FDA seeks public comment on menu labeling

FDA seeks public comment on new federal menu labeling requirements

The Food and Drug Administration invites the public to submit comments and information to help the agency implement a new federal law that requires the posting of calorie content and other nutrition information on menu items at certain chain restaurants and similar retail food operations, and in vending machines.

The new law, Section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act signed into law March 23, 2010, sets new federal requirements for foods sold at certain restaurants, coffee shops, delis, movie theaters, bakeries and ice cream shops, and in vending machines.

Prior to the new law, federal law required nutrition labeling on many packaged foods, which may be purchased in supermarkets and at other locations; some states and local governments required nutritional labeling by restaurants in their jurisdictions.

The new law requires restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations offering substantially the same menu items to list calorie content information on menus and menu boards, including drive-through menu boards. Other nutrition information-total calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and total protein-must be made available in writing, if requested.

FDA encourages members of the food industry, state and local governments, consumers and other interested parties to offer comments and suggestions about menu labeling in docket number FDA-2010-N-0298 at www.regulations.gov. The docket will officially be open for comments through the first week of September.

Comments can be electronically submitted to the docket by choosing Submit a Comment from the top task bar, entering the docket number FDA-2010-N-0298 in the Keyword space and selecting Search.

Biannual nutrition award recognizes professionals, scientists

The Pan-American Nutrition Award 2010 recognizes the best research papers of the year in the fields of human nutrition and food science and technology. Awarded biannually and sponsored by Grupo Bimbo, the awards are granted to established professionals and young scientists in four zones: US, Mexico, Central America and South America.

Each of the four geographical zones will have two winners: professional and young scientist. To enter, the professional must have carried out unique, valuable research projects alone or as part of a team with at least five peer-reviewed publications in the last three years. The professional also must have supervised postgraduates and taught and participated in activities promoting science. The young scientist must have concluded a master’s degree a maximum of two years before the publication date of the invitation for the award, actively participated in important scientific and/or technical research projects and had at least one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The award provides $5,000 to the professional winner in each zone and $2,000 to the young scientist in each zone. Submissions can be registered at the award Web site. The deadline to submit papers is October 15, 2010. Contestants may submit multiple applications.

Cereal packaging liners at the core of off-taste and smell

The recent Kellogg cereal recalls due to “an uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package” affected at least four brands. FDA regards them as a low health threat, although some consumers may incur temporary symptoms including nausea and diarrhea. People who are particularly sensitive to these off-tastes and smells react from 0-15 minutes after eating the product, says a Kellogg statement.

Upon further investigation, Kellogg identified a substance in the package liners that can produce an uncharacteristic waxy-like, off-taste and smell. According to J. Adaire Putnam, Kellogg Company spokesperson, “Kellogg Company has concluded its investigation into the off smells present in the package liners in some of its cereals. Working with external experts in medicine, toxicology, public health, chemistry and food safety, we identified elevated levels of hydrocarbons, including methyl naphthalene, normally found in the paraffin wax and film in the liners. This specific wax is commonly used as a protective coating for foods including cheese, raw fruits and vegetables, and is approved by the FDA.”

“We have verified that the elevated levels of hydrocarbons are not present at harmful levels,” adds Putnam. “We are working with our supplier to ensure that this situation does not happen again.”

For those who may have become sickened, the cause was not the food, itself. The results of the external investigation, according to the Kellogg statement, show “a reaction to the odor and flavor in the food; it was not caused by any harmful material in the food.”

More information on 1-methyl naphthalene (liquid) and 2-methyl naphthalene (solid) can be found on CDC’s Website, Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. FDA in 21CFR176.170 says this substance can “be safely used as components of the uncoated or coated food-contact surface of paper and paperboard intended for use in producing, manufacturing, packaging, processing, preparing, treating, packing, transporting, or holding aqueous and fatty foods.” In terms of 1-methyl naphthalene, being used as a food additive, FDA is still looking for data on the substance’s toxicology.

These symbols from the Corrugated Packaging Alliance show that a corrugated product can be successfully recycled. Source: Corrugated.Org.

Corrugated wax packaging may be on the way out

The use of recyclable alternatives to waxed corrugated packaging has grown as suppliers and retailers increase their emphasis on sustainability, according to the Fibre Box Association (FBA). In 2008, the corrugated industry shipped more than twice as many boxes using recyclable wax alternatives as in 2002. Progress has been made in replacing all types of wax-treated boxes (cascaded, impregnated and curtain coated) with recyclable treated boxes, says FBA.

International Paper, an FBA member, corroborates this trend with the roll-out and commercialization of its ClimaSeries family of wax alternatives. “We have seen interest in recyclable products at all levels of the supply chain, and demand is growing,” says Pat Pochiro, International Paper marketing manager. “All our recyclable products have passed the FBA protocol for recyclability and repulpability; this allows us to issue certificates to our customers assuring them the product meets the standard set by the FBA,” adds Pochiro.

Ocean Mist Farms is an early adopter of wax-alternative packaging. Ocean Mist was looking for an alternative to its wax-cascaded carton used for products such as broccoli, celery and romaine lettuce. It began testing a wax-alternative package, International Paper’s ClimaProof, in 2009.

“ClimaProof cartons give us the opportunity to offer our trade customers an environmentally friendly packaging option for our hydro-cooled and iced product,” says Kori Tuggle, Ocean Mist Farms marketing manager. “We’ve been able to give our trade customers quantifiable improvements to their own carbon footprint simply with their purchase of Ocean Mist Farms commodities that are packaged in a ClimaProof carton versus the traditional, industry standard of a waxed carton,” adds Tuggle.

Pochiro says the recyclable wax alternative materials have a sheen that can be mistaken for wax, so it’s important for users to look for the recycling logos on the material.

Sustainability program five years ahead of schedule

MillerCoors released its 2010 sustainable development report entitled, Great Beer, Great Responsibility, which details progress across the company’s corporate responsibility commitments. The brewer surpassed its 2015 goal for waste reduction by eliminating 20% of the amount of waste sent to landfill. In total, the company reuses or recycles nearly 100% of all brewery waste and has achieved zero waste to landfill at two of its breweries.

“Surpassing our 2015 waste reduction goal five years early is a phenomenal success that demonstrates the commitment of MillerCoors people across all of our brewery operations,” says MillerCoors Chief Responsibility and Ethics Officer Cornell Boggs. “We recognize that sustainable development requires a sustained commitment, and we’re working to further improve our performance for generations to come,” he adds.

Some other sustainability successes in 2009 include:

  • Reduced total energy consumption by 3.6% and lowered greenhouse gas emissions by 1.2%.
  • Recorded a ratio of 3.40 barrels of water for every barrel of beer at its Ft. Worth, TX brewery.
  • Completed the largest installation of membrane bioreactor technology in the US at its Elkton, VA facility.
  • Began engineering at its Elkton, VA brewery to reuse biogas from its anaerobic wastewater treatment system for generating electrical power, which the company does at two of its four anaerobic wastewater treatment systems.
  • Reduced packing materials by an estimated 11 million pounds in Coors Light and Coors Banquet secondary packaging.

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Dr.-Ing. E. h. Hermann Kronseder, Krones AG founder, died at the age of 85. Source Krones AG.

People, Plant and Industry News

ConAgra Foods, Inc. agreed to acquire the assets of American Pie, LLC, based in Woodbury, NY. American Pie manufactures frozen fruit pies, thaw-and-serve pies, fruit cobblers and pie crusts under Marie Callender’s and Claim Jumper trade names, as well as frozen dinners, pot pies and appetizers under the Claim Jumper trade name. In another announcement, ConAgra Foods, Inc. reached an agreement to sell its Gilroy Foods & Flavors dehydrated and vegetable product operations to Olam International for $250 million.


Corn Products International, Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire National Starch, a New Jersey-based global provider of specialty starches, from AkzoNobel, a global coatings and specialty chemicals company headquartered in The Netherlands.


American Sugar Refining, North America signed an agreement to acquire Tate & Lyle PLC’s European cane sugar operations.


Kraft Foods signed an agreement to sell Cadbury’s E. Wedel-branded chocolate and sugar confectionery operations in Poland to Lotte Group for an undisclosed sum. Approximately 1,000 Cadbury Wedel employees will transfer to Lotte Group.


Foran Spice Company named Paul J. Duddleston to the newly created position of vice president of sales.


Cargill’s US beef business and Meyer Natural Foods entered into a multi-year agreement that creates a joint go-to-market approach. This collaborative effort will focus on expanding sales of Meyer Natural Angus and Laura’s Lean Beef to Cargill’s retail and foodservice customers that wish to offer consumers natural and organic beef products.


American Lorain Corporation, an international processed snack foods and convenience foods manufacturer based in Shandong Province, China, secured a $15 million bank loan from a German development bank, Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH, to expand its operations in China.


Chairman and Chief Executive Officer W. John Short agreed to extend his tenure for four years following the effective date of the NutraCea’s exit from Chapter 11 reorganization.


Troy Snader was named vice president of sales for Brenton, a division of Pro Mach.


Westfalia Technologies, Inc. named Bill Brown as its service manager.


Carolina Ingredients was awarded LEED Silver by the US Green Building Council (USGBG).


Seapoint Farms appointed Philip Siegel, corporate and food industry executive, as chief operating officer.


JBT Corporation announced that its JBT FoodTech business signed a definitive agreement to acquire International Food Technology Co., Ltd. and Food Audits International Co., Ltd., both headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand.


Praeter-Sterling, which was founded by Ralph Praeter when he created the Praeter Pulverizer Company in 1925, celebrated its 85th anniversary.


Honeywell completed the acquisition of Matrikon for approximately $139 million. Matrikon will be integrated with the Advanced Solutions business of Honeywell Process Solutions.


Dr.-Ing. E. h. Hermann Kronseder, founding father of Krones AG, died at the age of 85.


Rick Loesel, food industry and logistics veteran, joined VersaCold Logistics as its senior VP of business development.


Martin Brothers, Inc., supplier of equipment in the ice cream and food processing industries, achieved ISO 9001:2008 quality registration.


Key Technology appointed Joel Bustos as senior vice president of global operations.


Adept Technology, Inc. agreed to acquire privately held MobileRobots Inc., a provider of autonomous robot and automated guided vehicle (AGV) technologies.


Bemis Company, Inc., a supplier of flexible packaging materials, signed a definitive agreement to sell the company’s Menasha, WI and Catoosa, OK facilities to Exopack Holding Corp., an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners, Inc.


Electro Switch Corp. acquired Arga Controls, a producer of precision measurement and control instrumentation based in Monrovia, California. Arga Controls will operate as a unit of Electro Switch.


Amanda Mackedanz joined Deacom, Inc. as a senior product consultant. Deacom provides ERP software to mid- and large-sized food and beverage manufacturers.


Ted Carman joined ESE’s sales team as a regional sales account manager (Western region), and Randy Hayter joined as the company’s regional sales account manager (Midwest region).


Pragotrade LLC, a supplier of specialized food processing equipment, changed its name to Weston Products LLC.


ACS Group named Mike Anderson as its regional sales manager for the entire state of Florida for all ACS Group divisions.


Food Marketing Institute (FMI) promoted Jennifer Hatcher to senior vice president, government and public affairs.


Wildeck, Inc., manufacturer of mezzanines, material lifts, and safety guarding products, appointed Michael R. Galezio to the position of quality assurance/safety manager for its North American operations.