The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a proposed rule to establish requirements for fermented and hydrolyzed foods, or foods that contain fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients, and bear the “gluten-free” claim. The proposed rule, titled “Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented or Hydrolyzed Foods,” pertains to foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, green olives, vinegar, and FDA regulated beers.
In 2013, the FDA issued the gluten-free final rule, which addressed the uncertainty in interpreting the results of current gluten test methods for fermented and hydrolyzed foods in terms of intact gluten. Due to this uncertainty, the FDA has issued this proposed rule to provide alternative means for the agency to verify compliance for fermented or hydrolyzed foods labeled “gluten-free” based on records that are made and kept by the manufacturer.
The proposed rule, when finalized, would require these manufacturers to make and keep records demonstrating assurance that:
Distilled foods such as distilled vinegars are also included in the proposed rule. Distillation is a purification process that separates volatile components from non-volatile components such as proteins. Thus, when properly done, gluten should not be present in distilled foods. The proposed rule states that FDA would evaluate compliance of distilled foods by verifying the absence of protein (including gluten) using scientifically valid analytical methods that can detect the presence of protein or protein fragments in the distilled food.
The FDA is accepting public comments beginning Wednesday, November 18. To electronically submit comments to the docket, visit www.regulations.gov and type docket number “FDA-2014-N-1021” in the search box.
To submit comments to the docket by mail, use the following address. Be sure to include docket number “FDA-2014-N-1021” on each page of your written comments.
Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
By Lorrie Baumann
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just released figures that tell us how well organic farmers are doing in the marketplace. The big surprise? While U.S. sales of organic food products broke records this year, the number of acres of farmland devoted to organic agriculture in this country declined between 2008 and 2014. The USDA found 14,540 organic farms in the U.S. in 2008, compared to 14,093 in 2014. The number of acres devoted to organic production declined from just over 4 million in 2008 to 3.67 million in 2014.
The figures come from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which gathered information on all known certified organic, exempt and transitioning organic farms throughout the U.S. in the first few months of this year. “Exempt” refers to farms that follow national organic standards but have less than $5,000 in annual sales. These farms are allowed to use the term “organic;” they just can’t use the USDA Organic seal. Transitioning farms are those that are converting acreage to organic production but haven’t reached the three-year period under organic management that’s required before produce raised on that acreage can be certified as organic.
While the acreage devoted to organic agriculture in this country has fallen, purchases of organic food have been growing. In the U.S. last year, consumers spent $35.9 billion on organic food, representing 4 percent of total food sales, and an 11 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Organic Trade Association. The majority of American households in all regions of the country now purchase organic food, from 68 to almost 80 percent of households in southern states to nearly 90 percent on the West Coast and in New England, the OTA says.
The total market value of organic agricultural products sold by American farmers in 2014 was $5.5 billion, of which $3.3 billion was for crops, including vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain, hay and soybeans, and $2.2 billion was livestock, poultry and products like milk and eggs. Milk is by far the most important organic livestock and poultry product in the U.S. market.
American farmers have also become global suppliers of fresh organic produce, with more than $550 million worth of organic products exported from the U.S. in 2014, according to an OTA study released in April. The top five organic products exported from the U.S. in 2014 were apples, lettuce, grapes, spinach and strawberries. However, imports of organic product outpaced those exports, amounting to nearly $1.3 billion in 2014. The top five organic imported products are coffee, soybeans, olive oil, bananas and wine. “At the rate that organic is growing, organic will double in size in six years. The current theory that my company is using is that by 2020 we [organic producers] will be at least 10 percent of the U.S. food market. How are we going to do that if we lack the raw materials? We are importing more soybeans than we produce, significantly more than we produce,” said Lynn Clarkson, President of Clarkson Grain.
He noted that in 2013, U.S. imports of organic corn went up by 67 percent, with much of that coming from Romania. India is an important source of the soybeans imported into the U.S., according to Clarkson. “We are turning over our best markets to other countries,” he said. “When you can’t find supply, you go to countries that are organic by default. Until we can tell American farmers that there’s a secure market, we need to convince them that it’s good enough that they can step in…. Every small town has a ‘table of wisdom,’ and many of those tables are extraordinarily adverse to organic farming. With the downturn in corn prices, farmers are starting to pay more attention to the possibility, and that’s making cultural concerns less important as economic concerns grow.”
Also from the USDA report, 10 states account for 78 percent of all organic sales in the U.S. California alone produced $2.2 billion worth of organic products in 2014 from 2,805 certified and exempt organic farms and a total of 687,168 acres devoted to organic production, up from 470,903 in 2008. California farmers accounted for half of all organic crops produced in the U.S. in 2014. Washington, in second place, produced 12 percent of organic crops in the U.S. and totaled up $515 million in organic sales. In order, the top 10 states in organic sales were California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, New York, Colorado, Michigan and Iowa.
California also leads the nation in organic livestock and poultry sales, with $271 million, or 41 percent of all organic livestock sales in the U.S. and $301 million in livestock and poultry products – milk and eggs. Pennsylvania came in second in livestock and poultry sales with $112 million, or 17 percent of all organic livestock sales. Wisconsin came in second in organic livestock and poultry product sales, with $127 million or 8 percent of the U.S. total.
SnackSafely.com, publishers of the Safe Snack Guide – a curated catalog of peanut and tree nut-free foods used by thousands of schools nationwide – has welcomed JSB Industries to its growing partnership of manufacturers.
Muffin Town, the brand founded by JSB in 1978, specializes in the supply of high quality baked products to foodservice & retail companies. Its individually wrapped SunWise SunButter and Jelly Sandwich is manufactured in a peanut and tree nut-free facility and is an exceptional option for people sensitive to these allergens.
“Families coping with food allergies often have difficulties finding foods that are safe to eat, especially in public settings,” says Jack Anderson, President and CEO of JSB Industries. “Our products provide safe, delicious options for families avoiding peanuts and tree nuts, at home and when they’re on the go. SnackSafely.com’s deep roots in food allergy and school advocacy make them the ideal partner to help us reach out to those families. We’re proud to be featured in their publications.”
“We welcome JSB Industries to our growing partnership of over 50 responsible manufacturers,” says Dave Bloom, CEO of SnackSafely.com. “They’ve committed to providing more complete information regarding the potential for allergen exposure than the FDA requires, and in doing so embrace the needs of those with severe food allergies.”
Joining the partnership is absolutely free, as are listings in the Safe Snack Guide and Allergence, the free allergen screening service. Manufacturers are encouraged to inquire at snacksafely.com/contact-us or call 347.915.4777.
White-tablecloth chefs are beginning to pass the word that they’re interested in moving meat off the center of the plate, and they say that that’s in response to request from their customers who are interested in eating less meat but have no intention whatever of cutting back on flavor. Specialty food producers are hearing those whispers as well, and they’re also responding.
Sweet Earth Natural Foods is producing a line of handheld sandwich options that include no meat but will appeal to consumers who want options for multiple day parts. Think about McDonald’s decision to offer breakfast all day long and the early success of that strategy and about growing acceptance of the burrito as a breakfast option, and you’ll see why this is an idea with legs.
Quorn is a market leader in meat alternatives because it tastes great and even mimics the texture of poultry. Made from mycoprotein, which is derived from a fungus, the taste and mouth feel of the company’s chik’n and turk’y products are winning fans.
While the meat alternatives are offering great options for people who want to cut back on the amount of meat they’re consuming, other consumers are bound to decide that the way they prefer to go is to find meat choices that will give them more satisfaction. For some of those folks, Lone Mountain Wagyu, which won awards in this year’s sofi Awards competition, will be an option to consider. Vermont Smoke & Cure offers another line of meat snacks with great taste that will hit some of the same marks.
Innovations from 19 food and beverage companies have been shortlisted as finalists in the biennial Fi Europe Innovation Awards. Many submissions were received from around the world for innovative ingredients created in 2015, across categories ranging from bakery to dairy and savoury to organic. This year the shortlisted candidates are: AAK, Ingredion, FrieslandCampina Kievit, CHR Hansen, IOI-Loders Croklaan, Avebe, Arla Foods Ingredients, Dutch Spices, Probi AB, Salt of the Earth, Scelta Mushrooms, ADM, Fiberstar,Inc, ENRICO GIOTTI SPA, and Roquette.
Chair of the judging panel, The Healthy Marketing Team President Peter Wenstromm, said it was a duty and a joy to be celebrating the companies who carry the torch for innovation. “In a time when innovation in the food industry is challenged by financial pressure, regulatory barriers and consumer distrust, it is vital that we continue to recognise the efforts of the companies that are still innovating,” he said.
The winners will be announced at Fi Europe in Paris, a trade show dedicated to the food and beverage industry that brings together more than 20,000 industry members every two years. The Fi Innovation Awards honor professionals and companies for their ability to demonstrate and stimulate innovation in the food industry under nine different categories. There is also an award for the Most Innovative Food Ingredient – the overall winner of the Fi Innovation Awards, as selected by the independent judging panel.
Wenstromm said worthy finalists had been selected in all categories and he was looking forward to announcing the winners in less than a month. “In the meantime, I am pleased to announce Cargill as the winner of the Best Sustainability Innovation – for their affordable finance for cocoa farmer cooperatives,” he added. “We received an outstanding entry from Cargill, which was head and shoulders above the competition, so the judging panel agreed unanimously to declare them the winner.”
Gelson’s Markets, one of California’s premier supermarket chains, has won final approval to buy six Haggen properties in Southern California. Terms of the agreement were not announced.
Gelson’s successfully bid on the following six Haggen stores across five counties:
“We’re excited to become part of these communities, a process that may take time in order to customize stores for each neighborhood,” said Gelson’s President & CEO Rob McDougall. “Our goal is to retain as many local Haggen workers as possible while also giving opportunities to existing Gelson’s employees, as well as others who wish to join the Gelson’s family.”
Haggen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past September. Gelson’s was selected as Stalking Horse bidder in mid-October and anticipates closing on the stores late this year. Gelson’s plans to relaunch its purchased stores early next year under its own brand with initial improvements to product selection and merchandising, followed several months later by redesign and construction. Existing pharmacies will remain open during the transition. In addition to the newly acquired locations, Gelson’s is on track to open new stores in Rancho Mission Viejo and Manhattan Beach.
Each year, the Good Food Awards celebrate tasty, real food that is responsibly made, and grants awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.
In further news, USA Today has recognized McCrea’s in its 10 Best “Best Gift for Foodies” competition. The contest features twenty exceptional products curated by a panel of food and travel experts. Readers of the national newspaper vote for their favorites. McCrea’s currently ranks fourth in the competition.
“We are thrilled that both The Good Food Awards and USA Today have recognized McCrea’s Candies as a company that not only produces exceptional caramel but one that strives to do good at the same time,” said Kate McCrea, the company’s co-founder. “It is important to us that we give back to our communities, pay a fair price for ingredients, and are environmentally responsible. All of which helps us on our mission to make world’s best caramel.”
The recognition from The Good Food Awards and USA Today comes hot on the heels of the company’s placement as a finalist in the Martha Stewart Living American Made Awards. In addition, McCrea’s Candies caramels were awarded the Yankee Magazine Editor’s Choice Food Award in 2014 and named Best New Autumn Product at the 2013 New England Made Specialty Food Show. McCrea’s Candies also received Best Candy honors at the 2012 New England Dessert Showcase.
McCrea’s Candies was founded by husband-wife team Jason and Kate McCrea. Building upon backgrounds in biology and chemistry, the McCrea’s transitioned into the sweet science of candy making after double layoffs. Started in a home kitchen, McCrea’s Candies now offers a full line of mouthwatering caramels to retail outlets throughout North America.
The hallmark of the McCrea’s Candies line is its use of striking seasonings to produce provocatively-flavored caramel candies. McCrea’s flagship product features Hawaiian black lava sea salt swirled into caramel to provide a salty-sweet mouthful. Basil and cayenne are combined for a heat and sweet treat. Additional flavor combinations include ginger fusion, curried butternut, and rosemary truffle sea salt. McCrea’s also offers such classic flavors as vanilla, scotch, chocolate, maple, mocha, and coffee.
On November 13, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its final rule for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Food for Humans and Animals. This rule is part of FDA’s implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Most importers will be required to comply with FDA’s FSVP rule in May 2017 (18 months after publication).
FDA defines an FSVP as a program that verifies “that [importers'] foreign suppliers are producing food in a manner that provides the same level of public health protection as the preventive controls or produce safety regulations, as appropriate, and to ensure that the supplier’s food is not adulterated and is not misbranded with respect to allergen labeling.” The FSVP rule covers importers of food and beverages, which FDA defines as “the U.S. owner or consignee of a food offered for import into the United States.” If there is no U.S. owner or consignee, the exporter’s U.S. agent is the importer.
Importers must create an FSVP for each food imported from each foreign supplier. If they import the same food from two different suppliers, that will require two FSVPs. One element of an FSVP is a hazard analysis. Importers must determine potential biological, chemical, and physical hazards posed by each food they import.
Importers must also evaluate the performance of each of their foreign suppliers and use that evaluation to approve suppliers. This includes evaluating each supplier’s history of compliance with FDA food safety regulations, “including whether the foreign supplier is the subject of an FDA warning letter or import alert.” Importers should only import from approved foreign suppliers.
For approved foreign suppliers, importers must determine appropriate supplier verification activities, conduct those activities, and conduct corrective actions. Examples of verification activities may include annual on-site audits of a supplier’s facility, sampling and testing, and review of a supplier’s food safety records. Importers should choose verification activities that appropriately fit the risks of each supplier. Importers may designate a third party to conduct a hazard analysis, a supplier risk evaluation, or to perform verification activities on their behalf.
KeHE Distributors has been recognized for two awards from the Trade Show News Network (TSNN). KeHE’s Holiday & Product Innovation Show was named to TNSS’ list of “2015 Top 25 Fastest Growing Trade Shows in Attendance” and its list of “2015 Fastest Growing For-Profit Show in Attendance.” The show was chosen based on year-over-year attendance growth between 2012 and 2014. This is the first time KeHE has received these two awards. In 2013, the company’s Summer Selling Show was named to TSNN’s list of the “Top 25 Fastest-Growing Trade Shows in Attendance.”
The KeHE Holiday & Product Innovation Show has experienced double-digit attendance growth and doubled sales over the past several years. It is the only food-related trade show to achieve this distinction.
“We are laser-focused on the attendance at our events. Without the perfect mix of retailers and suppliers, we wouldn’t be able to create the robust buying and selling marketplace that we have today. Our attendees come from all over the U.S. and many parts of the world; it is our goal to make sure we provide an experience that is fruitful for everyone,” said Mike Leone, KeHE Chief Commercial Officer.
The KeHE Holiday & Product Innovation Show is held annually in June. In 2015, the two-day event brought together over 4,500 retailers and suppliers to see, sample, buy and sell products for the upcoming holiday season. New, emerging and familiar must-have items are sold throughout the show floor via proprietary, iPad ordering technology.
“Our retailer and supplier partners rely on our guidance on products that will perform well,” stated Brandon Barnholt, President and CEO of KeHE Distributors. “We believe it is critical that ‘We Make On Trend Easy™’ for them. One way we achieve this is by creating outstanding events that connect suppliers and retailers of all kinds. The passion and excitement for emerging products, as well as for more established brands is unmistakable at our shows.”
The KeHE shows are invitation-only events.
By Lorrie Baumann
Vermont Smoke & Cure launched a bold new brand design and three new flavors of its Meat Sticks during this year’s Natural Products Expo East. Like the other half-dozen flavors of the better-for-you meat snacks in the line, the Spicy Italian Pork, Rosemary Thyme Chicken and Teriyaki Chicken Sticks are gluten free and contain considerably less fat and salt than competing meat sticks.
“We are working to make the whole meat business better – with new products made from vegetarian-fed meats that are raised with no antibiotics or added hormones,” says Chris Bailey, Vermont Smoke & Cure’s CEO. “Our new packaging look better conveys our clean ingredients and the positive impact we work to bring about in our community and landscape.”
Vermont Smoke & Cure Meat Sticks start with quality meat. Beef in the sticks comes from lead supplier Pineland Farms Natural Meats in Maine or other similar suppliers. Pork comes from DuBreton in Quebec or from Coleman Natural Foods, which works with family farmers throughout the country to produce meat raised entirely without antibiotics.
“Our Sticks don’t have overwhelming flavors – you get nice spice and you can still taste the meat,” Bailey says. “It’s all ingredients you’d find in your kitchen, just meat and spices with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.”
“The Sticks have been the fastest-growing part of our business,” he added. “The bacon has been growing quite well also, but the Sticks have been outpacing it.”
To fulfill the demand for its products, the company just installed the equipment for quadrupling its processing capacity. Its Meat Sticks, which retail for $1.69 to $1.99, are currently distributed nationally in Whole Foods and through major natural foods distributors to hundreds of co-ops and natural and conventional grocers around the country.
For more information, visit www.vtsmokeandcure.com.