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U.S. GMO food labeling bill passes Senate

July 16th, 2016
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The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved legislation that would for the first time require food to carry labels listing genetically-modified ingredients, which labeling supporters say could create loopholes for some U.S. crops.

The Senate voted 63-30 for the bill that would display GMO contents with words, pictures or a bar code that can be scanned with smartphones. The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) would decide which ingredients would be considered genetically modified.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass.

Drawing praise from farmers, the bill sponsored by Republican Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Democrat Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan is the latest attempt to introduce a national standard that would override state laws, including Vermont’s that some say is more stringent, and comes amid growing calls from consumers for greater transparency.

“This bipartisan bill ensures that consumers and families throughout the United States will have access, for the first time ever, to information about their food through a mandatory, nationwide label for food products with GMOs,” Stabenow said in a statement.

A nationwide standard is favored by the food industry, which says state-by-state differences could inflate costs for labeling and distribution. But mandatory GMO labeling of any kind would still be seen as a loss for Big Food, which has spent millions lobbying against it.

Farmers lobbied against the Vermont law, worrying that labeling stigmatizes GMO crops and could hurt demand for food containing those ingredients, but have applauded this law.

Critics like Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, say the bill’s vague language and allowance for electronic labels for scanning could limit its scope and create confusion.

“When parents go to the store and purchase food, they have the right to know what is in the food their kids are going to be eating,” Sanders said on the floor of the Senate ahead of the vote.

He said at a news conference this week that major food manufacturers have already begun labeling products with GMO ingredients to meet the new law in his home state.

Another opponent of the bill, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, said it would institute weak federal requirements making it virtually impossible for consumers to access information about GMOs.

Loopholes

Food ingredients like beet sugar and soybean oil, which can be derived from genetically-engineered crops but contain next to no genetic material by the time they are processed, may not fall under the law’s definition of a bioengineered food, critics say.

GMO corn may also be excluded thanks to ambiguous language, some said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raised concerns about the involvement of the USDA in a list of worries sent in a June 27 memo to the Senate Agriculture Committee.

In a letter to Stabenow last week, the USDA’s general counsel tried to quell those worries, saying it would include commercially-grown GMO corn, soybeans, sugar and canola crops.

The vast majority of corn, soybeans and sugar crops in the United States are produced from genetically-engineered seeds. The domestic sugar market has been strained by rising demand for non-GMO ingredients like cane sugar.

The United States is the world’s largest market for foods made with genetically altered ingredients. Many popular processed foods are made with soybeans, corn and other biotech crops whose genetic traits have been manipulated, often to make them resistant to insects and pesticides.

“It’s fair to say that it’s not the ideal bill, but it is certainly the bill that can pass, which is the most important right now,” said American Soybean Association’s (ASA) director of policy communications Patrick Delaney.

The association was part of the Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, which lobbied for what labeling supporters termed the Deny Americans the Right to Know, or DARK Act, that would have made labeling voluntary. It was blocked by the Senate in March.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice in New York; Additional reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago, Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and Kouichi Shirayanagi and Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Ed Davies)

Source: Reuters

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Biosecur Lab Launches Antimicrobial and Preservative for Use in Food

July 11th, 2015
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biosecur-labBiosecur Lab Inc., a privately held Canadian company dedicated to the creation and development of active antimicrobial ingredients, has launched FOODGARD, a natural antimicrobial and preservative for use in food. This new offering is scheduled to launch in the US market during the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo 2015 in Chicago, which takes place July 12-14.

The culmination of four years of research, development and testing, FOODGARD provides a proven ‘Clean Label’ alternative to chemical preservatives. The development process was facilitated by Dr. Dieter Elsser-Gravesen, who heads up ISI Food Protection in Denmark and conducted extensive testing of the FOODGARD formulation.

“Lab tests confirm that FOODGARD is highly effective as an antimicrobial and preservative, making it a must to integrate in many food systems,” said Dr. Dieter Elsser-Gravesen.

FOODGARD’s efficacy is further supported by the study of Research Laboratories in Sciences, Applied to Food of INRS – Institut Armand-Frappier in Canada, which has completed extensive ‘In Vitro’ and ‘In Situ’ tests on FOODGARD against gram (–) and gram (+) bacteria, total aerobic microflora and yeasts/molds in comparison with sodium benzoate.

“In vitro results show that FOODGARD is 10 to 1000 times more efficient than sodium benzoate against eight tested pathogens (Gram (+), Gram (-), yeasts and molds,” said Monique Lacroix, Ph.D and Professor of INRS – Institut Armand-Frappier. “It is the first time in my career that I have witnessed a natural compound eliminate as much pathogenic bacteria, yeast and mold even when it is used in very low dosage,” Lacroix concluded.

On June 26, 2015 BIOSECUR LAB received FDA-GRAS status for FOODGARD, described as a “citrus extract” for use as an antimicrobial and preservative in all non-standardized food categories. This approval was significant in that it confirms that FOODGARD is safe for human consumption, providing a chemical-free, ‘clean label’ alternative for use by food manufacturers and processors.

Based upon AIBMR Life Sciences, Inc. understanding of FDA food labeling regulations, it is the professional opinion of Dr. John Endres, from AIBMR that FOODGARD may be labeled as a ‘Natural Citrus Extract’ (as a preservative).

Source: Asia Food Journal

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Canada proposes new nutrition labels and tools

June 26th, 2015
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The Canadian government has proposed new nutrition labels and tools to promote healthier food choices in the country.

The proposal calls for changes that will enable consumers to easily read labels and the Nutrition Facts table.

The proposed changes include mandating consistent serving sizes that will make it easier to compare nutrient contents of similar foods.

The government is also proposing changes to labeling sugars in food.

The proposed changes would include addition of a percentage daily value for sugar, amount of sugar in a product and the source of sugar to the labels.

Canada Minister of Health Rona Ambrose said: “Our Government is breaking new ground with our proposal on the labelling of sugars on foods sold in Canada.

“Nowhere else in the world will consumers have the kind of information Canadians will have about the sugars contained in the foods they eat. This information will help them understand how much sugar is in a product, whether it’s a little or a lot of sugar, and where the sugar comes from.”

The proposal also requires manufacturers to list all food colouring agents by their common name within the ingredient list on the label. It is hoped that this will allow consumers sensitive to specific food colours to avoid those ingredients when shopping for food.

Additionally, a new health claim will be allowed on pre-packaged fruits and vegetables to tell Canadians about the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

Besides, a host of tools will also help consumers in making informed choices such as The Eat Well Plate that will help in visualization of food proportions, and mobile app of My Food Guide that will help access to healthy eating information anytime, anywhere.

Source: food-business-review.com

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Ben & Jerry’s to go G.M.O.-free this year

February 15th, 2014
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unilever-logoBen & Jerry’s, a Unilever brand, is re-launching its full line of flavors without bioengineered ingredients this year.

Currently, 80% of the ice cream maker’s ingredients by volume in the United States and Canada are sourced non-G.M.O. The company said it expects to convert all of its ingredients by mid-2014. All of its products in Europe already are made without bioengineered ingredients.

Ingredient transparency has long been a priority for Ben & Jerry’s, which supported I-522, a measure on Washington state ballots last November to require labeling for food and beverage products with bioengineered ingredients. The company also is transitioning to fair trade certified ingredients, specifically vanilla, sugar and cocoa, to support farmers in developing countries.

“It’s a lot of work, but our team stays focused on the larger picture — on the farmers in Belize who are getting a fair wage for their sugar cane; on the farmers in the U.S. who will grow a field of non-G.M.O. corn next year instead of buying their genetically modified seeds again; on the children of producers who have a chance to go to school because their parents are part of a fair trade cooperative,” the company said on its web site.

A packaging redesign also is under way to reflect the ingredient changes.

Source: Food Business News

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Federal legislation seeks to create standard front-of-package label

October 5th, 2013
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fda-logoIt would also require greater disclosure of caffeine and sugar content, and define how “natural” and “healthy” claims may be made.

Three members of Congress have proposed legislation that would create a standardized front-of-package label while requiring greater disclosure of sugar and caffeine content. The Food Labeling Modernization Act would also define the circumstances under which claims including “healthy” and “natural” may be made.

The legislation’s authors, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT) and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ), argue that labeling requirements are in need of a major overhaul after their last update in 1990.

The bill would require any product called “whole grain” to have the amount of whole grain as a percentage of total grain posted conspicuously on the label. It would also require the disclosure of the amount of caffeine in a product if it exceeds 10mg, as well as listing on the nutrition panel the daily values for calories and sugar plus the amount of any artificial sweetener.

In addition, the bill would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue guidance clarifying the scientific support needed to prevent false information for “structure/function claims” for conventional food.

FDA plans to pursue a new labeling system were put on hold after Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI) undertook implementation of an industry labeling system in 2011. However, some nutrition advocacy groups say the program, Facts up Front, could actually further confuse consumers by only highlighting positive nutritional aspects.

GMA responded to the bill, saying, “The food and beverage industry is committed to providing consumers with the products and information they need to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Based on our preliminary analysis of this legislation, we are very concerned that it could have serious unintended consequences on a variety of products and will only serve to confuse consumers. GMA agrees with and supports federal laws requiring food labels to be truthful and non-misleading. There is a robust regulatory system in place to ensure the accuracy of information found on a food label. The accuracy of this information is further supported by the ongoing commitment by food companies to communicate with consumers in a way that is clear and accurate.”

Source: Food Engineering

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Initiative would require genetically modified label

January 4th, 2013
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label-fatAny food sold in Washington state and made with genetically engineered crops would have to be labeled under a ballot initiative submitted Thursday.

The move came two months after California voters rejected a similar measure that pitted food safety advocates against agricultural and biotechnology giants in a roughly $55 million advertising battle.

Opponents of the  argue it will raise food prices and hurt farmers. Supporters contend that consumers should have a choice about eating genetically engineered products, even if the federal government and major science groups say such foods are safe to eat.

Proponents promised to take their fight to the Northwest after the California ballot measure failed.

On Thursday, initiative sponsors delivered 350,000 petition signatures to state officials inside an ambulance with a sign on the side reading “Label GMO Food.”

To qualify for the ballot, it requires at least 241,153 signatures of registered state voters, though the secretary of state’s office suggests collecting at least 320,000 as a buffer for duplicate or invalid signatures.

Initiative 522 would require food and seeds produced entirely or partly through genetic engineering and sold in Washington to be labeled as such, beginning July 1, 2015. Raw foods that are not packaged separately would have to be labeled on retail shelves.

Supporters say consumers benefit from having more information.

“Yes, you can steer clear of certain items, but unless you know that they’re there, how do you know to steer clear of them?” asked Chris McManus, the initiative sponsor and owner of a small advertising firm. “Putting a label on the front of that just informs the consumer a little bit more about what they’re buying.”

The nation’s food labeling system already is built around giving consumers information about health and safety, countered Heather Hansen, executive director of Washington Friends of Farms and Forests.

“We think this is really intended to be a scare tactic, to ultimately scare people away from technology,” she said. “And it’s not providing any meaningful information.”

Once the proposal goes to the state Legislature, lawmakers have the option to vote on it, take no action and send it to the November ballot, or recommend an alternative measure that will appear on the ballot with it.

About 50 countries require genetically modified foods to be labeled, but the U.S. isn’t one of them. Only Alaska has enacted legislation requiring the labeling of genetically engineered fish and shellfish products.

A bill in the Washington Legislature to require food labeling failed to pass last year, despite support from a coalition of wheat farmers who said they feared their export markets would be hurt if genetically modified wheat gains federal approval.

Biotech giant Monsanto Co. has announced plans to begin testing genetically modified wheat, though the product is likely a decade or more from being offered commercially.

Source: The news tribune
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Proposed bill would give USDA more power to police organic seal users

June 22nd, 2012
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Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) and Congressman Richard Hanna (NY-24) have introduced bipartisan legislation, the Organic Standards Protection Act, to ensure that products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal comply with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

The legislation, endorsed by a variety of California agriculture and consumer groups, would protect the growing organic farming industry and its expanding consumer base by granting the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) the legislative authority it needs to more effectively protect the integrity of certified organic products.

According to a report by the Organic Trade Assn. (OTA), the U.S. organic market in 2011 surpassed $31 billion for the first time, representing 9.5 percent growth. The organic food industry also generated more than 500,000 American jobs in 2010. The Central Coast ranked 2nd in California in 2009 organic farm sales, generating in excess of $224 million in revenue. The 23rd district of California ranks 30th nationally in the number of organic farms.

“This bipartisan legislation is a win-win, for Central Coast farmers and businesses who consistently meet the highest standards for organic products and for consumers who deserve to know that all products on grocery store shelves labeled ‘USDA organic’ adhere to consistently high standards. Failing to weed out imposter products puts our organic industries at a competitive disadvantage and could potentially damage the brand of organic products,” Capps says.

Organic farming is a growing industry in upstate New York, which is creating jobs and meeting an increasing consumer demand,” Hanna says. “This bill takes commonsense steps to make sure USDA has the tools necessary to protect the integrity of the organic seal and safeguard this booming industry from unscrupulous producers.”

The Organic Trade Assn. supports the passage of the Organic Standards Protection Act which, if enacted, will give the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Organic Program additional tools to safeguard the integrity of the USDA Organic seal.

“Consumers drive the growth in organic food and farming and maintaining their trust is critical to the future of this fast-growing job-creating sector of agriculture,” says Christine Bushway, CEO of OTA. “On behalf of the 6,500 certified organic operations nationwide that OTA represents, we applaud the leadership of Congresswoman Capps to position organic to meet consumer expectations into the future.”

CCOF supports the Organic Standards Protection Act to further ensure consumer confidence in high-quality organic products. Our members include 2400 organic farmers, ranchers, processors and handlers whose competitiveness relies on a strong regulatory framework that is fairly enforced,” says Cathy Calfo, executive director/CEO, California Certified Organic Farmers.

According to a recent USDA Office of Inspector General report, the absence of investigative authorities has hampered the National Organic Program’s ability to protect the integrity of the organic label. Currently, the NOP does not have the authority to stop the representation, labeling or sale of organic products when they have been treated with prohibited substances or when conventional products are being sold as organic. Embargo and stop sale authority would provide the NOP with additional tools to protect the integrity of organic food products.

The Organic Standards Protection Act would provide the USDA with the authority to stop sale of unlawfully represented products, and would enhance the effectiveness of investigations while providing for appeal of the Secretary’s actions. The bill would also provide penalties for refusal to obey a conclusive judgment.

The bill would:

• Grant USDA the authority to stop the sale of products fraudulently labeled and sold as certified organic while protecting the rights of producers and handlers during the appeals process;

• Streamline recordkeeping requirements by requiring all organic producers and certifiers to maintain and provide records to the USDA to improve its investigative process and enforcement efforts;

• Impose a civil penalty of $10,000 on those who violate the USDA’s revocation of their certification;

• The legislation is supported by the California Certified Organic Farmers, the Organic Trade Assn. and the National Organic Coalition.

Source: Congresswoman Capps

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New label to certify gluten-free goods

June 17th, 2011
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A new US gluten-free certification aims to meet consumer demand for genuine products that carry the claim, say the groups behind the programme.

The Quality Assurance International (QAI) and the healthcare nonprofit National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) claim their “Certified Gluten-Free” label is independent and science-based, verified through inspections and product testing.

“Nationally, food allergies and the diagnosis of Celiac Disease are on the rise and we want to help eliminate confusion for consumers by providing them with a label they can trust based on sound science,” said QAI general manager Jaclyn Bowen.

“QAI’s 20-year focus in organic certification has made us experts in the prevention of contamination and co-mingling of ingredients; two skills sets that are critical in verifying and assuring gluten-free status.”

Sensitive testing and stringent auditing

According to QAI and NFCA, the new gluten-free certification programme requires sensitive testing procedures, a stringent auditing and an independent application review process.

This programme will involve an annual inspection that will evaluate feedback from consumers, manufacturers and retailers. This will include product reviews, ingredient verifications and onsite inspections.

Ongoing compliance with the scheme is also monitored, including random product testing, they said.

All companies are required to produce products at less than 10 parts per million (ppm) of gluten to receive certification.

“Widespread cross-contamination of source ingredients means that even manufacturers who singularly produce gluten-free products must incorporate adequate testing and verification protocols into their operating procedures,” said the QAI and NFCA.

“The stringent nature of the QAI certification protocols ensures prevention of contamination and co-mingling, critically important for those with allergies to gluten and gluten-intolerance.”

Source: Bakery and Snacks

 

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Court condemns Italian “pure chocolate” labelling claim

December 6th, 2010
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The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that consumers in Italy are being misled by local legislation that allows confectioners to use the phrase “pure chocolate” on labels to describe chocolate made with 100% cocoa butter.

Italy was taken to court in 2008 after it failed to change its rules to meet EU laws that standardise sales names for cocoa and chocolate. Under EU law, products that contain up to 5% of vegetable fats other than cocoa butter can be labelled as chocolate.
The EU changed its chocolate labelling rules in 2000 after manufacturers’ use of non-vegetable fats – especially in the UK – triggered a row in the EU and prompted the directive.

The ECJ says, “According to the Commission, the consumer must be informed whether or not substitute vegetable fats are present in the chocolate through the labelling and not through the use of a separate sales name.”

Italy faces a fine if it fails to amend its law.

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New clean label starches target baked goods

May 14th, 2010
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A new range of cold swelling starches are designed to deliver texture and stability to baked goods without the need to declare them on an ingredient label.

The flagship product in the range, developed by Ulrick & Short, is a starch derived from wheat, which can be declared on a product label as ‘wheat flour’.

“We’ve got the right level of proteins in there so you can call it a flour, but equally we’ve retained all the properties of starch,” explained Adrian Short of Ulrick & Short.

Friendly starch

The ingredients, part of the firm’s Synergie range, work like any other starch to deliver body, texture, stability and mouthfeel to a range of food products.

However, because they are ‘cold swelling’ they do not require heat in order to deliver their functionality. This in itself is not uncommon in starch ingredients, but Short said the ingredients are also “process-friendly” in that they do not require high-speed mixing or high water content.

“Many cold starches on the market require a lot of mixing as they get quite hungry for water, and this often results in lumping issues. The way we dry our starches means they are easily dispersed, so they can work just as well with varying water levels or mixing speeds,” Short told FoodNavigator.com.

The firm uses a combination of three drying methods: spray drying, extrusion and a process called ‘fluculation’, which is a gentle drying method on starch that has not been too finely milled.

Shelf-life extension

The company’s wheat-derived starch ingredient is particularly suited for breads and other bakery products made with wheat flour, as this would allow for a cleaner label, said Short. Usage levels would vary between 2-5 per cent.

As well as delivering desired texture and stability, the starch could also help extend shelf-life by up to 1.5 days on a loaf of bread, explained Short. Together with its clean label status, this results in a slight price premium over modified starches, but prices remain “very competitive” compared to other clean label products, he said.

Other cold-swelling starches in the range are derived from maize and tapioca, which can be declared on labels as ‘cornflour’ and ‘tapioca starch’ respectively. These ingredients can be used in applications such as dairy, condiments, dips and sweets.

The new range is being rolled out in the UK market.

Source:  Bakeryandsnacks

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