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The Impact and Consequences of Banning Trans Fatty Acids

wheat crackersTo many the proposed FDA rule to deny GRAS status to partially hydrogenated oil—and thereby in effect banning it from use—would be a great public health benefit. However, this proposed rule is not without consequences to many individuals, so it is critical that this decision is made carefully.

The FDA and others have stated that further decreases in trans fatty acid consumption could decrease thousands of cardiac events and deaths. These calculations of saving lives by further lowering trans fatty acid consumption assume that the biological effects of trans fatty acid follow a dose dependent linear response. Unfortunately, the pharmokinetics of the biological effects of trans fatty acids are difficult if not impossible to confirm since most studies that show adverse effects of trans fatty acids had to use dietary trans levels in excess of 5% of total energy. FDA has calculated that trans fatty acid consumption of partially hydrogenated oils has decreased from 4.6 g per day in 2003 to 1.3 g per day (2.1 to 0.6% of total energy) in 2010. It is very common for kinetics to not be linear especially at extremely low or high concentrations of bioactive agents. Therefore, it does not seem scientifically prudent to make a bold statement of how many deaths a food ingredient is causing without any clinical data. Keep Reading

Collaborating to Develop New Oil Alternatives to Palm Oil

Palm fruitPalm oil is a major industrial commodity today. It is economical, versatile, immensely popular, and it is being produced in an increasingly sustainable way. An industrial feedstock in food and confectionery goods, cosmetics, detergents, and biofuels, it is also an important food source in large parts of the developing world.

But a number of factors suggest that the future lies in new oils. Rapid expansion of palm oil production has destroyed areas of the rain forest, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and eroding biodiversity. The planet cannot sustain ever-expanding production levels, which some project could nearly triple by 2050. And while in some food uses palm oil doesn’t require hydrogenation, its ubiquity in packaged foods still makes it a health concern in the developed world, where diets are high in saturated fats. Alternatives are required. Although sustainable palm oil and other vegetable oils are necessary elements in today’s oil portfolio, they are insufficient. Buyers, governments, and nongovernmental organizations need to accelerate initiatives to develop new oil sources. Keep Reading

Potential Buyers for Hostess Brands: Retailers vs. Food Companies

Twinkies On November 20, Hostess announced that mediation with its bakers union had failed and that the 82-year-old company would proceed with liquidation plans. The good news is that the company’s iconic brands, such as Twinkies and HoHos, may not be gone for good. There may be multiple buyers of the individual product brands under the Hostess umbrella or there may be a single buyer who acquires them all. But rest assured, they will be sold because they have real market value. Estimates are that the combined sale of Hostess could be worth over $2 billion.

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Audio Interview: What Consumers Around the World Will Want from Food Companies in 2020

On March 28 and 29, IFT will be holding its annual Wellness conference in Rosemont, Ill., offering attendees unbiased perspectives, news about emerging trends, and information on how other organizations within the food industry are penetrating the health and wellness sector. Recently, Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, spoke with Linda Eatherton, Partner and Director of Global Food & Nutrition Practice at Ketchum, who will speaking at the conference’s closing session about what consumers around the world will want from food companies in 2020. Linda joined Ketchum in 2001 to lead the firm’s worldwide Food & Nutrition Practice. Prior to that, she served as the Vice President of Public and Industry Communications for Dairy Management Inc.


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Expanding the Dialogue on Sodium

After reading the President’s Message on “Food Science and Sodium” by Dr. Roger Clemens in the January issue of Food Technology magazine, I assume that this column has generated considerable feedback and I would like to add my two cents worth. Roger and I have in the past had some friendly debates on this issue, which I think is healthy.

I come to the sodium issue as someone who has considerable experience with human taste perception, in general, and salt taste perception, in particular. But I claim no special expertise on blood pressure regulation or on how much sodium humans ought to consume. Hence, I have nothing authoritative to say on the salt intake health controversy other than to suggest that to describe recommendations by the vast majority of health professionals and relevant government agencies worldwide as “conventional wisdom” is a bit misleading. Keep Reading

Food Science, Technology Contribute to Feeding A Growing Population: Audio Interview Part 2

Part 2 of the audio interview between Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, and John Floros, Head of the Department of Food Science at Pennsylvania State. In this segment John explains the challenges we face to feed a population which is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050. In addition, he addresses consumers’ negative perceptions of processed foods, and finally, he shares some tools that he believes are currently being underutilized that may help improve our efforts to feed a growing population. John has worked in the food processing industry, was on the faculty at Purdue University, and since 2000 he has been leading the . He is widely published, is currently a Member of the Science Board for the Food & Drug Administration, and a Fellow and Past President of IFT.

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We Need More Practice at Being Dummies

Years ago when my mother was in the hospital we met a nurse named Barb, who told us about one of her patients—Charlie. Upon leaving the hospital, Charlie presented Barb with a card that read “Official member of the Dummy Club – Member # 172.” Charlie explained that while most people think they know everything, Barb was a “dummy.” She knew that she did not know everything and was thus open to all possibilities. When Charlie finds open-minded people, he rewards them with membership in the dummy club.

Recently, I have been talking to many people about the FDA’s hearings on genetically modified salmon. I have not found many dummies. People’s opinions on genetically modified (GM) food are so diverse—and so rock solid. Keep Reading

Looking Back to Move Forward in the Kraft Cadbury Merger

They say if you just wait for a while things will come back around.  Well, that sure is the case with Kraft and confections, but now in an even greater or bigger position. The merger between Kraft and Cadbury places Kraft as the largest confectionery company internationally in areas such as chocolates, sugar confections, and a close second in chewing gum.

With such a presence, opportunities will arise for those in the food industry with vision and skills. Keep Reading

2010 Brings Some New and Some Enduring Trends

The FoodWatch databases for restaurant menus and food magazine/newspaper articles track an array of key indicators for trend identification. Along with the database tracking, FoodWatch uses a number of other sources to validate and enhance trend information. Using this data, I have identified some diverse trends to watch in 2010. Keep Reading

Restaurant-Inspired Private Label Foods

What do French pastry vegetarian pizza, Buffalo-style chicken meatballs, and orange citrus soufflés have in common? All of these products were on display at the recent Private Label Manufacturers Assoc. Trade Show in Rosemont, Ill. As private label foods continue to climb up the quality ladder, they are looking to restaurants and chefs for inspiration when developing new product concepts. This culinary trend was evident at the show, which was home to a multitude of food manufacturers offering value-added frozen and chilled appetizers, entrees, snacks, and desserts—many with an ethnic twist. Keep Reading

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