council.

FSIS identified official Agency research priorities for the first time in its history in December 2011. The effort was an outgrowth of the agency’s internal discussions and feedback from stakeholders and research organizations.

FSIS research priorities

Press release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

Dec. 31: Donate and support student advancement
Those who have attended the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo® inevitably know the value this event brings to the profession. Help Feeding Tomorrow raise $50,000 by Dec. 31, 2012, to fund student travel grants for future IFT Annual Meetings. Questions about this initiative should be directed to Liska Radachi at lradachi@ift.org or +1.202.330.4981. Donate today.

Jan. 8: Scientific Program Call for Technical Research Papers (TRP)
The call for Technical Research Paper (TRP) abstracts ends Jan. 8, 2013. Share your cutting-edge research and key learnings with your colleagues. If you’re a graduate student, when you submit an abstract, you’re eligible to enter the Division Competitions where you can win cash prizes. The Scientific Program is held at the 2013 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo, taking place July 13–16, 2013, in Chicago, Ill. Review the submission guidelines and then submit your abstract today.

Jan. 9: Certified Food Scientist (CFS) application deadlines
If you are considering applying for your CFS certification, or are still in the process of applying, remember that you can save $200 if you apply by Jan. 9, 2013. If you have more than 15 years of experience, you may be eligible to apply through the One Time Alternative Assessment Application; you have until Jan. 18, 2013, to apply through this program. Note that there are no application fees or tests associated with the One Time Alternative Assessment process. For those of you who have already applied and are simply looking for resources to help you prepare for your exam, visit the CFS resource page.

Feb. 25–26: Certified Food Scientist (CFS) Preparatory Course
Whether you’re applying for your CFS, or simply looking for a food science refresher, the CFS prep course is a 1.5-day course designed to help you brush up on your applied scientific knowledge in a group setting. The course includes face to face instruction, followed by a series of five weekly webcasts with course faculty and participants. The next course will take place Feb. 25–26, 2013, in Rosemont, Ill. Get more details and register today.

Feb. 27–28: Wellness 13
Get the latest practices and innovations to help you develop and market healthful foods competitively, effectively, and ethically through this two-day focused conference. This year's event will deliver the same top-quality education plus, some new additions, including: a consumer panel on what teens consider healthy; three hours of live, streaming content; a new emerging technologies educational track; supplier solution sessions, and more. A pre-conference Short Course: Functional Oils & Grains for Health and Innovation, will take place Feb. 26, 2013, just prior to the main event. Check out the online program and register today.

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