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Period: April 28, 2019 to May 5, 2019
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Big Upper Midwest Food Distributor SpartanNash “Cleans Up” Its House Brands

Fortune 400 food distributor SpartanNash, which operates a chain of retail grocery stores in the upper Midwest and serves U.S military commissaries, is responding to customer preferences by accelerating a program to simplify private brand product ingredients and provide more transparency. “Our store guests are looking for healthier food options, clean labels and ‘free from’ formats when shopping at their local grocery store or putting food on the table," a spokesman said. In response, SpartanNash has reformulated or redesigned packaging for more than 425 products in its Our Family and Open Acres private labels since last year, removing synthetic colors, MSG, and other ingredients. Another 175 products will be added to the initiative during 2019. According to the company, the program focuses on providing customers with simpler products, shorter ingredient lists, and clean, easy-to-read labels. 

"SpartanNash comes ‘clean’ with private brands", Supermarket News, March 13, 2019

Genetically Engineered Salmon: Appearing Soon At Your Local Grocery Store

The FDA has lifted a ban on genetically engineered salmon, clearing the way for its appearance in grocery stores. The company AquaBounty may now import its AquaAdvantage Salmon eggs to a land-based facility in Indiana, where the salmon can be grown for food. The fish have been genetically engineered to grow faster than farm-raised Atlantic salmon. But Native American tribes, food groups, and environmentalists are concerned that there is no requirement that the gene-manipulated fish be labeled as “genetically engineered.” Instead, they can be labeled “bioengineered,” a less-loaded term that can appear on packages as a symbol that says “BE” or a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to find out if it's genetically engineered. "So it's quite a bit more burdensome,” according to a Center for Food Safety attorney. The FDA first approved genetically engineered salmon as safe to eat in 2015.

"Concerns raised over genetically engineered salmon", The Daily Astorian, (Oregon), March 13, 2019

“Natural” Claim Continues To Lure Shoppers, Despite Lack Of Definition

A Label Insight-sponsored survey of 1,000 adult consumers finds that using the word “natural” on food packaging will motivate as many as 53 percent of Americans to make a purchase. Natural is generally accepted to mean the absence of artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, and color additives in products that are minimally processed. Fifty-one percent of shoppers were swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Sixty-three percent of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to 46 percent of Generation X and 41 percent of Millennials. Other ingredients Americans are concerned about include: high fructose corn syrup (57 percent of older adults) and sugar (all ages). And shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised: "antibiotic free" (34 percent); "free range" (26 percent); "grass fed" (25 percent); and "pasture-raised" (17 percent) are the key terms. ...  More

"New Survey from Label Insight Reveals Which Loosely-Regulated Marketing Claims Motivate Shoppers to Buy", PR Newswire, March 13, 2019

Legislation Would Require “Maine Raised” Meat And Poultry To Be Exactly That

Consumers in Maine hoping to support the state’s poultry and cattle farmers are being misled by meat labeled “Maine Raised,” a phrase that suggests that food animals were raised and slaughtered locally. It is legal in the state for businesses to import animals from other states, slaughter them, and sell the meat as “Maine Raised,” usually at prices lower than actual Maine-raised meats. But a bill introduced by a legislator who happens to own an organic vegetable farm would require livestock such as beef, pork, or lamb be born and raised solely in the state. Poultry must be raised in the state from no later than seven days after hatching before it could be labeled and advertised as Maine raised. The legislation was well supported during recent hearings, and could soon make its way out of committee for a vote in the state House and Senate.

"Why 'Maine Raised' meat may not mean what you think it does", Bangor Daily News (Maine), March 18, 2019

Even Organic Foods Can Be Tainted With Packaging Chemical Perchlorate

Only 40 synthetic compounds are approved for use in organic food products, but a new report finds that choosing organic at the grocery store doesn’t always prevent exposure to harmful chemicals. One important “additive” approved by the FDA 14 years ago for use in packaging is the chemical perchlorate. According to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG), perchlorate has been contaminating a growing amount of food – infant formula, rice-based baby cereals, and dairy products – since 2005, and has had an enormous impact on the health of fetuses and young children: it is associated with significant declines in IQ, among other effects. The EWG and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have asked the FDA to ban the chemical in food and have talked to food companies about testing food products for perchlorate. Some states are also considering whether to take action.

"The Dangerous Food Additive That’s Not on the Label", Civil Eats, March 19, 2019

States Continue To Define Terms Like “Meat” And “Rice” To Benefit Industry

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has signed legislation protecting the cattle and poultry industries by requiring "fake meat" products to be correctly labeled. Under the new law, misbranding occurs when companies intentionally label products in a false, deceptive or misleading manner that misrepresents it as meat or a meat by-product. Data from the USDA show South Dakota had over 4 million total head of cattle, including calves, as of January 1, 2019. The South Dakota Stock Growers Association said it believes meat substitutes should not be allowed to benefit from the “generations of hard work” that have created today’s market for actual meat food products. The law goes into effect July 1. Meanwhile, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas signed into law a bill banning companies from marketing "cauliflower rice" if the product contains no rice. Arkansas is the nation's top rice-producing state.

"Noem signs law that targets companies marketing 'fake meat'", Associated Press State & Local, March 23, 2019

Food Label Claims Continue To Cause Confusion

At a recent agriculture meeting in Nebraska, a state farm bureau executive explained the real meaning of labels like “hormone free,” organic, and “locally grown.” The “hormone free” label, for example, indicates that no synthetic hormones were given to the animal. But both raw cabbage and humans have thousands of nanograms of estrogen in them naturally. And the label is meaningless on things like chicken because USDA does not allow added hormones in raising poultry or hogs. Furthermore, many foods claim to be organic, but only those actually regulated by USDA are "USDA Organic." Another area of confusion and even rancor is genetic modification. It is important for producers to be candid and passionate when discussing GMOs, because there are some genuinely valuable advances in the science. A new genetic modification for apples, for example, reduces food waste by preventing browning that can cause people to throw out perfectly good apples. Without the browning, the apples have a longer ...  More

"'Mostly a marketing tactic:' Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation director provides guide to deciphering food labels", The Grand Island Independent (Nebraska), April 01, 2019

FDA Updating “Standards Of Identity” In Foods To Adjust For Healthful Ingredients

The FDA says it is modernizing the standards of identity for many food products so that they can be formulated to be healthier and still use the term that most consumers recognize. An example is cheddar cheese. Under current rules, a company that wants to reduce the sodium and add a sodium replacement, like potassium chloride, it can’t call it cheddar cheese. The FDA says it’s a major priority, but a big endeavour because there are 278 standards of identity and all have to be changed by the long process of rulemaking. The agency says it is exploring ways these can be done more broadly and across different standards in broad categories. It will reopen a comment period on a 2000 proposed rule modernizing the standards of identity.

"FDAs Nutrition Innovation Strategy pushes forward with updates to labeling, standards of identity", FDA Updating “Standards Of Identity” In Foods To Adjust For Healthful Ingredients, April 05, 2019

Nigerian Entrepreneur Recycles Egg Shells Into Gold

A Nigerian expert in agricultural waste recycling has developed a “gold mine” of a process for recycling egg shells – donated by bakeries, hatcheries, confectionaries, etc. – for use by a variety of industries. The cosmetics industry, for example, uses egg shells to make body care products. Other examples listed by Ogochukwu Maduako include the pharmaceutical industry (medicine production), the paint industry (as a pigment), and the agricultural sector (for calcium supplementation). Egg shells can also be turned into an effective scouring powder in the home for washing pots and pans, sinks, and bathtubs. Maduako’s mission? “To change the narratives of agricultural waste through eggshells. I want agricultural waste to be seen differently – more like the gold that it is.”

"How waste eggshells became my goldmine - Ogochukwu Maduako", Daily Trust, April 06, 2019

Company Seeks Quick Commercialization Of Onsite Food Waste Processor

Micron Waste Technologies is expanding a collaboration with BC Research Inc. (BCRI) to rapidly commercialize the company's second-generation food waste processing system, dubbed the Organivore 2.0. The equipment is designed for onsite waste processing by commercial producers of food waste, including supermarkets and food processors, producers and distributors. Innovations developed for the Cannavore system, which Micron and BCRI built for the cannabis industry, will be incorporated into Organivore 2.0. Market readiness is anticipated in the second half of this year. Micron says the Organivore reduces air and water pollution by, among other things, using an aerobic process with patented microbes and enzymes to break down food waste without producing methane; and treating organic waste onsite into clean water and reusable biosolids, resulting in diversion of up to 95 percent of the waste sent to landfills.

"Micron Waste to Commercialize Organivore System for Food Waste", waste360.com, April 09, 2019

Three Federal Agencies To Work Together To Reduce Nation’s Food Waste

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have joined forces to create an interagency strategy to address food waste. At an event held at EPA headquarters, state, local and community leaders and others shared ideas on how all levels of government can cooperate to reduce food waste. The “Winning on Reducing Food Waste Strategy” includes six priority areas the agencies will focus on over the next year: enhance interagency coordination; increase consumer education and outreach efforts; improve coordination and guidance on food loss and waste measurement; clarify and communicate information on food safety, food date labels, and food donations; collaborate with private industry to reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain; and encourage food waste reduction by federal agencies in their respective facilities. “Our nation’s agricultural abundance should be used to nourish those in need, not fill ...  More

"USDA, EPA, and FDA Unveil Strategy to Reduce Food Waste", USDA, April 09, 2019

Rhode Island City Expands Leftover Food “Sharing Tables” To All Schools

Pawtucket, R.I., has begun implementing a plan to cut down on food waste and make sure hungry children are properly fed. The plan is based on the concept of “sharing tables,” once an informal way for students to take food discarded by classmates. The method is being expanded to more schools this year. Beginning in April, foodservice provider Aramark will add ice packs and soft-shell coolers, allowing more items to be saved and given to students who need or want them. Company representatives will also be able to track exactly how much waste is being reduced by weighing poundage thrown away. Incorporating coolers, ice packs, signage, and training of staff will help make sharing tables a “routine staple of what we do.” An Aramark rep said.

"‘Sharing tables’ taking off, reducing waste", Valley Breeze: Pawtucket Edition (Rhode Island), April 10, 2019

British Food Waste Recycler Tells Foodservice Industry How To Cut Waste

ReFood, the U.K.’s leading food waste recycler, believes the country should be ranked higher than 24th in the world in reducing food waste. The British foodservice industry is producing a million tons of unnecessary food waste annually at a cost of $3.2 billion a year. Research suggests 75 percent of this waste is completely avoidable. The country’s pubs, restaurants and food outlets can implement several ReFood strategies to reduce waste: be sensible with stock, storage and stock rotation; use accurate temperature control to prevent growth of harmful pathogenic bacteria and minimize spoilage; label all stored food clearly; review portion sizes to prevent uneaten food from being wasted; link up with a local charity and donate leftovers; mix up the menu to give customers more choice about what’s on their plate; and expand food safety training to include food waste training.

"Is your restaurant throwing away its profits? Seven ways to cut food waste", BigHospitality.co.uk, April 10, 2019

New York Enacts Law To Reduce Food Waste, Feed The Needy

New York State has enacted first-of-its-kind food waste legislation designed to direct more healthy food to disadvantaged New Yorkers while reducing climate pollution around the state. The Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act, effective in 2022, will require large food generators – including supermarkets, colleges, hotels, and sporting venues – to donate leftover edible food. Remaining scraps must be prepared as animal feed or compost if a recycling facility is within 25 miles. However, most food generators covered under the law are exempt from this provision because they're more than 25 miles from a recycler. Proponents of the food waste requirements expect that the language in the recently adopted state budget will encourage businesses to open organic recycling facilities in the next two and a half years.

"New York aims to curb food waste", Times Union, April 16, 2019

U.S. Pastry Chefs Put Their Personal Stamp On Cookies-And-Milk

Pastry chefs at restaurants around the U.S. are personalizing an old standby dessert: cookies and milk. A chef at a small plates restaurant in Pittsburgh, for example, serves a selection of 13 cookie creations on a miniature table – a nod to the Ohio/Pennsylvania wedding tradition known as the cookie table – set with four glasses of milk. The cookie selections for the $30 dessert for two-to-four people include, on a rotating basis, lemon poppy swirls; phun-phetti, a cream cheese sugar cookie coated in rainbow jimmies, etc. Southern cuisine restaurant Kitchen Notes in Nashville, Tenn., serves a plate of two cookies – bourbon-soaked oatmeal raisin and caramel pecan chocolate chip – with a carafe of milk for $8. And Washington, D.C. ramen eatery Toki Underground serves a plate of white chocolate and rosemary cookies with matcha milk and matcha buttercream for $7. 

"Milk and cookies get a makeover", Nation’s Restaurant News, April 16, 2019

Even Vasectomies Deserve A Special-Occasion Cake

For small bakers, making cakes for offbeat occasions is a way to increase profits as the market for traditional birthday-wedding-communion-graduation cakes grows stale. One of those offbeat occasions is the vasectomy: about 500,000 are performed in the U.S. each year. Vasectomy cakes topped with scissors, well-placed blueberries, and fondant sperm have become a social media sensation. One such cake caused a buzz on Instagram: the post by Signature Desserts in Nolensville, Tenn., showcased a buttercream-frosted cake with "100% JUICE NO SEEDS HAPPY VASECTOMY!" written on top. The $30 six-inch red velvet cake featured lemons hand-painted on edible paper. Since then, the bakery has gotten requests for hysterectomy cakes.

"Vasectomy cakes are a thing now", USA TODAY, April 16, 2019

New Technology Takes The Stickiness Out Of Bread Production

Commercial bread-making machinery typically includes scrapers that constantly push the sticky dough away from the sides of the container. The drawback is that the constant scraping can result in over-kneading and a denser loaf. One answer to the problem could be a more slippery container that requires no scraping and thus produces better-tasting bread. That answer may be on its way, thanks to a team of researchers from MIT that has tackled the problem of how to get much thicker materials to slide without sticking or deforming. The team has developed what are called liquid-impregnated surfaces that are based on a combination of a specially textured surface and a liquid lubricant that coats the surface and remains trapped in place through capillary action. The result? Nearly 100 percent friction reduction for gel-like fluids and sticky pastes.

"How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide", Massachusetts Institute of Technology, April 22, 2019

At Google’s Cafés, Chefs Pay Close Attention To Food Waste

At its headquarters in Mountain View, California, Google operates several cafés that serve 200,000 free meals a day. In 2014, Google started working with Leanpath, a company that provides equipment to measure and track food waste, and it coaches chefs on how to use that data. Google’s chefs carefully weigh ingredients that can’t be used to determine exactly how much food is wasted. They cook in batches to avoid preparing too much food, and adjust through the meal. By using these methods, Google says, it has kept more than six million pounds of food from going to landfills or compost. “The reality is that the act of measurement is, in and of itself, a very profound intervention,” says Andrew Shakman, CEO of Leanpath. 

"How Google saved over 6 million pounds of food waste in its cafés", Fast Company, April 24, 2019

Baked Goods Ingredient Raises Risk Of Obesity And Diabetes

A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine reports that propionate, an ingredient widely used in animal feed, artificial flavorings, and baked goods, may cause a spike in hormones that can raise the risk of diabetes and obesity. Propionate consumption can increase substances in the human body that create excessive insulin and insulin resistance. The researchers observed significant weight gain and a rise in glucose in lab mice, which led to hyperglycemia in the animals. They also tested it in humans, finding that propionate eaters had significant increases in norepinephrine, along with FABP4 and glucagon. These results suggest that propionate could lead to both obesity and diabetes.

"Chemical in baked goods, flavorings may increase obesity, diabetes risk", UPI, April 25, 2019

Aryzta Now Selling Frozen Danish Pastries To U.S. Foodservice Market

Swiss frozen baked goods company Aryzta has launched Mette Munk branded Danish pastries into the U.S. and Canadian marketplaces. Produced at its bakery in Denmark, the frozen products are for retail, convenience, and foodservice customers. The Mette Munk premium line of Danish pastries is made with real fruit, free-range eggs, certified sustainable palm oil, Bourbon vanilla, and pure maple syrup at the bakery in Odense. Other Aryzta brands include La Brea Bakery, Otis Spunkmeyer, Oakrun Farm Bakery, and Pennant.

"Aryzta Announces New Line of Premium Authentic Danish Pastries", Business Wire, April 25, 2019

Fast Food Restaurants Are Selling Roundup Herbicide With Their Entrees

Nonprofit foodservice industry watchdog GMO Free USA published a report detailing the results of food tests for glyphosate residue across fifteen popular fast food and casual restaurants in the U.S. A Panera Bread sample had the highest level of glyphosate of all 44 restaurant foods tested. The irony is that the company’s primary marketing claim is: "100 percent of our food is 100 percent clean." Other restaurants tested include Chili's Grill & Bar, Domino's Pizza, Dunkin' Donuts, IHOP, Le Pain Quotidien, McDonald's, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Pret a Manger, Subway, Taco Bell, and Whole Foods Market. Glyphosate has been linked to cancer, disturbances in the microbiome and the depletion of our bodies' ability to detoxify." A growing body of peer-reviewed science links glyphosate to numerous health harms at levels found in some restaurant foods tested. 

"Report Uncovers Prevalence of Glyphosate in Restaurant Foods", CSRwire , April 28, 2019

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