The restaurant industry says it is being singling out in the debate over obesity in a new FDA report that focuses on food consumed away from home as a key element of the problem. The report recommends that restaurants reduce portion sizes and provide consumers with more information about calories.

Food Fight Not Fair?

The National Restaurant Association, which participated in the study, said it could not support the findings. "We believe the report falls short in comprehensively examining what represents "away-from-home foods" and sets the tone for unfairly targeting the restaurant industry," said Steven C. Anderson, president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association.

Anderson maintains the report overlooked what he said were the existing options and trends that are already taking place in restaurants, such as granting more diet-specific requests and offering more low calorie, low-fat and fiber-rich fare. In the end, he says, restaurants are finely tuned to customer demands and will add items to the menu accordingly.

"Efforts to restrict or place mandates on our industry are not solutions. In fact, they risk setting up additional roadblocks for consumers to enjoy the foods they wish to consume," Anderson said.

The report sought input from a wide variety of experts in industry, government, civic sector organizations and academia. The overall goal, says the FDA, is to arrive at policy solutions that will help solve the problem.

"The recommendations may help industry members, educators, researchers, government and health care professionals take steps to reduce the obesity rate and the health and economic burdens that come with it," said Acting FDA Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach.

Roadblock at WTO Talks

US officials are putting the best face possible on the conclusion of the latest WTO talks in Geneva, but the disappointment was hard to conceal. US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns issued a joint statement saying they hoped to break through the current deadlock.

"We remain fully committed to an ambitious, robust round that opens new markets for the world's farmers, manufacturers and service providers," said Schwab.

Johanns said the issue of improving market access to agricultural products is on the table, and that a long-sought agreement would provide a huge benefit to US producers. The US participated in several days of WTO negotiations, which included bilateral and small group meetings. Schwab and Johanns described the situation as serious, but not beyond hope. However, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said there's not a lot of "wiggle room" left. "There is absolutely no support in the Congress for further concessions on our part, including further concessions on market access and domestic supports," he added.

Milk Price Formulas Long Overdue, says IDFA

USDA says it plans to reconvene a national public hearing to amend the Class III and Class IV milk price formulas. The agency held an emergency hearing in January at the request of processors, who cited an urgent need to update costs built into the Federal Order classified pricing formulas known as "make allowances." The International Dairy Foods Association, expressed shock at what it called a delay in the process, and said it will "have a devastating effect on US cheese makers and the dairy industry overall."

New Guidance Aids Food Safety

FDA has issued a final industry guidance titled "Recommendations for the Early Food Safety Evaluation of New Non-Pesticidal Proteins Produced by New Plant Varieties Intended for Food Use." The guidance covers field testing requirements and practices. Jeffrey Barach, vice president and director of the Center for Laboratory and Technical Services for the Food Products Association, called it a good first step. "This guidance ensures a science-based approach to biotechnology policy, while ensuring the continued safety of the US food supply," he said.

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People, Plant and Industry News

Frito-Lay North AmericanamedAlbert Careypresident and chief executive officer of the company. A 25-year veteran of the company, he replacesIrene Rosenfeld. FLNA also promotedJaya Kumarto chief marketing officer. He joined the company in 2005, and most recently served as group vice president of insights, innovation and shopper marketing.

In April, Vice President Dick Cheney and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez presentedSunny Fresh Foods, Inc. , along with five other US firms, with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation's highest Presidential honor for performance excellence and quality achievement. The manufacturer of egg-based food products is a two-time recipient, having also received the award in 1999.

Leslie Thompsonis operations manager for theSilliker Food Science Center. Prior to joining the company, Thompson served as an R&D project leader forInternational Fiber Corp.

A merger betweenWestfalia TechnologiesandDeam Co. will createDeam Systems, a new division of Westfalia Technologies. The division will provide integrated materials handling and packaging solutions. Deam is a manufacturer of stainless steel packaging and materials handling equipment for the dairy, food and confectionery industries.

Cynthia Coxwas named president ofAcme-HardestyandWulan Gerilebecame global sourcing manager for the company, which is a value-added reseller of vegetable and animal-fat based oleochemicals and derivatives.

Urschel Laboratoriesexpanded its product test cutting facility by 5,000 sq. ft. in an effort to provide free, no-obligation test cutting to its customers. The new space also facilitates ongoing research and development and provides increased storage.

NSF Internationalhas been accredited by theAmerican National Standards Instituteto offer Safe Quality Food (SQF) 1000 and 2000 certifications for food manufacturers and processors.Osceola Foods, a subsidiary ofHormel Foods, andAdmiral Fish Farmswere the first two companies to receive SQF certification from NSF International.

Joan MillerandMark Lasswellhave been elected toCH2M Hill'sboard of directors. At the same time,Nancy Tuorwas named vice chair for the Denver, CO-based engineering firm.

Charles Ross & SonhiredRamiro Magbooas an application engineer. He is involved in the technical application engineering aspects for the company, which makes specialty mixing, blending and dispersion equipment for the food industry.