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Options for Dietary Restrictions Abound at #ExpoEast

Natural Products Expo East opened this morning in Baltimore, Maryland with vendors offering everything from gourmet dog snacks to organic ethically produced and sourced anything at all that you might want to eat yourself. Among the offerings are, of course, any number of products designed to meet the needs of consumers observing a gluten-free diet, and the vendors’ interest in the category this year indicates that the trend is showing no sign of fading away just yet. New this year are a plethora of options in foods for consumers who have multiple dietary restrictions. As an example, ohso Good for you chocolate provides the consumer with 100% of their daily probiotics in a 70-calorie chocolate bar that’s also gluten free, dairy free and nut free. The bar’s probiotics are microencapsulated, so they’re protected from stomach acids, and are three to four times as likely to survive to replenish intestinal flora as a serving of milk or yogurt, the company says. See it in booth #4811 at Expo East or visit www.ohso.com.

Also checking off multiple boxes for those with dietary restrictions is a line of boxed mac and cheese-style dinners that are gluten free and dairy free. The company’s pastaríso Dairy Free Mac & Cheddar Style Sauce product, for example, is not just dairy free, it’s also vegan and free from wheat, gluten, soy, eggs and nuts. As you’d expect, it doesn’t taste like a full-on cheesy, creamy pasta dinner, but it’s certainly reminiscent of those flavors, and it doesn’t taste at all like cardboard. Taste it at booth #726 or visit www.maplegrovefoods.com for more information.

Traderspoint Creamery brought the yogurt recognized as the country’s best at the 2014 American Cheese Society competition. Based in Indiana, the company sources its milk from 100-percent grass-fed cows on its own farm and from a nearby coop of Amish farmers and packages the yogurt in single-serving glass cups. See them in booth #912 at the show.

thinkThin Lean Protein.& Fiber™ Bars is offering two limited edition flavors for fall: Dark Chocolate Peppermint and Pumpkin Spice. Each bar has only 150 calories, and both flavors are gluten free, non-GMO and kosher dairy. Taste them in booth #1230 or visit www.thinkproducts.com.

Barnraiser Invites Fundraisers for Food Projects

Barnraiser, the crowdfunding community dedicated to powering the good food movement, is inviting sustainable food artisans, farmers, educators, community leaders and others to launch projects that reshape our food systems.

“We are thrilled to offer Barnraiser to anyone serious about making a positive impact on the way we farm and eat,” said Eileen Gordon Chiarello, Barnraiser founder and CEO, who with her husband, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, has created award-winning restaurants, sustainably farmed wines and food-focused media properties. “Now is the time for us to exert our influence as passionate consumers. Funding these innovators is a powerful way to build the food future we want.”

Over 41 million Americans and their global counterparts make decisions based on health and sustainability. Barnraiser empowers these people to connect with innovators, share their inspirational stories, and collectively fund their success.

From heirloom fruit orchards, savory snack bars, and school gardens to mobile foraging apps, sustainable bees and responsible chicken farms, Barnraiser welcomes the wide range of sustainable and organic food innovators. “If there was a Richter scale for love, the Barnraiser crew would be at a 9.0,” exclaimed sustainable beekeeper Rob Keller, whose Barnraiser project promotes healthy bees. “I am deeply moved by our funders’ generosity, and the Barnraiser support getting us out there was epic.”

Salmonella Lawsuit Filed Against Costco for Tainted Norwegian Smoked Salmon

Food safety lawyer Ron Simon has filed the first salmonella lawsuit against Costco and Norwegian-based Foppen stemming from a salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated Foppen smoked salmon sold at Costco stores nationwide.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Plaintiff Lorena Vasquez, a 39-year old resident of Mission, Texas.

In September 2012, Vasquez purchased a package of Foppen Norwegian Smoked Salmon Slices from the Costco located in Pharr, Texas.

Shortly after consuming the salmon, she experienced symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and related dehydration and was diagnosed with salmonellosis.

As a result of her illness, Vasquez was hospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries.

The Costco / Foppen Salmonella Thompson Outbreak

In the late summer and fall of 2012, the Netherlands experienced its largest food-borne bacterial outbreak in history.  The pathogen was Salmonella Thompson, which traditionally appears annually in single or low double-digit numbers in the Netherlands.

By August of 2012, approximately 60 culture-confirmed cases of Salmonella Thompson had been identified; in September, over 120 more were identified; in October, nearly 900 victims had tested positive; and in November and December, approximately 100 more were identified.  By December, the count of new cases had slowed to about 20, and by January 2013, the outbreak was deemed over.

As soon as health officials in the Netherlands recognized that they were in the midst of a national outbreak, investigators and epidemiologists from the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) began to engage in a massive trace-back and epidemiological investigation.

It took investigators six weeks to determine and announce that smoked salmon was the source of the Salmonella Thompson illnesses.  The salmon was the product of Foppen Paling & Zalm (“Foppen”) of Harderwijk, the Netherlands.  Almost immediately thereafter, Foppen announced that the massive contamination of its salmon by Salmonella Thompson had occurred at its processing plant in Preveza, Greece.

By December of 2012, the RIVM had identified 1200 culture-confirmed victims, including four fatalities.

Costco Sold Foppen’s Contaminated Smoked Salmon in the United States

Significantly, Foppen’s contaminated smoked salmon was also distributed in the United States.  According to Foppen company spokesman Bart de Vries, Foppen had only one U.S. customer, Costco, that had purchased large amounts of the fish.

On Monday, October 1, 2012, Costco initiated a recall and removal of the smoked salmon.  Craig Wilson, Vice President of Costco, confirmed that the company was also in the process of contacting the 247,000 members who had purchased the contaminated salmon. Vasquez did not receive notice of the recall until after she had become ill.

Harald Wychgel, a spokesman for the Dutch public health institute, reported that as of October 2, 2012, his agency had received information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that at least 100 U.S. residents had been sickened with the identical strain of Salmonella Thompson found in Foppen’s contaminated smoked salmon.

Wychgel’s announcement was consistent with information provided by several states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all of which were conducting investigations of a spike in Salmonella Thompson cases in the United States. At least 10 people were hospitalized in the outbreak.

 

Lindt Teams Up With Ashley Tisdale And Maker Studios To Launch Digital Series “It Started with HELLO”

Lindt USA, actress and producer Ashley Tisdale, and online video content provider Maker Studios join together to create an exciting, new romantic comedy series: “It Started with HELLO.” This original digital series celebrates the national launch of Lindt HELLO, a sinfully delicious premium chocolate collection inspired by classic American treats. Created by Lindt in partnership with Maker, “It Started with HELLO” is an interactive series that captures couples as they make their first connections and encourages viewers to find out what happens after “hello” by choosing their own ending to each story. Chocolate lovers can get in on the action with a chance to win a variety of fun prizes through the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes.

The digital series, featuring a teaser and four short episodes inspired by the cheeky personalities of Lindt HELLO products, will live on Maker Studios’ fashion + beauty network, The Platform (youtube.com/theplatform). Tisdale brings her behind-the-camera expertise to “It Started with HELLO,” serving as producer for the first episode, reviewing scripts, wardrobe and set design, as well as lending her creativity on set in collaboration with Lindt Chocolate and Maker.

“‘It Started with HELLO’ is different from anything that I’ve ever worked on,” says Tisdale. “As a producer, I’m excited about creating unique content and sharing it with my fans through different platforms. I can’t wait to see the series come to life!”

Say “HELLO” to the Digital Series
Starting today, fans can preview “It Started with HELLO” by visiting youtube.com/theplatform for a first look at the series and to meet the cast. The first episode, produced by Tisdale, will premiere on September 18, 2014. Three additional new episodes will debut weekly through October 9, 2014.

Top digital talent, including Maker partners Chester See, Tessa Violet, Amy Pham and Lindsey Stirling, along with Mike Tompkins andRusty Clanton, star in the interactive program. “It Started with HELLO” episodes will showcase the first connections among different couples:

  • Episode One: “Office Mates” (September 18): Centered around the heart-thumping personality of Lindt HELLO Crunchy Nougat, two people in adjacent offices have been eyeing each other for months. What happens when they finally meet?
  • Episode Two: “Play Ball” (September 25): An afternoon (almost) goes awry when a rogue kick ball interrupts a guy reading in the park. Who will save the day in this episode inspired by the sweet and flirty Lindt HELLO Strawberry Cheesecake?
  • Episode Three: “15 Items or Less” (October 2): A long checkout line leads to a chance encounter between two young shoppers, both purchasing Lindt HELLO Cookies and Cream bars. Will they get to say “hello?”
  • Episode Four: “Blind Date” (October 9): A cryptic text leads a girl to search for her date at a Halloween party. Will his disguise be a trick or a treat in this episode inspired by the Lindt HELLO Caramel Brownie bar?

Consumers are encouraged to say “hello” to their favorite couples and join the conversation using the dedicated #ItStartedWithHELLO hashtag. Fans can also visit LindtHELLO.com to learn more about Lindt HELLO products and enter the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes daily for a chance to win weekly prizes, including spa getaways, shopping excursions, date nights for two and plenty of mouthwatering Lindt HELLO chocolate.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate the national launch of the Lindt HELLO collection in a fun, engaging way by sparking new connections among people,” says Danielle O’Neil, Vice President of Marketing, Lindt USA. “With Ashley Tisdale’s and Maker Studios’ involvement, ‘It Started with HELLO’ brings this playful collection to life in a unique way and involves fans within the conversation.”

E. & J. Gallo Winery Contributes $100,000 to Napa’s Earthquake Relief Fund

The E. & J. Gallo Winery has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to assist those impacted by the earthquake that struck Napa Valley last month.

“On behalf of our employees and their families, we are making this donation to help the rebuilding effort and to provide aid and comfort to the victims of this disaster,” said Joseph Gallo, Chief Executive Officer and President of the E. & J. Gallo Winery.

The donation will assist the Red Cross recovery response efforts and meet ongoing demands throughout the Napa Valley.

Food Festival Gets Down and Cheesy on 100th Aniversary

Limburger Queen

Limburger Queen

Green County CheeseDays, the granddaddy of Midwestern food fests, celebrates its 100-year anniversary from September 19-21 in Monroe, Wisconsin. The festival celebrates the cheesemaking, dairy farming and Swiss traditions that continue to this day.

Herd to curd.

Cheesemaking first began in Green County in 1846 when Swiss immigrants purchased a few dozen dairy cows and herded them from Ohio to New Glarus, Wisconsin. By 1873, the locals were churning out wedges, blocks and wheels of American, Limburger and Swiss cheese. Today you’ll find more than 50 different varieties, with many available for sampling in the Cheese Tent at the festival.

 Thank goodness for sauerkraut!

The idea for the festival dates back to 1914, when some aspiring entrepreneurs in downtown Monroe were looking for a way to attract visitors and boost business. After a visit to Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois – they came home inspired, with visions of cheese curds dancing in their heads. “If Forreston can have a festival based on sauerkraut, we can certainly do something better with cheese,” one of them likely said, and the first Cheese Day was planned in less than a month. Despite the lack of Twitter, Facebook and text messaging, nearly 4,000 people arrived by train, horse-drawn rig, and roadster. More than 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served, and the program included vaudeville entertainment and political speeches. According to the local newspaper, “merrymakers danced in the street to band music all afternoon.”

A celebration too good to end.

After some stops and starts (War! Great Depression! Ten-Year Hiatus!) the festival settled into the pattern of a three-day, every-other-year event in 1970. Today, more than 100,000 revelers descend on Monroe to polka and yodel, play alphorns, eat cheese by the truckload, and party – literally – ‘til the cows go home.

Cheesy is what the festival organizers strive for.

Right away you’ll sense the cheesy vibe:  old time copper kettle cheesemaking demonstrations, cheese pairings, and cheese sampling galore.  On the menu:  gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, the best deep-fried cheese curds in the nation, cheesecake on a stick, and Limburger “sliders.” And in honor of the 100th anniversary – a “Procession of Cheesemakers” with a cheesemaker from each of the dozen factories proudly bearing their signature cheese to lend pomp and circumstance to the festival’s opening ceremony.

Send in the cows.

The best of the area’s bovines (Brown Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein, Red and White Holstein, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn) make the trip to the “big city” to play starring roles in the wildly popular Cow Milking Contest. For many, the highlight of the weekend is The Swiss Colony Cheese Days Paradewhich is led by a herd of Brown Swiss cows sporting clanging bells and floral wreaths. The parade carries on the tradition of herdsmen bringing the cattle down from the Alps at the end of the grazing season – following a summer nibbling pastures of tall grass and tasty herbs – ideal for crafting delicious Alpine cheeses.

Hundreds of ways to share the fun.

To mark this special anniversary, more than 100 accordion players will play the official Cheese Days Song (of course there is a song!) with the Monroe City Band. In keeping with the theme of 100, dairy farm tours will showcase two family farms where multiple generations have tilled the land and milked the cows for more than a century. Cheese Days also features three entertainment stages with everything from Swiss alphorns and yodeling to rock-n-roll party bands. Also on the schedule – arts and crafts, brewery and distillery tours, activities for kids and antique tractors. In fact, there are more fun things to do at Cheese Days than there are holes in a giant wheel of Swiss cheese!

Cosmos Creations and Bellotti Family Form the Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation

 

Cosmos Creations is teaming up with Mike and Colleen Bellotti to create a nonprofit organization, The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation, which will help young athletes help themselves. Mike Bellotti played an important role in the University of Oregon’s football history as offensive coordinator for six years, head coach for 14 and lastly as its athletic director and is currently an a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC. The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation will donate 28 pallets of product, which includes around 26,880 bags, for a total of $107,520 of potential fundraising dollars for area high schools.

“We formed the Cosmos-Bellotti Sports Leadership Foundation with the intent to raise money for high school athletic programs through our fundraising platform,” said Mike Bellotti, Cosmos-Bellotti Sports Leadership Foundation Co-Founder. “The program is designed to build integrity, teamwork and leadership in student athletes while they learn how to conduct themselves in a business environment.”

Each participating school will have the opportunity to receive 2,880 bags of Cosmos Creations in a variety of flavors. The student athletes will then take Cosmos Creations into the community and sell each bag for $4, for a total profit of $11,520 for the school’s athletic program. All fundraiser sales, collection and delivery are immediate. The Cosmos-Bellotti Sports & Leadership Foundation currently has a commitment from the following high schools: Churchill, North Eugene, Springfield, South Eugene, Sheldon, Thurston, Willamette and Junction City.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Mike and Colleen Bellotti to help make a difference in various Oregon school districts,” said Sarah J. Wilson, Marketing Director of Cosmos Creations. “Unlike other fundraising opportunities, 100 percent of the proceeds go to the schools and gives students a chance to have some control over the direction of their programs.”

Cosmos Creations, formerly Cosmos Caramel Corn, keeps its production simple and delicious with only ingredients that you can pronounce. They currently offer a mix of sweet and savory flavors including flavors, Caramel, Salted Caramel, Coconut Crunch, Cinnamon Crunch, Sea Salt & Butter, Aged Cheddar & Cracked Pepper and Sea Salt & Vinegar, which will all be available to purchase through this program.

 

 

Bemka Celebrates 30th Year

 

Bemka Corporation is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since its founding in April, 1984, Bemka Corporation has delivered a full line of caviar and fine foods in Europe and the USA for customers in the fine foods industry, including restaurants, hotels, country clubs, catering and fine foods distributors.

“Over the last 15 years, Bemka Corporation has remained strong throughout the many changes in the economic climate,” said Max Moghaddam, CEO and Founder of Bemka. “I attribute our success to two things: first, our expertise to source and select the world’s best caviar and fine foods from around the globe. Second, we constantly look for ways to optimize our operations in every single area of the business. This serves both our customers and our company well, particularly during harder economic times.”

 

Summer Favorites Ice Cream & Novelties Display Contest Winners Announced

The 2014 Summer Favorites Ice Cream & Novelties promotion was heating up profits in the aisles with help from the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) sponsor of a retail display contest in June and July. The most creative merchandising displays were recognized with the prestigious Golden Penguin Award in six regional categories – Northeast, Southeast, East Central, West Central, Southwest and Pacific/Western. A total of 19 Gold and 26 Silver Penguins were awarded. See the complete list of winners.

All winning displays were honored for their presentation of the 14 sponsoring brands’ ice cream and novelty products. The promotion was also supported with consumer outreach including a VIP Coupon and Freezer Giveaway on the Easy Home Meals Facebook page and a partnership with the Mr. Food Test Kitchen that extended the messaging to TV and online audiences.

The Gold Penguin awards will be presented at the Grand Awards Banquet during NFRA’s Convention in Orlando, Florida, October 14, 2014. Silver awards are typically presented at the local level at appropriate frozen food association meetings.

Golden Penguins were also awarded for quality marketing plans during March Frozen Food Month and June Dairy Month. For more information on any of the Golden Penguin competitions, contact NFRA at 717.657.8601.

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Now Offering Mediterra Snack Bars

Less than three months after its launch, savory nutrition bars from Mediterra®  are now available in Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, the first large-scale natural retailer to offer Mediterra bars. Currently, the rapidly growing Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage operates 86 stores in 14 states.

“Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has stringent standards, and bringing Mediterra into their stores is a huge endorsement,” says Mediterra Founder Telemaque Lavidas. “It’s an honor to partner and grow with them, while we aggressively continue to introduce our brand to consumers nationwide.”

“The products we carry are free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, both hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. We continue our search for additional snack items that taste good and meet these standards, and Mediterra does that,” says Nancy Flynn, Marketing Director for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage. “We’re looking forward to offering our customers another healthful way to snack, while on-the-go.”

MediterraTomatoPhotoInspired by the Mediterranean Diet that’s considered by experts as one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world, Mediterra bars have six new unique flavors that feature various fruits, vegetables and grains, providing different snacking options for throughout the day. All bars are all-natural, non-GMO and gluten free. They retail for $1.99.

The six unique bar flavors come in three specific varieties that provide ancient nutrition in a modern and convenient way:

Savory Bars: The bars are rich in vegetable content, but low in calories, sodium and sugar and contain protein-rich pea crisps and a touch of olive oil. Each Savory Bar is 1.4 ounces and contains six grams of protein and fiber. They are certified kosher and dairy free. The Savory Bars serve as an alternative to sweet snacks providing super foods and amaranth, an ancient grain. Flavors include Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives.

Sesame Honey Energy Bars: Traditionally known as pasteli, these bars are dairy-free and contain only a few ingredients including roasted sesame seeds, Greek honey and either pistachios from Aegina Island or orange peel. The combination provides natural and long lasting energy. Each bar is 1.3 ounces, contains up to six grams of protein and two grams of fiber. Flavors include Sesame Seed/Pistachio/Greek Honey and Sesame Seed/Orange/Greek Honey.

Yogurt and Oat Bars: Bottom-covered with yogurt-style coating, the bars are 1.6 ounces, certified kosher and contain seven grams of protein. The bars also feature fig paste, sunflower seeds and raisins. Flavors include Yogurt/Oat/Cherry Pistachio and Yogurt/Oat/Apricot Pistachio.

After launching in June, the company named Acosta Sales & Marketing, a leading full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods industry, as its U.S. sales agency. In addition, the company has won two product awards including a 2014 The Lempert Report Innovator award for its Savory Bars.

Click here to read more Gourmet News coverage of snack foods.

 

 

 

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