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Clean Food

Brand news and Market Developments

Brands

Fast-food, Restaurant Chains Wooing Millennials Spurn Processed Cheese

Fast-food and fast-casual restaurant chains bowing to the demands of the Millennial generation are spurning the century-old sandwich favorite processed American cheese – made with sodium citrate, calcium phosphate, natamycin, modified food starch, and milk – in favor of premium cheeses that contain no synthetic or artificial ingredients. Wendy’s, for example, offers asiago, AW's Canada locations use real cheddar, McDonald's replaced its Big Mac American cheese with a version that contains no artificial preservatives, and Panera Bread is now using a four-cheese combo of fontina, cheddar, manteau and smoked gouda to make its grilled cheese sandwich. The result is higher sales for the restaurants, and a significant drop in American cheese sales for the fourth straight year. U.S. sales of processed cheese, including brands like Kraft Singles and Velveeta are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year.[Image Credit: © Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay]

FDA May Soon Require Non-Dairy “Milks” To Change Their Labeling

In what may be the first step toward changing the way plant-based dairy substitutes are labeled, the FDA is soliciting comments from producers and other experts on how consumers use the alternative “milk.” The agency wants to know whether American consumers understand how substitutes differ from cow’s milk in nutritional content and cooking performance. As sales of non-dairy substitutes like soy and almond milk National Milk Producers Federation asked the FDA to enforce what's known as a "standard of identity." The for milk reads, in part: "the lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum” – the milk produced after giving birth – “obtained by the complete milking of one or more healthy cows." Companies and consumers have 60 days to respond to the FDA's questions.[Image Credit: © rawpixel from Pixabay]

Companies

Lonza Now Offers Clean-Label Colors For Its Vegetarian Supplement Capsules

Greenwood, S.C.-based pharmaceutical and biotech ingredient supplier Lonza is now offering diet supplement manufacturers its plant-based Capsugel Vcaps Plus in a range of clean label colors. The vegetarian capsules have been around for a while, but coloring the shell has previously required an E-number. The new food-colored capsules, labeled as natural colorants in the U.S., allow manufacturers to create bright-colored supplements that also appeal to consumers looking for supply chain transparency and a “natural” claim. The capsule shell is made using plant-based hypromellose (HPMC) and water only, without any preservatives. The first of Lonza’s clean label solutions is the Vcaps Plus Purple Carrot capsule, following the successful introduction of the Vcaps Plus Blue Spirulina capsule in Europe earlier this year. [Image Credit: © Lonza]

Bunge Debuts High-Protein, Clean Label Lentil Flour As Starch Substitute

Food ingredient company Bunge North America (Chesterfield, Mo.) has added a non-GMO lentil flour to its portfolio that manufacturers can use as a functional “clean label” substitute for modified starches in ingredient lists. Bunge’s lentil flour is made using non-GMO lentils, water, and heat. Unlike modified starches, Bunge’s lentil flour boosts protein content. It also offers the nutrition of other pulse-based flours, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals, with a more neutral flavor profile suitable for both sweet and savory applications. [Image Credit: © Bunge North America, Inc.]

Large 4-Year Study Finds Reduced Risk Of Cancer Among Eaters Of Organic Foods

French government scientists have published a study demonstrating that the risk of cancer declines significantly when people eat organic foods, especially those free from pesticides. The scientists tracked the diets of nearly 69,000 people over four years. Those who consumed the most organic foods were 25 percent less likely to develop cancers, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, all lymphomas, and postmenopausal breast cancer. Pesticides linked to cancer include the weed killer glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, and the organophosphate pesticides malathion and diazinon. The scientists focused on 16 organic food and beverage products, including fruits and vegetables, soy-based foods, eggs, dairy, grains, meat and fish, among others. The study was published in a journal of the American Medical Association.[Image Credit: © Environmental Working Group]

Ahold Delhaize Unit Commits To Removing Artificial Ingredients From House Brands

Salisbury, N.C.-based Retail Business Services, an Ahold Delhaize USA subsidiary, announced a commitment to making its house brands cleaner and more natural by 2025. The company promised to remove from its foods: synthetic colors; artificial flavors, preservatives, and sweeteners; MSGs; and high fructose corn syrup. It also plans to reduce salt and sugar, advance transparency and sustainable chemistry practices used in products and packaging, and reduce plastic and packaging waste. The company also promised to produce more allergen-free products. Retail Business Services, LLC, serves six East Coast grocery brands, including Food Lion, Giant Food, Giant/Martin's, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and online grocery retailer Peapod.[Image Credit: © United States Retail Business Services, LLC]

Belgians Adopt Food Nutrition Labeling Scheme Developed In France

The Belgian government has introduced a voluntary scheme for front-of-pack nutritional labeling that is now being implemented by the country’s grocery retailers. The Nutri-Score scheme was developed by the French government and put in place in France a year ago. The system was designed to inform consumers about the nutritional quality of a product by using color coding associated with letters from A to E. Five levels range from the most nutritionally favorable product (class A) to the least (class E). U.S exporters to Belgium will not have to comply with the scheme if they don’t want to. Two large retail chains, Ahold Delhaize and Colryut, have committed to applying the scheme by the end of 2018.[Image Credit: © Ahold Delhaize]

Nestlé USA Forms New Partnerships With Innovative Food Start-Ups

Nestlé USA announced three new partnerships with innovative food start-ups as part of the TERRA Food & Agriculture Accelerator founded by RocketSpace and Rabobank. The partnerships are with with Jackson's Honest, Miyoko's and Here, each of which is “creating on-trend foods focused on plant-based nutrition, simple labels and fresh ingredients.” Chicago-based Here Foods turns fresh produce ingredients grown by independent farmers into products like cold-pressed juices, spreads, dips, and salad dressings. Jackson’s Honest sells more than 20 Non-GMO Project verified snacks, including potato chips, tortilla chips, and grain-free puffs cooked “low and slow” in organic coconut oil. Miyoko Creamery makes non-dairy cheese, butter, and other products from organic nuts, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients.[Image Credit: © Nestlé]

McDonald’s Removes Artificial Preservatives, Flavors, Colors From Menu Items


Hoping to attract more health-conscious consumers to its restaurants, McDonald's is getting rid of the artificial ingredients in its menu items. Seven classic burgers – the hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, McDouble, Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and Big Mac – will no longer contain artificial preservatives, flavors or colors. The changes apply to the bun, the cheese, and the sauce, but not to the pickles. Ingredients eliminated include the artificial preservative calcium propionate from buns and the preservative sorbic acid from its American cheese. Th company is also removing potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, and calcium disodium EDTA from the Big Mac Special Sauce without "sacrificing that signature taste."[Image Credit: © McDonald's]

Suit Alleges Pret a Manger’s Baked Goods Contain Weed Killer Ingredient

Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Beyond Pesticides announced it is joining GMO Free USA and Organic Consumers Association in a lawsuit charging restaurant chain Pret a Manger with “deceptive marketing and sale of certain bread and other baked goods” as "natural food" though they tested positive for glyphosate. The lawsuit accuses Pret of exploiting consumers' preferences and willingness to pay more for products marketed as natural. A component of Roundup weed killer, glyphosate is patented as a chelator and an antibiotic, but is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility, and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases. The suit would have Pret fully disclose glyphosate in its products and reformulate them to be glyphosate-free.[Image Credit: © Beyond Pesticides]

Innovations

Bioengineering Company’s New Technology Delivers “Natural Preservatives”

Responding to consumer demands for simple and understandable food ingredient labels, manufacturers are looking to replace artificial preservatives. To help in that endeavour, Mass.-based bioengineering firm Conagen announced a “ready-to-go” technology that can create the “next generation of natural preservatives.” The fermentation technology produces a highly pure compound with significant anti-microbial effects and preservative functionalities. It is stable in various pH conditions, colorless with a slightly sweet taste, and water soluble. The company says the compound will be ready for commercial scale production in 2019, with regulatory approvals “on the way.”[Image Credit: © Conagen-Inc.com]

Other

“Clean Label” Appearing More And More On Foods, Despite Lack Of Standard

Though there is still no firm definition of the term, the “clean label” claim is joining other food marketing words and phrases like “natural” and “artisanal” on packaging. As the phenomenon grows, organizations have appeared claiming to test and certify food products and award a "clean label" seal of approval. The Denver-based Clean Label Project, for example, tests products for 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, BPA, BPS, acrylamide, and melamine and its analogs. But “clean label” can mean other things as well – no artificial flavors, no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no high-fructose corn syrup – depending on the product. What may be needed is for regulators to nail down the definition of clean label so it can have some universal application.[Image Credit: © Clean Label Project]

“Certified Transitional” Label Is Slow To Catch On

The “Certified Transitional” label launched in 2016 through a partnership between Quality Assurance International (QAI) and natural cereal brand Kashi was created to help increase the supply and availability of USDA organic products as would-be organic farmers weathered the 36-month transition from conventional to organic farming methods. However, roadblocks have impeded the success of the label. The USDA, for example, initially approved a National Certified Transitional Program in 2017 that would have set up a national standard but not a label for the end product, as QAI's certification currently does. The USDA withdrew support for the program due to internal roadblocks and disagreement. According to the department, the significant challenges to creating a national standard for transitional production convinced it to not move forward with ongoing certification. [Image Credit: © Kashi Company]

Regulation

FDA Ponders Adding Sesame Seeds To List Of Allergens That Need Labeling

The U.S. has yet to add sesame seeds to the list of major food allergens, but is now exploring whether it should require sesame seed warnings on foods.  FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that evidence is mounting that sesame seeds are a major food allergen, and is asking for comments about a possible change. In the U.S., the major allergens are milk, eggs, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. They accounted for 90 percent of the serious food allergic reactions in 2004 when the law was passed. About 300,000 people in the U.S. have sesame seed allergies, nearly as many as those with allergies to soybeans or fish. The European Union, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada already list sesame as a major allergen that requires food labeling.[Image Credit: © PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay]

FDA Drops Seven Approved Flavoring Chemicals After Data Prove They Cause Cancer

Responding to two food additive petitions, the Food and Drug Administration has removed seven synthetic flavoring substances and flavor enhancers (adjuvants) from its list of approved ingredients because they have been proven to be carcinogenic. Data presented in one of the petitions submitted to the FDA by Breast Cancer Fund and nine other watchdog groups show that six of the synthetic substances caused cancer in laboratory animals under the conditions of the studies. The seventh synthetic flavor was dropped from the list because it is no longer used by industry. The six flavoring substances include synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. [Image Credit: © Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (Formerly Breast Cancer Fund)]

FDA May Soon Update The Definition Of, And Permitted Ingredients For, Yogurt

The FDA is looking into the possibility of “modernizing” regulations governing the content and even the definition of yogurt. The dairy industry has been pushing to open up the yogurt standard as manufacturing practices and consumer tastes have changed. The FDA established a standard for foods labeled as "yogurt" in 1981 that limited the ingredients. But the industry objected; the following year the agency suspended enforcement of various provisions and allowed the addition of preservatives. A 2009 rule that was never finalized created a unified standard that allowed emulsifiers as well, but yogurt makers said the rule created confusion and left it open to lawsuits. Meanwhile, milk producers hope the FDA’s “modernized” standards will soon crack down on soy and almond drinks that call themselves "milk," which current standards say must come from a cow.[Image Credit: © Aline Ponce from Pixabay]
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