Meeting Recap: 2017-2018 Annual Meeting and Celebration

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On May 14th FCS Professionals members and guests gathered at Urban Eatery in Minneapolis for the annual meeting and celebration.  Heavy downpours of rain caused some traffic and parking headaches but everyone’s perseverance paid off!  It was a wonderful evening of great food, laughter, and celebrating the accomplishments of our organization.

The evening began with dessert shooters made by FCS Professionals board member Chef Amy Lawson.  Our scheduled speaker, Kinza Christenson, suffered an injury and was unable to attend.  In her place was the delightful Brenda Elsagher a cancer survivor and comedian.  Brenda’s career began in the beauty industry where she was a hair stylist and salon owner. A colon cancer diagnosis at the age of 39 spurred a career change to comedy.  Laughter is such a powerful way of coping with difficult situations.  She was a mom to young kids at the time of her diagnosis, surgeries, and treatments. Finding the humor in trials of life has become her calling in life.  She has become a sought after speaker to healthcare workers, cancer survivors, womens groups and more. You may have even seen her in commercials on TV promoting colon cancer screening.   She has written five books delving into topics like cancer survival, aging, living with ostomies, caregiving, and funny and inspiring medical stories.  Brenda shared many stories with our group and we all shared many laughs.  She even took us through some laughing exercises and explained the health benefits of laughter.


After Brenda’s presentation, dinner was served.  Attendees dined on a choice of vegetarian curry, chicken curry, salmon salad or steak salad.  All enjoyed macaroons from Carousel Macaroons for our second dessert.

Awards were presented to our 2017-2018 winners.

Emerging Leader Award: Liz Sellet

Spirit Award Winner: Gerry Luepke

FCS Professional of the Year: Colleen Zenk


Complete information on the award winners will be in a separate blog posting in the near future!

The annual meeting was held after the award winners were announced.  President Gerry Luepke presided. A video highlighting the accomplishments of FCS Professionals was played.  In new business, the organization bylaws were reworked this spring to be easier to read and took out redundancies.  The bylaws were approved by membership.  The final act was the ceremonial passing of the gavel to the new President Jean Knaak.


Brooklyn Food Tour Musings

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Thank you Gerry Luepke for this trip report! 


Do you remember the 2008 Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook and a recipe submitted by Bonita Buttke for Egg Cream?

As Bonita mentioned there are no eggs in this refreshing chocolate drink.  It’s a soda produced almost exclusively in New York (particularly Brooklyn). The basic ingredients are milk, seltzer, and chocolate syrup. It’s traditionally made in a small Coke-style glass.

Bonita’s recipe says to add 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup into a 10-ounce glass.  Pour ¼ cup of milk over the syrup; stir until blended.  Lastly fill the glass with seltzer or sparkling water.  Stir vigorously.  Serve immediately.

I just experienced my first Egg Cream while participating in a small Urban Oyster group walking tour of Brooklyn.   The Egg Cream was delicious and since arriving back home I’ve made and enjoyed several!

The tour included ambling through Brooklyn’s premiere culinary neighborhoods. I visited and sampled foods at Italian and Middle Eastern shops, cafes  & restaurants that have long been the neighborhood’s staple. Many specializing in artisanal foods.

We also learned about some of the homes and gardens in the area.  The day was beautiful and time well spent.  If you’re planning a trip  to the Big Apple, you might want to book a tour and visit Brooklyn.



Job Opportunity

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There is a full time Family and Consumer Science teaching position open in Hudson, Wisconsin with a culinary arts focus. Details on the position and online application is available here:


April Meeting Recap: The Lynhall

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FCS Professionals gathered at The Lynhall in Minneapolis on Monday, April 16 for the April meeting.  FCS Professionals and their guests were treated to an amazing evening of great food, conversation, learning, and service!

As part of the event, members and guests brought birthday items (cake mixes, frosting, candles, gift bags, and more) to be donated to St. Davids Center for Child and Family Development.  Maureen from St. David’s was on hand to collect the items and tell our group more about their organization.   St. David’s was the first preschool to serve children of all ability levels in Minnesota.  St. David’s also provides mental health services, therapies (occupational, physical, feeding, speech-language, and more!), and even home visits.  The birthday items our organization collected will be made into birthday packs to be distributed to families served by St. David’s.  Many of the families are low income and birthday celebrations are an “extra” that often is not affordable.  For more information on St. David’s they are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube


Anne Spaeth, owner of The Lynhall, was our featured speaker for the evening.  Anne is not your typical restauranteur–she claims she is not a good cook and her educational background is in law.  Ms. Spaeth was a lawyer working with child protective service cases and that is how she got connected with St. David’s!  The inspiration for The Lynhall came from her years living in London and experiencing European style cafes.  The restaurant is counter service and there are long community tables for seating.  Do not fret–if you are the stereotypical Minnesotan who likes to keep to themselves there are smaller tables too!  Anne mentioned that the long tables are very prevalent in London and as a young mom in a new city she loved the conversations she had with strangers.  Minnesotans have been a little slow to the long table concept but she thinks it will catch on.

The Lynhall is not merely a place to get a great meal–it also has an Incubator Kitchen for aspiring small food businesses and The Linney Studio, a state-of-the art kitchen studio space that is camera ready for recording videos, commercials, and more.  There is also rentable private dining space for events–like ours!  Anne said what is most “Instagramable” about The Lynhall is usually their bathrooms!  They are decorated in different bird wallpapers and selfies in their bathrooms are the most popular pictures taken at The Lynhall.


Members and guests attending The Lynhall event were treated to a delicious charcuterie platter including variety of meats and cheeses, delicious freshly made bread from their bakery, short rib sliders, and an amazing pea soup.  The coffee and cookies were worth saving some room for!  When everyone had their fill of food we were treated to a tour of the facility.  We were all wowed at the incredible kitchen studio space! 


At the conclusion of our event, we presented Anne with a donation to the recently established The Long Table Fund.  The Long Table Fund “works in partnership with the community to connect and empower those in the restaurant industry affected by trauma, mental health issues, and chemical dependency. Proceeds of The Long Table Fund will provide mission-specific educational opportunities and increased access to crisis mental health care for members of the restaurant industry.”  In May they are starting a Nourish series that will feature speakers related to the mission of The Long Table Fund.  The first event is May 4th “Nutrition, Nourishment and Optimal Mental Health”.  


News Roundup: Food & Wine Dish of the Year, Trend Reports, and MAFCS Geo 5 Networking Meeting

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Here are a few things from the food and consumer science world!

  • Minneapolis Grand Café honored with Food and Wine’s Dish of the Year, The Paris-Brest!  Read all about it here
  • Suzy Badaracco of Culinary Tides was our featured speaker at our annual meeting in 2016.  Her company has a trend report now available and at a discounted price until April 21.  Click here for more info
  • FCS Professionals are invited to attend the MAFCS Geo 5 Networking meeting on Wednesday, May 23 at 3:30 p.m.  For more information and registration, click here 


March Meeting Recap: Webinar “Serving It Allergy Free”

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On March 20th, we held our  first webinar “Serving It Allergy Free” hosted by our very own Debra Zwiefelhofer RDN, LD.  The webinar was complimentary for FCS Professionals and attendees received one hour of continuing education credit in the comfort of their own homes. 

What is a food allergy?  It is an abnormal response to a normal food.  The protein in the food item is the “enemy” and the body’s immune system is triggered.  This reaction may be immediate or could be hours after exposure and the reaction can range from mild to severe.  Also the reaction must be repeatable to be considered a true allergy.  The reaction can vary between oral discomfort (itching, swelling, hives), abdominal discomfort with digestion (vomiting, bloating, diarrhea), or in the bloodstream (drop in blood pressure, hives, eczema, or wheezing).  The most severe reaction is anaphylaxis which accounts for two hundred deaths annually in the United States.

A food intolerance or sensitivity is different from an allergy in that the reaction is not due to the protein in food and the response is not related to the body’s immune system.  The response may be due to an absence of chemicals or enzymes to digest a food (think lactose intolerance), an inability to absorb nutrients, or could be pharmacologic (a natural/artificial food chemical sensitivity).  The response can be less obvious and can be dose or exposure dependent.  Symptoms vary greatly and affect different parts of the body:.  Skin: rash, hives, dermatitis, eczema  Respiratory: nasal congestion, sinusitis, throat irritation, asthma, cough  GI: mouth ulcers, cramping, nausea, gas, diarrhea, IBS.

So how can you tell the difference?  Deb described a food allergy as the body at war against the food.  An intolerance is when the body doesn’t know how to deal with a food.  

Oral Allergy Syndrome is when an allergy to pollen creates a raw food reaction because the proteins are similar.  The reaction is localized to the mouth/oral cavity/throat.   Usually the reaction is to a raw food and often the same food item is tolerated when it is cooked.  

The top food allergens in the US are eggs, cow’s milk, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.  Deb spent time going through each of the top allergies.  

Can we prevent food allergies?  In the past, there have been recommendations for pregnant women to restrict certain foods and also for breastfeeding moms.  That advice is no longer given.  When introducing foods to infants, it is also no longer recommended to avoid foods like peanut butter, but finding that it is better to introduce small amounts earlier.  

As professionals, what do we need to know to protect our customers and patients?  Food labeling laws state that labels must use common names for allergens i.e. sodium caseinate (milk), any ingredient source must be disclosed, species must be declared for nuts, fish and shellfish i.e. tree nuts (almonds).  To be labeled gluten free, no gluten, free of gluten, or without gluten the food must not contain: an ingredient that is a gluten containing grain, and ingredient derived from a gluten containing grain unless it has been processed to remove the gluten.  There are certain foods that are not subject to the labeling law including raw foods (whole fruits and vegetables), foods approved as exempt (highly refined peanut and soy oils), molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, mussels, scallops).  Deb warned that when it comes to labeling, it is “buyer beware” as any law is only as good as the ability to enforce it.  It can be particularly tricky with imported goods–they are supposed to follow the rules of the destination country but that does not always happen.  Deb said it’s similar with the old food safety saying, “When in doubt throw it out!”.  With food labeling, if you are in doubt–leave it out!  Better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food allergies.  Deb also reminded the group that it is not enough to just buy the right foods.  Cross-contamination is an issue with food allergies.  The majority of fatal allergic reactions occur outside the home and desserts are the biggest culprit in the nut/peanut reactions.  How can we prevent these reactions?  1. Know ingredients in prepared foods/recipes (know that ingredients change–check often!)  2. The identification of a food allergy should ignite a process in any eating venue 3. Know what to do in the event of an allergic reaction.  Deb ended her presentation with this closing thought, “It’s not necessarily our task to distinguish  between allergies, intolerances and aversions.  If an individual doesn’t want a particular food item, it is our job to avoid serving it to them.”


February Professional Conference Recap: Beyond the Basics–Trending Topics in Food Safety

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On Friday, February 23, FCS Professionals and guests gathered at the Edina Country Club for a professional conference, “Beyond the Basics–Trending Topics in Food Safety”.  The conference began with keynote speaker, Dr. Michael Osterholm.  Dr. Osterholm is a public health scientist and expert in biosecurity and infectious disease. He is currently the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and is well known in Minnesota as being the former state epidemiologist.  

Dr. Osterholm provided attendees with fascinating (and slightly terrifying!) information about the spread of disease. In the 1850s it took one year to travel around the world.  With the invention of the jet engine, a person can travel in one day.  He said, “What is somewhere, can be anywhere in one day.”  He discussed an outbreak of H1N1 (Influenza A) at the Olympics in South Korea and wondered what the effect would be when everyone leaves to go home.  

According to Dr. Osterholm the greatest security threat is infectious disease.  A large majority of crucial medications come from China.  What happens if there is an outbreak of infectious disease in China?  It takes nine days to go from Bejing to Long Beach, California.  Medication shortages could be a real threat.  He gave the example of the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico crippling businesses. Most IV bags are manufactured in Puerto Rico.  Medical facilities are still dealing with IV bag shortages months after the hurricane.  He also talked about how in Somalia, a two day cease fire was negotiated in order to mass vaccinate for small pox years ago.  Dr. Osterholm does not believe in our current world climate, that situation would happen.  

He also discussed chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer.  For some time it was believed that simply avoiding eating venison from deer that were acting strange or looked sick was enough.  But now they are finding deer that have the CWD prion that show no outwardly signs of being sick.  There is an inexpensive test that can be run to determine whether the deer has CWD.  It is important that all deer are tested.  It can be easily spread at processing facilities because it is essentially heat-resistant and very difficult to kill.  The key takeaway—hunt deer but test it before consuming or processing. 

Dr. Osterholm shared a wealth of information and answered questions following his presentation.  He also signed copies of his new book, “Deadliest Enemy–Our War Against Killer Germs”. 


Following his presentation, a buffet brunch was served and attendees had time for networking.  

The next speaker was Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND, President of Annette Maggi & Associates, Inc. She spoke on “Getting Clear on Clean Labels.”   So called “clean eating” is the new rage for those trying to follow a “healthy” lifestyle.  But what does “clean” even mean?  Ms. Maggi discussed  different definitions for “clean” as there is no official definition.  Consumers are demanding “clean” yet not always buying what they are demanding.  Someone in the audience noted that Trix cereal was recently developed to use no artificial dyes but people were not buying the new less brightly colored cereal.

Instead of focusing on a “clean” label, Annette suggests a “clear” label.   When using the term “clean” it suggests all other foods are dirty and suggests that there is a prescribed number of ingredietns that is ideal and no chemical or additives hsoudl be seen in an ingredient listing.  Clear labels on the other hand suggest that everything shown in a product’s ingredient list has an essential function in that product.  Manufacturers educate consumers on the function of various ingredients.  


A short break was taken and the next session was taught by Justo Garcia, Environmental Health Specialist, City of Minneapolis, City of Minneapolis Health Inspector.  Mr. Garcia spoke on “Food Adulteration and Economically Motivated Hazards.”  The term adulteration refers to anything that bears or contains poisons or substances that render it injurious to health.  Examples could include pesticides, larvae, rodent droppings, lead, arsenic, coloring agents, dyes or starches.  Garcia spoke of a few cases of intentional hazards.  In 2007-09 300,000 infants were effected by tainted milk formula that was contaminated with melamine in China.  In China there were two executions of those found responsible.  In 2007 melamine was found in pet food which lead to 3500 pet deaths.  One well known economically motivated hazard was with the Peanut Corporation of America where a salmonella outbreak killed nine people and 714 became ill.  Executives from that company were found guilty and sent to prison.  An interesting example was given of an orange juice company that was selling its juice as no added sugar.  An investigation found that they were adding sugar to their juice in secret.  Deliveries of the sugar were made at night and things were purposely mislabeled to hide the sugar.  Justo provided a few websites for reference: FSMA Technical Assistance NetworkHorizon Scan     USP Food Fraud Mitigation Services 


The final speakers were attorneys Alyssa Rebensdorf and Peter Goss.  Alyssa spoke on, “Foodborne Illness Basics–Getting down to Business.” 

In 2016 there were 764 food recalls.  Of those 305 were related to allergens, 196 due to listeria, and 99 due to salmonella.  She has worked on listeria litigation most extensively.  She walked through the typical process of how litigation may occur after a food safety incident or “food poisoning” episode.  A person gets sick and believes it has to do with something they ate.  They seek medical attention.  Evaluation shows that they are a possible victim of a food borne illness.  A genetic analysis of the isolate occurs as well as patient interviews.  At this point, only 20 percent of people will consult a lawyer.  Surprisingly, Ms. Rebensdorf said that 54% of people who have been affected by a food borne illness will give the company/product another chance.  Only 11 percent of people say they will never eat at an establishment/eat a particular food item again.  She gave guidelines for businesses when a claim of foodborne illness occurs: 

  • Remember: A recall is not proof of contamination 
  • It’s typically not the last thing you ate! 
  • Learn about the common pathogens (incubation periods, symptoms, typical course of illness) 
  • Do not give consumers medical advice
  • Ask for the right information from the consumer (consider claim forms specific to the pathogen of concern) 
  • Do not offer to retrieve or test the product 
  • Coupon programs can be helpful

She also provided tips for mitigating risk as a food handler or manufacturer

  • Lead from the top in building a culture of food safety 
  • Learn what you don’t know about food safety, including sanitation, cooking, packaging, handling and transporting food 
  • Retain consulting experts (FSMA/food safety, microbiology) 
  • Train, retrain, and retrain again
  • Know your suppliers and require meaningful food safety assurances 
  •  Assess supplier/vendor contracts for indemnity and insurance 
  • Have sick leave policies and mean it! 
  • Conduct thorough investigation, trace back and root cause analyses 
  • Review and update insurance coverage

Our last speaker, attorney Peter Goss spoke about food labeling class action lawsuits.  Mr. Goss began by explaining class action lawsuits.  Class action lawsuits are intended for claims that are too small for individuals to pursue.  All members of the lawsuit have the same claim and sue on behalf of all members.  The objective of the lawsuit is to create a fund to pay claims (and lawyers!).  Mr. Goss said that almost all class action lawsuits are driven by lawyers.  He stated that usually its the lawyer that thinks of the claim and then seeks out members to join the lawsuit.  In the realm of food labeling, in 2008 there were 20 active class action lawsuits–in 2016 there were 425!  Common food related lawsuits:  slack fill (i.e. the air in the potato chip bag); consumer complains that they were tricked into thinking there was more food in the package, terms like “all-natural” “healthy” “hand-made” “craft”; also ingredient disclosure, “no added sugar” and “diet” claims.  He said there have been lawsuits around the word “diet” like in Diet Coke.  We drank this Diet Coke and we did not lose weight—-> class action lawsuit!  

Sometimes courts will defer to regulators–sometimes not. As all of us in the food and consumer science industry know– terms like “all-natural” do not have an agreed upon definition.  He gave the examples of Snapple–at one point its label said “all natural” but people scoffed–can it be all natural if it contains high fructose corn syrup? He gave three examples where “common sense prevailed” in lawsuits  

  • Crunch Berries: “[A] reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist.”
  • “Handmade” spirits: “In [a] sense all bourbon is handmade; bourbon, unlike coffee or orange juice, cannot be grown in the wild.” 
  • Soymilk not real milk: “It is simply implausible that a reasonable consumer would mistake a product like soymilk or almond milk with dairy milk from a cow… Under the Plaintiffs’ logic, a reasonable consumer might also believe that veggie bacon contains pork, that flourless chocolate cake contains flour, or that e-books are made out of paper.” 

Mr. Goss gave tips for minimizing exposure to class-action lawsuits: 1. Understand what drives class actions 2. Know the FDA regulations 3. Review claims and ingredient labels carefully with counsel  4. Advocate for class action reform.  

At the conclusion of the program attendees filled out evaluation forms and gathered their CEU certificates.  Thank you to all who worked hard putting this conference together.  It was an amazing day of learning and networking!