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Brexit: Food Industry Implications

BrexitThe UK vote in favor of leaving the European Union (EU) sent shockwaves through the global market. Governments, business, and stock markets are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. For the food and beverage industry, the potential impact is huge: across tariffs and trade, inward investment, labor issues, as well as general sector policy and regulation.

In the United Kingdom, some on both sides of the Brexit campaign have argued that a new trade agreement with the EU and the rest of the world will need to be concluded as a matter of urgency. However, the EU institutions have pointed out that such negotiations cannot formally start prior to finalization of the process on the terms by which the UK will leave the EU. It is expected that negotiations on the terms of an exit, unprecedented in their nature, once launched, will not be easy and may take much longer than the two-year period foreseen in the EU Treaty. The specifics of any deal on how to exit the EU and how to continue trading afterwards are yet to be defined, and herald a period of prolonged uncertainty for business. A number of scenarios may unfold: Continue reading

Nutrition Facts Label Changes Drive Industry Reformulation

NutritionFacts2016

The original Nutrition Facts panel (left) versus the new panel (right)

Late last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the new Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods, which includes some major changes to the nutrients required to be listed, the way the serving sizes are written, and the label design. The final rule becomes effective on July 26, 2016, and the compliance date is July 26, 2018, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales and July 26, 2019, for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales.

What impact will the changes have on ingredient and food manufacturers? Food Technology magazine recently spoke with Roger Legg, senior chemist at RL Food Testing Laboratory, about how manufacturers should prepare for the compliance dates and what the change may mean for them in terms of product development and reformulation moving forward. Continue reading

Will New Dietary Guidelines Shift Americans Toward Healthy Eating Patterns?

FoodMinds InfographicOn January 7, health professionals and policymakers heralded the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), updated to reflect current nutrition science. The DGAs provide evidence-based healthy eating principles for the public to reduce the risk of chronic disease and maintain a healthy weight. The document is published jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) every five years, and this newest edition will serve as a foundation for nutrition policy and programming through 2020.

According to a word content analysis conducted by FoodMinds, one of the most marked evolutions in the DGAs is the emphasis on overall healthy dietary patterns across the life span. To me, this holistic approach to healthy eating represents a shift in how we’re talking about nutrition and health. Continue reading

Are You Ready for FSMA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is finally getting around to finalizing proposed rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011. Rules regarding preventive controls for human and animal food were recently finalized, and rules affecting produce safety and food imports are just around the corner. Compliance with the rules must be achieved as early as one year from now, depending on the particular rule and the size of your business. Continue reading

FDA’s New Guidelines for Added Sugars on Food Labels

Nutrition Facts labelAs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nears the finish line for issuing its new Nutrition Facts panel guidelines for food products, perhaps the most contested aspect is the proposed addition of added sugars.

This past July, the FDA amended its original proposal, which would require listing the amount of added sugars in grams, to also require listing how much added sugars a food contains relative to a total daily limit—a measure called the percent daily value, or %DV. FDA’s recommended %DV calls for the daily intake of calories from added sugars to not exceed 10% of total calories.

Although these kinds of labeling changes may seem relatively minor, their potential costs are hardly insignificant for food entrepreneurs, small food businesses, restaurants, and national and international manufacturers. Continue reading

Can You Believe it’s Not Mayonnaise?

Hampton Creek's Just MayoIn 1979, food technologists at J.H. Filbert developed a new vegetable oil-based spread. It looked, tasted, and felt like butter, but it contained no dairy and was not butter. What should they call it? As the story goes, a secretary tried the product and exclaimed: “I can’t believe it’s not butter!” The rest, as they say, is history.

About 35 years later, food technologists helped Hampton Creek develop a new product that contains no eggs but looks, tastes, and feels like mayonnaise. The problem: A food product is “misbranded,” and therefore not legal to sell, if it purports to be a food for which a standard of identity has been prescribed but fails to conform to such standard. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a standard of identity for “mayonnaise” that requires the product to contain egg. Therefore, like the Filbert folks, Hampton Creek had to decide what to name this new product. Continue reading

Single Food Agency: Theory vs. Reality

The Obama Administration’s recent budget proposal for FY 2016 endorsed the concept of establishing a single federal food safety agency—reviving discussion on what has been a long-standing issue. This initiative has generated many of the same talking points that have surrounded this topic for decades, including everyone’s favorite reference to the absurdity of a system in which the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) maintains processing oversight of a cheese pizza until pepperoni is added, at which point the oversight shifts to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (USDA FSIS).

There is near universal agreement that no one would design such a system if they were working off a proverbial clean sheet of paper. While this is undoubtedly correct, it forces us to juxtapose this theoretical point against the 100+ years of oversight, policy, and paperwork generated by the FDA, FSIS, and its predecessor agencies, not to mention other relevant players such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and countless other state, local, and private parties. This history raises enormous practical and political barriers to change. We have a status quo maintained by a dizzying array of interests, both public and private, scattered through various government, departments, agencies, congressional committees, trade associations, labor unions, etc.  Keep Reading

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