View the latest edition of FE’s e-newsletter

China-US food wars?

Call it defensive mode, protectionism or whatever you will, some American companies are taking action to make sure their products do not carry any ingredients fromChina. Call it caution, retaliation or something else, the Chinese are scrutinizing American food and ingredient imports more carefully.

Food for Health International (Orem, UT), maker of whole food nutritional supplements for people and pets, will begin a campaign to promote the fact that none of its ingredients come from China. According to company president, Frank Davis, “It is a response to the headlines coming out, and we are taking a position that we are not the only ones reading them,” referring to news stories about products using contaminated ingredients from China.

Plans call for a “China-Free” sticker on products such as the company’s “9 a Day-Plus” capsules, “Active Adults” whole food shakes and “Healthy Dog” supplements. The company will also use “China-Free” in advertisements and promotions.

Xinhua news agency reported that China has returned a shipment of sugar-free drink mix from the US after tests in Shanghai revealed the presence of too much red dye. The shipment was produced by Sturm Foods Ltd. (Manawa, WI).

Excessive use of red dye is not new in China. In November 2006, duck eggs with red yolks colored by the known carcinogen, Sudan Red IV dye, were pulled off shelves in Beijing. The origin of the eggs was traced back to duck farmers in neighboring Hebei province who were suspected of adding the dye to the animals’ feed to give the egg yolks a deep red color.

After executing its former food and drug administrator chief for bribes and corruption, China promises to do better. “As a developing country, China’s food and drug supervision work began late and its foundation is weak. This means that the food and drug safety situation is inadequate,” said Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman of China’s SFDA (State Food and Drug Administration). She says the Chinese government has set up a five-year plan to “significantly reduce incidents caused by substandard food or drug products.”

SFDA aims to set up a national database to record and track information on food security and to share that information with those needing it. This project is expected to cover 90% of the country by 2010.

Energy-not corn-increases food prices

According to a study from John Urbanchuk of LEGG, the real cause of increased food prices at the grocery store is directly related to escalating energy costs, not the rising cost of corn due to its increased use in the production of ethanol.

According to the study, rising energy prices have had twice the impact on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for food as the price of corn. Urbanchuk examined CPI data from 2002 through May of this year in his analysis.

“Retail food prices are not likely to accelerate significantly in 2008 and beyond, even as ethanol production continues to expand,” Urbanchuk notes, “In fact, consumers will be more severely affected by rising gasoline and energy prices than by increases in corn prices.”

A full version of the report, commissioned by the Renewable Fuels Association, can be found at

Prior to joining LEGG, Urbanchuk was executive vice president for AUS Consultants, senior vice president and chief economist for Hill and Knowlton, Inc., vice president with Wharton Econometrics and manager-economic research for Campbell Soup Company. He is an adjunct professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA.

EFSA, FDA strengthen cooperation in food safety

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and FDA signed the first US/European agreement in the area of assessing food safety risk. This is the first formal international cooperation agreement EFSA has signed and the first formal step in cooperation between the two bodies.

The agreement is designed to facilitate the sharing of confidential scientific and other information between the two agencies, such as methodologies to ensure food is safe.

“Food safety knows no national boundaries, and the food chain is today truly a global one,” said Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA executive director. According to Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, FDA commissioner, Food and Drugs, “I welcome this opportunity for scientific exchanges with our European colleagues - exchanges that will be focused on ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food, a major area of responsibility of our agency.”

Soup for China and Russia

Campbell Soup Company sold its soup businesses in the UK and Ireland to prepare for its insurgence into China and Russia, two soup markets with the highest growth potential.

Soup consumption in Russia and China far exceeds the US where there are 14 billion soup servings consumed annually. In Russia, there are about 32 billion servings per year or 225 servings per capita. In China, there are about 320 billion servings annually, averaging more than 241 servings per capita. In both China and Russia, most soup is now homemade.

The company’s expansion into Russia and China supports two out of five of its key strategies: to expand the company’s iconic brands within the simple meals and baked snacks categories, and to make its products more broadly available in existing and new markets.


Processors Take a Cost-Driven Approach to Replacment Parts Management

Real-time ordering and the growing role of the purchasing department are among the trends in FE’s annual study.

Replacement Parts Directory -- Supplier Index

Meeting of the Manufacturing Minds

Challenges abound for food and beverage processors, but creative solutions were the order of the day at FE’s annual conference.

Not Your Mama's Sensor

More rugged, adaptable and reliable sensors are being deployed in industrial automation. The fact they’re taken for granted attests to how well they perform.

People, Plant and Industry News

Burger King Corp. will begin rolling out a trans fat-free cooking oil to its restaurants in the United States and expects every US restaurant will be using trans fat-free oil by the end of 2008.


Toby’s Family Foods has acquired Genesis Juice, an organic fruit and vegetable juice producer in Oregon for an undisclosed sum. Toby’s will put Genesis’ products back on the market as the fruit juice maker closed its doors in April.


Whole Foods Market Inc. will transfer all 35 Henry's and Sun Harvest stores and a Riverside, CA, distribution center to privately-held Smart & Final Inc., if the Federal Trade Commission allows it to merge with Wild Oats Markets Inc.


A strategic alliance agreement has been signed by Demaco Systems (East Dundee, IL) and Storci SpA (Parma, Italy) for cooperation in sales/marketing and manufacturing of both companies’ product lines. Demaco Systems, US manufacturer of extruders, pasta lines and ready-made meal make-up lines will market Storci pasta and dough processing machinery in North America. The alliance includes joint manufacturing, service/sales network coordination and technology transfer.


The Provesta Flavor Ingredients business units located in Hutchinson, MN, and Boyceville, WI, will merge with the business of Deutsche Hefewerke GmbH (Hamburg, Germany), and will trade under the name of Ohly Americas. The new business will focus on production, development and distribution of specialty ingredients for the savory food and nutrition markets.


Multivac Inc., a manufacturer of thermoform fill-seal rollstock, traysealer and vacuum chamber packaging systems, has been awarded the Hormel Foods Spirit of Excellence Award. Multivac received the award for supplying Hormel Foods with innovative, reliable and economical packaging solutions for a wide range of its product lines.


ProSim, the French process simulation software company, has entered a partnership with DECHEMA, the German Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, to distribute the DETHERM database and associated software. The DETHERM database contains raw thermo-physical property data (about 25,000 pure compounds and 100,000 mixtures covered) used for design and optimization of processes and plants.


To ensure the viability of Levucell SC through the pelleting process, Lallemand has developed a system of micro-encapsulation. The encapsulation process involves the coating of dried yeast pills with a specific fatty acid mixture that protects the yeast against the high temperatures and pressures of pelleting.


Mike Beaver has joined Cyclonaire’s new Components Division, which manufactures bulk material handling systems, as components sales manager. He previously worked in marketing at Sysco Corp.


W. R. Grace & Co. has acquired certain assets of Grupo Sistiaga (Hernani, Spain). Sistiaga is a supplier of coatings for aluminum containers.


Anderol, manufacturer of specialty synthetic lubricants, named Dr. Gary Babic to the new position of senior account manager for the company’s North American business.