Devices aid safety inspectors
Food manufacturers in the future may use a new generation of portable inspection devices to ensure that their products are safe to consume and of the best possible quality. The prototype instruments, developed by scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, are based on optical technology that is used for remote sensing of the Earth by satellite imagery.

One of the instruments includes the use of a hardhat, flashlight, and safety glasses. But these are not ordinary equipment used by food safety inspectors. A camera is mounted on the hardhat, the flashlight gives off specially filtered light, and the safety glasses are actually a wearable miniature computer. When they are used together, the filtered light from the flashlight helps the camera record the absence or presence of certain pathogens on processing equipment and the eyewear-mounted/computer monitor displays data from a miniature computer attached to the inspector’s belt. After analyzing the data, the inspector can learn if there is any fecal matter on the surface of processing equipment.

Other instruments include binoculars that have lenses designed to filter special bands of light to detect fecal matter or certain pathogens on meat, produce, or processing equipment and a hand-held device that, after shining filtered light on an object, sends images to an eyewear-mounted computer display to analyze whether the object is contaminated with fecal matter.

These systems, which use optically filtered light and opto-electronics to "see," are called machine vision or optical sensing systems. According to ARS, these systems contain a digital multispectral camera that can take photos at different wavelengths simultaneously, as well as detect light invisible to the naked eye.

The scientists have also developed a prototype optical detector that uses laser beams to detect the sweetness and firmness of fruits and an instrument that uses near-infrared reflected light to detect proteins in wheat, as well as scab and other molds.

ADM sells Arkady
Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., recently completed the sale of the Arkady and distilled monoglycerides businesses to Caravan Ingredients, which is owned by CSM, a Dutch–based internationally operating company.

This sale includes product lines such as bakery enhancers, mixes, enrichments, and distilled monoglycerides, in addition to existing customer base, brands, trademarks, and other intellectual property associated with this business. ADM will continue to provide its customers with food ingredients for the baking industry, including flour, sweeteners, oils, emulsifiers, and proteins.

Cargill markets some Crisco oils
Cargill Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., and J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio, recently formed a partnership in which Cargill will be licensed to manufacture and market a set of foodservice oils and shortenings under the Crisco Professional® line of "zero grams trans fat per serving" oils and shortenings.

"This agreement enables us to partner even more closely with Cargill in developing proprietary offerings that are in growing demand in today’s dynamic foodservice arena," said Maribeth Badertscher, spokesperson for Crisco.

The line will initially include four products that have been formulated to meet the differing frying needs of foodservice operators. It includes Premium Clear Frying Oil, Heavy Duty Creamy Frying Shortening, Heavy Duty Clear Frying Oil, and General Purpose Creamy Frying Shortening.

Prior to commercialization, the products underwent rigorous independent testing at Penn State University and Medallion Labs to ensure that the proprietary formulations met the performance, taste, and nutrition parameters set by the two companies.

MGPI opens tech center
MGP Ingredients Inc., Atchison, Kan., recently completed construction of its new corporate office building and technical innovation center. The company is naming the two-building complex the Cray Business Plaza in honor of Cloud L. "Bud" and Sally Cray and other members of the Cray family, including Cloud Cray’s father and company founder, the late Cloud L. Cray Sr.

"The buildings not only reflect MGPI’s ongoing evolvement, but also stand as testaments to the significant role the family has had and continues to have in our progress," said Tim Newkirk, President and Chief Operating Officer.

The technical innovation center has nearly a dozen laboratories, including protein and starch research labs; separate applications labs for bakery, meat, prepared foods, biopolymers, and distillery products; a culinary kitchen; and sensory testing, instrumentation, and analytical labs.

Safety award nominees sought
The Partnership for Food Safety Education, creator of the Fight BAC! safe food handling campaign, is seeking nominees for the 1st Annual BAC Fighters Program Awards. Three teams in each of the following categories will be honored: general consumer outreach, hospital/clinic/healthcare program, and retailer/restaurant/food service program.

Applications are due June 1, 2007. Winning teams will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., for the Partnership’s 10th anniversary celebration in September. For more information, contact Shelley Feist at 202-220-0651 or visit

Anheuser-Busch forms joint ventures
Anheuser-Busch International Inc., St. Louis, Mo., recently formed two separate joint ventures in which it will distribute beer overseas, as well as share brewing and marketing expertise with foreign companies.

The company has partnered with Grupo Damm, Barcelona, Spain, to distribute in the UK Estrella Damm Barcelona, Grupo Damm’s flagship beer brand. The Spanish brewer will also gain access to Anheuser-Busch’s marketing and sales expertise. The imported beer will continue to be brewed and packaged in Barcelona. The two companies have worked together in the past; they formed in 1995 a licensed brewing, distribution, and joint marketing agreement for Budweiser in Spain.

Anheuser-Busch and India–based Crown Beers have agreed to brew, market, and distribute Budweiser and other brands in India. Both companies will have 50% ownership of the joint venture, Crown Beers India Ltd., which will be located in Hyderabad, India.

This joint venture opportunity will be a way to introduce Anheuser-Busch’s brands to the Indian market. According to the company, India ranks low in the number of markets in which beer is sold but sales have increased at a compounded annual growth rate of 8% for the past five years. It said that a growing middle class and a young population with 60% age 30 or younger have contributed to this growth.

Coca-Cola lists caffeine content
Coca-Cola North America, Atlanta, Ga., has announced that it will continue the rollout of expanded nutrition labeling to list the caffeine content on the packaging of all of its beverages that are sold in the United States, beginning with Coca-Cola Classic in May.

Other brands and packages will be updated throughout the year.

The company is currently labeling the caffeine content of its Full Throttle and Enviga products as part of a voluntary effort to provide more nutrition information to consumers.

The time at which the revised labels reach store shelves will vary by brand and by region as U.S. bottlers use up existing inventories of packaging.

FDA begins pilot program
The Food and Drug Administration is conducting a pilot program to help consumers identify recalled food products that may pose health risks.

Under the program, which will last at least until August, FDA will post photos of the principal label panel on its Web site,

Recalled food products that pose a significant health risk are covered by this pilot program. These include potential class I food recalls and may also include some potential class II recalls. A class I recall is one in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

According to FDA, more than 100 class I recall events involving food products took place in fiscal year 2006.

The photos will show a sample of the principal display panel, which is what consumers see when the product is on the retailer’s shelf. FDA highly recommends that consumers read the accompany text that will be posted with the photos. This information will give specific identifying information such as lot number, manufacturer’s name, and more.

After the conclusion of the pilot program, FDA will evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Feedback about the program should be sent to [email protected]

by Karen Nachay,
Assistant Editor 
[email protected]