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Issue 110 3 December 2010

“Nothing strengthens the judgment and quickens the conscience like individual responsibility.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, leading figure of the American women’s suffrage movement

Food bites… Go easy on the low salt trend

Bob Messenger“The marketplace is such a crapshoot that food marketers would be wise to remember that ‘taste’ is lord among product imperatives. Always has been. Always will be. And while Americans may mouth support for reduced sodium makeovers in focus groups and market research, don’t bet the house on the results. I’m saying ‘reduced-sodium’ is a trend, but not one worth an ‘all-in’ commitment from the industry. Not quite yet. Down the road, perhaps. Maybe even likely. But in the here and now, the majority of consumers are doing more talking than walking. So the way I see it, reduced sodium is still a risky hand to play. I know the industry is being coerced into action by outside forces, but better a stiff spine and a thick corporate skin than risking a damaging backlash from consumers.”

Bob Messenger, foremost US food industry commentator, publisher of The Morning Cup

Editor’s Stuff – Of labelling, retailing and owls

Brenda

Last week, the food industry was abuzz with news of amendments to the new food labelling regulations – and breathed a collective sigh of relief that the Dept of Health had given it a year’s respite to March 2012 before they come into force. The news generated many hundreds of hits on FOODStuff SA, and if you have missed this important development, the trio of experts at Consulting in Food Labelling have deciphered the legalese for readers – and you can get all the details here. 

This week things have gone a little quieter on the local front, but confirmation that the Wal-Mart/Massmart deal has been formalised should open up some lip-smacking opportunity for many food manufacturers to expand sales and develop private-label innovation for the new-look group. Massmart CEO Grant Pattison, too, has said that the intention is to expand Game’s new fresh food offer – and you can read more on that here.

ImageA lovely story passed my desk this week with Sunspray Food Ingredients in Jo’burg sharing the success of its novel pest control programme. Confronted with an infestation of rodents, Sunspray has turned to nature for help – and it’s a heartwarming, enviro-friendly tale. Read more all about it here

Enjoy this week’s read!

Email Brenda Neall: brenda@foodstuffsa.co.za

Publisher & Editor

FOOD INDUSTRY JOBS ADVERTISED THIS WEEK! 
 See jobs
here and here.


Local Food Industry Stuff

Lone free ranger

ImageHappy chickens taste better than unhappy chickens and they’re better for you, says Jeanne Groenewald… Ever since she decided 13 years ago to stop feeding her children mass-produced, chemically-enhanced meat and started experimenting with free-range chickens, Groenewald, 42, has been a vocal public advocate of the benefits of this type of farming for both the humanely reared fowls and the consumer. She now has a business with an annual turnover of about R100m that supplies 75 000 free-range chickens a week to supermarkets like Pick n Pay and Woolworths. Financial Mail. Read more

URGENT solutions needed to SA’s dire water woes

ImageSA could be bankrupted if the exploitation of the mineral wealth that has fuelled its economic development for centuries is continued, because it affects the quality of water resources, says a hard-hitting new report. The University of Cape Town’s Africa Earth Observatory Network says widespread acid drainage — which accompanies the mining of coal for the purpose of generating cheap electricity, and also features in the mining of gold, which is made possible by this ostensibly inexpensive energy — is the main contributor to the increasing deterioration in the quality of SA’s water. Financial Mail. Read more

ImageMassmart to speed up roll-out of fresh food

Wal-Mart will speed up the expansion of Massmart’s retail food operation according to chief executive Grant Pattison.

“Massmart has a strong food retail roll-out strategy. I don’t think it’s going to change materially because of Wal-Mart’s ownership, other than … assist the speed and risk of rolling it out,” Pattison has said. “Some of the stuff we’re doing for the first time. So that means we’re going to make mistakes and approach it cautiously. Once we have access to Wal-Mart’s skills we can do it as world leaders, as opposed to for the first time.” Business Day. Read more

Massmart accepts Wal-Mart offer for 51% majority stake

High Court dismisses food collusion class action

ImageActing Judge Francois van Zyl this morning dismissed an application by the Black Sash and its co-applicants to certify them as the representatives of bread eaters in the Western Cape in their class action lawsuit against bread makers Tiger Brands, Pioneer Foods and Premier Foods. The other applicants include trade union federation Cosatu, the National Consumer Forum and the Children’s Trust. A parallel application from bread distributors was heard at the same time. Business Day. Read more


Food Industry News

UK: FSA launches hygiene rating scheme

ImageThe UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a national food hygiene rating scheme. It aims to help people choose where to eat out or shop for food by providing information about the hygiene standards in restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets, and other places you eat out and buy food.

The aim is to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning suffered by people each year. As more local authorities roll out the scheme over the coming months, more ratings will be published online. FoodBev.com. Read more

UK: Kraft launches charm offensive

ImageTwelve months after one of the most controversial takeover battles in British corporate history the American food group that bought Cadbury has embarked on a campaign to repair its battered image. In his first major interview, Nick Bunker, the Kraft executive who will run the combined Kraft and Cadbury business in Britain and Ireland, has insisted the Illinois-based group is committed to the philanthropic credo of the Cadbury brand. The Guardian. Read more

UK: Panel says cloned animals offer no food-safety risk

ImageMilk and meat from cloned cattle are no different from the comparable products of conventionally bred animals, according to an investigation by a panel of independent scientists who also found that there was little evidence to suggest a food safety risk from the offspring of cloned cattle … “The [committee] has confirmed that meat and milk from cloned cattle and their offspring shows no substantial difference to conventionally produced meat and milk and therefore is unlikely to present a food safety risk,” said Andrew Wadge, the chief scientist at the Food Standards Agency. The Independent. Read more

EU: EU court says no such thing as ‘pure chocolate’

ImageThere is no such thing as “pure chocolate,” the EU high court ruled yesterday, ending an EU-Italy food fight over chocolate labels. The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union voided an Italian law that recognizes some delicacies as “pure chocolate”. The court said if a product is made from 100 per cent cocoa butter, that fact must be listed on the ingredients table only. It also said the EU’s 1999 chocolate labeling rules make no room for a “pure chocolate” reference like the one Italy enacted in a 2003 law. The Independent. Read more

ImageUS: Food Safety Bill passes Senate, is it enough?

After much controversy and discussion, the bill was passed on Tuesday in a 73-25 vote. The bill will now be passed onto the House of Representatives for its approval. It is the first time in 70 years that Congress has updated the nation’s food safety system. While much of the reports have pointed to the recent outbreaks of salmonella and E.coli – the bill does much more.

One of the most important changes is that the bill allows the FDA to order a recall. Currently the agency can only suggest the action to food companies to conduct a voluntary recall. In addition the bill requires larger food processors and manufacturers to register with the FDA and to create detailed food safety plans. Supermarket Guru. Read more

COMMENT: Risk, bacteria, and the tragedy of food-safety reform

Like so many debates in US politics, the one currently raging around food safety strikes me as essentially tragic. It is impossible, it seems, to come up with a policy that zeroes in on the real systematic risk of the food system: the exponential expansion of hazard that comes from concentrating huge amounts of production in relatively small spaces. Clearly, highly profitable industries like Big Food wield tremendous power in our political system … The Grocery Manufacturers of America, a potent trade group whose members range from Monsanto and Cargill to Kraft and McDonald’s, supports S. 510. That alone tells me that the bill at best promotes marginal, techno-based solutions to the food-safety problem, ones that don’t challenge the interests, or practices, of the food giants. Grist.org. Read more


Food Trends, NPD and Marketing Stuff

Top food trends for 2011

ImageHere are the Top Food Trends for 2011, as published by UK research group, RTS Resouces. From “Experiences to Customisation”, this is its definitive list of the top five trends set to drive the market next year – and NPD into the future. The report comes from a new series of RTS Food Trends reports, due to be launched at the beginning of 2011, and is compiled from its latest research. RTS says it has scoured new product releases, examined retail trends and looked beyond the food industry across the globe to bring readers the trends that matter. RTS Resources. Read more

“[Company brands] are, increasingly, being scrutinized by consumers, looking beyond the products they are buying and investigating – casually or otherwise – the integrity of the company that makes them.” From a column by Laurence Green in The Telegraph (UK). Link

2011’s food trends to watch

ImageThe updated USDA dietary guidelines – in conjunction with technological advancements and the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ program – will mark 2011 as the year that finally empowers Americans to make permanent, positive changes in their diets. People will stop lasering in on single nutrients and begin approaching food more holistically. Shoppers will circle the aisles seeking foods rich in substance, vitamins, minerals and of course, taste. [Very American in focus, but interesting, nontheless. Ed] Supermarket Guru. Read more

ImageThe apple that never browns

Okanagan Specialty Fruits, a small biotechnology company based in British Columbia, has genetically engineered apples whose cores won’t brown, yielding fruit that will still look fresh even after it’s cut open. Although the stain-resistant apples contain “no nutritional bonus” compared to run-of-the mill Granny Smiths, the company — which is currently seeking USDA approval — is hoping its innovation will convince more consumers to snack on apple slices. The Week. Read more. Visit the company website here


Healthy Food Marketing * Exclusive from New Nutrition Business

Smart thinking finds smarter ways to take health to market

ImageThe challenges of how to take new products to market in ways that enable companies to earn better margins, to build better relationships with consumers and give new ideas a chance to grow – and escape the stranglehold of supermarket chains with their short-term thinking and limited shelf-space – are what forward-thinking companies are now wrestling with. If some of the ideas being tried out come to fruition, the decades ahead will see a transformation in the way that healthy products go to market. FOODStuff SA. Read more

Can corporate giants also be innovators?

ImageImageThe late Professor Peter Drucker of Harvard Business School was one of the best-known writers on innovation of the 20th century and his book, Principles of Innovation, is a standard textbook. Among the criteria Drucker sets out for successful innovation are some which, it seems, will almost always trip up large companies and which explain why innovations in food and health usually come from small start-ups. FOODStuff SA. Read more


Nutrition and Health Stuff

Why are we getting fatter? Seeking a mysterious culprit

ImageSo, why are we fat? And getting fatter? Most people would say it’s simple: we eat too much and exercise too little. But University of Alabama at Birmingham obesity researcher David Allison, PhD, says that answer, while valid, may be a little too simple. Allison and colleagues think the more relevant question is this: Why do we eat too much and expend too little energy? And like good detectives, they’ve set out to identify a suspect, or suspects, that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic. ScienceDaily. Read more

Taste rules over nutrition in UK food choices

ImageA new survey of UK consumers’ understanding of nutrition information on food labels found most had a good grasp of predominant front-of-pack schemes – but only 27 per cent used that info to inform their food choices. Deciding on the best nutrition labelling scheme has been a contentious issue in Europe, as an all-EU system is anticipated in the new food information legislation. While the European food industry largely likes its guidance daily amounts scheme, others – such as traffic lights, Choices, and the Swedish keyhole – also have staunch supporters.

The new study, published in the journal Appetite, was conducted by the Danish Aarhus University and the European Food Information Council with the cooperation of some major retailers. FoodNavigator. Read more

Report sets new dietary intake levels for calcium and vitamin D

ImageMost Americans and Canadians up to age 70 need no more than 600 international units (IUs) of vitamin D per day to maintain health, and those 71 and older may need as much as 800 IUs, says a new report from the US Institute of Medicine. The amount of calcium needed ranges, based on age, from 700 to 1,300 milligrams per day, according to the report, which updates the nutritional reference values known as Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for these interrelated nutrients. ScienceDaily. Read more

Present recommendations for daily intake of vitamin D are 200 international units (IU) or 5 micrograms (mcg) per day for persons 1-50 years of age, 400 IU for persons 51 to 70, and 600 IU for persons over 70. The tolerable upper limit of vitamin D: It’s set at 2,000 IU or 50mcg for ages 14 and above.

“Less booze not more veg is key to cut cancer risk”

ImageA review, published this Wednesday in the British Journal of Cancer, which looks at decade of evidence on the links between fruit and vegetables and the development of cancer, concludes that the evidence is still not convincing. The only diet-related factors that definitely affect cancer risk are obesity and alcohol. But tobacco is still the single biggest cause of cancer. The Telegraph. Read more

Read reaction from various cancer bodies and other updates, click here

Read the paper in the British Journal of Cancer

ImageFood industry key to tackling iron deficiency

 The food industry holds a vital role in helping to improve iron intakes and iron status through fortification, says a new review. The review paper, published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology, suggests that industry must work together to produce products that are appropriate to tackle the global problem of iron deficiency. FoodNavigator. Read more

Report suggests measures to defuse diabetes ‘time bomb’

ImageThe growing number of diabetic consumers has led many food and beverage manufacturers to introduce products that tap into their specific health demands in recent years. These include foods that replace, or partly replace, caloric sweeteners with low- and no-calorie sweeteners; functional fibers that may blunt blood sugar spikes after eating; and an overall interest in low-glycemic foods, defined as those that cause blood sugar levels to rise gradually after eating.

If current trends continue, 52% of Americans will be diabetic or prediabetic by 2020, up from about 40 percent today, researchers from the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization say. FoodNavigator. Read.


Food Science Stuff

Mining the milk proteome

ImageA complex mixture of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates, milk is the perfect food for a mammalian mother to feed her baby. But this fluid provides more than nutrients: Milk confers a variety of health benefits, including immune protection to offspring. In a new study of colostrum—the milk produced for a newborn calf—and mature milk from cows, researchers have nearly doubled the number of known whey proteins, providing insights that could aid the development of new food products. Chemical & Engineering News. Read more

ImageWhy food companies should stop using tongue-staining artificial colours

After years of insisting that the artificial food dyes in those technicolor treats are perfectly safe, the FDA has changed course: Maybe Yellow 5, Red 40 and Blue 1 really do cause kids to bounce off the walls. The agency has announced that it will hold a public hearing in March to discuss the link between food colourings and hyperactivity in kids, the diagnosis of which has been on the upswing for at least the last 13 years.

For food companies, dye removal recommendations or —- heaven forbid —- warning labels would be a huge headache. BNET. Read more

Australia: The disappearing art of food science

Food science is a decidedly unglamorous profession, to the point of almost total invisibility and this lack of appeal to undergraduates is shaping up as a problem in the making for Australian food manufacturing companies. There has been no sudden growth in demand nor has there been a slow period in the industry, which might have discouraged high school leavers from taking food science courses. Indeed, demand has grown generally in line with economic growth, but right at the very root of the problem is less students doing science at both HSC level and university. This is partly because there’s a shortage of science teachers in schools, but also because interest in the study of science is declining all over the Western world. Food Magazine Australia [with much relevance for SA, too. Ed.] Read more

How safe is X-ray inspection of food?

ImageA new white paper from Mettler Toledo sets out to dispel misconceptions about X-ray inspection of food. The company says it is an indispensable white paper for food manufacturers who consider x-ray inspection to comply with food-safety regulations and legislations.

The paper answers some important questions for food manufacturers, including:
• Why use x-rays to inspect food?
• What are the effects of x-rays to flavours, textures and nutritional value of food?
• What is the difference between x-ray inspection and food irradiation?
• What is the difference between x-ray radiation and radioactivity? and
• How safe are x-ray systems used in the food industry? Download the paper FREE here

Chr Hansen pioneers first frozen yeast for winemaking

Danish bioscience firm Chr Hansen has launched a frozen yeast that it claims will revolutionise the art of white winemaking. Read more


Weird, whacky and wonderful stuff!

ImageEU: Chewing gum ‘too sticky’, says Spanish government

The state of pavements, shoe soles and the undersides of school desks look set to improve dramatically in Spain following a government decision to take some of the gumminess out of chewing gum. A full cabinet meeting has decided that Spanish gum is just too sticky, costing local councils large sums of money as they try to scrub city streets back into a state of pre-gum purity. The solution, says the government, is to employ a copolymer of vinyl acetate and vinyl laurate as the basis for Spanish gum. The Guardian. Read more

ImageConsider ginger

A rhizome with ancient roots, ginger’s fire and spice has made it a truly global ingredient. Ginger is wonder and thunder in the mouth, pricking and tingling with a fragrant, delicate heat…No one knows where ginger evolved, and it no longer seems to exist in the wild. In Sanskrit, singabera means horns or antlers, and the plant may well have spread from south Asia, but we can be no more precise than that. The Guardian. Read more

New Zealand wins pavlova debate

ImageBoth Australia and New Zealand regard pavlova, the sweet meringue-based, cream and fruit topped dish as their “national” dessert, but the identity of its creator is a source of intense dispute. The only thing both sides have been able to agree on is that it was named in honour of the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, who caused a sensation when she toured both countries in the 1920s.

Now the Oxford English Dictionary online edition, which has just been relaunched a decade after it first appeared, comes down squarely on New Zealand’s side. The Telegraph. Read more

The Top Ten daily consequences of having evolved

ImageNatural selection acts by winnowing the individuals of each generation, sometimes clumsily, as old parts and genes are co-opted for new roles. As a result, all species inhabit bodies imperfect for the lives they live. Our own bodies are worse off than most simply because of the many differences between the wilderness in which we evolved and the modern world in which we live. We feel the consequences every day. From hiccups to wisdom teeth, the evolution of homo sapiens has left behind some glaring, yet innately human, imperfections. Here are ten. Smithsonian Magazine. Read more  [This has not a lot to do with food – but is fascinating stuff! Ed]

ImageThe scent of junk food arouses men most

Forget dropping tons of money on designer fragrances – a recent study made headlines for discovering that the aromas of a number of familiar foods aroused men most. According to findings by the Chicago-based Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center, the most sexually-enticing scents include pumpkin pie, doughnuts, black licorice, buttered popcorn and cola. Test subjects were attached to a plethysmograph, a machine that measures penile blood flow, and exposed to 30 odors. Read more

That’s all the stuff for this week, folks! 

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