I’ll be speaking at the IFT Wellness 12 in Chicago next week. Kathy Musa-Veloso, Ph.D., Intertek Cantox and I will be discussing the future of functional foods and claims substantiation in the US and EU. More info here.
Local model airplane club the DC Maxecuters get to fly our models in the beautiful National Building Museum twice a year for demonstration contests. We have Boy Scout building sessions, and teach the kids to fly their new airplanes. Then us old guys get to play. A little bit of dorky paradise in the nerd-heavy town of DC.
And a look at the more esoteric end of the hobby, by folks who know how to operate a camera:
55 members of Congress sent FDA a letter in support of a petition filed by the Center for Food Safety to require labeling of genetically modified foods. While there is no reliable data demonstrating safety issues with currently marketed GMO food products, the public sentiment and the growing momentum of consumer right to know legal theories seem to be pushing against current labeling policy. What becomes the critical issue, should such a policy shift occur, is communicating what GMO food truly means. For example, would consumers accept high-oleic oils that result in lower saturated fat levels and maintain low levels of trans fat – but are highly refined in a manner that essentially eliminates the plant protein from the product? While seed breeders have been using chemical mutagenesis for decades without protest, will a difference be drawn between transgenic recombinant techniques and self-cloned or single species recombinant engineering?
In response to the massive publicity, much of which mis-characterizes the product (and often blatantly misrepresented the facts), USDA has issued a new policy allowing school lunch programs more choices in selecting beef, including the option that would exclude lean finely textured beef. A thought – as people decry the environmental issues of modern agriculture, this is a product that provided maximum use of a cow, resulting in a safe, lean beef product. I wonder what the same folks think about the lauded Native American use of every part of a hunted buffalo.
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The Huffington Post has posted an article regarding the use of lean trimmings in school lunches – a product that the press has derisively termed “pink slime.” ABC news has picked up the story as well, and has oddly identified former FSIS officials as “whistle blowers” for talking about a product that has been included in the publicly available definition for beef patty mix for years, as well as in FSIS’ regulations. ABC does accurately describe the use of ammonia gas to sanitize the product, unlike famous chef Jamie Oliver who dumped ammonia on meat in a misleading demonstration.
There may be an issue with respect to labeling disclosure deserving of further examination, as the general public is unlikely to explore the FSIS regulations and policy documents. However, the ammonia issue is misleading and ignores years of science demonstrating its safe use as a processing aid. It will be interesting to see if public pressure leads to rulemaking or policy change with respect to product produced using advanced meat recovery techniques.
The Post published a food safety overview piece yesterday – the article touches on a broad range of topics – import, traceability, preventive controls and the long running two agency issue. While arguably an interesting article, only one government official is quoted (Dr. Robert Tauxe who is a terrific public servant), and the Post fails to describe in any detail the massive changes being brought about by FSMA. The need for funding for FDA is briefly addressed, however, the issue deserves more column inches.
Abbott Labs has filed a Food Additive Petition with FDA to provide for the expanded safe use of vitamin D3 as a nutrient supplement in food. Specifically, the petition proposes to amend § 172.380 (21 CFR 172.380) to provide for the safe use of vitamin D3 as a nutrient supplement in meal replacement beverages and meal replacement bars that are not intended for special dietary use in reducing or maintaining body weight and for use in foods that are sole sources of nutrition for enteral tube feeding.
As of March 1st, packages of ground or chopped meat and poultry, such as hamburger or ground turkey, will feature nutrition facts panels on their labels. Additionally, 40 of the most popular whole, raw cuts of meat and poultry, such as chicken breast or steak, will also have nutritional information either on the package labels or on display to consumers at the store. The new rule was promulgated in 2010, with the effective date originally set for January 1, 2012.
Arena football QB throws world record paper airplane flight. No word as to how this may affect the FDA’s recent FSMA records guidance, but seems unlikely to meet requirements for “record availability.”
FDA recently released a Warning Letter issued to Herman’s Bakery in Cambridge, Minnesota. From a bit of googling, Herman’s looks like a local bakery without any web presence or online distribution of products. The Warning Letter cites a failure to comply with the allergen labeling requirements of FALCPA; a failure to list component ingredients; and a failure to list artificial colors on the product labeling, among the violations.
FDA’s labeling regulations generally apply to “packaged” food (as opposed to foods served from behind a deli counter or for immediate consumption as in a “sit down” restaurant), including those from local vendors. Small and local restaurants should keep in mind the long reach of the FDA, and note that even products sold from behind the deli counter are subject to regulation when nutrition or health claims are made.