Kessler International, announced today the need for consumers to be cautious when buying food products from online retailers. An eight-month investigation by Kessler of counterfeit food products disclosed that some online retailers, including Amazon, were selling counterfeit food products. These products included dairy and fish products, condiments, alcoholic spirits, and spices.
The investigation is noteworthy not just because these counterfeit products are sold in the US, but additional investigation by Kessler disclosed the packaging facilities of these counterfeit products were contaminated and filthy. Additionally, independent lab testing disclosed that in many cases the counterfeit products did not contain the ingredients disclosed on the label, subjecting individuals to adverse health reactions.
“While most consumers are aware that the $5000.00 luxury brand watch they buy for $25.00 is probably counterfeit, most would never expect the brand food item they buy not to contain the ingredients on the label,” said Susan Peterson, COO of Kessler International.
Counterfeit product is not subject to the manufacturer standards and regulations mandated upon a genuine product, leaving the consumer vulnerable to adulterated food products and health issues. See Kessler’s website for additional information on how Al Qaeda or ISIS has used counterfeit product in the past according to Interpol and other law enforcement offices.
Nature’s Best’s Flower Mound, Texas, facility will undergo a rebranding within the next several weeks. Nature’s Best was acquired by KeHE Distributors, LLC, in August 2014. The KeHE Distributors logo will replace the Nature’s Best logo at this facility, as well as on trucks, uniforms and corporate letterhead that operate out of this facility.
“While the decision to replace the Nature’s Best logo with KeHE’s was driven in part by requirements from the Department of Transportation, rebranding [at the Flower Mound Distribution Center] aligns with our long term vision and strategy for this region. KeHE has a very strong reputation and brand recognition east of the Rocky Mountains,” said Gene Carter, Chief Operations Officer, KeHE.
“This is an exciting time in our organization. We believe a unified brand strategy in this region is the best way to communicate to our customers that we are a seamless organization with unmatched product offerings and reach,” said Mike Leone, Chief Commercial Office, KeHE. “By marketing under one powerful brand with a long history of success in this region, we will have even greater marketplace impact and become a much stronger company.”
With respect to other facilities formerly owned by Nature’s Best, KeHE will maintain the Nature’s Best name west of the Rocky Mountains and add “Powered by KeHE” as a tagline beneath the logo.
“The rebranding process is about more than just the KeHE logo itself… The KeHE brand is a promise to our customers that flows from our values and our culture,” continued Leone.
Marsatta Chocolate is in the closing hours of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to reopen its retail store in a new location after being evicted from its previous premises because the company was hosting pick-up youth hockey games in its parking lot, according to founder and chocolatier Jeffray D. Gardner. The company’s troubles have been complicated by the early birth of a son to Gardner and his wife Naomi.
This project will only be funded if at least $40,000 is pledged by Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 9:09 p.m. MST. If the needed funds are raised in time, Marsatta plans to develop online sales of the premium chocolates, buy larger chocolate conching machinery and hire staff to keep a retail operation open throughout the day.
The project has the support of the Los Angeles Kings professional hockey team, which has posted an appeal on the team’s website.
AB Acquisition LLC (Albertsons) and Safeway Inc. have entered into agreements, subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to sell 168 stores across eight states to four buyers:
Divestiture of these stores is being undertaken in order to secure FTC clearance of the companies’ proposed merger, which was announced in March and is expected to close inJanuary 2015. The purchase agreements with the four buyers are all subject to approval by the FTC.
Under the terms of the purchase agreements, the buyers will acquire the stores, equipment and inventory, and they intend to hire most, if not all, of the store employees upon the closing of the purchase of the stores. For a complete list of stores to be divested, visit: http://www.albertsons.com/tellmemore.
“We’re pleased to have found strong buyers for these stores and to have completed this important step toward combining Albertsons and Safeway,” said Safeway President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Edwards, who will serve as the combined company’s President and CEO. “We look forward now to the transaction’s close, so we can begin working together to enhance the loyalty of grocery shoppers by delivering high quality products, great service and lower prices to become the favorite local supermarket in every neighborhood we serve.”
About Safeway Inc.
Safeway Inc., which operates Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb and Carrs stores, is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States with sales of $35.1 billion in 2013. The company operates 1,326 stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia, 13 distribution centers and 19 manufacturing plants, and employs approximately 138,000 employees. The company’s common stock is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol SWY. The company will be delisted from the NYSE upon closing of the merger. For more information, visit www.Safeway.com.
Two celiac brothers, Elliott and Marshall Rader, believed in a better gluten-free bar. Sick of cardboard taste and hard-to-understand ingredients, they set out on a mission to create a bar that tasted awesome and was good for them too. A labor of love between the brothers and a pastry chef, these bars meet their three main criteria:
2.) High in protein and fiber to keep them feeling full, and
3.) Made with pure and simple gluten-free ingredients.
Made in-house at the company’s own dedicated gluten-free facility, the Gluten Free Bars contain no fillers or additives and are made with all-natural and GMO-free ingredients, 70 percent of which are certified organic. The Gluten Free Bar provides a good source of fiber and a complete source of protein derived from brown rice and pea protein (10-12 grams!). The bars are also low in sodium; sweetened with agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and dates instead of added sugar; and completely free of wheat, soy, cholesterol, trans fat, casein and dairy.
From toasted cashews and Virginia peanuts to certified gluten-free oats, crisped brown rice, and dried cranberries, the bar’s wholesome ingredients are treats for the taste buds. The flavors include: Cranberry Toasted Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Coconut Cashew Crunch, Dark Chocolate Coconut and Oatmeal Raisin. An ideal breakfast or anytime snack, the bars are chewy and moist on the inside and feature a lightly toasted crunch on the outside. The Gluten Free Bars were introduced to the market in 2010.
During this Season of Giving, The Kroger Co. is donating 30 million meals to local food banks and providing simple donation opportunities for customers and associates who shop and work at its family of stores.
“Kroger has a proud history of feeding hungry neighbors in our communities and a rich tradition of bringing help and hope for the holidays,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “We invite our customers, associates and communities to join in our Season of Giving by supporting their local food banks as well as The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in our stores this holiday season.”
Feeding Hungry Neighbors
As a founding partner of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger agency, Kroger has been engaged in the hunger relief effort for more than 30 years. Today the Kroger family of stores works directly with more than 100 local food banks. Our customers and associates are partners in this commitment. In 2013, nearly $7 million was generated at Kroger’s family of stores to help feed local families during the holidays.
This holiday season, customers can help, again, thanks to a variety of simple donation opportunities in stores. Customers are encouraged to visit www.BringingHopetotheTable.com where they can simply enter their zip code to learn how their stores will make it easy for them to support their neighbors in need.
Supporting The Salvation Army
Customers should look for The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles at the Kroger family of stores from the day after Thanksgiving untilChristmas Eve. Each year, customers and associates generously support The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign that provides food, clothing, toys and social services in the communities where funds are raised.
In 2013, Kroger customers and associates contributed $13.5 million to the campaign, which represents 10 percent of the total raised nationwide. All funds collected are used locally in the community where the donations are raised. The Red Kettle Campaign enables The Salvation Army to assist 30 million Americans in more than 5,000 communities across the country. Since 2007, more than $85 million has been raised at Kroger family stores.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a step to help consumers make informed food selections with two new rules that require calorie information to be listed on menus in chain restaurants. The new rules will apply to prepared food offered in supermarkets, according to the New York Times, and to convenience stores that belong to chains with more than 20 locations, according to NACS, a trade association representing convenience stores, which objected to the rule on the grounds that Congress’ intention for the menu labeling requirement was that the rule should apply only to restaurants.
“The FDA has clearly gone beyond congressional intent by expanding the types of businesses that fall under this law to include convenience stores,” said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President for Government Relations for NACS, according to CSPnet.com. “The one-size-fits-all approach that FDA announced today would treat convenience stores as though they are restaurants, when in fact they operate very differently. It is now up to the bipartisan, bicameral opponents of this regulatory overreach to enact legislation introduced in both houses of Congress that reasonably defines a restaurant as a business that derives at least 50 percent of revenue from prepared food.”
The final rules come after FDA considered more than 1,100 comments submitted to the agency and on the heels of new research illustrating the benefits of calorie labeling for consumers. The menu labeling final rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.
Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item. Seasonal menu items offered for sale as temporary menu items, daily specials and condiments for general use typically available on a counter or table are exempt from the labeling requirements.
“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD in a press release. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”
Some states, localities and various large restaurant chains are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the law establishing nutrition labeling on most foods, did not cover nutrition labeling for restaurants and other ready-to-eat foods. In the years that followed, states and cities created their own labeling requirements for such foods. These federal standards will help avoid situations in which a chain restaurant subject to the federal requirements has to meet different requirements in different states.
The FDA considered more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers in developing these rules. In response to comments, the FDA narrowed the scope of foods covered by the rule to more clearly focus on restaurant-type food, made other adjustments such as ensuring the flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, and provided establishments additional time to comply with the rule.
In addition, the menu labeling final rule now includes certain alcoholic beverages served in covered food establishments and listed on the menu, but still provides flexibility in how establishments meet this provision. The majority of comments supported including alcohol because of the impact on public health. The menu labeling rule also includes food facilities in entertainment venue chains such as movie theaters and amusement parks.
Restaurants and similar retail food establishments will have one year to comply with the menu labeling requirements.
To help consumers understand the significance of the calorie information in the context of a total daily diet, under the rule, menus and menu boards will include the statement:
“2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon consumer request and as noted on menus and menu boards, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.
The vending machine final rule requires operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. Vending machine operators will have two years to comply with the requirements.
The True Source Honey Certification™ Program, whose mission it is to protect consumers, retailers and manufacturers from illegally sourced honey, has issued an alert concerning honey labeled as coming from Turkey.
“We advise honey importers, retailers and manufacturers to proceed carefully and consider additional safeguards if they are buying low-priced honey labeled as produced in Turkey,” said True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks.
The United States has had repeated problems with honey that is illegally shipped from China to avoid anti-dumping duties. The quality and purity of this honey is also suspect since it is not sold according to regular protocols. Such honey has often been shipped through – and labeled as produced within – a country other than China. This illegal practice threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey’s reputation for quality and safety.
True Source is flagging Turkey due to increasing amounts of honey being shipped from that country at well below market prices. This trend is similar to that observed in past circumvention schemes.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. imported more than four million pounds of honey from Turkey in 2013, or about one percent of the volume Americans consume each year. This volume from Turkey has increased almost 10-fold in three years. More importantly, Turkish honey that is exported to the United States is valued at $1.27 per pound when traded into the U.S. (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census) and at $2.13 per pound when traded into the European Union (2014 YTD, Eurostat). Such a significant discrepancy in price based upon destination rather than origin is uncommon in the international honey market. U.S.-produced white honey is trading at $2.08 per pound, according to the most recently available data from USDA (September 2014).
“The leading indicator for circumvented Chinese honey is honey traded on the international market at rates substantially below the prevalent market value,” said Marks.
Marks also noted that U.S. companies should be aware of the risk of prosecution for customs fraud if circumstances indicate that they purchased honey knowing it had been illegally imported. Recent federal court cases (USAA Northern District of Illinois Press Release,February 20, 2013) suggest the federal government now expects that all U.S. users and distributors of honey imports have already implemented and are maintaining rigorous supply chain audit and inspection procedures as a matter of course.
A number of nations have been implicated in past circumvention schemes. In a 2013 press release associated with charges against two large U.S. packers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, noted, “The honey was variously described falsely as sugars and syrups instead of Chinese-origin honey, and or as pure honey having originated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam, instead of China.”
The True Source Honey Certification Program is an industry-supported, voluntary program established to combat the problem of illegally shipped honey. To date, there are no Turkish exporters that are True Source Certified. The program, which uses an independent third-party audit system, has been applauded by U.S. beekeepers and honey industry leadership because it provides traceability from hive to table, helping ensure the food safety and security of the honey used in North America. Companies that are True Source Certified now represent about one-third of honey sold in North America.
“Honey packers and importers that become True Source Certified are held to the highest sourcing standards – verified by outside auditors to ensure that all honey purchases are openly declared and that no illegally circumvented Chinese honey enters their supply chain,” said Marks.
The True Source Certified™ logo on honey packages ensures that honey has been independently certified. Further information, including a search function to check honey products, can be found at www.TrueSourceHoney.com.
Oregon Growers has recently launched with a new proprietary jar as well as a new cap and updated label. “While the original jar and label has served us well for the past 10 years, we felt that it was time for an update,” says Dave Gee, Oregon Growers founding partner. The new cap features a picturesque drawing of the Hood River valley, where much of the fruit is sourced directly from family farmers, and Mt Hood in the background. The new label retains the familiar mural and hand-drawn fruit, but has an updated logo and additional product attributes. “While the packaging has grown up as we approach our 10th year in business, the product that we make remains the same premium quality that you have come to expect from Oregon Growers,” says Gee. Retailers should expect to see the new look rolling out this month, with Bristol Farms in southern California launching in November with the new look.
The winner of the third annual Comté Scholarship for American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals™ (ACS CCPs™) has been announced. Leslie Uhl, Cheesemonger and Business Specialist for Di Bruno Bros in Philadelphia, scored the highest points in the blind essay contest and has won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Comté region to explore the area and its culture and to learn about production and the cheese’s history.
Uhl began her professional career as a cheesemonger three years ago and became an ACS CCP in September. “Winning this scholarship is easily the most exciting news I’ve had all year, second only to the news of passing the ACS CCP exam!” she said. “I’m so thrilled to be a part of a new adventure, and I can’t wait to be at the heart of French cheese making in the Comté region.”
Second place went to Tara Harmon, Associate Team Leader at Whole Foods Market in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, who will receive a special Comté care package.
This year’s essay question focused on the importance of preserving traditional methods of cheese production and explored how Comté’s PDO specifications ensure a link between terroir and flavor. The essays were judged anonymously on the basis of knowledge and creativity by a panel of three renowned cheese experts: Greg O’Neill, Owner of Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine and Former Board President of the American Cheese Society; Cathy Strange, Global Cheese Buyer, Whole Foods Market, Inc.; and Max McCalman, Maître Fromager, Author, Speaker, Consultant and Educator. Uhl’s winning essay can be viewed here.
The Certified Cheese Professional™ (CCP) Exam was established by the American Cheese Society in 2012 to encourage high standards of comprehensive cheese knowledge and service for professionals in all areas of the cheese world. The exam is based on the knowledge and skills required to successfully perform cheese-related tasks in jobs across the board.
Made exclusively in the Jura Mountain region of France, Comté is an artisanal cheese with AOC (Controlled Appellation of Origin) and PDO (European Protected Denomination of Origin) designations. Each wheel of Comté reflects a unique terroir, a season of production, and centuries of cheesemaking and affinage traditions.