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    The 'Effective Environmental Monitoring and Aseptic Techniques' short course is well into the second day of class at the IFT HQ! #food #science #education #FSMA #foodsafety Finding fun ways to emphasize our IFT core values. Sometimes, you've got to play some Jeopardy with your colleagues to make it an even more fantastic work week! #Workculture #teambonding #teamwork In celebration of #cincodemayo, we got to do some #mole #icecream taste testing. Someone's got to do it! We're never at a loss of food options here at IFT HQ for #cincodemayo!

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

Calorie Labeling: Coming to a Restaurant, Grocery Store, and Theater Near You

The long-awaited final regulations for calorie labeling were released on Dec. 1, 2014. These regulations come 4+ years after the law requiring them passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. And, the regulatory verdict from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is clear: Calories will be everywhere. Nearly all chain food establishments that sell “restaurant-type food” and have 20 or more sites nationally will have to post calories on menus. Despite early signals that some food establishments might be exempt, the final regulations state that fast-food restaurants, full-service restaurants, cafeterias, grocery stores, movie theaters, bakeries, convenience stores, vending machine operators, and yes, bowling alleys must comply. Schools are pretty much the only entities that aren’t included. The regulations give establishments until December 2015 to post calories; vending machine operators have until December 2016. Keep Reading

Tyson-Hillshire Merger: An Antitrust Concern?

PigsIowa Senator Chuck Grassley and a number of meat industry observers have called for close antitrust scrutiny by the U.S. Dept. of Justice of Tyson Foods’ announced purchase of Hillshire Brands. While scrutiny of mergers is always a good idea, does this merger really pose a threat to markets or is this simply a knee-jerk, pro forma complaint about change?

In any antitrust matter, the primary concern is defining the relevant market. In this case, both the output and input facets of Tyson’s and Hillshire’s businesses would be of concern.

The two companies both sell meat products but I think it would be difficult to argue that they sell in common markets. Hillshire sells, almost exclusively, further processed, branded items. Tyson does some of that, especially in its chicken business, but it sells far more fresh, unprocessed wholesale pork and beef cuts, many of which go to companies just like Hillshire. Keep Reading

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