Evaluating pulled pork preparation methods
Although smoked and barbecued meats enjoy a high level of popularity, there is no consensus on the best methods for preparation. Several smoker types and many varieties of wood are used in the restaurant industry and by amateur “pit-masters.” In a recent Journal of Food Science study, pork was smoked with an outdoor offset smoker and an indoor electric smoker using four wood types: hickory, apple, oak, and mesquite. Descriptive and consumer acceptance tests were conducted to evaluate the treatments and determine drivers of liking.
The study found that pork smoked with an offset smoker using hickory wood was the most liked. Appearance characteristics were the strongest drivers of liking, with intensity of red color being the greatest driver. The penalties (mean drops) associated with the most-liked samples were texture-based, not flavor-based, which are likely due to differences in cook temperature and time.
Samples with hotter and/or longer cook times tended to be rated as not tender enough, too firm, and not moist enough. Consumer experience with Kansas City−style, heavily seasoned smoked pork served with barbecue sauce may have negatively skewed expectations, but minimal seasoning was necessary to avoid masking the smoke character of the meat.
Although future research is needed to provide comparisons with other preparations, such as pork smoked with a pellet smoker, the study results can help to produce an optimized smoked pork product.
FDA to modernize dietary supplement regulations
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will work to modernize dietary supplement regulations for the first time in more than 25 years, according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Since the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was passed in 1994, the supplement market has grown significantly.
“I’m concerned that changes in the supplement market may have outpaced the evolution of our own policies and our capacity to manage emerging risks,” said Gottlieb. “To continue to fulfill our public health obligations we need to modernize and strengthen our overall approach to these products.”
The agency’s first priority, said Gottlieb, is safety. “Above all else, the FDA’s duty is to protect consumers from harmful products. Our second priority is maintaining product integrity: we want to ensure that dietary supplements contain the ingredients that they’re labeled to contain, and nothing else, and that those products are consistently manufactured according to quality standards. Our third priority is informed decision-making. We want to foster an environment where consumers and health-care professionals are able to make informed decisions before recommending, purchasing, or using dietary supplements.”
Among the steps the agency plans to implement are faster ways to communicate when concerns arise that an ingredient may be unlawful and potentially dangerous. Other steps include fostering the submission of new dietary ingredient (NDI) notifications, leveraging existing resources and authorities to evaluate new products and ingredients as they are introduced, developing new enforcement strategies as risks evolve, and engaging in a public dialogue about the need for additional steps to modernize DSHEA.
In the coming months, the FDA plans to provide additional details. “Our new approach benefits consumers by balancing new policies to promote innovation and efficiency in the marketplace for dietary supplements with increased steps to protect the public from potential safety issues,” said Gottlieb.
Food and beverage embrace IIoT
A growing urban population and increased awareness regarding sustainability are prompting food and beverage companies to employ digital solutions to ensure product quality, according to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan. Among the advancements being implemented in food processing, safety, and packaging are industrial internet of things (IIoT) technologies such as big data analytics and artificial intelligence, which are expected to help accelerate and streamline manufacturing.
“Although a late adopter of IIoT, the food and beverage industry is showing great eagerness to digitize its assets due to the rising need for traceability,” said Nandini Natarajan, senior research analyst, Industrial Team at Frost & Sullivan. “IIoT will allow F&B manufacturers to collaborate and connect across different stakeholders involved in various stages of the food value chain. It enables seamless exchange of information and goods in different directions, unlike with traditional methods where only linear, unidirectional flow was possible.”
As a first step toward digital transformation, food and beverage companies are integrating sensors directly into their legacy assets and configuring them to broadcast data to the cloud for monitoring of key performance indicators and analytics, noted Natarajan. “They are also employing a direct sampling procedure from automated plant equipment for real-time visibility into quality measurement,” he added. “Meanwhile, some companies are investing in in-line quality data recording through inspection procedures.”
Among the ways vendors can make the most of advanced technologies is by developing business models that focus on data, connectivity, and customer centricity along with data security; creating easy-to-use products and integrated end-to-end solutions; and offering advanced packaging solutions that ensure sustainability without compromising nutrition.
Junk food linked to psychological distress
Poor mental health is linked with poor diet quality, regardless of gender, education, age, marital status, and income level, according to a study from the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center.
The study reviewed data from more than 240,000 telephone surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015 as part of the California Health Interview Survey. It revealed that California adults who consumed more unhealthy food were also more likely to report symptoms of moderate or severe psychological distress than peers who consume a healthier diet.
Jim E. Banta, lead author of the study, said that the link between poor diet and mental illness is not a causal relationship; however, the study results are similar to those conducted in other countries. For example, increased sugar consumption was associated with bipolar disorder, and consumption of fried foods or those with high amounts of sugar and processed grains were linked with depression.
“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavioral medicine,” Banta said. “Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.”
Who’s best at reducing food waste?
The vast majority of Americans are paying attention to reducing food waste, with the oldest being the most cognizant, according to re-searchers at Michigan State University (MSU).
The fourth wave of the university’s Food Literacy and Engagement Poll surveyed 2,090 Americans on food issues. The majority (88%) said they take steps to reduce food waste at home, including 94% of consumers age 55 and older and 81% of those under 30.
Among respondents who make efforts to reduce food waste, 71% said they try not to purchase excess food, 71% said they often consume food before it spoils, and 34% share excess food when possible.
Of the 12% who do not take steps to reduce food waste, 31% say they do not waste food, 23% are not familiar with the term “food waste,” 21% do not know how to reduce food waste, 20% are not concerned about it, and 18% do not have the time.
The survey also revealed that 41% of Americans correctly recognize that 31%−50% of the food annually produced in the United States goes to waste, including 44% of those age 55 and older and 36% of those under 30 years old.
• BI Nutraceuticals announced its partnership with Brenntag Canada for distribution services in Canada.
• Campbell Soup has signed a definitive agreement for the sale of Garden Fresh Gourmet to an affiliate of Fountain of Health USA, a maker of hummus, dips, variety packs, prepared salads, pâtés, and frozen desserts.
• Conagra Brands is investing approximately $78 million to modernize and expand its Birds Eye operations in Beaver Dam, Wis.
• Cott Corp. sold its soft drink concentrate production business and its RCI International division to Refresco for $50 million, which in turn sold the RCI worldwide branded activities to RC Global Beverages.
• Givaudan announced its commitment to co-found the Future Food Initiative, a Swiss-based public-private partnership aimed at expanding sustainable food and nutrition research. The company also inaugurated a new flavors manufacturing facility in Pune, India.
• Glanbia Nutritionals has agreed to acquire Watson, a supplier of nutrient premix, bakery ingredient, edible film, and material conditioning solutions.
• Hormel Foods entered into a definitive agreement to sell its CytoSport business to PepsiCo.
• Hy-Vee will open a Wahlburgers restaurant in Brookfield, Wis., as part of a plan to build, own, and operate a total of 26 Wahlburgers restaurants.
• International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) acquired The Additive Advantage, which develops novel technologies spanning applications and industries. In addition, IFF was recognized on Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies List.
• Kellogg was recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as one of the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies.
• Kemin Industries’ oil-soluble green tea extract was named Generally Recognized as Safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
• Nestlé acquired a novel technology developed by New Zealand scientists that will enable it to address nutritional iron deficiency without adversely affecting food and beverage taste. The company also launched a new range of coffee products under the Starbucks brand.
• Organic Valley and Maple Hill announced the launch of a new, third-party certification that sets the highest possible standards for organic dairy farming and products.
• Symrise opened a dedicated sweet lab that will focus on developing concepts for sweet goods and dairy applications.
• Unilever acquired the holding company of graze, the UK’s leading healthy snacking brand.