Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Obesity May Alter Taste Receptors

Being severely obese may change a person’s ability to taste sweet foods and lead to more weight gain, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS One.
Researchers at University of Buffalo who conducted the study concluded that diet-induced obesity significantly alters the responsiveness of the peripheral taste cells that are responsible for the initial detection of taste stimuli and for sending that taste information to the brain.
Kathryn Medler, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Buffalo, says it's possible that the trouble detecting sweetness may lead obese mice to eat more than their leaner counterparts to get the same payoff.
For the study, researchers compared 25 normal mice to 25 of their littermates who were fed a high-fat diet and became obese. After 10 weeks on the high-fat diet, researchers used calcium imaging to measure how taste-evoked calcium signals were affected in the obese mice discovering that significantly fewer taste receptor cells were responsive to some appetitive taste stimuli, while the numbers of taste cells that were sensitive to aversive taste stimuli did not change.
The researchers noted that further research is imperative to determine the connection between taste, appetite and obesity because it could lead to new methods of encouraging healthy eating.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Low-Carb Product Launches Increase 95% In Europe

New food and drink product launches with "low carb" claims in Europe have increased 95% between 2008 and 2013, suggesting the low-carb trend may be back in action and with support from high-protein claims, according to new market research from Mintel.
Ten percent of new low-carbohydrate food and drink launches were pasta products, 10% baking ingredients or mixes, 9% bread and 8% snack, cereal and energy bars. The top three countries in Europe for new low-carbohydrate food and drink product launches are France (17%) followed by Germany and Spain, accounting for 15% of NPD share respectively.
Research shows high protein is aiding the comeback of the low-carb trend, with European new product launches in the food and drink category carrying both a low-carb and high-protein claim growing 57% between 2008 and 2013.
New product launches with high protein claims have tripled over the past five years in Europe with a 260% increase in high-protein product launches in 2013 compared with 2008, driven by snacks, yogurt and prepared meals. This year in Europe, of total new product introductions making a protein claim, snacks accounted for 24%, dairy 20% and processed fish, meat and egg products 15%.
Protein's satiety benefits constitute as an important component in weight management; research shows new products launched in Europe carrying high-satiety claims grew 164% between 2008 and 2013.
"As well as communicating the low-carb content of the products, the presence or absence of other nutrients is also highlighted, with high-protein claims positioning products as more than just low-carb alternatives," said Laura Jones, food science analyst, Mintel.
In addition, there is also opportunity for further growth for high-protein products—for example, 66% of Polish, 61% of Spanish, 51% of Italian and 51% of German and 48% of French consumers would be interested in trying high-protein bread.
Meanwhile, dairy products are a good source of natural protein that has served as a base for high-protein claims, with milk gaining recognition over the past few years as an ideal sports drink. Indeed, 52% of Italian consumers, 49% of French, 45% of Spanish and 37% of Germans think milk is good to drink during exercise. Meanwhile, 20% consumers in the United Kingdom think milk is good to drink during and after sports activity.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

FSIS Publishes New Rule on Generic Meat, Poultry Labels

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently published a final rule that expands the circumstances in which the agency will generically approve labels of meat and poultry.
Usually, labels that are used on federally inspected meat and poultry products must be approved first by FSIS through a review of a "sketch label". But FSIS has explained there is an exception for labels whose mandatory label features meet applicable regulations. Such "generic" labels don't need to be submitted for sketch approval.
According to FSIS, the final rule expands the circumstances in which it will generically approve meat and poultry labels, further relieving companies of the requirement to submit their labels for evaluation.
"The final rule provides that establishments are required to submit for evaluation only certain types of labeling, e.g., labels for temporary approval, labels for products produced under religious exemption, labels for products for export with labeling deviations, and labels with claims and special statements," FSIS stated in the final rule.
The agency has adopted the proposed rule with four changes, including making an exception to its sketch approval process for labels that bear a child-nutrition box.
The final rule takes effect. Jan. 6 and can be found here via the Federal Register.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Starbucks Loses Charbucks Appeal

Starbucks Corp has failed to persuade a federal appeals court to stop a small, family-owned New Hampshire roaster from selling coffee known as "Charbucks."
Ruling in a case that began in 2001, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Black Bear Micro Roastery and its owner, Wolfe's Borough Coffee Inc., may keep selling "Charbucks Blend," "Mister Charbucks" and "Mr. Charbucks" coffee.
Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier wrote for a three-judge panel that Seattle-based Starbucks did not deserve an injunction to stop Charbucks sales, having failed to prove that consumers would be confused through a "blurring" of its brand.
The New York-based appeals court let stand a Dec. 2011 finding by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan that Charbucks was "only weakly associated with the minimally similar" Starbucks trademark.
Many retailers, especially those selling luxury or premium products, file trademark lawsuits against large and small rivals they believe are misusing their brands, potentially reducing profit and revenue and damaging their reputation.
A centerpiece of Starbucks' case had been a phone survey of 600 people by the pollster Warren Mitofsky, which found that "the number one association of the name 'Charbucks' in the minds of consumers is with the brand 'Starbucks.'"
But the 2nd Circuit said the survey was "fundamentally flawed," and drew its conclusions from how consumers thought of "Charbucks" in isolation, not its real world context.
It said that while 39.5 percent of participants thought of "Starbucks" or "coffee" when asked what came to mind upon hearing "Charbucks," just 4.4 percent said "Starbucks" or "coffee house" when asked who might sell a "Charbucks" product. "Grocery store" was the most popular answer to that question.
"Viewed in light of Starbucks' fame," Lohier wrote, "the fact that more survey participants did not think of 'Starbucks' upon hearing 'Charbucks' reinforces the district court's finding that the marks are only minimally similar."
Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"This is a sound decision," Christopher Cole, a lawyer at Sheehan, Phinney, Bass & Green representing Black Bear, said in an interview. "It flows from the dramatic dissimilarity between how the different products actually appear in commerce and are seen by consumers."
Starbucks has grown since 1971 from a single store in Seattle's Pike Place Market into the world's largest coffee shop chain, with close to 18,000 stores in 60 countries and more than $14.8 billion of annual revenue.
Black Bear is based in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire. It created "Charbucks Blend" in 1997, and now sells dark-roast coffee as "Mister Charbucks" or "Mr. Charbucks."
The 2nd Circuit noted that one reason Black Bear used "Charbucks" was the public perception that Starbucks uses an unusually dark roast for its coffee.
The case is Starbucks Corp et al v. Wolfe's Borough Coffee Inc d/b/a Black Bear Micro Roastery, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 12-364.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spearmint, Rosemary May Hinder Alzheimer's Disease

Enhanced extracts made from special antioxidants in spearmint and rosemary improve learning and memory, which may prove beneficial to reducing Alzheimer's disease risk, according to a study presented at Neuroscience 2013, Nov. 9-13.
Researchers at Saint Louis University tested a novel antioxidant-based ingredient made from spearmint extract and two different doses of a similar antioxidant made from rosemary extract on mice that have age-related cognitive decline.
Results concluded the higher-dose rosemary extract compound was the most powerful in improving memory and learning in three tested behaviors. The lower-dose rosemary extract improved memory in two of the behavioral tests, as did the compound made from spearmint extract.
"We found that these proprietary compounds reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease," said Susan Farr, Ph.D., research professor, geriatrics, Saint Louis University.
Further, there were signs of reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline, in the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.
"Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline," Farr said.
Additional research has shown a healthy diet with sufficient amounts of vitamin C and vitamin D may also help to ward off Alzheimer's disease.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Website Aims for Honey Sourcing Transparency

 A new search function on www.TrueSourceHoney.com allows U.S. shoppers to be sure that they're not mistakenly buying honey that has been illegally shipped from China. In one easy step they can help ensure the safety and quality of their honey, while also supporting U.S. honey producers and beekeepers. In addition, retailers and manufacturers are able to trace their product back to the hive.

By going to www.TrueSourceHoney.com and clicking on the starburst at the top of the page, consumers can enter the UPC code on the back of their packaged honey to see if it is True Source Certified™.
Millions of pounds of illegally sourced honey may continue to enter the United States, despite continuing federal crack-down efforts. True Source CertificationTM helps ensure honey's safety and quality because it traces the source of that honey from hive to table. The program has been applauded by honey industry leaders, including the American Honey Producers Association and the American Beekeeping Federation.
"The True Source Certified logo tells you that the honey you're buying was ethically and legally sourced," says True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks. "If you don't see the logo, ask your retailer or honey company to join the program. And make sure that your favorite foods with honey – from breakfast cereals to snacks – are made by a manufacturer that purchases honey from a True Source Certified honey company."
Earlier this year, two of the nation's largest honey suppliers admitted to buying illegally imported Chinese honey, including some that was adulterated with unauthorized antibiotics.
About one-third of honey sold in North America today is now True Source Certified. Many large grocery retailers and club stores only use certified honey for store brands, including Costco (Kirkland Signature) and Target (Market Pantry and Simply Balanced).
The U.S. imports more than 60% of the honey it needs from other countries. Most is from high-quality, legal sources. But some honey brokers and importers illegally circumvent tariffs and quality controls, selling honey to U.S. companies that is of questionable origin. This threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey's reputation for quality and safety.

Friday, November 15, 2013

McDonald's Eyes Bigger Share of Coffee Market

McDonald's wants to be a bigger player in the global coffee business.
The world's biggest hamburger chain on Thursday highlighted beverages as one of its key growth opportunities at a daylong presentation for investors.
McDonald's CEO Don Thompson noted that coffee is one of the fastest growing categories in its global drinks business and said that the company has less than its "fair share" of the market. When asked to identify competitors in the space, Thompson chose to keep the discussion broad.
"Anyone that stops off to get a cup of coffee anywhere, that's an opportunity," Thompson said.
The push comes as Starbucks Corp. is enjoying strong sales growth even in the choppy economy. In the latest quarter, the Seattle-based chain said global sales rose 7 percent at locations open at least a year. At McDonald's, the figure edged up 0.9 percent.
As for the coffee servings sold in the U.S. restaurant industry, McDonald's currently has less than 13 percent of the market, said Kevin Newell, the company's chief brand and strategy officer for the region. Still, he noted McDonald's coffee sales have surged 70 percent since the introduction of McCafe specialty coffees in 2009.
A big part of the attraction of McDonald's coffee is value; many locations in the U.S. offer a regular drip coffee of any size for $1. But McDonald's wants to get people to buy pricier drinks, too. This fall, the company introduced a pumpkin spice latte following the popularity of similar drinks at Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts. And next week, McDonald's plans to launch a white chocolate mocha flavored latte.
The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., also recently said it's partnering with Kraft Foods Group Inc. to sell McCafe bagged coffee at supermarkets in test markets. The company is hoping the move will help build awareness of the MCafe brand.
"It's about selling more coffee in restaurants," Newell said of the Kraft partnership.
It's not clear what impact the push by McDonald's will have on Starbucks. Richard Adams, who runs a consulting firm for McDonald's franchisees, notes that the chain sells plenty of drip coffee and blended ice frappes in the summer but has struggled to sell espresso-based beverages such as lattes.
In the meantime, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks are trying to boost food sales and attract more customers in the afternoon and evening hours. Starbucks recently revamped its sandwiches and introduced new salads and baked goods to become more of a lunch destination. About a third of purchases in the U.S. include food and Starbucks is looking to push that figure up.
But Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz doesn't like comparisons to chains such as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.
"They're in another business — they're fast-food," Schultz said in an interview on CNBC earlier this year.
Overseas, McDonald's also has about 4,200 separate McCafes that are either sectioned off from the main restaurant or stand-alone locations. McDonald's says it plans to add another 350 to 400 such McCafe locations next year.
Still, Thompson stressed that McDonald's remained in the restaurant business.
"We're not trying to be something we're not," he said.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trader Joe's Supplier Recalls Products for E.Coli

 More than 90 tons of prepackaged salads and sandwiches were recalled by a Richmond catering company because a bacterial strain of E. coli has been linked to its products, federal health officials announced Sunday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Glass Onion Catering recalled approximately 181,620 pounds of salads and sandwich wraps containing cooked chicken and ham after 26 patients in three states were sickened with E. coli O157:H7, a strain of the sometimes deadly bacteria.
The FSIS did not say in which states the E. coli patients became ill. The agency is urging anyone who may have bought salads or prewrapped sandwiches with cooked ham or chicken to throw them away.
The products were produced between Sept. 23 and Nov. 6, and were shipped to distribution centers in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Texas.
The Food and Drug Administration notified the FSIS on Wednesday that California authorities had tied the illnesses to the Richmond company.
Glass Onion Catering has been a source of food for retailer brands, including Trader Joe's, Super Fresh Foods and Delish. The company was launched in 1992. Its owner, Tom Atherstone, did not return multiple messages left with the company on Sunday.
According to the FSIS, the company began monitoring the outbreak Oct. 29 after a cluster of illnesses involving the E. coli strain.
The bacteria can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps some 2-8 days after a person is exposed to it, according to the FSIS. Most people recover within a week, but some develop kidney failure, the agency said.
Consumers with questions about food safety can go to AskKaren.gov, a virtual representative available 24 hours a day (via smart phone, the address is m.askkaren.gov). Call the USDA's meat and poultry hotline 7 a.m.-1 p.m. (PST) at 888-674-6854.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trans Fat Ban Causes Little Stir Among Consumers

They are among our most personal daily decisions: what to eat or drink. Maybe what to inhale.
Now that the government's banning trans fat, does that mean it's revving up to take away our choice to consume all sorts of other unhealthy stuff?
What about salt? Soda? Cigarettes?
In the tug-of-war between public health and personal freedom, the Food and Drug Administration's decision to ban trans fats barely rates a ripple.
Hardly anyone defends the icky-sounding artificial ingredient anymore, two decades after health activists began warning Americans that it was clogging their arteries and causing heart attacks.
New York, Philadelphia, a few other localities and the state of California already have banned trans fat from restaurant food.
McDonald's, Taco Bell and KFC dropped it from their french fries, nachos and chicken years ago.
The companies that fill grocery shelves say they already have reduced their use of trans fat by nearly three-fourths since 2005.
Growers are promoting new soybean oils that they say will eliminate, within a few years, the need for partial hydrogenation, the process that creates trans fats still used to enhance the texture of some pie crusts, cookies and margarine.
Mostly, Americans' palates have moved on, and so have their arguments over what's sensible health policy and what amounts to a "nanny state" run amok.
When they aren't feuding over President Barack Obama's health care law, state politicians are busy weighing the wisdom of legalizing marijuana. Already 20 states and the District of Columbia have authorized it for medicinal use. Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved smoking pot just for fun.
The FDA is taking heat for delays in coming out with new rules on regular-old tobacco cigarettes under a law passed in 2009. There are the new e-cigarettes to worry about, too. More than 20 states have banned stores from selling electronic cigarettes to minors, but the federal government has yet to take them on.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to stop restaurants from selling sodas larger than 16 ounces, and the federal government's efforts to impose healthier lunches on school kids are causing more of an uproar than the trans fat ban.
Still, Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the nonprofit Trust for America's Health, says a national trans fat ban is "a big deal." After all, the FDA estimates it will prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths a year.
Levi doesn't see it as evidence that federal regulators are suddenly on a roll, however.
"There are other areas where regulation is sort of stuck — everything from nutrition labeling to food safety to the tobacco regulations that have not seen the light of day," Levi said.
Talk of new government regulation typically stirs up libertarians and conservatives. Yet the trans fat ban hasn't provoked much beefing.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh groused that bureaucrats shouldn't regulate what people eat because it's "none of their business" and research on nutrition keeps changing. After all, sticks of margarine made with trans fats used to be recommended as a healthier alternative to butter.
Heritage Foundation research fellow Daren Bakst, who specializes in agriculture issues, blogged that the FDA is "ignoring the most important issue: the freedom of Americans."
A few fans of ready-to-spread cake frostings and microwave popcorn that still contain trans fat griped via Twitter.
They don't have to worry immediately.
The FDA must consider comments from the food industry and the public before it comes up with a timeline for phasing out trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils. It could take years to get them off the market.
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, has been warning about the dangers since the early 1990s. Advocacy by the center helped persuade the government to add trans fat to nutrition labels beginning in 2006.
That created consumer pressure on food companies to find tasty ways to replace partially hydrogenated oil with less harmful fats. The companies' success helped clear the way for the government to consider a trans fat ban, he said.
"It's a little bit of an exception, in that it's so harmful and it was so widely used," Jacobson said, "and there are substitutes so that people can't tell the difference when it's removed."
Next on Jacobson's wish list is something that would be much harder for industry and the FDA to accomplish: reducing the salt in processed foods.
"There are estimates that it's causing around 100,000 deaths prematurely every year in this country," he said. "That is just huge."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Senators Push for More Accessible Crop Insurance

Thirteen senators sent a letter today to the Senate farm bill conferees calling for provisions that aim to make crop insurance more accessible for a wider range of producers, including beginning farmers and specialty crop growers.

In the letter, senators wrote, “Specialty crop growers, organic producers, diversified operations, and young and beginning farmers, who have traditionally been underserved by federal crop insurance, deserve access to affordable and sufficient risk management tools that are on par with what is available for commodity producers … It is important to prioritize and support federal crop insurance products that address these underserved commodities, inadequate coverage, and low participation.”
In the letter, senators push for a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified farms because, they say, the current system of insuring crop-by-crop does not work for highly diversified operations, including many sustainable and organic farms.
The senators further urged that organic farmers should not face lower rates of crop insurance in the wake of crop losses compared to non-organic products. The letter supported a provision in the House and Senate farm bills that would restore the Risk Management Agency's authority to conduct research and development activities to improve existing products and develop new ones.
Both the Senate and House farm bills would direct USDA to establish a whole farm revenue product that would work for a wide range of diversified operations, be available nationwide, and include a crop and enterprise diversification bonus.
The letter was sent by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Al Franken, D-Minn., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Starbucks to Supply Coffee Grounds for Renewable Energy Facility

A new renewable energy facility announced Thursday for Augusta Corporate Park will find its main source of power coming from neighboring Starbucks’ waste.
Augusta Renewable En­er­gy LLC will process used coffee grounds from the new Starbucks soluble plant as its primary renewable-energy source after the facility opens next year, according to an announcement from the Augusta Economic Develop­ment Authority.
Augusta Renewable Energy is spending about $20 million to build its first anaerobic digestion facility in Georgia. The company, a division of Columbia-based First Generation Energy, will create about 10 highly technical positions.
Construction of the site, which will span about eight acres of the industrial park off Mike Padgett Highway, is expected to start before the end of the year and be completed by mid- to late summer, said Daniel Rickenmann, the operating partner for First Generation Energy.
The 180,000-square-foot Starbucks plant has an opening date planned for early 2014.
“Primarily using coffee grounds, Augusta (Renewable) Energy will convert a landfill component into energy,” authority Chairman Henry Ingram said in a news release.
First Generation Energy is a diversified service company that provides zero-waste solutions and small power generation options for industries, food manufacturers, renewable energy and utilities. The company has formed a partnership with environmental technology provider Eisenmann for the installation and technical support during the plant’s implementation process. Caterpillar will assist with the facility, according to the authority. First Generation Energy also will provide a private label line of soil amendments through a partnership with an unnamed Fortune 200 company.
“Green energy is the wave of the future,” Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver said in a statement, “and Augusta Renewable Energy will do their part to make sure we are efficient in our energy needs in the years to come.”

Friday, November 08, 2013

FDA Moves to Ban Trans Fats

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. The FDA’s preliminary determination is based on available scientific evidence and the findings of expert scientific panels.

The agency has opened a 60-day comment period on this preliminary determination to collect additional data and to gain input on the time potentially needed for food manufacturers to reformulate products that currently contain artificial trans fat should this determination be finalized.

“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s action today is an important step toward protecting more Americans from the potential dangers of trans fat. Further reduction in the amount of trans fat in the American diet could prevent an additional 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year – a critical step in the protection of Americans’ health.”

Consumption of trans fat raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) has concluded that trans fat provides no known health benefit and that there is no safe level of consumption of artificial trans fat. Additionally, the IOM recommends that consumption of trans fat should be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.

In recent years, many food manufacturers and retailers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods and products they sell. Trans fat can be found in some processed foods, such as certain desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizzas, margarines and coffee creamers. Numerous retailers and manufacturers have already demonstrated that many of these products can be made without trans fat.

Thanks to these efforts, along with public education, the consumption of trans fat in American diets has been significantly reduced. Since trans fat content information began appearing in the Nutrition Facts label of foods in 2006, trans fat intake among American consumers has declined from 4.6 grams per day in 2003 to about 1 gram per day in 2012.

“One of the FDA’s core regulatory functions is ensuring that food, including all substances added to food, is safe,” said Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “Food manufacturers have voluntarily decreased trans fat levels in many foods in recent years, but a substantial number of products still contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are the major source of trans fat in processed food.”

Following a review of the submitted comments, if the FDA finalizes its preliminary determination, PHOs would be considered “food additives” and could not be used in food unless authorized by regulation. If such a determination were made, the agency would provide adequate time for producers to reformulate products in order to minimize market disruption. The FDA’s preliminary determination is only with regard to PHOs and does not affect trans fat that naturally occurs in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Cargill To Label Finely Textured Beef

Cargill Beef will begin labeling its branded U.S.-made, fresh, ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef prior to the 2014 grilling season, with the declaration “Contains Finely Textured Beef." The announcement comes nearly 18 months after calls for companies to halt production of “pink slime," as it was dubbed by the media and its critics.
“Our research shows that consumers believe ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef should be clearly labeled," said John Keating, Cargill Beef president. “We’ve listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling Finely Textured Beef."
The new labeling procedure is based on consumer research that consumers desire transparency and believe ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef should be clearly labeled, providing them with choices when they make a purchase. Research also revealed that, upon learning Finely Textured Beef is 100% pure beef and 95% lean, and how it is made, consumers respond positively to its benefits. Cargill also has launched a dedicated Finely Textured Beef website that provides information about the product, including videos showing how Finely Textured Beef is made at its U.S. beef cattle processing plants.
The debate as to whether boneless lean beef trimmings (BLBT) are safe for human consumption made headlines last year as media reports created a troubling and inaccurate picture of the form of beef made by separating lean beef from fat, particularly in their use of the colloquial term “pink slime." The food additive is created by combining beef trimmings, heating them to remove most of the fat, and treating them with ammonia hydroxide gas to kill potentially dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
In May 2012, Beef Products Inc., the maker of lean, finely textured beef (LFTB) dubbed “pink slime" by the media and critics of its use, and the target of the ABC News investigation, announced it would permanently shutter operations in three of its four operating plants. The announcement comes after the company could not recover from the media frenzy that resulted in decreased consumer demand for its product.
In September 2012, Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) sued ABC News and its journalists, contending the network misled consumers into believing its lean finely textured beef (LFTB) was unsafe. In July 2013, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the $1.2 billion "pink slime" defamation lawsuit against ABC News, Inc. and its journalists including, Diane Sawyer, will be litigated in state court.
Retail labeling of beef products containing LFTB has been an option since it was first included in ground beef products more than a decade ago. Voluntary statements such as a label indicating ground beef does or does not contain LFTB is considered a claim. USDA regulations require claims to be verified for accuracy before use on product labeling prior to their use by industry.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Washington Voters Turn Down GMO Labeling

A closely watched ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods sold in Washington was defeated Tuesday night after opponents spent heavily on TV ads attacking the initiative.
Results showed Initiative 522 leading in populous King County -- which includes Seattle -- but losing in almost every county in the state. In Clark County, across the Columbia River from Portland, nearly 60 percent of voters were voting no on the measure.
The initiative sparked a record $22 million in spending from food and biotech companies opposed to the measure, and the results could help determine how the issue plays out nationally.
A similar initiative was defeated in California in 2012 by fewer than three percentage points. Opponents spent $46 million fighting the measure there. In Washington, the measure was losing by around 10 percentage points.
Supporters argued that consumers should have the right to know if their food contains genetically engineered ingredients, which now account for more than 90 percent of the corn, soybeans and sugar beets grown in the U.S.
Opponents, who include most of the state's farm and business organizations, argued that labeling would raise costs and unfairly stigmatize these products.
The pro-labeling campaign was driven by an increasing number of activist groups and organic-food manufacturers who raised questions about the impact of genetically engineered food on farming practices and on whether they could affect human health.
Studies haven't shown any adverse human health impacts, but critics note that the industry is moving into new parts of the food supply, such as salmon and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
Oregon advocates of genetic labeling already have a proposed initiative for the November 2014 ballot in the works. U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told the Christian Science Monitor that passage of the Washington initiative could help his effort to achieve national labeling requirements.
The industry fought hard against the initiative, just as it did in California. The Grocery Manufacturers Association spent $11 million, with money raised from several of the country's major food manufacturers.
An additional $11 million came from Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and other major companies that produce genetically modified seeds. The money fueled an aggressive advertising campaign arguing that the measure was rife with nonsensical exemptions and would raise food prices.
Surveys conducted by Seattle pollster Stuart Elway showed that support for the measure dropped by 20 points from early September to mid-October.
Proponents raised nearly $8 million, with $2.3 million coming from Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and lesser amounts from several companies in the natural food industry.
"It's okay, because guess what: We're gonna win eventually," the soap company's CEO, David Bronner told supporters at their election-night gathering, according to The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New Protease Reduces Bitterness In Enzyme-Modified Cheese

Biocatalysts Ltd. introduced Flavorpro™ 937MDP, a non-animal protease with a de-bittering action when added to enzyme-modified cheese processes.
Flavorpro 937MDP is an exopeptidase preparation with low levels of endopeptidase activity. In enzyme-modified cheese applications, the hydrolysis of cheese proteins by endopeptidases, such as animal and bacterial proteases, can create bitter flavors due to the accumulation of small hydrophobic peptides. Exopeptidases, such as Flavorpro 937MDP, can be used to control bitterness by removing these bitter-tasting peptides. Due to its fungal origins, the enzyme is available kosher, halal and vegetarian.
Earlier this year, Biocatalysts unveiled its Promod™ 950L, a non-genetically modified microbial protease preparation as an alternative to papain, at the IFT 2013 Expo in Chicago.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Humane Society Supports COOL Law

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), along with Organization for Competitive Markets, United Farm Workers of America, American Grassfed Association and three independent livestock farms filed a brief supporting the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.

The court denied a motion to delay the COOL rule in September, and the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
“Consumers deserve to know where their food comes from. And factory farming organizations that seek to have it otherwise are out of step with their customers,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States, in an issued statement today.
The groups and farmers are represented by lawyers with The HSUS' Animal Protection Litigation section.
Recently in the COOL controversy, Mexico requested the establishment of a compliance panel to determine if USDA's final COOL rule issued this year complies with World Trade Organization (WTO) findings. As well as undergoing WTO review, the final COOL rule also faces court challenges from the trade groups opposed to its implementation.
Several livestock trade associations are challenging the labeling rule. American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Grocers Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and Southwest Meat Association asked the USDA and U.S. Trade Representative to extend an industry outreach program until after a WTO compliance panel determines if the final COOL rule complies with WTO rules.
The National Farmers Union, U.S. Cattlemen's Association and Consumer Federation of America support COOL.
The country-of-origin labeling regulations require that meat products contain labels specifying where the livestock was born, raised and slaughtered. The regulations also prohibit the commingling of meat with different country-of-origin combinations in the same package at retail.
According to the coalition led by HSUS, labeling helps consumers who want to buy from farmers and ranchers “who often use more humane and sustainable practices, rather than industrial corporations that may commingle meat products from several foreign countries.”


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Mexico Labels Chocolate Junk Food, Adds Tax

The ancient Aztecs would be up in arms: in the land that gave chocolate to the world, Mexican lawmakers have declared the popular food to be "junk," subject to an extra tax.
The chocolate charge was part of a raft of fiscal changes passed by Mexico's Congress on Thursday that seek to boost tax revenues and to tackle the country's unhealthy eating habits.
Among the amendments added to the tax bill was a levy on "junk food" - defined as products containing more than 275 calories per 100 grams. Many types of chocolate have around twice that amount.
McDonalds hamburgers, for example, fall below the benchmark, according to data on the company's website.
Originally proposed as a 5 percent levy this month, Congress approved an 8 percent charge on the foods.
Chocolate was grouped alongside a host of high-calorie products including gelatine, sweets and some puddings.
Etymologists trace the origin of the word "chocolate" to the Aztec word "xocolatl." It refers to the foamy bitter drink brewed from cacao - or cocoa - beans, according to the website of Washington's Smithsonian Institution.
In Aztec times, the drink was reserved for the nobility.
Historians say cocoa beans were also used like currency in many parts of pre-modern Latin America, and the Maya and Aztecs believed the bean had magical properties.
Legend has it that Aztec king Moctezuma feted Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes with drinking chocolate when he arrived to conquer Mexico in the early 16th Century.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Rising Star Chef Serves Creative Doughnuts in Harlem

Chef Corey Cova, who was featured on Zagat's list of 30 culinary starts under 30 years old, is the mind behind the unusual creations at his East Harlem shop Dough Loco. "Dough Loco is a neighborhood coffee doughnut shop. A lot of the doughnuts up here are from major chains, so they're all a bit smaller, have tons of ingredients like stabilizers, fillers," Cova said. "Ours are just all natural, really simple."It's a small operation, with Cova making hundreds of doughnuts by hand in the minuscule kitchen. On some days, supply can't keep up with demand and guests have to wait for a fresh batch to be put on the shelves. "Sometimes, we'll sell out by like 9 o'clock, and people have to wait an hour for us to kind of catch up," Cova said.The wait is worth it, though, especially for varieties like miso maple and raspberry sriracha. Cova's background in savory cooking inspires flavors you won't find anywhere else. "I think about a lot of different kind of food because I have to go back and run a restaurant as well. The raspberry one today I just kind of was thinking about the last few days," Cova said. "Raspberry and sriracha seemed like they kind of shared, something in there was kind of similar."Even though it just opened, the tiny shop may be ready to grow beyond its East Harlem storefront. Don't be surprised if you see Dough Loco expand its footprint or open new stores elsewhere in New York City.