Heinz debuts new ketchup packet
No more messy fingers from struggling to open condiment packets at fast-food restaurants thanks to a new packaging design offered by H.J. Heinz Co., Pittsburgh, Pa.

The ketchup manufacturer has unveiled Heinz Dip & Squeeze, which features a dual-function package, allowing consumers to either peel back the lid for dipping or tear off the tip to squeeze the ketchup onto food. The new package—the first packet redesign for the foodservice industry in 42 years—holds three times as much ketchup as the old packet.

The company also announced that in March it will release Simply Heinz Tomato Ketchup made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and that this summer it will begin selling a core line of ketchup reformulated with a 15% reduction in sodium.

Briess wins Energy Saver Award
Reducing energy usage by as much as 20% in some of its plants between 2006 and 2008 helped earn Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., Chilton, Wis., an Energy Saver Award from the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE).

Briess began its energy reduction initiative with an audit by the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Graduate Engineering Group. The audit established a baseline of energy usage at all Briess production facilities and noted a number of energy-efficient practices that Briess was already employing such as computer-automated processes and the use of variable frequency controls. Briess further employed thermal imaging to pinpoint areas of electrical and heat loss and successfully implemented a number of the audit recommendations.

In 2009, the DOE Industrial Technologies Program presented Energy Saver Awards to 140 plants that achieved more than 7.5% total energy savings and reported progress on schedule. Save Energy Now is a national initiative to reduce industrial energy intensity 25% or more in 10 years. As of September 2009, the program had involved 2,400 plants that reduced CO2 emissions by 2.3 million metric tons.

‘Economy’ claims jump during recession
Some food and drink product categories and claims actually showed growth in the United States during the recession, according to market research firm Mintel.

Not surprisingly, the number of products making an “economy” claim increased by 72% from 2008 to 2009. These numbers are based on a percentage difference from 2008 to 2009, not on a percentage of total launches, noted Mintel.

Of all product launches made in 2008 and 2009, the number that boast the claims “ethical” and “environmental” increased from 9% in 2008 to 17% in 2009. What’s more, the number of products that make an “environmentally friendly packaging” claim increased from 3% in 2008 to 9% in 2009.

“The increase in ethical and environmental claims is less about companies introducing new products or changing their packaging and more about manufacturers communicating with their consumers and knowing what’s important to the people who purchase their products,” said Lynn Dornblaser, New Product Expert for Mintel.

Yeast may impede mold growth
Spraying pistachios, almonds, and other popular tree nuts with a particular yeast can help protect the nuts from aflatoxin contamination, according to scientists with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

The yeast, Pichia anomala, competes successfully for nutrients and space to grow against the mold Aspergillus flavus. This mold and other Aspergillus species produce aflatoxins, which are toxic to animals and humans.

The scientists sprayed the yeast on trees in a California pistachio orchard and found that the yeast inhibited the incidence of A. flavus in pistachios by up to 97% compared to unsprayed trees. They also discovered similar results when the yeast was sprayed on the harvested or stored crop. What’s more, the yeast may protect other crops against at least half a dozen other species of microbes like Botrytis cinerea, which causes gray mold of grapes.

Extract boosts AO properties
Fortifying dehydrated apples with green tea extract increased the antioxidant properties of the apples by three– to five-fold, said researchers with the University of Georgia and the University of Milan, Italy.

More specifically, the green tea extract, which was used at the same amount that is present in a cup of green tea, increased the ferric reducing/antioxidant power value and the 2,2-diphenyl-1-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl) hydrazyl radical scavenging capacity.

The researchers concluded that the results showed the advantages of fortifying dehydrated apples with green tea extract and added that additional tests are needed to determine potential applications for fortification of other dehydrated fruits.

“The novel green tea–apple product would be advantageous for two reasons: from an economic point of view, it would provide a greater variety of dehydrated apple products available in the marketplace, and from a nutritional perspective, since apple consumption is very high throughout the world, this novel product could offer consumers a simple opportunity for regular consumption of green tea as a healthful dietary aid,” explained the researchers.

The study, “Formulation of a Dry Green Tea–Apple Product: Study on Antioxidant and Color Stability,” was published online early in Journal of Food Science, doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01489.x.

Senators propose nanotech program
U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) on Jan. 21, 2010, introduced the “Nanotechnology Safety Act of 2010” (S. 2942), which would create a new nanotechnology program within the Food and Drug Administration.

The bill, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, to establish within FDA a program on “the health and safety implications of nanotechnology in everyday products and develop[s] best practices for companies who employ nanotechnology.”

The program would be led by a manager who would be required to develop a detailed strategic plan. FDA would be required to report to Congress on the work of the program no later than March 1, 2012, and March 1, 2014. The bill would authorize the appropriation to FDA of $25 million per fiscal year, for fiscal years 2011–2015, to fund the program. At present, FDA receives no funding for nanotechnology-specific research, analysis, or other purposes.

In introducing the bill, Senators Pryor and Cardin noted that FDA already has two facilities that they believe are appropriate for nanotech research and testing—the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) facility in Jefferson, Ark., and NCTR’s headquarters in White Oak, Md. Senators Pryor and Cardin represent the states in which these facilities are located.

For more information, visit http://thomas.loc.gov.

Chinese expand spending on food
Urban Chinese consumers increased their spending on food by an average of 17% per year in the four years ending in 2008, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Foreign Agriculture Service.

This is significantly greater than the increase in the size of China’s economy, which, while it has slowed recently, is still growing faster than any other major economy, reported FAS. More important, FAS said, is that as the reputation of American food products spreads throughout the Chinese population, the country is becoming an attractive market to many U.S. food product producers.

The report, “Retail Food Sector Report China–Peoples Republic of,” Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report number CH0801, is available at http://gain.fas.usda.gov.

What’s new with food companies
BI Nutraceuticals’ Long Beach, Calif., facility was recently awarded an “excellent” rating during a food safety audit conducted by AIB International.

• SQF Institute has named Clabber Girl Corp. a Safe Quality Food 2000 Level 3 Certified Supplier.

CP Kelco has launched a redesigned Web site at www.cpkelco.com to highlight its ingredients as well as its customer service.

CytoSport Inc. has earned certification from NSF International’s Athletic Banned Substances Certification program for its Muscle Milk® beverage.

Frutarom recently received the Frost & Sullivan 2009 Global Weight Management Ingredients Product Line Strategy Award.

Kemin Industries Inc. has acquired the encapsulation technology and products from Soda Feed Ingredients.

Navitas Naturals has received GMP/HACCP certification for its operations in Novato, Calif., from Scientific Certification Systems.

by Karen Nachay,
Associate Editor
[email protected]