The Weekly: February 29, 2012

February 29, 2012

IFT Top Stories

Redefining processed foods for U.S. consumers
The growing industry of organic foods, which has seen sales increase more than 25-fold since 1990, is seen as providing healthier, whole alternatives to refined processed foods. One of the effects of this is that a large group of consumers (43%) have a negative view of processed foods (International Food Information Council, 2009). An article by Matthew Fox published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics examines what can be done to educate the public on the truth about processed foods. The benefits of food processing are frequently unreported among reactionary criticism. This lack of information has lead to vague public understand of the term “processed food,” and now the stigma of the term seems to overshadow factual considerations, according to Fox.

Four U.S. nutritional organizations—the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American Society for Nutrition, the International Food Information Council, and the Institute of Food Technologists—are working together in what is called the Food and Nutrition Science Solutions Joint Task Force to “raise awareness of the interface of food science and nutrition, and design actions to demonstrate the impact of food and nutrition sciences and communications to improve public health.” To help change the public’s perception of processed foods, the task force sought the help of Victor Fulgoni, Senior Vice President of Nutrition Impact LLC, a nutrition consulting firm. Fulgoni and coauthors recently published research directed at determining usual nutrient intakes for 19 different micronutrients from all sources—foods or dietary supplements. They also looked at the relative contribution in foods between naturally occurring nutrients and nutrients added by fortifying or enriching.

Participants in this study, which gauged intake on a 24-hr basis (or per day), had a mean intake of 199 mg daily folate equivalent (DFE) through naturally occurring nutrients in their food; mean intake increased to 543 mg DFE with the addition of fortified or enriched nutrients; mean intake increased again to 772 mg DFE with the addition of food supplements. These numbers are substantial even without context, but their true significance lies in how they change the percentages of participants below the estimated average requirement (EAR) for folate, the study showed. Based only on intake of naturally occurring nutrients, 88% of participants fell below their respective EAR for the vitamin, but this number falls to 10.7% when intake of folate includes fortified or enriched sources, and falls again to 7.6% when intake of folate includes dietary supplements.

Studies such as Fulgoni’s may help consumers rethink their concern about processed foods. Not only do processed foods enable food scientists to add nutrients such as folate that are in some way lacking in the American diet, but they also enable us to meet the needs of feeding an ever-growing world population.

Fox article (login required)

Fulgoni et al. abstract

Obesity rates rise in developed countries
According to Reuters, more people in developed countries are overweight or obese than ever before, a report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found.

The Paris, France-based OECD found obesity rates vary widely from a low of 4% in Japan and Korea to 30% or more in the United States and Mexico. But in more than half of the 34 OECD countries, at least one in two people is now overweight or obese, and rates are projected to rise further. In some countries, two out of three people will be obese within 10 years, the report said.

This report, which the OECD said was a 2012 update to its 2010 report on the economics of obesity prevention entitled “Fit Not Fat,” did however find some good news. New data for 10 of the 34 OECD countries showed that over the past decade, obesity rates slowed or stopped growing in England, Hungary, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland, and grew by only 2–3% in France and Spain. Yet in Canada, Ireland, and the United States obesity rates rose by 4–5%.

Looking at childhood obesity, rates have stabilized England, France, Korea, and the United States, and the OECD said this was partly due to governments stepping up efforts to tackle the root causes of obesity.

Reuters article

Audio Interview Audio: What consumers will want from food companies in 2020
On March 28 and 29, IFT will be holding its annual Wellness conference in Rosemont, Ill., offering attendees unbiased perspectives, news about emerging trends, and information on how other organizations within the food industry are penetrating the health and wellness sector. In the latest ePerpsective, Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, spoke with Linda Eatherton, Partner and Director of Global Food & Nutrition Practice at Ketchum, who will speaking at the conference’s closing session about what consumers around the world will want from food companies in 2020. Linda joined Ketchum in 2001 to lead the firm’s worldwide Food & Nutrition Practice. Prior to that, she served as the Vice President of Public and Industry Communications for Dairy Management Inc. Listen to Linda's opinion on what food companies will need to do in order to be successful in the future, and then offer your own thoughts by commenting on IFT's ePerspective blog.

Linda Eatherton's ePerspective

IFT Research Briefs

Drinking black tea may lower blood pressure
A six month study by scientists at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Unilever, and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia shows that people who drink black tea throughout the day may get the benefit of a slight reduction in their blood pressure. The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the study, 95 Australian participants ages 35–75 were recruited to drink either three cups of black tea or another beverage similar in taste and caffeine content, but not derived from tea, daily for six months. Before the study started, the participants’ blood pressure throughout the day was about 121/72 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Blood pressure readings less than or equal to 120/180 mm Hg are considered normal.

After the six-month period, the research found that the tea drinkers’ systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure fell between 2–3 mm Hg compared to non-tea drinkers. More research is required to better understand how tea may reduce blood pressure, although earlier studies reported a potential link between tea consumption and the improved health of people’s blood vessels.

Abstract

Consuming fruit high in fiber may promote dental health in older men
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that men who eat more high-fiber fruits may improve their dental health later in life.

The study led by Elizabeth Krall Kaye, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Dental Medicine, followed 625 healthy men from the Boston, Mass., area for an average of 15 years. Researchers first assessed participants’ dental health in 1984 and every three to five years after that. Before each examination, men filled out a questionnaire about their daily intake of certain high-fiber foods—those that contained more than 2.5 g of dietary fiber per serving. That list includes bananas, apples, oranges, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, spinach, peanuts, oatmeal, and other grains.

In men aged 65 and older, the researchers found that each additional serving of high-fiber fruit was associated with a 14% lower risk of erosion of the part of the jaw bone that supports the teeth, a 5% lower risk of gum recession, and a 12% lower likelihood of tooth loss. Eating high-fiber vegetables and grains did not significantly reduce the men’s risk of gum disease.

Kaye’s team is not yet clear about why high-fiber foods, especially fruits, would lead to less gum disease, if they are playing a role. One possibility is that foods high in fiber, which often require more chewing, could increase saliva production, which would remove harmful bacteria from the mouth.

Abstract

Packaging labeling, claims may influence consumers’ sensory perception
A study published in Food Quality and Preference shows that taste may be affected by labeling and claims on the front of food packaging. The objective of the study was to investigate consumers’ perceptions of the package and the expectations raised by nutritional and health claims and the nutrition panel, among other cues—and their influence on the sensory perception of enriched and reduced-calorie biscuits.

The study had 90 consumers assess 23 enriched or low-calorie biscuits (cookies) using the projective mapping technique to evaluate the similarities and differences between the biscuits in four different scenarios. Two sessions were conducted without tasting the product to ascertain how consumers perceived the nutrition information panel and nutrition and health claims, among other packaging cues, and how they use these inputs to classify the biscuits. Ten samples were then selected for tasting in two further sessions: with and without information on the nutrition information panel and claims.

The results showed that consumers were greatly influenced by the claims highlighted (color, size) on the front of the package, particularly nutrition claims. In addition, non-sugar biscuits raised negative expectations and were associated with people with sugar metabolism disorders. Comparison of the two tasting sessions found that the information clearly had a negative influence on the perception of hedonic sensory characteristics.

Abstract

EU FibeBiotics project to study functional food ingredients
The European Union is investing €6 million in an international research project evaluating the immune health effects of several functional food ingredients, including Biothera’s Wellmune WGP. The FibeBiotics project is a consortium of four European universities, five research institutions, and several private companies that will study the effect of food fibers on the human immune system. Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research, The Netherlands, is coordinating the 4.5-year project.

Wellmune WGP is gluco polysaccharide that is clinically proven to safely prime key immune cells that help keep the body healthy. Derived from a proprietary strain of yeast, Wellmune WGP mobilizes neutrophils, which are the largest population of immune cells in the body and part of the body’s first line of defense.

“We are pleased that Wellmune WGP is part of this important scientific research project,” said Rich Mueller, Biothera President and CEO. “It will be complementary to our internal research program that is designed to expand understanding of our unique technology and its global immune health benefits.”

Biothera press release

FibeBiotics project

Social media is redefining Americans’ relationship with food
How Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan their meals, purchase their food and share their culinary secrets with others has changed, according to a new study entitled Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture. The study was jointly developed and conducted by consumer research firm The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA, a food and nutrition marketing agency, part of MSLGROUP Americas.

Study results show almost half of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40% learn about food via websites, apps, or blogs. “Consumers used to rely on mom and family traditions for meal planning, but now search online for what to cook, without ever tasting or smelling,” said Laurie Demeritt, President and COO at The Hartman Group. “Digital food selection is less of a sensory experience and more of a visual and rational process: What’s on the label? What’s in the recipe? Show me the picture!”

In the past, whereas consumers listened to the opinions of a few trusted resources—mom and other family members—in deciding what to buy, cook, or eat, modern consumers “crowdsource” the opinions of many before deciding what to buy. What’s more, the infiltration of social media into the food experience goes far beyond purchasing and preparing food; it now includes the meal experience as well. While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans use social networking sites. Among Millennials (18–32 years old), this figure jumps to 47%. “The ‘table for one’ rarely exists anymore, even among single people eating alone at home,” said Demeritt. “If you are eating alone, chances are you are also texting friends who live miles away or posting food photos to a review site.”

Report

IFT Company News

Nestlé to build new Nescafé Dolce Gusto factory in Germany
Nestlé has announced it will build a new Nescafé Dolce Gusto factory in Germany, the largest market for the brand worldwide, with a 220 million investment. Nescafé Dolce Gusto is Nestlé’s machine and capsule ‘coffee shop experience-at-home’ system for both hot and cold drinks.

The factory, located in Schwerin, will create 450 jobs. With 12 new production lines, it will become operational by the end of 2013. Located near Hamburg, the biggest European port for coffee imports, the factory aims to produce about two billion coffee capsules a year for export to the rest of Germany, Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.

“This is one of our biggest investments in Europe and highlights our continuous investment in our capacity for innovation,” said Laurent Freixe, Nestlé’s Zone Director for Europe. “Nescafé Dolce Gusto is the leader in the portioned coffee market in 20 countries. With a growth rate of over 50%, it is one of the fastest-growing businesses for Nestlé in Europe.”

The Schwerin site is the company’s third Nescafé Dolce Gusto factory. Last year, Nestlé invested CHF 64 million in the Nescafé Dolce Gusto site at its Nescafé factory in Girona, near Barcelona, Spain.

Press release

Kellogg Krave Cereal Kellogg introduces nearly two dozen products in early 2012
Kellogg Co. is continuing to build momentum with new product innovations by introducing nearly two dozen new U.S. products in early 2012.

“Throughout Kellogg history, our commitment to product innovation has built brands that consumers know and love,” said Brad Davidson, President, Kellogg North America. “The introduction of new products in the first half of 2012 continues that legacy and provides delicious options for the whole family.”

In the frozen food aisle, Kellogg is introducing several new products, including Simply Eggo waffles made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. For families seeking an on-the-go breakfast with no syrup required, Eggo is introducing hand-held Eggo Wafflers. In addition, MorningStar Farms introducesveggie Meal Starters meatballs, a new option for recipes that call for traditional meatballs.

For Kellogg’s cereal lineup, cinnamon is front and center in two new cereals—Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites Cinnamon Roll cereal and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Cinnamon Almond cereal. Other new cereals include Crunchy Nut Caramel Nut and Krave—a multi-grain shell outside with chocolate inside.

Kellogg Co.’s portfolio features new additions to the Special K lineup, including new Cheddar and Southwest Ranch varieties of the Special K Cracker Chips. New Special K granola bars provide consumers with four grams each of fiber and protein. Additionally, there are new cookie options from Keebler, including new Jumbo Fudge Sticks Mint cookies and Fudge Stripe Dark Chocolate cookies.

Press release

DuPont, Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics expand collaboration
DuPont and the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) have expanded their long-standing research collaboration to increase research scale on improving the overall productivity of wheat, as well as other crops.

The expanded program brings a new focus on advanced cereal breeding through molecular markers, discovery research for agronomic traits, and hybrid seed production in wheat. In addition, the collaboration will continue working toward agronomic traits to increase drought tolerance and decrease the need for soil-applied nitrogen fertilizer in leading production crops, including corn, soybeans, canola, rice, and sorghum. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

“It’s critical that we increase our efforts to grow global food production to meet the needs of our growing population,” said Paul E. Schickler, President of Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business. “ACPFG is an industry leader in wheat research and development, and this collaboration will strengthen our ability to bring high-yielding wheat products to farmers worldwide.”

Pioneer Hi-Bred and ACPFG have been in collaboration since 2005 to discover and develop traits for yield enhancement and stability in a number of major crops. They extended their agreement in 2010 after continued progress toward this goal and are expanding the collaboration to include a new focus on wheat.

Press release

SunOpta reorganizing operations, cutting jobs
SunOpta Inc., a global natural and organic foods company, has undertaken a process to streamline its operations and organizational structure, which will include eliminating 6% of its salaried employees.

In order to streamline operations, drive efficiencies and better align product innovation and commercial activities, the company has commenced restructuring SunOpta Foods to align its operating segments with the markets and customers serviced, rather than by product groupings. As a result, the former Fruit Group has been eliminated and a new Consumer Products Group has been created to focus on non-grains-based consumer packaged goods. The Consumer Products Group will be comprised of the Frozen Foods and Healthy Snacks operations, which were part of the former Fruit Group, and the Food Solutions operations, which were formerly part of the International Foods Group. As part of this restructuring, the Fruit Ingredient operations of the former Fruit Group have been consolidated with the existing Ingredients Group. With this realignment, SunOpta Foods will consist of four operating segments: Grains and Foods, Ingredients, Consumer Products, and International Foods.

The company is also in the process of rationalizing a number of operations and functions. As part of this process, SunOpta will be reducing its salaried workforce by approximately 6% and reducing annual operating costs by approximately $3.0 million before tax, once fully implemented.

“These decisions and activities are important to our company’s development as a global leader in natural and organic foods,” said Steve Bromley, President and CEO of SunOpta. “We have grown rapidly over the last 10 years and built a solid organization within markets that we feel are poised for long term growth. We believe there is much more that can be accomplished and this realignment and rationalization is a key step in addressing our company’s true potential, improving our operational performance, and positioning SunOpta for continued success.”

Press release

Bill Gates urges organizations to unite against hunger, poverty
Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told the international agricultural community it had fallen short of delivering the help small farmers in developing countries need, when they need it. In a speech delivered at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gates asked the UN bodies responsible for fighting hunger and poverty to unite around a common global target for sustainable productivity growth to guide and measure their efforts.

“If you care about the poorest, you care about agriculture,” said Gates. “Investments in agriculture are the best weapons against hunger and poverty, and they have made life better for billions of people. The international agriculture community needs to be more innovative, coordinated, and focused to help poor farmers grow more. If we can do that, we can dramatically reduce suffering and build self-sufficiency.”

Gates told IFAD, the World Food Program (WFP), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the approach being used today to fight against poverty and hunger is outdated and inefficient. He urged these food agencies to commit to a concrete, measurable target for increasing agricultural productivity and to support a system of public score cards to maximize transparency for themselves, donors, and the countries they support.

The number of hungry people in the world has reached the 1 billion mark, and global food prices that were beginning to fall last July—signaling some relief—are starting to creep up again. According to estimates, small farmers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa can double or almost triple their yields, respectively, in the next 20 years. This sustainable productivity increase will translate into 400 million people lifting themselves out of poverty.

Gates also announced nearly $200 million in grants, bringing to more than $2 billion the foundation’s commitment to smallholder farmers since the agriculture program began in 2006. The money will fund agricultural development projects that are already producing results for farmers.

Press release

IFT Regulatory News

Court dismisses lawsuit against Monsanto
According to Reuters, a federal judge has ruled in favor of global seed giant Monsanto Co., dismissing a lawsuit brought by a consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers who said their industry is at risk from Monsanto’s growing market strength.

U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald, for the Southern District of New York, threw out the case brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and dozens of other plaintiff growers and organizations, criticizing the groups for a “transparent effort to create a controversy where none exists.”

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed the suit last March on behalf of more than 50 organizations challenging the agricultural giant’s patents on its genetically modified seeds. The group wanted a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto’s patented biotech seed germplasm. But Judge Buchwald said Monsanto had not sued or even started the process of suing any one of the plaintiffs or anyone in “similar stead.”

Monsanto has filed 144 patent infringement lawsuits against farmers between 1997 and April 2010, and won judgments against farmers they claimed made use of their seed without paying required royalties. Many U.S. farmers have claimed that their fields were inadvertently contaminated with Monsanto's biotech seeds without their knowledge, and the issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed.

But the court ruling said there was no likelihood that Monsanto would pursue patent infringement cases against the organic farmers, who have no interest in using the company’s patented seed products.

Reuters article

FDA gains permanent injunction against raw milk producer
A federal court has granted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a permanent injunction preventing Daniel L. Allgyer and his Rainbow Acres Farm from distributing raw milk and raw milk products in final package form for human consumption across state lines.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, also ruled that Allgyer’s participation in a so-called “private buying club” does not shield him from federal oversight, and that Allgyer’s “cow share” agreements are a subterfuge for sales of raw milk. Members of the private buying club had allegedly purchased “shares” of individual cows and then claimed that their reputed ownership entitled them to raw milk from those cows. Allgyer provided the association members who lived outside of Pennsylvania with containers of raw milk, even though federal law prohibits sales of raw milk for human consumption across state lines. Raw milk sales are legal within the state of Pennsylvania. Allgyer also violated federal law by not providing any labeling on the raw milk containers sold to consumers.

The FDA sought the injunction against Allgyer after documenting multiple and repeated violations of federal law. The agency issued a warning letter to Allgyer in April 2010, informing him of these violations and requesting that he take corrective measures to avoid regulatory action. Despite such warning, Allgyer continued to operate in violation of federal law.

The permanent injunction requires Allgyer to place a statement on his products, invoices, and website that he will no longer distribute unpasteurized milk or milk products in interstate commerce. He also must keep complete records of each sale, including the name and address of each buyer, the date of sale or distribution, and the amount and type of products sold, and must provide a copy of the Court’s order to all employees and persons who work with him to distribute unpasteurized milk and milk products.

Press release

Illinois Institute of Technology launches FDA-funded Sprout Safety Alliance
Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health (IIT IFSH) has launched the Sprout Safety Alliance (SSA), designed to assist sprout growers and producers in identifying and implementing best practices in the safe production of sprouts.

The Sprout Safety Alliance is a one-year, $100,000 partnership grant funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Foods through the IIT IFSH-FDA collaborative agreement. The alliance will be housed at IIT IFSH, which introduced in 2011 an audit checklist to improve sprout safety along with on-site beta test results validating its effectiveness in a real-world setting via the institute’s Sprout Safety Task Force.

The new public-private organization will develop core curriculum, training, and outreach programs for stakeholders in the sprout production community to enhance the industry’s understanding and implementation of pending sprout safety regulatory requirements.

“Sprouts present a unique food safety challenge due to the warm, moist, and nutrient-rich conditions required for their production,” said Robert Brackett, IIT Vice President and IFSH Director. “For example, certain food safety practices used by sprout growers and sprout seed and bean producers, such as testing spent irrigation water and pre-sprouting seed disinfection procedures, are unique to this commodity. The Sprout Safety Alliance coordinated by IIT IFSH will foster scientific collaboration in an effort to enhance food safety action items, training, and regulatory compliance for this industry sector.”

The SSA’s objectives are to:

  • Develop training materials that assist sprouters in adopting best practices for the safe production of sprouts based on available FDA guidance documents and other information.
  • Provide tools to assist growers in conducting self-audits of their sprouting facilities and production practices to minimize microbial hazards associated with sprouts.
  • Develop training materials that facilitate industry understanding of risks associated with sprouts, current mitigation practices, and implementation of the sprout-related requirements in the upcoming produce safety regulation.
  • Serve as a network hub and resource for the sprout industry, buyers, retailers, and federal and state regulatory agencies.
  • Develop a technical assistance network for the sprout industry.
  • Collaborate with USDA, states, trade associations, and land-grant university extension services to provide classroom and distance training and workshops for stakeholders across the United States.

Press release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

Webcast: Dietary Supplements Enter the Mainstream
Only two days left for you to learn where you can better adhere to the new dietary supplement GMP regulations. Using sports nutrition supplements as a case study, this March 2 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, 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.

Sensory Evaluation: Current Developments and Applications
Through this two-day instructor-led short course, taking place March 26-27, just prior to Wellness 12, participants will gather the tools needed to manage resources and information to meet product development deadlines. Professionals in product development, R&D, and sensory science roles will learn current sensory analysis procedures, understand qualitative and quantitative methods, identify industry recommended practices for qualifying subjects for sensory analytical tests, and more. Register by March 1 for greatest savings.

Wellness 12: March 28-29
Current Wellness registrants, and those still looking to register, can extend their learning experience by registering for a free webcast selected for presentation in conjunction with Wellness 12. Registrants can choose one free webcast from this select group of webcasts, including: The Secret Ingredient for Health and Wellness Success; The “Real, Fresh, Natural Foods” Trend: How to Win With Consumers; and Debunking Food Addiction. Current Wellness 12 registrants will receive an email from IFT_registration@ift.org with a link to choose their free webcast. Those still planning to register for Wellness 12 should do so by tomorrow, March 1, 2012 for greatest savings.

Ensuring the Safety of Imported Foods and Operating Globally: April 10
In partnership with, and organized by the IFT Washington D.C. Section, this April 10 webcast will provide perspectives on international food standards, government initiatives to ensure the safety of imported products, and the resources available to food companies to operate in developed and developing countries. Participants will learn about the evolving role of Codex in international trade, understand FDA's initiatives and the role of U.S. FDA International Offices in ensuring that imported foods meet FDA standards for safety, and review Indian food laws and initiatives to ensure the safety of food products exported to the U.S. Get more details and register today.

Online course: Flavor Interactions in Food – A Primer
Get a grasp on flavors through this introductory online course designed for professionals new to the flavor industry by participating in this webcast starting May 9, 2012. Through self-paced study and live virtual Q&A sessions with content experts, participants will learn common language terms among flavorists, understand the typical composition of flavors and reactions, recognize the basic regulatory framework in foods, understand the impact sensory and consumer evaluation make on consumer choices, and more. This online course is a suggested pre-requisite for the new, advanced Pre-Annual Meeting Short Course, Flavor Interactions in Food, which takes place just prior to the 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo. Get online course details and then register today.

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