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Cheerios: Food or drug?

In a May 5 letter sent to General Mills CEO Ken Powell, FDA claims that the “label and labeling” of Cheerios toasted whole grain oat cereal has serious violations of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and the applicable regulations in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations.

According to the letter, “Based on claims made on your product’s label, we have determined that your Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal is intended for use in the prevention, mitigation and treatment of disease.”

The letter outlines claims made on the Cheerios label: “You can lower your bad cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks,” and “Did you know that in just six weeks Cheerios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4%...”

According to FDA, these claims indicate that Cheerios is intended for use in lowering cholesterol, and therefore in preventing, mitigating and treating the disease hypercholesterolemia. Additionally, the claims indicate that Cheerios is intended for use in the treatment, mitigation and prevention of coronary heart disease through lowering total and bad cholesterol. Because of these intended uses, FDA considers the product a drug or a new drug, and therefore, cannot be marketed with the above claims in the US without an approved new drug application. FDA also claims that Cheerios is a misbranded food because it bears unauthorized health claims in its labeling. These include semantics involving claims about fiber-containing grain products with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers as well.

General Mills has posted a vigorous response on its Web site: “Cheerios’ soluble fiber heart health claim has been FDA-approved for 12 years, and Cheerios’ ‘lower your cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks’ message has been featured on the box for more than two years.”

According to the General Mills rebuttal, “The science is not in question. The scientific body of evidence supporting the heart health claim was the basis for FDA’s approval of the heart health claim, and the clinical study supporting Cheerios’ cholesterol-lowering benefit is very strong. The FDA is interested in how the Cheerios cholesterol-lowering information is presented on the Cheerios package and Web site. We look forward to discussing this with FDA and to reaching a resolution.”

Wanted: Effective CPG talent management

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies need to broaden the skills of their sales forces to meet retailer expectations, says a study from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Network of Executive Women and A.T. Kearney. The study, Talent Triage: Raising the Bar on CPG Sales Force Talent Management, reports CPG sales and human resource executives rated their talent management activities as “highly effective” only 9% of the time, but 68% of these executives plan to increase investment in their sales force talent management programs.

According to the study, many sales executives see a significant opportunity to improve the effectiveness of their talent management programs. A low-growth economy presents a chance for companies willing to invest in the best and brightest sales force to be well positioned when the recovery commences.

Executives surveyed for the study identified aligning talent with customer needs and effective performance evaluation as primary concerns within the CPG industry. Workforce diversity also is a priority for CPG sales teams, according to the study.

The study surveyed 164 executives and sales people from 34 CPG manufacturers and sales and marketing agencies in the US. It also features 32 interviews with academic experts and executives from CPG manufacturers, sales and marketing agencies and retailers representing national grocery, regional grocery, mass retail and drug store segments. The study can be downloaded from the GMA Web site.

Harvard Business professor to speak at Rockwell event

“Enterprise 2.0” author and Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee will head a lineup of speakers at the 2009 Manufacturing 2.0 event hosted by Rockwell Automation in June. In addition to McAfee’s keynote, “Tapping the Power of Your Enterprise,” the event will feature a series of panels comprised of industry leaders who will discuss ways they’re leveraging technology initiatives to demonstrate real results in the challenging economic climate. McAfee has dedicated his career to researching information technology and its effect on business. During his keynote, he’ll explore “Enterprise 2.0,” including data showing the impact of IT on the structure and performance of businesses.

Maple Leaf Foods class action settlement

In August 2008, Maple Leaf Foods recalled 243 types of RTE meat products supplied to stores, restaurants and cafeterias throughout Canada. Some of the products were contaminated with Listeria.

Class actions were commenced in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. A Canada-wide proposed settlement has been reached and will be subject to court approval in Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario. The settlement provides that the defendants, Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and Maple Leaf Consumer Foods Inc, will pay between $25 and $27 million in full and final settlement of all claims, applicable taxes, class counsel fees and other expenses.

Payments will be made according to a compensation table to approved claimants based on his/her damages including personal or bodily injury, pain and suffering and special damages.

Quality, track and trace make good bedfellows

When reputation is all that matters, the right tools can improve product quality and save a processor’s reputation as well.


Essential guide to manufacturing software

Today’s software tools help processors handle track and trace, manage product lifecycles and improve operational efficiency.
View Food Engineering's 2009 Manufacturing Software Guide. (PDF)

Tech Update: Not your daddy's lift truck

From new-age power packs to advanced data-acquisition packages, technology is reshaping the workhorses of material handling.

Special Supplement: HMI evolution

No longer just an operator interface, HMIs enhance plant performance, regulatory compliance and product quality.

Adventures in system integration

The success of automation projects depends on a number of factors-not least of all the skills of the system integrators.

Robert Turely, CEO, Allen Family Foods

People, Plant and Industry News

Allen Family Foods appointed Robert Turley as its president and CEO. Turely, who has an extensive career in poultry with Carolina Turkeys and Purdue Farms, retired from the latter in March 2008 as president and chief operating officer and a member of its board of directors.


Foster Farms has entered into a definitive asset purchase agreement with Pilgrim's Pride Corp. to acquire Pilgrim’s Pride's Farmerville, LA, chicken complex for $80 million. Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including government approval and US Bankruptcy Court approval.


Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream appointed Mike Mitchell as president and CEO. Mitchell comes from Nestlé USA and replaces retiring CEO Timothy F. Kahn. Dreyer’s has been owned by Nestlé SA since 2006.


Frank Kitchel was named vice president of marketing, meat & dairy flexibles for Alcan Packaging Food Americas. He previously was director of marketing, meat & dairy flexibles.


Nestlé hosted the first annual Creating Shared Value Forum in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Swiss Mission to the United Nations. During the event, world leaders discussed water, nutrition and rural development.


Campbell Soup Co. completed the acquisition of artisan bread maker Ecce Panis of East Brunswick, NJ. Campbell plans to run the Ecce Panis business as part of its Pepperidge Farm bakery operations.


The American Meat Institute Foundation recognized 32 Tyson Foods operations with environmental awards at its annual Conference on Worker Safety, Health, Human Resources and the Environment, held in Denver. A total of 24 Tyson chicken, beef and pork operations were honored with Tier 3 awards, while eight other Tyson facilities earned Tier 2 awards.


Public-private partnership and strategic research group Top Institute Food and Nutrition appointed professor Wim Saris as science director, Nutrition and Health.


Applegate Farms appointed Eric Miller as VP of sales. Miller has more than 25 years of experience in senior executive and sales roles in organizations including Quaker Oats.


Unilever intends to acquire Baltimor Holding ZAO’s sauces business, the leading ketchup business in Russia. The acquisition will further strengthen Unilever’s existing dressings portfolio and its competitive position in Russia.


Former Starbucks Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Supply Chain Operations Rich Soderberg joined Vigilos as its food processing industry advisor.


Glory Foods Inc. and C.H. Robinson Co. have partnered to expand the Glory Foods Fresh Produce program. The partnership allows Glory Foods to focus on new product development and marketing, while C.H. Robinson oversees distribution.


The Sholl Group has implemented a restructuring of its Green Giant Fresh value-added business. The restructuring comes after the sale of the brand licensing rights to Growers Express LLC.


Reddy Ice appointed four members to its senior management team: William A. Tolany, executive vice president and chief customer officer; Nicholas P. Bolton, senior vice president - manufacturing, engineering and procurement; William A. Richardville, senior vice president - distribution and logistics; and Steven A. Wilson, senior vice president - national account sales.


Brett Groom joined ConAgra Foods as vice president, media, digital and social marketing for the company’s consumer brands.


Glanbia Nutritionals opened a new 7,000 sq.-ft. product development center in Twin Falls, ID. The facility will provide co-development and process optimization for the company’s customers.


Larry Strayhorn joined TGW-ERMANCO and succeeds Leon Kirschner as president. Strayhorn will also become a member of the board of directors.


ECC/Detectamet, manufacturer of metal-detectable products, acquired CK European Safety Equipment Limited.


Iconics announced a working relationship with Kepware to deliver Windows CE communication solutions for use with Iconics’ embedded SCADA and visualization products for machine builders and plant OEMs.


Omron Scientific Technologies will host more than 35 regional US Skill Builder training seminars from June through August of 2009. The one-day seminars focus on the requirements and methods of machine and process safeguarding.


Plasport, a division of Plascon, named Bob Robke as sales manager for its line of form fitting poly liners used in the food, chemical and biopharmaceuticals industries.