The Weekly: August 13, 2014

August 13, 2014

IFT Top Stories

Russia bans food imports
According to The Wall Street Journal, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev responded to new Western sanctions by banning imports of a wide range of foods. “Fulfilling the presidential order, I’ve signed a government decree. Russia imposes a total ban on deliveries of beef, pork, fruit, vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, and dairy products,” said Medvedev in opening the weekly government session.

Medvedev said Russia won’t import those products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, and Norway for one year, adding that the decision could be reviewed before the end of that period. President Vladimir Putin had announced plans for the import ban Aug. 6, a week after the West announced its harshest sanctions since Russia annexed Crimea in March.

The ban will have a minor impact on Russians, who rely on food produced domestically or imported from other former Soviet countries. In addition, the impact on exporters in the E.U. and the U.S. will be minor, predicts Capital Economics. They estimate that imports covered under the ban account for around 2% of the total consumer price inflation basket. While the Russian government is banking on local producers to fill the void left by imports, experience of previous import bans suggests instead prices tend to rise as supply is squeezed.

The Wall Street Journal article

Chiquita receives acquisition offer
Chiquita Brands International Inc. has received an unsolicited offer from the Cutrale Group and the Safra Group to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Chiquita at a price of $13.00 per share in cash to Chiquita shareholders, for a transaction valued at approximately $630 million.

Consistent with its fiduciary duties, Chiquita’s Board of Directors, in consultation with its legal and financial advisors, will carefully review and consider the offer to determine the course of action that it believes is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.

As previously announced on March 10, 2014, Chiquita entered into a definitive merger agreement with Fyffes plc, under which Chiquita would combine with Fyffes in a stock-for-stock transaction. On completion of the transaction, Chiquita shareholders will own approximately 50.7% of ChiquitaFyffes, and Fyffes shareholders owning approximately 49.3% of ChiquitaFyffes. The agreement creates a global banana and other fresh produce company with approximately $4.6 billion in annual revenues.

In a release, Chiquita stated, “We continue to strongly believe in the strategic merits and value provided by the proposed transaction with Fyffes plc.”

Press release

45% of Americans seek out organic foods
According to a recent Gallup poll, a little less than half of Americans—45%—actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they “don’t think either way” about organic foods.

In the United States, inclusion of organic foods is highest in the West (54%) and lowest in the East (39%). Americans who report living in a big or small city are more likely to eat organic foods than those who describe their location as a town or rural area, 50% versus 37%, respectively, while those who live in suburban areas fall between these two groups.

More than half of Americans ages 18–29 actively try to include organic foods in their diets, compared with one-third of Americans ages 65+. Older Americans are slightly more likely than other age groups to “think either way” about organic foods.

Household income is a factor in food choices, with almost half of upper-income Americans actively including organic foods, compared with 42% of lower-income Americans. Almost a quarter of lower-income Americans, however, actively avoid organic foods, while among upper-income Americans it is closer to one in 10. This could be a reaction to cost, as organic foods typically cost 20–100% more than non-organic foods. So, lower-income Americans could be actively avoiding organic foods because they are trying to save money on food purchases, rather than avoiding them because of health reasons or dietary preferences.

Given that almost half of Americans actively try to include organic foods in their diets, they may view the benefits of organic foods as greater than their downsides, such as the higher cost or limited access. Income and location appear to be factors in preference for organic foods, although that may be changing. Wal-Mart, the largest retailer and grocer in the U.S., and known for its low-price business strategy, has announced plans to begin selling organic food. Organic food could soon become more easily accessible and more affordable, and this in turn could encourage more Americans to include it in their diets.

Press release

IFT Research Briefs

Winemaking leftovers find new use in baked goods
A study published in the Journal of Food Science shows that wine grape pomace (WGP), a by-product of winemaking, may be incorporated into baked goods as a good source of polyphenols and dietary fiber. WGP constitutes about 20% of harvested grapes and pinot noir WGP can contain around 39 types of polyphenols, including anthocyanins, hydroxycinnamic acids, catechins, and flavonols. Dietary fiber is also found in high amounts in WGP.

The researchers substituted wheat flour for pinot noir WGP in bread, brownies, and muffins, and evaluated the finished products for total phenolic content, total dietary fiber, and physicochemical and sensory properties. In this study, the combination of wine grape skins and seeds were classified as pomace. A 5%, 10%, or 15% pomace replacement of flour (w/w) for pinot noir WGP was used.

They found that they could achieve a 5.9% and 194.4% increase in polyphenols in pomace fortified breads and muffins, respectively, and a >20% dietary fiber increase, without impacting consumer acceptance of the products. Both breads and muffins were found to be acceptable with a 5% or 10% WGP replacement of flour (w/w) and brownies with 15% WGP replacement based on the physicochemical and sensory characteristics compared to the control. Bread fortified with 10% WGP increased its dietary fiber by 31.61% and total phenolic content by 5.86%, compared to the control. Similarly, muffins fortified with 10% WGP had a 15.02% increase in dietary fiber and a 194.38% increase in total phenolic content, compared to the control. At 15% WGP fortification, brownies had a 6.94% increase in dietary fiber but the total phenolic content actually decreased by 6.04%, compared to the control.

During the sensory testing, panelists commented on the grainy texture of the WGP fortified products. It would be beneficial to produce the baked goods using a smaller particle size in hopes of the pomace being less noticeable when chewed. The smaller WGP particle size might also have an effect on the volume and texture of the baked items as well.

The results of this study demonstrate the feasibility of WGP as an ingredient to increase the content of bioactive compounds in baked goods for promoting human health and the reutilization of the WGP for decreasing waste from winemaking.

Abstract

Eating almonds may reduce inflammation in diabetics
A study published in the Journal of Functional Foods shows that regular consumption of almonds may improve various markers of health for those with type 2 diabetes.

A randomized controlled clinical study investigated the effects of adding 1.5 oz of almonds to the diet for 12 weeks on diabetes and heart disease risk factors in 21 adults with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes. Participants in the almond-consuming group experienced nearly a 30% reduction in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, a marker of inflammation associated with increased heart disease risk, compared to those who did not consume almonds. Participants also experienced no change in body mass after 12 weeks of almond consumption. Inflammation is thought to play a role in heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, and elevated CRP is linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

“These findings suggest that adding almonds to the diet can be an effective, simple strategy to help reduce inflammation in people with poorly controlled diabetes,” said Karen Sweazea, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University and lead researcher of the study.

There were no differences observed after 12 weeks between groups in blood pressure, lipids, fasting body glucose, or other measures of glycemic control, or in biomarkers of oxidative stress or other markers of inflammation, and the study was limited by small sample size and reliance on self-reported, incomplete dietary records.

Abstract

Citicoline may improve teens’ motor speed, attention
A study presented at the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology conference shows that taking citicoline may increase motor speed and attention in male teens.

The randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled human clinical trial involved 75 adolescent males over a 28-day period. The participants completed a screening visit including a medical exam and clinical measures. They were then randomly assigned to a 250 mg or 500 mg Cognizin citicoline treatment group or placebo group.

To test the group, researchers conducted the “Finger Tap Test,” a motor function assessment during which participants are required to press a lever attached to a mechanical counter as many times as possible during discrete time periods. Additionally, the “Ruff 2 & 7 Selective Attention Test” was also administered, which tests a timed cancellation task in which participants cross out 2’s and 7’s embedded in blocks of distractor numbers or letters.

The researchers found that the individuals who were administered citicoline scored higher in both tests after the 28-day period.

Press release

Eating out may lead to higher calorie consumption
A study published in Public Health Nutrition shows that people who eat out may consume an average of about 200 calories more a day than when they cook at home.

The researchers examined the responses of 12,528 people aged 20–64 years who completed 24 hr dietary recall interviews for two days in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004, 2005–2006, 2007–2008, and 2009–2010. The survey respondents were asked about the source of each food and beverage item in terms of where it was obtained (e.g., from a store, fast food restaurant, full service restaurant, etc.).

The researchers found that people who ate at fast food restaurants or full service restaurants consumed an average of 194 and 205 extra calories per day, respectively. They also consumed more saturated fat (3 and 2.5 g extra, respectively) and salt (296 and 451 mg, respectively).

It should be noted that the study has limitations, such as the fact that the data was self-reported based on dietary recalls. In addition, physical activity and other factors that might affect food preferences and demand were not incorporated.

Study (pdf)

Making cashews safer for those with allergies
A study presented at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) shows that by modifying the proteins in cashews people who have nut allergies may be able to eat them safely.

The researchers are looking at ways to modify proteins in tree nuts and peanuts (which are legumes) that trigger an immune response in people who are allergic. The response is launched by antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which recognize and latch onto the proteins. The researchers explain that changing the shape of the proteins makes it harder for IgE to find them.

But past research taking this approach has involved harsh chemicals. In this case, the researchers wanted to see if they could achieve the same results, but using compounds that are “generally regarded as safe,” or GRAS. These are substances that are accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in food and pharmaceuticals.

“We found that the GRAS compound sodium sulfite can effectively disrupt the structure of a couple of the cashew allergens,” said Chris Mattison, a researcher with the Agricultural Research Service branch of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. “And we’ve done a couple of different tests to show we reduced IgE binding to the proteins when they’ve been treated with sodium sulfite.”

Next, the researchers plan to conduct experiments on whole nuts and test the modified proteins on cells in the lab to see how they respond. They’re also looking at enzymes, which are molecules that can cut up proteins, as candidates to disrupt the allergens.

Press release

Americans eat most meals by themselves
Consumption behaviors in the United States have become less household-oriented and more individualized than previous generations, and now more than 50% of eating and beverage occasions happen when consumers are alone, reports The NPD Group, a global information company. Also contributing to consumers dining alone is that 27% of all households now consist of just one person—the highest level in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Consumers are alone about 60% of the time at breakfast. Going solo at breakfast is driven by time constraints, routine, and being away-from-home at work or school, finds NPD’s food and beverage market research. Fifty-five percent of lunch meals are solitary occasions where quick and easy is the driving need, and, again, many consumers are away-from-home. Between meal occasions, like snacking, are typically solo since these occasions typically occur when consumers are away-from-home or on-the-go.

Dinner is the least likely meal occasion to be eaten alone. Only 32% of dinner meals are solo dining occasions. Dinner is unique among meal occasions since it focuses more on being family or socially-oriented. Nearly half of all families with kids eat dinner together at least five times a week, according to NPD.

“The number of solo eating and beverage occasions have wide-ranging implications for food and beverage marketers in terms of new products, packaging, and positioning,” said Darren Seifer, NPD Food and Beverage Industry Analyst. “As lifestyles shift it’s key for marketers to profile and segment occasions when their product is consumed in various ways, including solo versus social occasions, in order to connect most effectively with consumers.”

Press release

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IFT Company News

Coca-Cola invests an additional $5 B in Africa
The Coca-Cola Co. and its African bottling partners have announced a new investment of $5 billion, to be made over the next six years. This investment increases the company’s total investment in Africa to $17 billion from 2010 to 2020. The company and its bottling partners anticipate that this investment will fund new manufacturing lines, cooling and distribution equipment and production; create additional jobs and opportunities across Coca-Cola’s African supply chain; and support key sustainability initiatives and programs focused on safe water access, sustainable sourcing, women’s economic empowerment, community well-being, and operational efficiency improvements.

“As an organization that has been part of the economic and social fabric of Africa since 1928, we and our local bottling partners have seen, firsthand, the great promise and potential of this dynamic, growing, and vibrant continent,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co. “Even as we see tremendous growth potential in Africa, we know that the strength and sustainability of our business are tied directly to the strength and sustainability of the African communities we proudly serve.”

The company has also signed a Letter of Intent to launch Source Africa, an initiative to secure more consistent and sustainable local ingredient sourcing for its products in partnership with the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and Grow Africa. The initiative will initially focus on sustainable mango and tea production in Kenya; citrus, mango, and pineapple production in Nigeria; and mango in Malawi. Longer-term, the program could expand to focus on sustainable ingredient production in Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania, and Mozambique.

Press release

ConAgra’s CEO to retire
ConAgra Foods Inc. has announced that Gary M. Rodkin, CEO, will retire at the end of the company’s fiscal year, May 2015. The Board of Directors has established a search committee, led by independent director Richard Lenny, to identify Rodkin’s successor. Lenny is the former Chairman and CEO of The Hershey Co. and has served on the ConAgra Foods board since 2009.

“The Board is extremely appreciative of Gary’s leadership, vision, and accomplishments over his almost nine years as CEO of ConAgra Foods,” said Steven Goldstone, Chairman of ConAgra Foods. “Under his stewardship, ConAgra Foods has transformed from a holding company into one unified company, with a well-balanced portfolio of consumer, commercial, and private brand businesses, and strong operating capabilities.”

Rodkin, 62, joined ConAgra Foods in October 2005. Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, he was Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Beverages and Foods North America, where he led a $10 billion organization that included leading brands such as Pepsi, Gatorade, Quaker Foods, and Tropicana. He joined PepsiCo in 1998 after it acquired Tropicana, where he had served as President since 1995. From 1979 to 1995, he held marketing and general management positions of increasing responsibility at General Mills, with his last three years at the company as President of the Yoplait yogurt division.

Rodkin graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Rutgers College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he was recently named a Fellow of Executive Education.

Press release

J. M. Smucker buys Sahale Snacks
The J. M. Smucker Co. has announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Sahale Snacks Inc., a privately-held company headquartered in Seattle, Wash. Sahale is a manufacturer and marketer of premium, branded nut and fruit snacks, which are primarily sold in the United States under the Sahale Snacks brand.

Sahale’s net sales are projected to be approximately $50 million for the 2014 calendar year, primarily in the club, convenience, and grocery retail channels. The acquisition includes a leased facility in Seattle and will add approximately 150 employees to the company. The transaction, which is expected to close by the middle of September, is not anticipated to have a material impact on the company’s fiscal 2015 financial results.

“This is an exciting acquisition and an excellent strategic fit for our company,” said Paul Smucker Wagstaff, President, U.S. Retail Consumer Foods. “The addition of the Sahale Snacks premium lifestyle brand, and its portfolio of innovative and on-trend products, provides an established platform for growth in the snacking space.”

Press release

Post purchases American Blanching for $128 M
Post Holdings Inc., a consumer packaged goods holding company, has signed a stock purchase agreement to acquire American Blanching Co., a manufacturer of peanut butter for national brands, private label retail and industrial markets, and provider of peanut blanching, granulation, and roasting services for the commercial peanut industry. American Blanching operates a peanut butter manufacturing facility located in Fitzgerald, Ga. Post anticipates combining American Blanching with Golden Boy Foods, its existing peanut and other nut butter business.

“We are pleased with the progress at Golden Boy and we like the prospects for private label nut butters,” said William P. Stiritz, Post’s Chairman and CEO. “American Blanching will nicely complement Golden Boy and expand our presence in this growing category.”

Post anticipates completing the acquisition in its first quarter of fiscal 2015, subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration of waiting periods required under antitrust laws.

Press release

Production starts at ArNoCo joint venture factory
Production has begun at a new whey and lactose production facility that is a joint venture between Denmark’s Arla Foods Ingredients and German dairy co-operative Deutsches Milchkontor (DMK).

The factory, which cost more than €50 million to build, is operated by ArNoCo, an organization created by the two companies specifically to produce high quality ingredients for the food and beverage industry. Located in Nordhackstedt, Germany, the new facility is adjacent to an existing 60,000 ton-a-year cheese factory owned by DMK.

ArNoCo will use the whey by-product from DMK’s cheese-making operations to produce whey protein concentrate ready to be converted into value-added ingredients for the bakery, dairy, and nutrition sectors. The new site will also produce 25,000 tons of lactose annually, which will be processed and sold as Arla Foods Ingredients’ premium quality Dry Blend lactose for infant formula.

“This new joint venture will enhance Arla Foods Ingredients’ position as one of the world’s leading suppliers of the highest quality whey protein and lactose ingredients,” said Hans Jørgen Lauridsen, ArNoCo’s Project Director. “The market for these products is growing faster than the ingredients industry can supply them, so the establishment of ArNoCo in co-operation with DMK is a significant development.”

Following a test production phase in July, the ArNoCo factory is now running at 80% capacity and is on track to be at full capacity in September.

Press release

Tang wins 2014 Freezing Research Award
The Frozen Food Foundation, in conjunction with the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), presented Juming Tang of Washington State University with the fifth annual Frozen Food Foundation Freezing Research Award. The award, which recognizes individuals or organizations whose research contributes to the continued enhancement of food quality and safety through freezing, was presented to Tang during the IAFP 2014 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. Tang was selected for his significant contributions to enhance the fields of food process engineering and, in particular, the development of in-package microwave pasteurization technology for control of microbial and viral pathogens in frozen and chilled meals.

“The Frozen Food Foundation is pleased to recognize the achievements of Dr. Tang through the presentation of the Freezing Research Award,” said Foundation President Kraig R. Naasz, who also serves as President and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute. “Dr. Tang’s contributions to the field of food science and engineering have aided the scientific community and consumers alike by demonstrating innovation through increased product quality, safety, and shelf life.”

Tang holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Central-South University of Technology in China and an M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural engineering from the Universities of Guelph and Saskatchewan in Canada. Tang is currently Regents Professor at Washington State University. He has worked in the area of food science for more than 20 years, during which time he developed a single-mode microwave assisted sterilization and microwave assisted pasteurization technologies.

Tang is an IFT Fellow and won the IFT Research and Development Award in 2010.

Press release

IFT Regulatory News

USDA strengthens procedures for detecting, removing unsafe ground beef
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced new procedures that will allow the agency to trace contaminated ground beef back to its source more quickly, remove it from commerce, and find the root cause of the incident to prevent it from recurring. The changes build on other initiatives the agency has instituted this summer to improve the safety of ground beef, including a proposed requirement that retailers keep records of their ground beef source suppliers and new laboratory methods the agency is using to test these products for multiple pathogens at one time. 

“A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” said Brian Ronholm, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “The expedited traceback procedures being announced today will allow FSIS to take action more quickly, which will make a significant difference in food safety investigations and in preventing foodborne illnesses.”

Under the new traceback procedures, FSIS will conduct immediate investigations at businesses whose ground beef tests positive for E. coli O157:H7 during initial testing and at suppliers that provided source materials. These traceback investigations will begin as soon as FSIS receives a presumptive positive result and the grinding facility can provide supplier information. Previously, FSIS began investigations at the grinding facility only after a presumptive positive test result was confirmed, which can take two days. A similar investigation of the grinding facility’s suppliers would have taken place 30 days later, and more intensive investigations of suppliers will now also begin immediately. Beginning investigations at the point of a presumptive positive test result can save FSIS valuable time.

As part of the traceback investigation, FSIS will review establishment records to determine whether the grinding or supplying establishment’s food safety system experienced a breakdown. The agency will also determine whether the supplying establishment shipped product that may be contaminated to other grinding facilities or further processors. If so, FSIS will take steps to have that product removed from commerce.

FSIS estimates that dozens more recalls may occur once these new protections are in place. By expediting investigations and more quickly removing unsafe product from commerce, FSIS is taking another step to strengthen public health protections and prevent foodborne illnesses. The improved traceback procedures will be fully implemented 60 days after publication in the Federal Register on Oct. 14, 2014.

Press release

Perdue recalls chicken nuggets due to possible foreign matter contamination
Perdue, Gainesville, Ga., is recalling approximately 15,306 lbs of frozen, fully cooked chicken nugget product that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s FSIS announced Aug. 12.

The following product is subject to recall: 8-oz box of Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets bearing the establishment number “P2617” and the “best before” date of “02/05/15.” The products were shipped to retail outlets throughout the United States.

The problem was discovered after the firm received consumer complaints that small pieces of plastic were found in the products. FSIS and the company have received no reports of injury or illness from consumption of the product.

Press release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

Aug. 15
2014 International Nonthermal Processing Workshop: Early Bird Registration Closes August 15

The Ohio State University will be hosting 2014 International Nonthermal Processing Workshop and Short Course Nationwide at the Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, Oct. 21–24, 2014. The theme of the workshop will be “Nonthermal Processing Systems for Healthy and Sustainable Foods.” Participants will learn from experts about the recent advances, and future research and commercialization opportunities of different nonthermal technologies, including high pressure processing, pulsed electric field processing, UV, cold plasma, and food irradiation. A one-day Nonthermal Processing Short Course is being organized prior to the workshop for new users of the nonthermal technologies. To take advantage of the early bird pricing, register by this Friday, August 15. Register for the workshop and short course.

Sept. 15–16: Newark, N.J.
Certified Food Scientist (CFS) Preparatory Course

Are you prepared to take your CFS exam? Or maybe you’re just looking for a food science refresher? Join industry experts for this 2-day course which goes in-depth into the CFS exam content areas. The course includes in-person instruction, access to practice exam questions covering all content areas on the exam, along with interaction with a supportive online community. Check out the agenda and register today.

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