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Period: December 15, 2018 to January 1, 2019
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

U.K. To Finally Act On Folic Acid Fortification Of Flour

British Prime Minister Theresa May is backing a plan to add folate supplement to bread flour to stem the tide of neural tube defects occurring in early stage fetuses: at least two pregnancies a week are terminated because of the defect, which leads to conditions like spina bifida. The U.K. has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in Europe; folic acid fortification could help alleviate the problem. The Royal College of Midwives has urged the government to introduce mandatory fortification “as soon as possible.” Senior British government sources suggest the change could be made a reality within weeks. 

"Folic acid 'to be added to flour' to reduce serious birth defects in U.K.", independent.co.uk, October 15, 2018

Once Considered Only Fit For Animals, Sorghum Makes Its Way Into The U.S. Diet

Gluten-free fans take note: sorghum, a whole grain commonly used for animal feed and ethanol production, is starting to make its way into the human diet.  An abundant crop in the U.S. – the largest producer in the world – sorghum is known for its natural drought tolerance and versatility but is also nutritious and gluten-free. It has been introduced into a variety of popular American foods, including Kind bars, Kellogg's cereals, and Ronzoni pastas as an “ancient grain.” Research has shown that some types of sorghum are rich in antioxidants that may help lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and some neurological diseases.

"Sorghum finding its way into U.S. diet", Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville), November 29, 2018

Lawsuits Claim AriZona Ice Tea Misleads Consumers About Ingredients, Labeling

AriZona Ice Tea’s parent company is being challenged in two federal lawsuits filed in New York courts that could achieve class-action status over issues related to ingredients and labeling. One suit accuses the company of “deceptively” labeling its drinks as having no preservative, despite containing the preservatives citric or ascorbic acids. The second suit accuses AriZona Beverages USA LLC and affiliate Beverage Marketing USA Inc. of misleading consumers about the amount of sugar and number of calories in their beverages by using a serving size of eight fluid ounces on its labels instead of the actual 16-ounce container size. Both lawsuits seek jury trials, unspecified monetary damages, legal costs, and court orders demanding that the company change its practices. AriZona Beverages did not respond to requests for comment.

"2 lawsuits over labels; AriZona Beverages is being challenged on 'no preservatives' and serving size", Newsday (New York), November 29, 2018

House Lawmakers Urge FDA To Clearly Label Foods Containing Allergen Sesame

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) has sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of colleagues to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb urging the agency to require the clear labeling of sesame products because of the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies, and the risk of accidental exposure and allergic reactions under current regulations. According to Shea-Porter, sesame is the ninth most common food allergy among American adults and children, ranking just behind milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. However, allergic reactions to sesame can be even more severe than reactions to these eight allergens, the letter stated. Shea-Porter is the founder of the House of Representatives Asthma and Allergy Caucus.

"Shea-Porter Urges FDA to Label Sesame Products", Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), December 03, 2018

Gluten-Free Fans Should Consider Flours Made With Cassava, Teff

Consumers with celiac disease who need to avoid gluten and others who are trying to eliminate gluten from their diet should look into using flour made from the root vegetable cassava or the African grain teff.  As consumers explore regional African and Latin American cuisines in the upcoming year, they may begin experimenting with cassava and teff flours.  A gluten-free eatery in Chicago bakes cheese into cassava flour, a staple in Ecuador, to make a cheese bread that is served at the restaurant. And the owner of an Ethiopian restaurant in Falls Church, Va., says that naturally gluten-free teff is a staple in her country. Meaza Zemedu says that in Ethiopia, they use teff to bake muffins, cakes, and bread.

"African, S. American foods go against grain", USA TODAY, December 05, 2018

Irish Food Ingredient Company Licenses Enzyme That Reduces Acrylamide

The chemical compound acrylamide, a cumulative neurotoxin formed in brewed coffee and in starchy foods heated to high temperatures, such as chips and French fries, is being targeted by governments with regulations limiting its use and adding warning labels on foods and beverages. In the meantime, Irish food ingredient  company Kerry has signed a licensing agreement with Renaissance BioScience Corp. to manufacture the company’s non-GMO acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme, Acryleast. The enzyme reduces acrylamide by up to 90 percent across food and beverage products, including biscuits, crackers, French fries, crisps, coffee, and instant food. According to Kerry, it is a clean label solution that requires minimal changes to the manufacturing process and has no impact on taste, aroma, or texture.

"We anticipate great demand : Kerry and Renaissance BioSciences ink partnership on acrylamide-reducing yeast enzyme", FoodNavigator.com, December 07, 2018

McDonald’s In The Vanguard Of Movement To Reduce Antibiotics In Beef

With a nudge from the Natural Resources Defense Council, McDonald's announced it has told its beef suppliers around the world to cut back on the use of antibiotics beginning in 2019. Implementation will begin with pilot projects in ten markets around the world, including in the U.S. McDonald’s is the first big burger chain to launch such a policy, though other fast food leaders – Chipotle, Panera, Subway – have either cut antibiotic use in their beef supplies or have committed to do so. A spokesman for the NRDC said: “Nobody in the world sells more burgers than McDonald's, and their actions can shape the future of the industry.” Forty-three percent of medically important antibiotics sold to the U.S. livestock industry go to the beef sector, compared to only six percent for chicken.

"McDonald’s Commits To Reducing Antibiotic Use In Its Global Beef Supply", Natural Resources Defense Council , December 11, 2018

Consumers Expect Colors – Artificial Or Not – In Their Foods

Colors are important to food companies because, apparently, they’re important to consumers. Though big food companies like McDonald’s and Kellogg have promised to get rid of artificial dyes, they continue to use – or have reinstated – colorings because consumers want them. General Mills, for example, eliminated artificial colors from Trix, it added them back in last year after consumers demanded a return to the “classic” look. The cheddar cheeses sold by Boar’s Head, Cabot, Kraft, and Tillamook contain annatto, a plant extract commonly used for color.  Because salmon buyers expect salmon to be pink, farmed salmon is often fed synthetic astaxanthin, a version of a naturally occurring compound. It makes economic sense: darker salmon commands an extra 50 cents to $1 per pound when offered next to lighter salmon.

"Artificial dyes fading, but food will still get color boosts", Associated Press, December 11, 2018

Carcinogenic Synthetic Flavors Ordered Removed From Food Products

The FDA has ordered the removal of six artificial flavors from food products because they cause cancer in animals at doses far higher than what a person would consume. The six flavoring substances include synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. The substances are being removed under the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The food industry has two years to comply, though the FDA believes the ingredients are safe in the trace amounts they are used. Neither the FDA nor the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association responded when asked for examples of products the six ingredients are used in. But they noted that the compounds have natural counterparts in foods like basil, coffee, grapes and peppermint, and that the action does not affect the naturally derived versions.

"Artificial flavors are mystery ingredients", Chicago Sun-Times, December 13, 2018

ShopRite’s Partnership With Perdue Produces Antibiotics-Free Fried Chicken

East Coast grocery chain’s partnership with Perdue Farms has led to the introduction of an eight-piece grab-and-go fried chicken item that promises “no antibiotics, ever” (NAE). The relationship with Perdue has also produced rotisserie chicken, roaster breast, and roaster leg quarters. The fried chicken is the company's newest style of NAE poultry that is hand-breaded, raised cage free and made fresh throughout the day. According to ShopRite, the products are priced at or below most conventional rotisserie and fried chicken offerings. ShopRite is the registered trademark of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative based in New Jersey and the largest supermarket cooperative in the U.S.

"ShopRite Introduces No-Antibiotics-Ever Fried Chicken", The Shelby Report, December 19, 2018

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