The Weekly: February 8, 2012

Top Stories: Global food prices to ease in 2012; IFT, FAO partner to address global food system needs; New nutrition standards to allow healthier options at schools

February 8, 2012

IFT Top Stories

Global food prices to ease in 2012
According to Reuters, the World Bank has reported that global food prices are set to decline further in 2012 as a weaker world economy dampens consumer demand while food supplies rise. The World Bank said prices have declined steadily but volatility has increased, including among staples like wheat, maize, and rice. In some countries, domestic food prices are higher than levels in 2010, keeping pressure on poor households that spend the bulk of their income on food.

The World Bank said its 2011 annual food price index shows prices are still 24% higher than in 2010 despite some decline. Global prices fell 8% in the three months from September to December 2011, ending the year 7% below December 2010 levels.

“The worst food price increases may be over but we must remain vigilant,” said Otaviano Canuto, the World Bank Group’s Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management. “Prices of certain foods remain dangerously high in many countries, leaving millions of people at risk of malnutrition and hunger.”

The Bank warned, however, that the steady decline in global food prices could be halted if weather patterns change, or if world oil prices rise, pushing up price volatility and demand for biofuels.

Reuters article

IFT, FAO partner to address global food system needs
With mutual efforts toward achieving a safe, sufficient, and accessible food supply, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) have signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU). The objective of the FAO–IFT MOU is to facilitate cooperation between FAO and IFT in preventing and redressing the increasing risks associated with food safety and quality and their impact on public health and consumer protection.

FAO’s mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations, and contribute to the growth of the world economy. Food safety is central to global food security and FAO’s program of work includes building legal and institutional frameworks at the country level, supporting the use of science and risk-based approaches in food control activities, and enhancing the capacities of operators along the food chain. Additional information about FAO’s food safety and food quality activities can be found at http://www.fao.org/food/food-safety-quality/home-page/en/.

“We are proud and honored to be able to offer IFT’s collective scientific and technical expertise as a resource to FAO,” said IFT Executive Vice President Barbara Byrd Keenan. “This partnership brings us closer to achieving our common goal of achieving a safe and more abundant global food supply.”

Cooperative activities covered by the MOU include the following:

  • Identifying individuals for consideration in food safety, quality, and security-related expert rosters
  • Collaborating within the organization and implementation of conferences, seminars, and workshops related to food safety, emerging technologies, food science and nutrition
  • Assisting with education curriculum development, review of university food science and nutrition programs in developing countries
  • Facilitating development and providing scientific input on background papers, scientific perspectives, and documents
  • Providing timely responses on public policy and regulatory issues relating to and affecting the global food supply

IFT members who are interested in being considered as contributors to specific work initiatives or for volunteer positions should contact William Fisher, IFT Vice President of Science Policy and Initiatives at 202-330-4977 or wfisher@ift.org.School Nutrition Standards

Press release

New nutrition standards to allow healthier options at schools
On January 26, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) published revised nutrition standards for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. This final rule follows a proposal issued on Jan. 13, 2011. Last year, Joy Dubost, National Restaurant Assoc., wrote an ePerspective with her opinions on the proposal. Now that the standards have been published, Dubost offers a final look in the latest ePerspective post.

This is the first time in more than 15 years the standards have been revised to better reflect evidence-based science, including the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As Dubost says, in general, there were no real surprises based on the initial proposal. With these new meal standards, she believes we are not only teaching our kids good eating habits but positively impacting the entire family. Dubost ends her ePerspective post by challenging food scientists to work towards improving the breakfast and lunch items so that they not only meet the nutrition standards but are visually appealing and taste good to children and adolescents. What are your thoughts on the new nutrition standards? Share your thoughts at IFT’s ePerspective blog.

Joy Dubost’s ePerspective

IFT Research Briefs

Green Tea Green tea may reduce disability risk in elderly
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that drinking green tea on a regular basis may reduce disability risk in elderly adults. The study followed 13,988 Japanese adults aged 65+ for three years. The researchers gathered information on daily green tea consumption and other lifestyle factors via questionnaire in 2006, with data on functional disability retrieved from the public Long-term Care Insurance database over the following three years. The frequency of green tea consumption was categorized as never, occasionally, or 1–2, 3–4, or more than 5 cups per day.

The researchers found those who drank the most green tea were the least likely to develop functional disability. In fact, 7.1% of Japanese adults who drank at least five cups of green tea a day became functionally disabled, compared with 8% who drank 3–4 cups, 11% who drank 1–2 cups, and 13.3% who consumed less than one cup per day.

The study was adjusted to include the impact of lifestyle factors, dietary patterns, and social support. Interestingly, the researchers found that those who consume green tea regularly also had healthier diets, as well as more education, lower smoking rates, fewer heart attacks and strokes, and greater mental sharpness.

In the report, the researchers noted green tea consumption is significantly associated with a lower risk of mortality due to stroke, pneumonia, cognitive impairment, depression, and psychological distress.

It should be noted that clinical trials are necessary to confirm the protective effect of green tea against functional disability.

Study (pdf)

Restaurant industry set to reach record sales in 2012
Despite sluggish recovery by the nation’s economy, the restaurant industry is projected to expand in 2012, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast released Feb. 1. Total restaurant industry sales are expected to reach a record high of $632 billion in 2012—a 3.5% increase over 2011, marking the second consecutive year that industry sales have topped $600 billion.

In addition, the restaurant industry will continue to fuel U.S. employment in the year ahead as the nation’s second largest private sector employer. Overall restaurant industry employment will reach 12.9 million in 2012, representing 10% of the total U.S. workforce.

While the industry is expected to grow in 2012, the top challenges cited by restaurateurs are food costs, building and maintaining sales volume, and the economy.

“Last year, we saw wholesale food prices post their strongest annual increase in more than three decades. In 2012, we will see continued increases in the cost of some commodities, while price pressures will ease for others,” said Hudson Riehle, Senior Vice President of the National Restaurant Association’s Research and Knowledge group.

Giving consumers what they want will be crucial for restaurant operators in 2012. As the recession has caused 8 out of 10 consumers to cut back on spending to some degree, it is more important than ever for operators to nudge those guests into patronizing their restaurants.

According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, food quality, customer service quality, and value are the top attributes consumers look for when choosing a table service restaurant. For quick service restaurants, customers are looking for food quality, value, and speed of service when picking where to dine.

When it comes to food, the top menu trends are all about local sourcing and nutrition, especially kids’ nutrition. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally produced food items, and more than half of all restaurants currently offer locally sourced produce.

Similarly, nearly three-quarters of consumers say they are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago, and a majority of restaurants agree that customers are ordering more such items.

Press release

Sugar commentary sparks controversy
In a commentary published in Nature, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco state that sugar should be controlled like alcohol and tobacco to protect public health. Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis argue that sugar’s potential for abuse, coupled with its toxicity and pervasiveness in the Western diet make it a primary culprit of this worldwide health crisis.

This partnership of scientists trained in endocrinology, sociology, and public health took a new look at the accumulating scientific evidence on sugar. Sugar, they argue, is far from just “empty calories” that make people fat. At the levels consumed by most Americans, sugar changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, critically alters the signaling of hormones, and causes significant damage to the liver—the least understood of sugar’s damages. These health hazards largely mirror the effects of drinking too much alcohol, which they point out in their commentary is the distillation of sugar.

Worldwide consumption of sugar has tripled during the past 50 years and is viewed as a key cause of the obesity epidemic. But obesity, the researchers argue, may just be a marker for the damage caused by the toxic effects of too much sugar. This would help explain why 40% of people with metabolic syndrome—the key metabolic changes that lead to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer—are not clinically obese.

The authors argue for society to shift away from high sugar consumption, the public must be better informed about the emerging science on sugar. Many of the interventions that have reduced alcohol and tobacco consumption can be models for addressing the sugar problem, such as levying special sales taxes, controlling access, and tightening licensing requirements on vending machines and snack bars that sell high sugar products in schools and workplaces.

The American Beverage Association has issued a statement in response to the commentary: “The authors of this commentary attempt to address the critical global health issue of non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. However, in doing so, their comparison of sugar to alcohol and tobacco is simply without scientific merit. Moreover, an isolated focus on a single ingredient such as sugar or fructose to address health issues noted by the World Health Organization to be caused by multiple factors, including tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity, is an oversimplification. There is no evidence that focusing solely on reducing sugar intake would have any meaningful public health impact. Importantly, we know that the body of scientific evidence does not support that sugar, in any of its various forms—including fructose, is a unique cause of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome.”

In addition, The Sugar Association Inc. responded that, “We consider it irresponsible when health professionals use their platforms to instill fear by using words like ‘diabetes,’ ‘cancer,’ and even ‘death,’ without so much as one disclaimer about the fact that the incomplete science being referenced is inconclusive at best.”

UCSF press release

Nature abstract

ABA statement

Sugar Association statement

Dairy industry growth to come from emerging markets
A new report from Rabobank’s global Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory department examines the global dairy industry, forecasting growth that will be enviable but uneven, and skewed to emerging markets. In the report, titled “Global Dairy Outlook: Show me the money,” Rabobank says that the global dairy market will offer strong growth prospects in the coming five years, but the uneven spread of this market expansion and an era of elevated pricing will create as many challenges as opportunities for key players along the dairy supply chain.

Growth will be highly skewed to emerging markets, with countries like China, India, and South East Asia expected to account for more than 80% of market volume growth, while Western markets continue to mature.

Opportunities will also be uneven across product categories. Economic, demographic, and dietary trends are likely to see cheese sales underperform the broader dairy market. With sales of higher end whey product set to track a much faster growth path, the strategic value of whey pools is rising rapidly.

Rabobank forecasts that solid market growth, supply constraints, and a structural shift in the costs of producing milk will sustain high milk and dairy commodity prices over the medium term. But this won’t translate to increased profits for all. The unprecedented leap in farm gate milk prices in recent years has caused the position of dairy farmers to generally improve, but less than many outsiders might imagine. And the volatility of profits is far greater, the skill required to manage the business is significantly higher, and the inflation of asset prices, particularly in pasture-based farming regions, ensures that most milk producers still earn a modest return on assets.

“In reality, an era of strong demand and heightened prices for dairy has, and will continue to, bring as many challenges as opportunities for the sector,” said Tim Hunt, Global Dairy Strategist for Rabobank. “Outsiders looking to enter what may in some regards appear to be an industry that has entered a golden age will need to carefully choose their investments, while those already inside need to continue to closely track industry direction and competitor moves to ensure they manage the risks adequately to position themselves to prosper.”

Press release

Healthy snackers looking to nibble their way into 2012
According to recent Mintel research, among healthy snackers, 44% say they tend to eat healthfully most of the time and 42% make it a point to snack on foods that are healthy. At the same time, indulgence can be part of a well-rounded lifestyle, as 39% of healthy snackers say they use less-healthy nibbles as an occasional treat.

“Eating healthy snacks can offer many benefits to consumers, such as increased energy and feeling fuller longer, so there is a big opportunity for the makers and marketers of snacks to leverage these connections to maximize health positioning,” said Molly Maier, Senior Wellness Analyst at Mintel. “The number of snackers who only consume healthy treats is a relatively small one, but one that shouldn’t be ignored by snack-food manufacturers.”

The definition of “healthy” is very subjective, but Mintel respondents seem to have a good grasp on truly healthful foods. Fresh fruit is overwhelmingly (86%) considered healthy snacking, followed by raw vegetables (73%), and nuts/seeds (71%). However, a surprising number of people rated ice cream (12%) and cookies (9%) as healthy snacks.

Snacks are often an impulsive purchase, and one of convenience. As a result, people are at the mercy of the food choices most available. Nearly half (46%) of respondents say it’s hard to find healthy snacks in vending machines or other on-the-go locations while 16% believe it takes more time to prepare a healthy snack than other types. “Increasing accessibility and portability can help maximize usage,” said Maier.

Press release

IFT Company News

Great For You Icon Walmart unveils new ‘healthy’ front-of-pack icon
A year after pledging to develop a front-of-pack label that would give its customers an easier way to identify healthier food, Walmart has unveiled the “Great For You” icon. The icon, part of the company’s healthier food initiative, is an effort to implement a transparent, summary icon for its private label brand products backed by nutrition criteria. “Great For You” will initially appear on select Walmart Great Value and Marketside items, as well as on fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables at Walmart U.S. stores nationwide this spring. By extending “Great For You” to fruits and vegetables and nutritious food options, the company will make it easier for its customers to build healthier diets.

Items with the “Great For You” icon must meet nutrition criteria informed by the latest nutrition science and authoritative guidance from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), and Institute of Medicine (IOM). Developed in consultation with food and nutrition experts from the public and private sectors as well as leading health organizations, the “Great For You” nutrition criteria are available to the public at www.walmartgreatforyou.com. The icon will also be made available to national brand products that qualify and can be complementary to other nutrition labeling systems being used by the food industry.

The science-based criteria use a two-step process: Step one focuses on encouraging people to eat more fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds, and lean meats. Examples of these items include brown rice, 1% milk, raw almonds, and 93% lean ground beef. Step two limits the amount of total, trans, and saturated fats, sodium, and added sugars that can be found in items such as sweetened oatmeal, granola bars, flavored yogurt, and frozen meals.

Press release

Ralcorp completes separation of Post cereals business
Ralcorp Holdings Inc. has completed the previously announced separation of Post Holdings Inc. through a tax-free spin-off to Ralcorp shareholders. Ralcorp shareholders of record, as of the close of business on Jan. 30, 2012, received one share of Post common stock for every two shares of Ralcorp common stock held on the Jan 30.

“I am excited to announce the completion of this spin-off and the beginning of a new chapter for Ralcorp. Going forward, Ralcorp will be able to place even greater focus on expanding our private-brand market positions and driving the best possible performance for our businesses,” said Kevin Hunt, CEO and President of Ralcorp. “We believe the separation unlocks value for shareholders and best positions both Ralcorp and Post for future success.”

Following this separation, Ralcorp will be the leading producer of private-label foods in the United States and a major producer of foodservice products. The companyplans to leverage the growth opportunities and advantageous market dynamics in the private-label food industry.

The distribution was effective Feb. 3, 2012.

Press release

Kellogg adds heart-healthy logo to nine cereal varieties
In honor of American Heart Month, Kelloggs has introduced a new front-of-pack label. The Kellogg’s Heart Healthy Selection logo will appear on nine varieties, including favorites Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, All Bran, Smart Start, and Kellogg’s FiberPlus, to remind consumers they have a choice when it comes to eating for their heart.

“We know that these great brands—Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, All Bran, Smart Start,and FiberPlus—have been long time favorites,” said Dick Podiak, Kellogg Director of Marketing, Adult Cereal. “Now we’ve added the Kellogg’s Heart Healthy Selection logo on the front panel of these products, so people can easily make the right choice when they’re seeking a heart-healthy breakfast.”

Kellogg’s is also introducing a new variety with Raisin Bran Cinnamon Almond. A good source of fiber with whole grain, the new cereal combines the taste of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with the taste of cinnamon and almonds.

Press release

University of Tokyo, Rigaku collaborate to expand X-ray diffraction
On Jan. 25, a ceremony was held at the University of Tokyo to celebrate the establishment of an Industry-Academia Collaboration between Rigaku Corp. and the University of Tokyo. Building on their longstanding relationship, the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo and Rigaku Corp. established the “Industry-Academia Collaboration Center” at the Institute of Engineering Innovation, School of Engineering, University of Tokyo in April 2011.

The purpose of the center is to further establish X-ray diffraction as a leading measurement technology by putting the latest technology in the hands of academic researchers. The Institute of Engineering Innovation pursues research in the design and characterization of new materials and utilizes a variety of X-ray techniques in analyzing the correlation between atomic level structure and functional characteristics. As part of the collaboration, Rigaku has installed two of its SmartLab diffractometers in the Collaboration Center—one configured for thin film analysis and one configured for extreme high resolution measurements.

A precise structure analysis enables the researcher to accurately capture property changes of a material, thereby generating inspection data for developing, optimizing, and stabilizing production processes. Combining the specialized technology developed at the Institute of Engineering Innovation with the application technology and strong support from Rigaku, is expected to lead to the development of world’s highest standard of X-ray diffraction measurement and analysis technology, together with new research areas yet to be imagined.

The Industry-Academia Collaboration Center aims to foster education in the area of nanotechnology by giving students and researchers state of the art instrumentation and provide these resources not only to researchers at the University of Tokyo, but also allow researchers throughout Asia and the world to utilize the new laboratory.

Rigaku

Wilmar International invests in Blue Pacific Flavors
Blue Pacific Flavors, a developer and manufacturer of natural and organic-compliant fruit flavors, announces a strategic capital investment by Asia agribusiness group, Wilmar International Ltd. Blue Pacific Flavors joins Wilmar International Ltd.’s group of associated companies.

Blue Pacific Flavors will maintain all domestic production of flavors and ingredients for its U.S. clientele from its headquarters manufacturing facility and R&D center in City of Industry, Calif. The company will continue all global operations including its facilities in China, offices in Malaysia, South Korea, and the Philippines. Donald Wilkes remains unchanged in his role as CEO and Chairman of Blue Pacific Flavors’ Board of Directors.

Headquartered in Singapore, Wilmar’s business activities include oil palm cultivation, oilseeds crushing, edible oils refining, sugar milling and refining, specialty fats, oleochemicals, biodiesel and fertilizers manufacturing, and grains processing. The company has more than 300 manufacturing plants and a distribution network throughout China, India, Indonesia, and 50 other countries.

Wilmar’s Chairman and CEO Kuok Khoon Hong and Chief Scientific Advisor Chua Nam-Hai join the Blue Pacific Flavors’ Board of Directors.

“Wilmar’s supply chain enables us to expand our capabilities and distribution in whole fruit and grain-based food flavoring and natural food ingredients,” said Wilkes. “The dynamics of this partnership will exponentially grow our Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturing footprint and distribution to a wide range of new customers, while also supporting our North America business and core customer base.”

The investment allows Blue Pacific Flavors to focus on continuing its leadership in true-fruit and whole food flavor creation while strengthening capabilities in natural flavors and extracts. In addition, the investment will provide significant capital resources and the potential to expand basic flavor research platforms as well as an existing licensing partnership with The New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research Ltd.

Press release

List named AOCS Stephen Chang Award recipient
The American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) has announced that Gary List is the recipient of the 2012 Stephen Chang Award, which recognizes scientists or technologists who have made decisive accomplishments in research for the improvement or development of products related to lipids. List will receive the award at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo, taking place April 29–May 2 in Long Beach, Calif.

List’s long and distinguished career has resulted in improvements in the industrial processes for the production of fats and oils for human consumption. List’s work has focused on improving oils or oil processing techniques that have practical and commercially applicable uses. For example, he has helped bring genetically and structurally modified oilseeds to commercialization, reduce environmental pollution in refineries, minimize oil oxidation, develop new technologies for lecithin production, and develop trans-free food oils through interesterification and modified hydrogenation technologies.

List is author of more than 325 publications, proceedings, abstracts, and book chapters/books. List has received many awards, including the A. Richard Baldwin Distinguished Service Award (AOCS, 2011); Tanner Lecture (IFT, 2011); Fellow Ag and Food Chemistry Division (ACS, 2011); Herbert J. Dutton award (AOCS, 2011); AOCS Processing Distinguished Service (2010); EuroFedLipid Technology (EFL, 2009); AOCS Award of Merit (AOCS, 2008); Division Lecture (IFT, 2008); Chemist of the Year (ACS Peoria Section, 2008); Outstanding Achievement Award (USB, 2006); Stephen S. Chang award (IFT, 2003); Alton E. Bailey Award (AOCS, 1999); and is a Fellow (AOCS, 1999).

List is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists.

AOCS Stephen Chang Award

IFT Regulatory News

New ISO standard makes food irradiation safer
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a new standard for food irradiation, commonly used to improve quality and safety in food processing. The standard will benefit manufacturers, irradiation operators, regulators, customers and, ultimately, consumers. ISO 14470:2011—Food irradiation: Requirements for the development, validation, and routine control of the process of irradiation using ionizing radiation for the treatment of food—not only provides requirements, but also guidance for meeting them.

Food irradiation is the process where food is exposed to ionizing radiation in order to improve its safety and quality. It is intended to be used only on food that has been produced under good manufacturing practice (GMP) principles. The irradiation of food can be used for different purposes, including control of pathogenic microorganisms and parasites, reduction of the number of spoilage microorganisms, inhibition of the sprouting of bulbs, tubers, and root crops, extension of product shelf life, or phytosanitary treatment.

The main objectives of ISO 14470:2011 are to:

  • Provide requirements for the irradiation of food consistent with current standards and practices.
  • Provide directions for a technical agreement between the customer and the irradiator operator.
  • Establish a documentation system to support the controls on the food irradiation process.

Mariana Funes and Noelia Antonuccio, the two project leaders of the committee that developed the standard, said: “ISO 14470 will contribute to confidence and transparency among the different stakeholders operating in the food sector and will help provide regulators and consumer representatives with improved information on products, enabling better choices.”

Press release Soda

Proposed bill to ban taxpayer-funded ad campaigns against sodas, ‘junk’ food
According to the Associated Press, a bill written by Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) would prohibit federal money from going toward ad campaigns against soda and “junk” food. DesJarlais introduced the bill following a controversy in New York City over an anti-obesity subway poster. The ad showed a man on a chair who appeared to be missing a leg, with crutches in the background. “Portions have grown,” the ad said. “So has type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.”

DesJarlais cited federal statistics that show $230 million in federal stimulus money went toward anti-obesity campaigns. DesJarlais claimed the New York subway ad was stimulus-funded. The bill in Congress doesn’t have any co-sponsors; however, it is backed by the American Beverage Association. ABA spokesman Christopher Gindlesperger said: “Our nation’s priorities should be focused on creating jobs and keeping jobs, and this taxpayer money would have been way better spent on projects that put people back to work.”

AP article

Michael Foods recalls hard-cooked eggs
Michael Foods Inc. is recalling specific lot dates of hard-cooked eggs in brine sold in 10- and 25-lb pails for institutional use that were produced at its Wakefield, Neb., facility because the product has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled eggs were purchased by food distributors and manufacturers located in 34 states. The recalled products are labeled under six brand names (Columbia Valley Farms, GFS, Glenview Farms, Papetti’s, Silverbrook, Wholesome Farms) and bear lot codes of 1 LOT 1350W through 1 LOT 2025W and expiration dates ranging from Jan. 1 to March 10, 2012.

None of the eggs were sold directly by Michael Foods to retailers or consumers. However, food distributors and manufacturers who purchased the eggs could have used them in products that were sold to retail outlets or used in foodservice settings. Michael Foods is working with customers who purchased eggs from these lots to ensure that all product is removed from the market. There have been no confirmed reports of illness in connection with this product.

The recall was initiated after lab testing revealed that some of the eggs within the recalled lot dates may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. A recall of three lot dates was announced on Jan. 26. As a precautionary measure, the recall was expanded to include additional lot dates. Michael Foods reached the decision to expand this recall after a thorough investigation that indicated a specific repair project that took place in the packaging room as the likely source of the contamination. The company has taken a number of corrective steps to address the issue and prevent recurrence.

Press release

Kemin’s green tea extract achieves GRAS status
An independent panel of scientific experts has concluded that Kemin’s AssuriTEA Green is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) based on scientific procedures under the conditions of use proposed by the company. This allows AssuriTEA Green, already available as a dietary ingredient for use in dietary supplements, to be used in a variety of foods and beverages, including cereal, nutrition and energy bars, soft drinks, sports and isotonic drinks, energy beverages, fruit and vegetable juices, meal replacements, and soft candies. AssuriTEA Green is a water-extracted tea ingredient that retains the natural composition and antioxidant profile of brewed green tea and provides naturally high levels of polyphenols and catechins.

“We look forward to working with food and beverage companies to offer consumers an all-natural green tea extract that provides the full antioxidant benefits of brewed green tea,” said Alex Fink, Marketing Director for the Human Nutrition and Health Division at Kemin. “Brewed green tea has been consumed safely for centuries and is widely recognized for its antioxidant and diverse health benefits. Including AssuriTEA Green in food and beverage products will make it even easier for consumers to receive the healthful benefits of brewed green tea.”

Press release

Taco Bell linked to October Salmonella outbreak
According to Reuters, Taco Bell has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states in late 2011. Taco Bell said in a statement on Feb. 1 that investigators found that some of the people who became ill ate at Taco Bell, while others did not.

“They believe that the problem likely occurred at the supplier level before it was delivered to any restaurant or food outlet. We take food quality and safety very seriously,” Taco Bell said, echoing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Jan. 19 final report on the outbreak.

The cluster of illness from Salmonella enteritidis infections is believed to have begun in mid-October and ended by the time CDC issued its final report. The outbreak had an air of mystery about it because CDC’s final report said it was linked to a Mexican-style fast-food chain identified only as “Restaurant A.”

Reuters article

CDC report

Taco Bell press release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

Whole Grains Summit 2012
The next Whole Grains Summit is scheduled for May 19–22, 2012, in Minneapolis, Minn. As with past international Whole Grains Summits in Porvoo, Finland (2001), Minneapolis, Minn. (2005), and New Castle, England (2009), the 2012 Whole Grains Summit is an event to convene scientist, business, and health professionals from around the world to examine where we’ve been and where we’re going in the area of research on whole grains, dietary fiber, and functional grain components.

This is an effort to bring together the various sectors and disciplines focusing on grain-based foods not only from the science and technology perspective, but also from the business, marketing, and regulatory perspectives. It is the organizers goal that outcomes from this event will address issues needed to allow healthier grain-based foods to more readily flow into the supply chain for easier access by the consumer. Roger Clemens, IFT President, and Sylvia Escott-Stump, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President, will be delivering the opening keynote address to highlight the importance of both food scientists and health professionals in creating a healthier food environment for all.

This year’s Whole Grain Summit will explore approaches for next steps in creating a healthier grain-based food supply. With the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the committee called for everyone to take a lead in creating a healthful food environment, making the healthy choice, the easy choice. Our goal is to frame the development, delivery, and enhanced consumption of healthy grain-based foods within the economic realities of business and consumer preference.

More information and to register

IFT Minnesota Section online silent auction
The Minnesota Section of IFT invites you to participate in its 7th Annual Online Silent Auction Feb. 6–17.  The proceeds from this event will be divided equally between the MNIFT General Scholarship Fund and National IFT Scholarship Fund (over $23,000 raised and donated through 2011).

Visit www.mnift.org and follow the links to auction page to view the offerings during preview week (Feb. 6–12) and bid on items during the auction week (Feb. 12–17). Anyone can participate by registering at www.mnift.org/login-new.php and shipping is available for many of the items. Items include gift certificates, food product coupons, sporting event tickets, classes, golf packages, and electronics (including an iPad2).

Creating a Successful Product Tracing Initiative for your Company
Understanding where your product is and was at any point in the supply chain is critical. Through this one-day pre-conference Short Course taking place Feb. 26, you will identify the importance of product tracing in food safety systems, gain a better understanding of current global regulatory requirements for product trace-back, and learn the elements needed to create a product traceability plan. This workshop precedes the inaugural global perspective event—the Food Science & Innovation Conference—which takes place Feb. 28–29 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Additional Pre-Conference Short Courses are also available. Register today for one or more events.

New webcast: Dietary Supplements Enter the Mainstream
Learn where you can support the industry to better adhere to the new dietary supplement GMP regulations. Using sports nutrition supplements as a case study, this webcast, in partnership with and organized by the IFT Washington D.C. Section, will illustrate how the industry is starting to positively influence the science behind current dietary supplements. Through this webcast, taking place March 2, explore why dietary supplements should be regulated like foods rather than drugs, review outcomes from the first phase of dietary supplement GMP inspections, and understand what the industry is doing to promote scientifically-substantiated products to remove bad players from the market. Get more details and register today.

Wellness 12: March 28–29
Develop your understanding of the information consumers are using to make healthy food choices through the Wellness 12 session, Linking Nutrition, Health, and Wellness to Consumer Behavior. This session will cover the top 10 global food and beverage trends and drivers, will identify the categories that are strong in health and wellness, and will outline consumer targets and opportunities for growth. This, topped with more than 20 focused sessions and informal discussions with other industry professionals involved in bringing healthy foods to market, makes Wellness 12 your go-to event for the latest product development advances in the healthful foods arena. A Short Course on sensory evaluation is offered just prior to the main event. Check out the agenda with additional tracks and sessions, before registering today.

Pre-Annual Meeting Short Courses: June 23–25
This content-rich, highly-rated education offers in-depth, practical learning with minimal time investment. Whether you’re looking to fill the gap on flavor interactions, ingredient applications, labeling requirements, sensory testing, or more, eleven Short Courses are available. Held at varying lengths prior to the IFT 2012 Annual Meeting & Food Expo which takes place June 25–June 28 in Las Vegas, Short Courses offer “time-mindful” education on topical issues in the food industry. Registration opens March 1, 2012. Plan your participation in advance.

IFT 2012 Leadership Election is Open
IFT launched its 2012 Leadership Election this morning, which includes positions for President-Elect, the Board of Directors, and the Nominations & Elections Committee. Please check your inbox for an email from IFT that contains your login. In addition to the IFT Leadership Election, ballots are also available for members of the IFT Student Association, Kansas City Section, Minnesota Section, Northern California Section and the Washington DC Section. The dealine for casting your vote is March 8. Read candidate bios and learn more at www.ift.org/election.

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