The Weekly: March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015

IFT Top Stories

H.J. Heinz, Kraft Foods to merge
H.J. Heinz Co. and Kraft Foods Group Inc. have entered into a definitive merger agreement to create The Kraft Heinz Co., forming the third-largest food and beverage company in North America. Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by both Heinz and Kraft’s Boards of Directors, Kraft shareholders will own a 49% stake in the combined company, and current Heinz shareholders will own 51% on a fully diluted basis. Kraft shareholders will receive stock in the combined company and a special cash dividend of $16.50 per share. The aggregate special dividend payment of approximately $10 billion is being fully funded by an equity contribution by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital.
The combination of these food companies joins together two portfolios of big name brands, including Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer, Ore-Ida, and Philadelphia. Together the new company will have eight brands valued at over $1 billion each and five brands between $500 million and $1 billion. The complementary nature of the two brand portfolios presents substantial opportunity for synergies, which will result in increased investments in marketing and innovation.

“By bringing together these two iconic companies through this transaction, we are creating a strong platform for both U.S. and international growth,” said Alex Behring, chairman of Heinz and the managing partner at 3G Capital. “Our combined brands and businesses mean increased scale and relevance both in the U.S. and internationally. We have the utmost respect for the Kraft business and its employees, and greatly look forward to working together as we integrate the two companies.”

“Together we will have some of the most respected, recognized, and storied brands in the global food industry, and together we will create an even brighter future,” said John Cahill, Kraft chairman and CEO. “This combination offers significant cash value to our shareholders and the opportunity to be investors in a company very well positioned for growth, especially outside the United States, as we bring Kraft’s iconic brands to international markets.”

When the transaction closes, Alex Behring, chairman of Heinz and the managing partner at 3G Capital, will become the chairman of The Kraft Heinz Co. John Cahill, Kraft chairman and CEO, will become vice chairman and chair of a newly formed operations and strategy committee of the Board of Directors. Bernardo Hees, CEO of Heinz, will be appointed CEO of The Kraft Heinz Co. The Kraft Heinz Co. will be co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and the Chicago area.

The transaction is subject to approval by Kraft shareholders, receipt of regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2015.

Press release

Middle income countries play key role in eliminating hunger
Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and Mexico may be rising economic powerhouses, but these five fast-growing, middle income countries are still home to nearly half of the world’s hungry, or 363 million people. That is why we must also pay attention to those living in the “economic middle” as part of any strategy to effectively combat hunger and malnutrition on a global scale, according to a new report published today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report (GFPR) calls on governments of middle income countries to reshape their food systems to focus on nutrition and health, close the gender gap in agriculture, and improve rural infrastructure to ensure food security for all.

The food security and nutrition situation in middle income countries is one of seven food policy issues examined in this year’s GFPR, an annual IFPRI flagship publication that examines major food, agriculture, and nutrition developments and trends with a view toward reducing poverty around the globe. The report stresses the link between sanitation and nutrition, noting findings in Bangladesh that show that dramatic reductions in open defecation contributed to large declines in the number of stunted children. The research found that Bangladeshi children living in places where open defecation had been reduced were taller than children in neighboring West Bengal, India, where open defecation is still common, even at the same levels of economic wealth.

“It has become clear that the factors that influence people’s nutrition go well beyond food and agriculture to include drinking water and sanitation, the role of women, the quality of caregiving, among others,” said Shenggen Fan, director general of IFPRI.

The report discusses the strong evidence that food insecurity was a contributing factor to instability in the Middle East and also draws attention to the pressing need to regulate food production to prevent foodborne diseases, help small family farmers move up by increasing their incomes or move out to non-farm employment, improve social protection for the rural poor, and support the role of small-scale fishers in satisfying the global demand for fish.

“We made some important strides toward global food and nutrition security in 2014,” said Fan. “For example, nutrition shot up to the top of the global agenda and the concept of climate-smart agriculture has gained a foothold. Now we need to keep these and other food-policy issues high on the global development agenda to ensure we eliminate hunger and malnutrition worldwide.”

Press release

Fighting food fraud with technology
The World Customs Institute estimates that food fraud costs the global food industry $49 billion annually. This month’s FutureFood 2050 series highlights some of the most promising weapons in the fight to make our food supply safer. FutureFood 2050 is an initiative supported by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) that addresses how to feed the world’s expected population of more than nine billion by 2050.

One of this month’s articles highlights the work of Chris Elliott, analytical chemist and director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, who is waging a war against criminals who adulterate food. “Food fraud is now recognized as being one of the big threats to the integrity of the global food supply,” said Elliott.

Whether it’s adding illegal chemicals to prepared meals, changing the use-by dates on packaging or passing off peanut oil as olive oil, food fraud is big business. As director of his university’s ASSET Technology Centre, Elliott works to develop new analytical tools and refine old ones that will help regulatory food safety inspectors, retailers, and food manufacturers lead the battle against food frauds. His team is working on speeding up the tests for dioxins, industrial pollutants that can contaminate food. Currently, the tests take several weeks, but Elliott’s goal is a rapid test that gives results the same day.

Elliott sees DNA “fingerprinting” as one of the major areas ripe for development. Instead of using mass spectrometry techniques to identify a particular trait—such as the presence of an illegal dye—fingerprinting looks at the entire molecular composition of a foodstuff. That makeup is influenced by a host of factors, including the climate, the acidity of local rain and the soil type, and will vary according to where a plant or animal was grown. In addition, fingerprinting is noninvasive. Using an infrared scanner, which works by exciting the molecules in the sample and then measuring their reaction, an inspector should be able to scan a sample of grain in a warehouse, download the results to a tablet, and then compare the data with a central library before coming back with a match.

All this technology will be needed as fraud becomes more prevalent, says Elliott, especially because of the growing demand for processed and luxury food from China, India, and other emerging economies.

FutureFood 2050 article

IFT Research Briefs

Flavored milk: Perception, nutrition and challenges
Overall milk consumption of both adults and children does not meet the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Flavored milk can increase milk consumption for children and adolescents, but the added sugar content raises concern. A study published in the Journal of Food Science explores the perception of flavored milk by adults and children and examines its nutrition, regulations in school meal programs, and challenges.

In their review, the authors found that flavored milk plays a significant role in increasing milk consumption to ensure children’s essential nutrients intake as well as providing nutrition for adults. The controversy on the sugar content and calories of chocolate milk has influenced and caused many regulatory and social opinion changes. Numerous studies indicate that chocolate milk, and by association, other flavored milks, are consumed for their desirable flavor and as such, desirable flavor must be maintained while controlling sugar and caloric content.

The wealth of nutrition studies suggest that the benefits of moderate flavored milk consumption outweigh any possible negative effects, particularly as efforts are made to minimize sugar content. Understanding the nutritional values and regulations of flavored milk is important for its current status and future perception. Future studies need to be conducted on sensory acceptance of calorie-reduced flavored milks, especially chocolate milk, for both young adults and children to obtain sugar reduction and still maintain acceptability for both marketing and health values.


Cooking method may lower calorie count for rice
A study presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society shows that scientists have developed a new, simple way to cook rice that could cut the number of calories absorbed by the body by more than half.

“Because obesity is a growing health problem, especially in many developing countries, we wanted to find food-based solutions,” said team leader Sudhair A. James, who is at the College of Chemical Sciences, Colombo, Western, Sri Lanka. “We discovered that increasing rice resistant starch (RS) concentrations was a novel way to approach the problem.”

By using a specific heating and cooking regimen the scientists concluded that “if the best rice variety is processed, it might reduce the calories by about 50–60%. He explains that starch can be digestible or indigestible. Starch is a component of rice, and it has both types. Unlike digestible types of starch, RS is not broken down in the small intestine, where carbohydrates normally are metabolized into glucose and other simple sugars and absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, the researchers reasoned that if they could transform digestible starch into RS, then that could lower the number of usable calories of the rice.

The team experimented with 38 kinds of rice from Sri Lanka, developing a new way of cooking rice that increased the RS content. In this method, they added a teaspoon of coconut oil to boiling water. Then, they added a half a cup of rice. They simmered this for 40 min, but one could boil it for 20–25 min instead, the researchers note. Then, they refrigerated it for 12 hrs. This procedure increased the RS by 10 times for traditional, non-fortified rice.

The researchers believe that in this method the oil enters the starch granules during cooking, changing its architecture so that it becomes resistant to the action of digestive enzymes. This means that fewer calories ultimately get absorbed into the body. The next step will be to complete studies with human subjects to learn which varieties of rice might be best suited to the calorie-reduction process. The team also will check out whether other oils besides coconut have this effect.

Press release

Dark chocolate may have heart benefits for older adults
According to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Scientific Sessions 2015, eating dark chocolate may help improve energy levels, raise exercise stamina, and improve other measures of heart health in sedentary older adults. For this double blind, placebo controlled study, 17 sedentary subjects (mean age, 50 years) were randomly assigned to consume two squares of Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate or placebo (20 g) for three months. The researchers analyzed blood samples, exercise endurance tests, and skeletal muscle biopsies from before and after a three-month period.

Subjects given dark chocolate showed improvements in HDL cholesterol levels, a trend for decreases in triglycerides, and increased proteins associated with metabolism and energy production. Exercise testing indicated the volunteers also had a higher capacity for exercise and more efficient energy production in their muscle cells.

It is believed that dark chocolate has a direct effect on blood pressure (BP), lipids, insulin resistance, and inflammatory markers. The researchers report that the mechanism underlying these improvements is thought to be due to increased nitric oxide levels and improved endothelial function.

The researchers noted that the study is very small and larger trials are needed to confirm the results.

Press release

Global livestock antibiotic use expected to increase 67% by 2030
A team of researchers from Princeton University, the International Livestock Research Institute, the Université Libre de Bruxelles, and the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy has conducted for the first time a broad assessment of antibiotic consumption in livestock around the world and predicts an increase in use in the next 15 years. Antimicrobials are used routinely in modern animal production for disease prevention and as growth promoters. In the United States antibiotic consumption in animals represents up to 80% of total antimicrobial sales.

The study, “Global trends in antimicrobial use in food animals,” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that worldwide antimicrobial consumption is expected to rise by 67% between 2010 and 2030. Five countries—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—will experience a growth of 99% in antibiotic consumption, compared with an expected 13% growth in their human populations over the same period, according to the study authors.

Two-thirds (66%) of the global increase (67%) in antimicrobial consumption is due to the growing number of animals raised for food production. The remaining third (34%) is attributable to a shift in farming practices, with a larger proportion of animals projected to be raised in “intensive farming systems,” or factory farms.

The study focused on cattle, chickens, and pigs and identified the latter two as the main contributors to antibiotic consumption. One key limitation in performing this first assessment was collecting and accessing enough veterinary evidence on antimicrobial consumption; the present study is based on a limited data-set of veterinary antimicrobials sales from just 32 countries, all from developed economies.

“An important limiting factor in carrying out this first inventory of antibiotic consumption in animals was the lack of ‘modelling-ready’ data on veterinary antibiotic sales in many countries,” said lead author Thomas Van Boeckel, a Fulbright research scholar in the Dept. of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton.


Artificial sweetener may be key to treating cancer
A study presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society shows that the artificial sweetener saccharin could potentially lead to the development of drugs capable of combating aggressive, difficult-to-treat cancers with fewer side effects. The new work examines how saccharin binds to and deactivates carbonic anhydrase IX, a protein found in some very aggressive cancers. It is one of many driving factors in the growth and spread of such cancers in the breast, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas, and brain.

Carbonic anhydrase IX helps regulate pH in and around cancer cells, allowing tumors to thrive and potentially metastasize to other parts of the body. Because of this finding, the researchers wanted to develop saccharin-based drug candidates that could slow the growth of these cancers and potentially make them less resistant to chemo or radiation therapies. Except for in the gastrointestinal tract, carbonic anhydrase IX is normally not found in healthy human cells, making it a prime target for anti-cancer drugs that would cause little or no side effects to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. However, carbonic anhydrase IX is similar to other carbonic anhydrase proteins that our bodies need to work properly.

In earlier work, Italian scientists discovered that saccharin inhibits the actions of carbonic anhydrase IX, but not the 14 other carbonic anhydrase proteins that are vital to our survival. Building on this finding, an Australian research team created a compound in which a molecule of glucose was chemically linked to saccharin. This reduced the amount of saccharin needed to inhibit carbonic anhydrase IX and the compound was 1,000 times more likely to bind to the enzyme than saccharin.

Now, researchers at the University of Florida are using X-ray crystallography to determine how saccharin binds to carbonic anhydrase IX, and how it or other saccharin-based compounds might be tweaked to enhance this binding and boost its anti-cancer treatment potential. The researchers are currently testing the effects of saccharin and saccharin-based compounds on breast and liver cancer cells. If successful, these experiments could lead to animal studies.

Press release

Storage, roasting changes enhance chocolate’s flavor, nutrition profile
A study presented at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society shows that researchers may have found a way to make chocolate more nutritious—above and beyond its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce stroke risk.

Once removed from their pods, cocoa beans are fermented in banana-lined baskets for a few days and then set out to dry in the sun. Roasting, the next step, brings out the flavor. However, some of the healthful polyphenols (antioxidants) are lost during the roasting process, so the researchers wanted to figure out a way to retain as much of the polyphenols and good flavors as possible.

“We decided to add a pod-storage step before the beans were even fermented to see whether that would have an effect on the polyphenol content,” said Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, the University of Ghana. “This is not traditionally done, and this is what makes our research fundamentally different. It’s also not known how roasting affects polyphenol content.”

The researchers divided 300 pods into four groups that were either not stored at all or stored for three, seven, or 10 days before processing. This technique is called “pulp preconditioning.” After each storage period passed, fermentation and drying were done as usual. They found that storing the pods for seven days resulted in the highest antioxidant activity after roasting.

To assess the effects of roasting, the researchers took samples from each of the storage groups and roasted them at the same temperature for different times. The current process is to roast the beans for 10–20 min at 248–266°F. The researchers adjusted this to 45 min at 242°F and discovered that this slower roasting at a lower temperature increased the antioxidant activity compared to beans roasted with the conventional method.

In addition, the beans that were stored and then roasted for 45 min had more polyphenols and higher antioxidant activity than beans whose pods were not stored prior to fermentation. The researchers believe the pulp preconditioning allowed the sweet pulp surrounding the beans inside the pod to alter the biochemical and physical constituents of the beans before the fermentation. “This aided the fermentation processes and enhanced antioxidant capacity of the beans, as well as the flavor,” said Afoakwa.

Press release

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IFT Company News

Hargrove to lead Mondelēz’s research, development
Mondelēz International has announced that Robin Hargrove will become executive vice president of research, development, and quality, effective April 1. In this role, he will report to Chief Growth Officer Mark Clouse and be responsible for all product and packaging development, research, nutrition, quality, food safety, and scientific affairs activities worldwide. Hargrove succeeds Jean Spence, who is retiring after nearly 35 years of service.

“Rob is an outstanding leader and business partner with passion, technical savvy, and extensive experience in both developed and emerging markets,” said Clouse. “He will bring the voice of our consumers into the successful development of global innovation platforms. In addition, Rob is highly experienced in category-led operating models and in navigating through large global organizations. I’m confident he will have an immediate impact as we continue to innovate and drive productivity improvements in support of our growth journey.”

Hargrove has served as senior vice president of research, development, and quality for Mondelēz Europe since 2013. Prior to joining the company, he had worked at PepsiCo in various senior roles since 1994. He led Frito-Lay’s R&D activities in emerging Asian markets and Australia (2000–2002), their North America health and wellness snacks portfolio (2002–2006), and PepsiCo Europe’s R&D portfolio, with a heavy emphasis on the developing Eastern European region, including Russia (2006–2013).

A native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, Hargrove holds an MS in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, University of London.

Press release

Kansas State, General Mills partner to develop new wheat varieties
Kansas State University and General Mills have formed a research agreement to develop wheat varieties with improved nutritional, milling, and baking qualities. The multiyear project will pump more than $400,000 into wheat development at the university.

“Kansas State has unique capabilities to connect wheat research all the way from genomics to milling and baking, which makes us a strong partner for these types of research projects,” said Jesse Poland, K-State assistant professor of plant pathology. Poland is also director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Applied Wheat Genomics—a five-year, $5 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development—and associate director of the university’s Wheat Genetics Resource Center.

Since forming the agreement, General Mills has placed two full-time scientists in the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center on the north end of Kansas State’s Manhattan campus to help with this and other projects.

“The overall goal of this project is to identify and develop improved wheat varieties that have superior nutritional and processing quality,” said Eric Jackson, a geneticist and systems biologist with General Mills Crop Biosciences and one of the two scientists now in Manhattan. “It’s our belief that this approach will increase the quality of consumer products through decreasing additives in processing and increasing the utility and function of whole grain products.”

The research agreement is a dollar-for-dollar match, with both groups also providing expertise and staff time toward variety development. Kansas State is providing money awarded by the Kansas Dept. of Commerce to leverage strengths in food and agriculture.

Press release

SK Food, Hesco merge
Healthy Food Ingredients LLC (HFI), the parent company of SK Food International, has merged SK Food with Hesco/Dakota Organic Products. HFI is a specialty ingredient company that provides non-GMO, organic, gluten-free, and identity-preserved ingredients to customers in the food manufacturing and foodservice industries.

In October 2013, HFI recapitalized SK Food International which is located in Fargo, N.D. Founded in 1990, SK Food is an ingredient solutions provider of identity-preserved, non-GMO, and organic grains, seeds, soybeans, pulses, expeller oils, and flours/flakes. Hesco/Dakota Organic Products is a South Dakota–based specialty ingredients company that provides conventional and organic wheat, durum, barley, rye, flax, and ancient grains in whole and milled form. Hesco offers a variety of multigrain whole bakery blends, cereal, and prepared food blends as well as pet food blends.

“We are excited to join the HFI team with SK Food and look forward to better serving our customers and the industry,” said Brad Hennrich, president of Hesco. “As a result of the merger, both Hesco and SK Food have expanded what we’re now able to offer our existing domestic and international customers. In addition to reaching new areas of the industry, we will be able to better provide our customers the supply assurance required in today’s competitive specialty grains market through our vast grower network.”

Press release

TreeHouse Foods announces organizational changes
TreeHouse Foods has announced that Christopher D. Sliva, executive vice president of TreeHouse Foods and president of Bay Valley Foods, has been promoted to the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer of TreeHouse Foods.

In this role, Sliva will continue to oversee all of the operating companies within Bay Valley Foods. In addition, he will direct the joint go-to-market sales activities of both the Bay Valley Foods and Flagstone Foods organizations. Sliva will focus on building an organizational structure that will enable TreeHouse to leverage the two distinct sales organizations of Bay Valley Foods and Flagstone Foods. The objective of the combined organization will be to realize the full potential of marketing the company’s portfolio of food and beverage products across its customer base. Sliva will continue to report to Sam K. Reed, president, CEO, and chairman of TreeHouse Foods.

Paul Lapadat, president and CEO of Flagstone Foods, who has led Flagstone since its formation in 2010, is leaving the company. Dennis F. Riordan, executive vice president and CFO of TreeHouse Foods, will maintain his CFO responsibilities and assume the role of interim president of Flagstone Foods, having led the integration efforts since the purchase of the company in July 2014.

Press release

Starbucks passes Subway in U.S. sales
According to USA Today, Starbucks has passed Subway to become the No. 2 restaurant chain in U.S. sales—second only to McDonald’s. According to research firm Technomic’s 2015 Top 500 Chain Report, Starbucks had almost $12.7 billion in U.S. sales in 2014. Subway, which is privately held, does not generally report its U.S. sales, but it informed Technomic that its 2014 U.S. sales were $11.9 billion. McDonald’s remains No. 1, with U.S. sales of $35.8 billion in 2014.

Starbucks’ domestic sales growth was 8.2% last year, while Subway declined 3.3%, said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. According to Tristano, other chains, like Chipotle, are stealing the “healthy” mantle from Subway.

USA Today article

Martin-Brower to build $16 M food distribution facility in Louisiana
The Martin-Brower Co. has announced it will make a $16 million capital investment to build a food distribution facility in Walker, La. In addition to retaining 160 existing jobs, Martin Brower will create 30 new direct jobs. Martin Brower has operated a food distribution complex in Port Allen, La., since 1979, but as the company continued to grow, space and rail access limitations required the company to move.

“We are excited about the opportunity to build a new distribution center in the Livingston Parish area,” General Manager Larry Daigle said. “Our planned state-of-the-art, eco-friendly facility will bring enhanced equipment and technology to assist our employees in executing operations, improve efficiencies to our customers, and help us reduce our overall environmental impact on our community.”

The distribution complex will be built on a 22-acre site within the industrial park, located just east of Walker along U.S. 190. Construction is expected to take nine to 12 months. From its distribution complex in the Capital Region, Martin Brower supplies food items and foodservice products to restaurants in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.


Blue Diamond Growers to build new California almond warehouse
Blue Diamond Growers broke ground on a new almond receiving warehouse at its Salida, Calif., facility, expanding the footprint of the world’s largest almond receiving station. The cooperative expects 20% growth in its business in the coming years and is preparing by building 33% more in receiving capabilities. The warehouse features many construction techniques designed to maintain optimum product quality and enhance grower delivery speeds.

“We are preserving product quality to meet expectations of customers who source Extra No. 1 and Supreme grade almonds,” said Darrell Nelson, Salida plant manager. “This warehouse will be state-of-the-art in design, providing gentle handling, food safety, and added flexibility in order to meet the needs of our grower-owners as well as customers.”

The warehouse will have the following features:

  • Prefabrication construction for concrete, structural steel, conveyance support structures, conveyors, and catwalks to expedite the construction process
  • Roof-mounted in-feed conveyors to gently transport almonds into storage
  • Spirals to guide the almonds from roof conveyors to the ground
  • Floors sloped at 26° to allow product to naturally flow into underground outbound conveyors
  • Floor openings with integrated chutes and adjustable gates to automate the outbound conveyance of product into the processing plant

The cooperative expects the warehouse to be in operation for the fall 2015 harvest season.

Blue Diamond

IFT Regulatory News

FDA concludes GE apples, potatoes are safe for consumption
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has completed its evaluation for two varieties of apples genetically engineered by Okanagan Specialty Fruits and for six varieties of potatoes genetically engineered by J. R. Simplot Co. and concluded that these foods are as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts.

Okanagan’s Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties of apples, known collectively by the trade name Arctic Apples, are genetically engineered to resist browning associated with cuts and bruises by reducing levels of enzymes that can cause browning.

Simplot’s varieties of Ranger Russet, Russet Burbank, and Atlantic potatoes are collectively known by the trade name Innate and are genetically engineered to reduce the formation of black spot bruises by lowering the levels of certain enzymes in the potatoes. In addition, they are engineered to produce less acrylamide by lowering the levels of an amino acid called asparagine and by lowering the levels of reducing sugars.

Foods derived from genetically engineered plants must meet the same legal standards, including safety standards, as foods derived from traditional plant breeding methods. To help developers of foods derived from genetically engineered plants comply with their obligations under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and FDA regulations, the FDA encourages them to participate in a voluntary consultation process with the agency prior to commercial distribution.

As part of its consultation process, both Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and Simplot, Boise, Idaho, submitted to the FDA a summary of their safety and nutritional assessments. The consultation process includes a review of information provided by a company about the nature of the molecular changes and the nutritional composition of the food compared to traditionally bred varieties. “This case-by-case safety evaluation ensures that food safety issues are resolved prior to commercial distribution,” said Dennis Keefe, director of the FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety.

Press release

Twin City Foods recalls spinach products due to Listeria risk
Twin City Foods Inc., Stanwood, Wash., is recalling various spinach products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled products include the following:  

  • Cadia Organic Cut Spinach, 16 oz frozen packages, UPC 15369 01165, package code: 23424, product distributed only in California
  • Meijer Organics Chopped Spinach, 16 oz frozen packages, UPC 41250 02362, package code: BEST BY FEB 2017 50415, distributed to warehouses in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin
  • Wild Harvest Organic Cut Leaf Spinach, 16 oz frozen packages, UPC 11535 50170. Package code: SELL BY 08.DEC.2016 L084WE was distributed to warehouses in Arizona, California, and Washington. Package code: SELL BY 22.JAN.2017 A225WE was distributed to warehouses in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Package code: SELL BY 30.JAN.2017 A305WE was distributed to warehouses in Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Package code: SELL BY 04.MAR.2017 C045WE was distributed to warehouses in Maine and Pennsylvania.
  • Wegmans Organic Just Picked Spinach, 12 oz frozen packages, UPC 77890 32932. Package code: BEST USED BY JAN.26.2017 50265 was distributed to warehouses in New York and Pennsylvania. Package code: BEST USED BY FEB.02.2017 50335 was distributed to warehouses in New York and Pennsylvania.
No illnesses have been reported to date. The recalled product was supplied to Twin City Foods by Coastal Green Vegetable Co. of Oxnard, Calif., which initiated a recall of the bulk spinach on March 20, 2015, due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

Press release

Blue Bell Ice Cream expands recall
Blue Bell Ice Cream, Brenham, Texas, is expanding its recall to include three 3 oz institutional/foodservice ice cream cups—Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla with tab lids—because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. On March 22, the Kansas Dept. of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/foodservice cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold through retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.

The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming via foodservice accounts.

  • Ice Cream Cup Chocolate, 3 oz, No UPC - SKU #453
  • Ice Cream Cup Strawberry, 3 oz, No UPC - SKU #452
  • Ice Cream Cup Vanilla, 3 oz, No UPC – SKU #451
There have been no reported illnesses to date. This recall in doesn’t include Blue Bell Ice Cream 0.5 gal, pints, quarts, 3 gal, or other 3 oz cups.

Press release

USDA, University of Kentucky establish Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and University of Kentucky-Lexington officials to announce the establishment of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. The center will use cutting-edge solutions in child nutrition to reduce child food insecurity in states with the highest number of persistently poor rural counties. Currently, about 85% of all persistently poor counties in the United States are in rural areas, and children are one of the most vulnerable groups living in rural areas.

“The Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center underscores this administration’s focus on addressing poverty and food insecurity among children in rural areas where hunger and obesity are too common,” said Vilsack. “The center will make it possible for children in rural areas to access much-needed nutrition assistance and help close the large food insecurity gap between urban and rural communities.”

With the USDA’s investment of $2.5 million, the Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center will administer and evaluate a series of sub-grants targeted to as many as 30 rural areas with high poverty rates in up to 15 states. The communities will use the funds to better coordinate existing child nutrition programs and create solutions to target child food insecurity. The University of Kentucky will partner with Altarum Institute and the Southern Rural Development Center to develop the center.

Press release

FDA to hold public meeting on FSMA implementation strategy
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public meeting entitled, “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Focus on Implementation Strategy for Prevention-Oriented Food Safety Standards.” The meeting will be held April 23, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and April 24, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Washington, DC.

The public meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about and discuss FDA’s current planning efforts for the next phase of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) implementation, which involves putting in place the prevention and risk-based safety standards at the core of FSMA. The FDA will share current thinking on operational strategies for implementing the new standards that will affect food and feed facilities, farmers, importers, and others who supply the nations’ food. While there is no formal public comment session planned, it is anticipated that stakeholders will have ample opportunity to provide comments and opinions through their participation in their choice of breakout sessions on the topics discussed at the meeting and to engage in an open comment and question/answer session.

Press release

IFT IFT & Meeting News

Mind genomics Short Course: Register by April 3 and save $100
Interested in learning more about how to discover and apply useful insights into consumer preferences and perceptions to your company’s product development and marketing efforts? Then plan now to join us for the upcoming Short Course, Mind genomics: Marketing & Development Success through a New Science, May 6–7, in Chicago. Register by April 3 and receive a $100 discount.

Webcast: Best Practices in Food Traceability for the Bakery Food Sector
Attend this 30-min webcast and learn how to create a comprehensive traceability plan for your plant, as well as ways to ensure effective food traceability. Register today for Best Practices in Food Traceability for the Bakery Food Sector, Thursday, April 2, 1:00–1:30 p.m. CT.

Help support scholarships by participating in the 2015 Fun Run
Join your friends and colleagues at the IFTSA and Feeding Tomorrow Fun Run & Walk, Monday, July 13, in Chicago. Proceeds from the event support our student scholarship fund. You can help us meet our goal of raising $110,000 by registering to participate in the Fun Run when you register for IFT15, purchasing an “I Slept In for the Fun Run” commemorative t-shirt, or becoming a Fun Run sponsor. For general questions about the Fun Run, please call +1.312.604.0285. For information on becoming a sponsor, contact Amanda Perl.

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