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
As 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
In 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
Food myths and beliefs are deeply rooted in people since they are connected to the emotional or limbic system of the brain. And research shows that rational arguments are often not taken into consideration when someone is embarking on a health change like dieting or purchasing products.
In the June Food Technology Food, Medicine & Health column, I discussed the importance of communicating science and how fragile the communication system is today. As one of my examples, I drew attention to Alan Levinovitz, author of The Gluten Lie. At first blush one might wonder why a philosophy and religion professor from James Madison University is writing about food and related behavior. However, upon further exploration, the connection between the two concepts—food behaviors (myths and beliefs) and religion—becomes apparent. Keep Reading
Listeria continues to make headlines and cause death, hospitalizations, and numerous food recalls. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been 16 different recalls since March of this year due to Listeria found in food products including hummus, frozen spinach, smoothie kits, and most notably ice cream.
What is unusual about Listeria bacteria is that they can grow and multiply under refrigerated conditions. Therefore, they can be present in cold, wet environments as commonly found in many packaging areas. Listeria niches have been detected in drains and areas of condensation within a plant, such as the ceiling or light fixtures. Listeria monocytogenes has contaminated ready-to-eat deli meats and hot dogs, refrigerated meat spreads, unpasteurized milk and dairy products, soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, refrigerated smoked seafood, cantaloupes, coleslaw, and raw sprouts. Keep Reading
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