KAREN NACHAY

COOL now mandatory
Life will be a little simpler for consumers who like to know precisely where their food is coming from thanks to country-of-origin labeling (COOL) regulations that took effect on Sept. 30, 2008.

The new regulations, which will be administered by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, apply to a broad array of commodity products, including muscle cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, goat, and pork; ground beef, ground lamb, ground chicken, ground goat, and ground pork; fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. The regulations exclude processed food items as defined by USDA in the 2002 Fish and Shellfish Rule.

According to USDA, larger grocery stores are required to comply with the labeling rules; smaller establishments, as well as butchers, fish markets, restaurants, food stands, and cafeterias, are exempt. The agency will work with the covered establishments for six months to ensure that they are in compliance with the regulations.

The COOL declaration can be printed on a package directly or featured on a placard, sign, label, band, pin tag, sticker, or twist tie.

For more information, visit www.ams.usda.gov/cool.

New tools for melamine detection
Melamine is not allowed in food ingredients or food products. The discovery of the chemical in the food supply led to a recall of many different pet food products in early 2007, and it has been found in milk suspected of sickening and causing the deaths of children in China. As a result, scientists are examining ways to better detect melamine in food.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration uses high-performance liquid chromatography with mass spectroscopy (HPLC-MS) as the detection method for melamine. But this method is time-consuming, labor-intensive, and not cost-effective for use in testing large numbers of samples, say researchers at the University of Missouri. That is why they investigated the effectiveness of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) combined with SERS-active substrates as an alternative to HPLC-MS.

The researchers tested samples of wheat gluten, chicken feed, and two processed foods (cake and noodles) and found that SERS was a fast and simple method for detecting melamine in these samples, more so than HPLC-MS. However, they suggest that SERS and HPLC-MS can be used in combination to provide an even more rapid and cost-effective way to detect melamine in food.

Read more about their findings in the study, "Detection of Melamine in Gluten, Chicken Feed, and Processed Foods Using Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy and HPLC," in the October 2008 issue of Journal of Food Science. Visit www.ift.org and click on "Publications."

Mondavi Institute opens at UC Davis
The University of California, Davis, on October 10 celebrated the grand opening of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. The 130,000-sq-ft complex—built at a cost of $73 million—houses the departments of Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology, wine and food sensory lab and teaching theater, food innovation kitchen, and the administrative offices for the institute.

The grand opening ceremony was held in the institute’s expansive courtyard, landscaped as a demonstration garden that includes olive and citrus trees, vegetables, and herbs. The courtyard faces a 12-acre teaching vineyard, which will be planted with grapevines this winter.

Special guest for the grand opening was Margrit Biever Mondavi, wife of the late Robert Mondavi. In 2001, Robert Mondavi, a legendary California winemaker, gave $25 million to establish the wine and food science institute within UC Davis’ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Robert Mondavi died this past May at the age of 94.

Clare M. Hasler, a Member of IFT and Executive Director of the institute, acted as emcee for the event.

The event also included a groundbreaking ceremony for the institute’s second building phase, which will include design and construction of two connected, one-story buildings totaling 32,000 sq ft. One building will house the small-scale Teaching and Research Winery; the other will be home to the Anheuser-Busch Brewing and Food Science Laboratory, which will include a brewery and pilot food-processing plant. Construction of the buildings, estimated to cost $16.5 million, is slated to begin in June 2009 with completion in July 2010.

NSF seeks nominees
NSF International, Ann Arbor, Mich., is seeking nominations for the 2009 Food Safety Leadership Awards Program, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding food safety leadership in the foodservice industry. Nominated participants will be recognized in one of seven categories: education and training, equipment design, packaging innovation, product development, research advances, system improvement, and technology breakthroughs.

Nominations must be received by Jan. 16, 2009. For more information, visit www.nsf.org/business/newsroom/fs_awards.asp.

Dole, McGovern win World Food Prize
Former U.S. Senators Robert Dole and George McGovern have won the World Food Prize for their collaborative leadership in encouraging a global commitment to school feeding. Their efforts have enhanced school attendance and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls.

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, President, World Food Prize Foundation, in October presented Dole and McGovern with the $250,000 prize during a ceremony held at the Iowa State Capitol.

The McGovern–Dole international school-feeding program was established in the United States in 2000 and has provided meals to feed more than 22 million children in 41 countries and boost school attendance by an estimated 14% overall, and by 17% for girls.

The program’s success has increased international support for school-feeding operations. The G8 and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development have listed school feeding as a specific intervention in their action plans for poverty alleviation, and the United Nations Millennium Project included school feeding as one of its 10 key recommendations for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The World Food Prize Foundation annually recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food worldwide.


Food companies continue growth
Here is an update on some recent activity in the food industry, including expansions, acquisitions, and the opening of new facilities.
Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Mo., has formed a new subsidiary called 9th Street Beverages LLC to expand the company’s non-alcohol business, which includes brands such as 180 Energy, Borba Skin Balance Water, Icelandic Glacial, and Monster.

Balchem Corp. has opened its Bakery Innovation Center at its headquarters in New Hampton, N.Y. Customers will engage directly in bench-top working sessions with Balchem scientists to learn about using encapsulated products in formulations and how fortification of baked goods can be achieved simply with a ‘drop-in’ ingredient.

• Brazilian food and feed company Biorigin recently acquired Immunocorp Animal Health, a Norwegian company that specializes in the animal nutrition market.

Burcon NutraScience Corp., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, has announced that its Puratein® and Supertein™ canola protein isolates are GRAS for their intended use in a variety of food and beverage applications.

Cognis, Monheim, Germany, has received the certificate of quality ISO 22000:2005 from the certification body DQS GmbH for its esterification plant located in Illertissen, Germany.

Cognis Nutrition and Health, LaGrange, Ill., has received GRAS status for its Tonalin® conjugated linoleic acid from the Food and Drug Administration. The ingredient can be safely used in an expanded range of functional foods and beverages such as milk and flavored milk, yogurt, fruit juice, soy milk, and meal replacement beverages and bars. The ingredient is also self-affirmed GRAS for use in coffee creamers and chocolate.

Naturex Foundation recently announced a partnership with Kaliayas Out Reach, an association based in Ninacaca, Peru, to upgrade and improve medical and education facilities for the community. This corporate foundation, started by Naturex, Avignon, France, is also supporting an agriculture program for disabled young people in Ouarzazate and Zagora, Morocco.

Sealed Air, Elmwood Park, N.J., has opened a 28,000-sq-ft innovation and learning center in Atlanta, Ga. The Packforum® Americas center includes two kitchens—one for demonstrations and the other for testing food packages in real-world settings.

by Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]