New label informs consumers
A new front-of-pack labeling system provides at-a-glance nutritional information for American consumers.

Released during the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in October 2008, the voluntary Smart Choices Program™ was created by a coalition of scientists, academicians, health organizations, food and beverage manufacturers, and retailers under the leadership of the Keystone Center. This nonprofit organization specializes in creating consensus solutions to public health problems.

The program includes a symbol that identifies nutritious food choices—as defined by the coalition—and provides calories-per-servings and servings-per-container information on the front of the packages. The symbol will begin appearing on food and beverage packaging this year.

The coalition developed the science-based nutrition criteria for the program using the Dietary Guidelines for America as well as additional resources, including Food and Drug Administration standards and reports from the Institute of Medicine. Products must meet certain standards under these criteria to qualify for the symbol.

Several large food manufacturers have reported that they may implement the Smart Choices Program. One of these companies, General Mills, Minneapolis, Minn., plans to include a range of its products, including cereals, yogurt, snacks, vegetables, and soups, according to Heidi Geller, spokesperson.

"We believe that a single, credible system that is recognizable and uniform across categories will benefit consumers," said Geller. "The new Smart Choices initiative harmonizes and unifies various competing approaches, reducing potential confusion and making it easier for consumers to identify healthy food choices and compare calorie and serving information at a glance. We are committed to helping consumers identify nutrition and calorie information. We see Smart Choices as helpful, and we are hopeful it will quickly be accepted across the industry."

Here comes the sun
McCormick & Co. Inc., Sparks, Md., has signed an agreement with Constellation Energy’s Projects & Services Group, a subsidiary of Constellation Energy, under which Constellation Energy’s Projects & Services Group will construct an approximately 1 MW solar power system at McCormick’s Spice Mill and Distribution Center in Hunt Valley, Md. McCormick will purchase the electricity generated from the system. The spice mill is important globally for McCormick as it is the company’s largest milling and grinding facility.

The installation will feature approximately 80,000 sq ft of thin-film solar material—lightweight, flexible photovoltaic material that can be easily applied directly to existing rooftops—that is expected to generate 500 KW of electricity. An additional 500 KW of electricity is expected to be generated by approximately 2,800 Solar World 175 W crystalline solar panels.

The energy company estimates that the project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 1,000 metric tons annually and reduce McCormick’s electricity costs for this facility by approximately 30% in the first year alone. The energy supplied by this project annually is expected to be equivalent to the electricity used by 110 homes in a year.

Rutgers opens processing facility
Rutgers University’s New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, Bridgeton, N.J., in October opened a 23,000-sq-ft business incubator and food processing facility at its Food Innovation Center (FIC).

"This new facility allows the FIC to provide business and technology expertise to small and mid-size food companies in New Jersey and lets us utilize our outreach capacity to reach food and agribusinesses throughout the nation," said Louis Cooperhouse, Director of the Rutgers FIC.

Food Innovation Center clients include farmers and rural cooperatives, startup food companies, existing small and mid-sized food establishments, and retail and foodservice markets that seek to purchase locally supplied New Jersey products.

UGA offers online degree
The University of Georgia now offers an online version of its Master in Food Technology program. Classes are conducted once a week for three hours during the evening to accommodate the working schedules of most students. Admission to the program requires admission to the university’s graduate school. The program takes about 2-3 years to complete. For more information, contact Louise Wicker, Professor and Interim Director, at 706-542-1055 or [email protected].

Tech advances for food industry
Food processing professionals interested in the latest advances in technology may want to add Anuga FoodTec to their calendars. The international trade fair for food and drink technology will take place March 10–13, 2009, in Cologne, Germany. Anuga FoodTec is jointly organized by Koelnmesse GmbH and the German Agricultural Society. The main components of the trade fair are process technology, packaging technology, automation technology, food safety and quality management, refrigeration and air-conditioning technology, and conveying, transport, and storage.

For more information, visit

Examining UV, PEF
Apple juice is a popular beverage that contains phytochemcials and antioxidants. Thermal processing is commonly used to assure the safety of the juice, which over the years has been linked to a few foodborne illness outbreaks. In recent years, researchers developed nonthermal technologies such as high hydrostatic pressure, cold plasma, dense phase CO2, ultraviolet light (UV), and pulsed electric field (PEF), some of which are more useful in food processing than others.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, examined the effectiveness of UV, PEF, or a combination of both in reducing ATCC 23472 in apple juice. They noted that these two technologies have been effective at reducing other strains of E. coli.

The levels of E. coli were reduced by 3.46 log CFU/mL when treated with UV; by 4.87 when treated with PEF; by 5.35 when treated with PEF followed by UV; and by 5.30 when treated with UV followed by PEF. Differences between either of the combination treatments and the additive treatments were not observed, which indicated an additive effect, according to the researchers.

The study, "Ultraviolet and Pulsed Electric Field Treatments Have Additive Effect on Inactivation of E. coli in Apple Juice," appeared in the November/December 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science. For more information, visit, and click on "Publications."

Food companies explore new opportunities
A number of companies from around the world have expanded facilities, formed alliances, or invested more in product development. Here is an update on some key projects.

Attune Foods, San Francisco, Calif., is now adding two Danisco probiotic strains—HowaruDophilus and Howaru Bifido—to its Probiotic Wellness Bars. The bars are said to improve digestive health and to offer immunity benefits.

Blis Technologies Ltd., Dunedin, New Zealand, and Frutarom USA, North Bergen, N.J., have formed a marketing and distribution agreement whereby Frutarom will be responsible for all sales, marketing, and distribution activities in North Amercia of Blis’ novel probiotic, Blis K12.

Casa de Oro Foods LLC, Omaha, Neb., has sold its manufacturing facility and business located in Louisville, Ky., to Mesa Foods Inc. Casa de Oro will continue operating its Omaha facility and business, which produces various types, sizes, and flavors of flour tortilla products for major food companies.

Cognis, Monheim, Germany, has exclusively licensed an ingredient for weight management from InterMed Discovery GmbH, Dortmund, Germany. Cognis will set up human studies on the ingredient and will be responsible for the marketing of any product developed with this ingredient.

• ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, a brand of ConAgra Foods, Omaha, Neb., and Unisur Alimentos Ltda., based in Chile, formed a strategic partnership focused on Chile and other South American markets. An expansion of the facilities located in Llanquihue, Chile, is planned, and Unisur will leverage the experience and expertise of Lamb Weston’s U.S. and European businesses.

Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark, has formed an agreement with UK-based Coressence Ltd. to gain exclusive rights for certain apple-based ingredients that will be marketed under the brand name Evesse™.

• The U.S. Office of Patents and Trademarks has granted a patent (US7,351,746 B2) to Israel-based LycoRed Ltd. for the development of carotenoid ingredients that support cardiovascular health.

Gourmetceuticals LLC, Big Horn, Wyo., and Curamedics Pharmaceuticals Inc., South Plainfield, N.J., will co-develop functional food products for the human and veterinary markets. The products include a beverage, candy, and chewable wafers for the human market as well as animal treats for the canine and equine markets. They are expected to launch nationally in 2009.

Ocean Spray, Middleboro, Mass., has completed the expansion of its Wisconsin Rapids sweetened dried cranberry production facility. The new plant is now 440,000 sq ft, which, according to the company, makes it the largest cranberry processing plant in the world.

PCI Co., St. Louis, Mo., has acquired the cereal and food ingredient business of US Foods, a subsidiary of Innovative Grain Technologies Inc., Lincoln, Neb. USFoods joins other PCI food-related businesses such as Diehl Food Ingredients, Diehl Organics, SensoryEffects Inclusions, and SensoryEffects Flavor Systems.

by Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]