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Lifting the Veil on How Food Is Made

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A big thanks to Bruce Hamaker, Suju Senan, Elizabeth Hall, and Kristin Harris for hosting such a great food-science based discussion and education session today! Curious consumers often wonder about food processing and whether or not it is good for us; after all, food processing wasn’t viewed as a ‘bad’ concept a few years back. As it turns out, there are numerous benefits provided by food processing, as discussed during today’s session.No alt text provided for this image

This science-based discussion is easy to understand and I recommend listening to the recording by clicking here.

#foodscienceandtechnology #foodscience #foodprocessing #nutritioneducation #nutritionfacts #dietitianapproved

A Planned Thanksgiving

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Although your Thanksgiving most definitely looks different this year, it’s can and should still be a joyful holiday! Take your time off to make those comfort foods you love and crave at this time of year because YOU DESERVE IT.

Let’s talk Thanksgiving and food waste. While it’s a holiday that we usually eat about a day’s worth of calories at one sitting… that’s not actually what were’r focusing on today. You’re welcome and enjoy your meal(s) 🙂

Thanksgiving in BIG in terms of food waste. Experts estimate around 200 million pounds of turkey, 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes and 30 million pounds of stuffing will go to waste this Thanksgiving. It adds up, that’s for sure.

Here are some tips for you to do your part and reduce the wasting of delicious Thanksgiving food in your home!

  1. Make Less.

You know what you’re going to cook because it’s probably the same foods you cooked last year. If you have a great memory (great for you; I don’t), then think about what you had excess of last year. Calculate your portions and don’t give into the urge to make extras. Here is the Guest-Imator tool to help you estimate portions for the number of people you’re cooking for.


2. Check Your Freezer

Plan ahead and eat up the things you have stored in the freezer before you host Thanksgiving. This way you’ll have room in the freezer for any Thanksgiving leftovers. Instead of tossing them out, have a Thanksgiving round #2 with reheats! Trust me, this makes for an easy meal in the future since you’ve already done all the work in cooking the food! Just reheat and pat yourself on the back for not wasting your hard work.


3. In the Spirit of Leftovers…

Get out your creative side to utilize your leftovers in a different way to avoid flavor fatigue. Or, if you’re not super creative then check out some of the many Leftover Cookbooks out there. If you find yourself constantly collecting recipes and recipe books then Click Here to find a list of cookbooks for fighting food waste that was created by a fellow blogger.


4. What Research Says

You know I love research SO SO MUCH! So I, of course, had to consult research on this one and here’s what it tells us… the more organized your leftovers are, the more likely you are to eat them. Consider labeling your containers as you put them in the fridge or freezer. Or, what I do is only use clear containers so that I can see what’s in them without having to open the containers.


That’s all! There are more ways out there to minimize your food waste every day and for Thanksgiving but I’ve found that these four tips are the easiest and prove to be most effective.


Comment your Thanksgiving tips for reducing waste or getting the most out of your holiday foods!

Minnesota Baking Icon Betty Crocker Turns 100

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Betty Crocker has officially turned 100 years old!

“Spoiler alert: Betty Crocker, arguably the most recognized Minnesotan of the past century, isn’t a real person.” – Rick Nelson from the Star Tribune

In order to celebrate this, Cathy Swanson Wheaton (executive editor of the Golden Valley-based company’s cookbooks) created a book with the best 100 recipes since Betty Crocker was born.

The book is titled “Betty Crocker Best 100: Favorite Recipes from America’s Most Trusted Cook.”

betty crocker | arthipstory

Read more from the Star Tribune article by clicking here.

Grapes Positively Impact Brain Health

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Some newer research studies have been focusing on articulating the impact that regular grape consumption has on human and animal brains. So far, it’s looking quite promising!

Here’s a very brief summary of the research findings I found most interesting!

Human subjects were asked to consume whole grape powder that is the equivalent to 2 1/4 cups of grapes per day. The results? The subjects who consumed a grape-enriched diet, versus those who did not, showed preserved healthy metabolic activity in the regions of the brain that are known to be associated with early Alzheimer’s disease.

In animal studies, animals were either fed low or high amounts of grapes as a part of their diet. Both showed to be beneficial and helped protect brain neurons from oxidative damage and cell death. Both diets also showed that grape consumption reduced inflammation in the support cells to brain neurons.

Find out more on the research about the impact of grapes by viewing the full research studies as cited below!


1. Lee, J.K., Torosyan, N., & Silverman, D.H. (2017).  Examining the impact of grape consumption on brain metabolism and cognitive function in patients with mild decline in cognition: A double-blinded placebo controlled pilot study. Experimental Gerontology, 87 (Pt A), 121-128.

 2. Wang, Q., Simonyi, A., Li, W., Sisk, B.A., Miller, R.L., MacDonald, R.S., …Sun, A.Y. (2005).  Dietary grape supplement ameliorates cerebral ischemia-induced neuronal death in gerbils. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 49, 443-451.

3. Allam F., Dao, A.T., Ghugh, G., Bohat, R., Jafri, F., Patki, G., …Salim, S. (2013, June).  Grape powder supplementation prevents oxidative stress-induced anxiety-like behavior, memory impairment, and high blood pressure in rats.  Journal of Nutrition, 143(6), 835-842. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.174649

4. Patki, G., Allam, F.H., Atrooz, F., Dao, A.T., Solanki, N., Chugh, G., … Salim, S. (2013, September).  Grape powder intake prevents ovariectomy-induced anxiety-like behavior, memory impairment and high blood pressure in female Wistar rats.  PLoS ONE, 8(9), e74522. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074522

5. Solanki, N., Alkadhi, I., Atrooz, F., Patki, G., & Salim, S. (2015, January).  Grape powder prevents cognitive, behavioral and biochemical impairments in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder.  Journal of Nutrition Research, 35(1), 65-75. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2014.11.008

How Much Added Sugar Should We Be Consuming?

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Our organization is all about connecting with you and, together, we keep current in the food and consumer science industry. Sugar intake has been a trending topic for some time. When shopping for groceries and reading nutrition facts labels, it seems like all food products have at least a small amount of sugar in them. Which raises the question, how much added sugar should we be consuming on a daily basis? What’s a healthy amount?

How Do I Know How Much Added Sugar Is a Healthy Amount?

Thankfully, we don’t have to guess. We can rely on research findings and our trusty 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans! These standards are developed by the USDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The recommendation may come to you as a surprise as you compare it to your daily dietary habits.

In general, we could all be a bit more mindful of our sugar intake. Sugar consumption and obesity have been linked in prior research findings. In turn, obesity is connected to health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Gettin’ Nerdy – Let’s See Some Facts

Here at FCS Professionals, we can get a little nerdy because we love our field! So, here’s a fun fact for you: according to the American Heart Association, the average American adult consumes around 77 grams of added sugar per day. How does that compare to the recommended amount? That’s more than three times what the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends.

The 2020-2025 guidelines state that no more than 10 percent of our calories should come from added sugar. To put it into practice, that means limited your added sugar intake to 200 kcals on a 2,000 calorie diet. For your convenience, we have calculated that that is equivalent to 13 teaspoons or 53 grams, or roughly the amount in a can of regular cola plus a bowl of sugary cereal.

Now, you may be asking WHAT IS ADDED SUGAR?

By definition, according to the FDA, added sugar is ANY sugar added during the processing of food. Thankfully, the recently revised nutrition facts label allows a space specifically for added sugars. You can also find added sugar in the ingredients list on a food product. If the ingredient ends in “-ose” then you can be sure it is a type of sugar. The following are types of added sugars you may commonly see: honey, granulated sugar, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, natural cane sugar, dextrose, sucrose, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.

But, on the other hand, there are natural sugars such as the sugar in fruit and milk sugar (lactose). However, milk typically contains added sugar when flavorings are introduced, like chocolate or strawberry milk.


Are Carbs & Refined Grains the Worst Thing in the American Diet?

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What an amazing speaker we had for our September virtual meeting; Dr. Julie Miller Jones is amazing!  Over 60 participants joined us in kicking off our program year with renowned speaker Dr. Julie Jones and a program centered around carbohydrates and refined grains.  Susan Vance, FCS President-Elect, summed up most of our feelings when she shared how excited she was to be kicking off this “Season of FCS Professionals.”

Consumers are subjected to many mixed messages about carbs and refined grains. It is difficult to know what to believe.  Dr. Jones shared her vast knowledge about this subject and addressed some of the current research findings.   We learned that in most countries outside of the United States, it is recommended that people consume a 50% of their calories as carbs.  Yet, in the United States many popular diets tell us to reduce carbs.   Should we eat carbs or not? Let’s look at some data Dr. Jones shared.


We learned that in order to be healthy it is important to have the right mix of carbs, refined grains, and whole grains in our diet. This graph Illustrates that even though carbohydrate intake in the U.S. has gone down, obesity rates have continued to rise.




Over 40% of the U.S. population is considered obese. If carbohydrate consumption is decreasing, why are we getting heavier?  Calories are the reason! We have 600 Kcal more available overall than we did in 1970.  We are eating too many refined grains and half of those are not staple foods like bread but from indulgent refined grain foods that dietary guidance recommends ‘to eat sparingly.’  Think donuts and cookies! It was also fascinating to learn that a higher intake of whole grain foods is associated with lower disease risk.  Think oatmeal and bran flakes!



With diabetes also of concern in the U.S., Dr. Jones discussed current research and her thoughts on the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels, measured by a scale called the Glycemic Index.  Her conclusions were these:

Carbohydrate quality should consider all attributes of a food – its nutrients and its detractor components such as sugar.

  • Glycemic Index is too highly variable, misused and misunderstood to be used as a measure of carb quality
  • Glycemic Index Tables do not predict glycemic response of many meals and foods

For weight issues and many disease states, carbohydrates are not the problem.  It is the extra calories consumed!

  • Americans often have poor diets, choosing foods with little nutritional value, eating portions that are too large and have too many calories.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle choices (too little exercise, smoking, overuse of alcohol) also contribute.

Potatoes and grains, both whole grains and enriched grain staple foods, are a low-cost source of important nutrients, providing fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium, folate, and various vitamins which are often under-consumed.

The Last Word from Dr. Jones:  For good health and longevity, include the right mix of carbs in your diet. Make half your grains whole and focus on staple carbohydrate foods – breads, pasta, cereals, rice.  Enjoy indulgent grains – doodles, ding dongs and doughnuts occasionally.

2019-20 Award Winners

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On May 21, 2020 our 2019-20 FCS Professionals award winners were announced.

FCS Professional of the Year


This award recognizes a member for leadership in their profession and outstanding service to this organization. This is the highest organizational award a member can receive.

This year’s winner is Karen Smith, a highly respected FACS professional accomplishing much in the business world, education arena, and her community.

She is currently a company spokesperson, ambassador and educator. Because of her agriculture background and knowledge of North Dakota agriculture products she is often invited to travel with the North Dakota Trade Office. She has met and interacted with dignitaries from Spain, Italy, Peru and Mexico.

Prior to her current position she served as a longtime middle School FACS teacher. Her programs received numerous recognitions. Through her “Patchwork of Kindness” project, students made quilts, held a raffle, and gave the proceeds of over $10,000 to community groups.

In her last ten years of teaching she became passionate about school gardens and used grant money to help build 17 raised bed gardens with two being handicap accessible. She saw the value in the gardens as it taught sustainability, health, nutrition, a healthy leisure time activity, and food preparation skills.

She is also very active in her church and volunteers in the her community. Faithfully on Wednesday nights during the school year you’ll find her helping to prepare and serve 100 meals for a community dinner at her church and afterwards teaching a Tweens class. She also enjoys visiting shut-ins and the elderly in her community, often bringing them a gift of home-cooked food.

As our President-Elect she is not idle but making plans, writing goals and appointing board positions. When August rolls around, she will have her thoughts in place prepared to articulate a clear vision to her board. She is known for her integrity, honesty, humility and clear focus. She’s a strategic planner and believes in teamwork. She’ll make certain the board stays focused on their tasks and goals, keeping them motivated and helping all to achieve their plans!

Behind-the-Scenes Star Award

This award recognizes a member who works diligently to execute programming, results, and/or innovation within the organization but isn’t in any formal position on the board (board members are not eligible for this award). This year’s winner is Pam Voelkel.

Pam was a member for only a month when she tapped the MN Pork Producers and the MN Pork Board for a $500.00 donation to be used for FCS Professionals programming. The donation was financial support for our January meeting held at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.

This financial help allowed us to provide top-notch AV equipment and a sit-down dinner with table linens. The space was large enough for mingling/conversation, in-room registration and display tables as well as excellent viewing of the evening presenters.  The donation aided in keeping registration costs affordable allowing many to attend.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes a member who represents the community-involvement-spirit of FCS Professionals through the community outreach or enrichment they perform.  This year’s winner is Gerry Luepke.

Gerry volunteers her time, talent and resources to help FCS Professionals, MAFCS, TCHC and Hudson Home and Garden Club plan amazing events and excursions. She puts in countless hours to help plan and implement interesting and informative meetings.

She is knowledgeable about current issues and trends in the marketplace and helps to bring those topics to the membership of the organizations. She also mentors individuals in her community including a single mom.

The Spirit Award

This award recognizes a member that has shown particular championing behavior for FCS Professionals. Dr. Julie Miller-Jones is this year’s recipient.

Julie is a frequent speaker for many professional conferences and consumer organizations, locally, nationally and internationally. Knowing that several of us would be fielding questions about COVID-19 and food handling she shared pertinent info with our members via email. She’s given great ideas for programming for our organization including Zoom webinars for the months when we are not able to meet in person.

Making a Difference Award

This award recognizes professionals who are new to their industry, have been members of FCS Professionals for 5 years or less, and have made a notable contribution to the organization. Royalee Rhoads was awarded this honor.

Royalee joined FCS Professionals just this year and already she is being noticed! She comes to every meeting with a bright smile and a cheery personality. In April she accepted a board position as our new blog and social media coordinator.

Congratulations to all of our award winners.  We are so thankful for all of your contributions to our organization!




2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards Night

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Our 95th year of FCS Professionals began at Allianz Field marveling at the diverse food service operations at the brand new soccer stadium.  We ended our year in the comfort of our homes, connected to each other through WebEx! The year could not have ended more different than it started.  The one thing that has not changed in our ninety-five years of existence is our resilience, our creative solutions to problems, and the connection between members through our shared passion of food and consumer science!

Our 2019-20 Annual Meeting and Awards was held online Thursday, May 21 from 7:00-8:15 p.m.  We welcomed John Yuccas as our speaker for the evening with the topic, “Food Photography in the Age of Social Media.”  John was slated to be our speaker at our March meeting that was cancelled.  We were thrilled that he was able to provide his content over WebEx for our May meeting!  John started his photography journey with nature. He dabbled in wedding photography but did not find his passion until he discovered food photography.  As he shared his photos throughout the evening, this passion was so evident.  He said the goal in photography was to, “create images not take snapshots.”  As a food photographer it is his job to tell the story of an establishment.  He really tries to capture the moment and show a “behind-the-scenes” look also including the guest experience in his photographs.  He currently owns his own photography business, The Culinary Portfolio.

John gave several tips throughout the evening.  First, one does not need a lot of fancy equipment to take excellent pictures.  Cell phone cameras have come a long way and include some basic editing features and lighting options.  He recommended doing an Internet search for directions for your personal cell phone of how to expose or adjust the lighting.  John also stated that psychologically, people will think a food item looks less appetizing if it is in cool light vs. warm light.  The photos below show the range from warm to cool lighting.


Choosing the correct angle is also very important!  

Close to 0 degrees–Subjects that stand tall

45 degrees– Capturing details, stacking subject matter

90 degrees–Overhead perspective, great for flat lays and flat subjects

Near the end of his presentation he discussed the current restaurant situation with so many struggling due to Covid-19 shutdowns.  He talked about how he has changed the way he takes photographs including taking food home and photographing it there.  He suggested ways of helping restaurants beyond just getting take-out including purchasing other items from them like a t-shirt or a hat–anything to help their cash flow.  John said that telling the story of the restaurant is more important than ever.  They might emphasize their safety measures vs. just delicious looking food.

John has also started an additional business where he sells 5×7 prints on metal that do not require any additional framing.  All you need is a hammer, nail, and a little wall space!

After John’s presentation we began our annual meeting and encouraged guests to remain online with us!  President Vicky Cherne welcomed all.  The minutes from last year’s meeting were adjusted and then approved.  Due to the online format of our annual meeting, the year in review, introduction of the new board, and award winners were put into a video.  To view the video, click here 

Thank you to our 2019-20 Board Members

President Vicky Cherne

President Elect Karen Smith

Advisor Jean Knaak

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co Chairs: Colleen Glenn and Gerry Luepke

Membership Chair Marge Ryerson

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Susan Vance

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

Introducing our new board for 2020-21

President Karen Smith

President Elect Susan Vance

Advisor Vicky Cherne

Treasurer Liz Sellet

Secretary Molly Lass

Program Co-Chairs: Gerry Luepke and Casey Mikel

Membership Co-Chairs: Marge Ryerson and Konnie Zimmerman

Nominations Lisa Krause

Blog Chair Royalee Rhoads

Newsletter Editor Sierra Kaptain

Conference Lead Colleen Zenk

CE Application Processor Marie Winker

Administrative Assistant Tanya Hamilton

2019-20 Award Winners 

Emerging Leader Award: Royalee Rhoads

Spirit Award: Julie Miller-Jones

Volunteer of the Year:  Gerry Luepke

Behind-the-Scenes Star: Pam Voelkel

FCS Professional of the Year:  Karen Smith

All award winners will be highlighted in-depth in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

Thank you for all the members and guests who joined us!  We look forward to great things in 2020-21!


Part 3–Beyond the Basics Conference Recap

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The conclusion of our annual conference recap.  Thank you for your patience!   Click to view part one or part two

After a fascinating morning of learning it was time for lunch!  Guests helped themselves to mixed fruit, three different salads, and a cup of tomato basil soup.  Attendees were able to network and connect with others while enjoying lunch.

Jennifer Gels, MBA, RD from Ecolab was our next speaker on “Creating a Food Safe Environment.”  Jennifer serves as Vice President of Marketing.   Jennifer began with recognizing and understanding the risks involved with often overlooked food safety issues. Common food safety issues that come to the forefront include:  improper holding temperatures, poor personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, contaminated equipment, and food from unsafe sources. Often overlooked food safety issues include:  cold storage areas too warm, too-deep cooling pans, non-calibrated thermometers, improper produce handling, poor ice machine sanitation, cocktail garnishes, self-service areas, allergen isolation, and drink dispensers. Unbeknownst to all of us–in the new age of coronavirus these things came to the forefront quickly!  Soon after the spread started self-service drink dispensers were shut down and self-service areas in grocery store delis were stopped!

The second portion of her presentation was about macro trends in creating a food safe environment.  She had a wonderful illustration of a fully dressed hamburger and showed how our food supply chain is global.  The yeast may come from Canada, the lettuce from Mexico, the garlic powder from Australia, wheat from Poland, and so on.  Again, we are seeing this play out in our supply chain issues today in the midst of a global pandemic!  We never imagined in February that it would be impossible to find yeast in our grocery stores in April!  She also discussed customer preferences and how they are changing–including potential food safety issues with the increase in food delivery services.   With these trends Jennifer stated that businesses must have: visibility across the supply chain, water and energy expertise, new ways of doing business, and an evolving digitally enabled workforce.

Jennifer ended by giving us a sneak preview of a few new Ecolab products designed to help in food safety.  They have a new fruit and vegetable wash that has a 99.9% reduction in pathogens in wash water and a new “Wash and Walk” sanitizing no rinse floor and drain cleaner that reduces labor needs while providing a great sanitizing option.

After a short break our day continued with Vanessa Nordstrom, President of Everday EcoSolutions and Janice Becker of LogSafe.  They spoke on “Food Waste and the Carbon Effect.”  Vanessa began her presentation by exploring how we got to our present state of wastefulness in our modern food system.  Prior to the 1950’s we lived in a time of scarcity, 1950’s-1990 was a time of abundance, and since the 1990’s we have been in a mismanagement of our abundance. The U.S. evolved from a country of farmers to a country of doers, thinkers and innovators, resulting in consumerism. Large producers began to take the role of food production and the introduction of packaging increased the product shelf life.  Now we have 1.3 billion tons of waste globally.  Australia is #1  in waste with an average of 712 pounds per person per year and the U.S. is #2 with an average of 615 pounds per person/year. In the US, 40% of food produced goes to waste, while the world averages 30%. This equates to approximately 11% of total emissions. 

Vanessa provided us with these staggering statistics:

  • Food waste generation in the U.S. alone has increased by 300% since 1980
  • Less than 5% of unused food is recycled leaving 95% going to landfills
  • Food is the largest component of all landfilled waste
  • Food in landfills account for the largest human-related source of methane, which is a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon monoxide
  • 25% of all food purchased is never eaten
  • 40% of all food produced is never used
  • 34 Million tons of food recyclables are sent to landfills each year

So what can we do individually to help reduce food waste being sent to landfills?   More planning, less packaging, and composting is a good place to start!  For industry, she suggests:

  • Reduce waste at the beginning of supply chain
  •  Stop over-production
  •  Grocery needs to adopt the practice of selling edible food, not beautiful food
  •  Create a market for the farmer to sell a large percentage of their crop, not a small portion
  • Reduce or eliminate packaging
  • Reduce brand introductions 
  • Move away from plastics unless 1, 2 & 5
  • Leverage reusable (Compostable)
  •  Eliminate or greatly reduce single-use packaging

Next Janice Becker gave a short presentation on her company’s food safety app called LogSafe.  This app includes logs to keep track of time and temperatures and even can alert management if the logs are not completed.  The program is easy to use and easy to train employees.  For more information visit their website

Our final speaker of the day was Danny Mishek, President and Co-Owner of VistaTek and SelfEco.  Danny’s company produces plant based plastics and is located in Stillwater. Today only about 3% of the plastics manufactured are plant based.  As more and more people desire to move away from petroleum based plastics that take hundreds and hundreds of years to break down, his company sought to create something that is both beautiful and eco-friendly.  Danny shared examples of many of their products.  They look and feel similarly to traditional disposable serve ware however they are compostable.  Visit their website for more information  They also have created plant based plastic garden pots that have been proven to produce bigger, better plants in your garden!

The day concluded with closing remarks and program evaluations.  A huge thank you to all who worked behind-the-scenes to make this event happen.




Beyond the Basics Conference Recap… Part Two!

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Welcome to part two of the Beyond the Basics Food: Safety, Supply & Sustainability conference that was held February 21 at the Edina Country Club. 

 After a short break it was time for our second speaker of the day, Brenda Jacob, RDN, MPD, LD.  Brenda is a Labeling Manager at Land O’Lakes.   Her presentation, “Making Sense of Changes in Food Label Information” was extremely helpful in breaking down the very complicated world of labeling!


She began by explaining the rulemaking process for label changes: Congress passes a law and directs agency (FDA/USDA) to create regulations –> Agency then publishes  Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR)  in the Federal Register. This is when the  notice/comment process begins —> Individuals/Groups can post comments (these can come from ANYONE) –>Agency proposes rule/regulation.  She noted that this is a very long process and takes years.  The new nutrition label process started in 2016 with a compliance date of 2018.  In 2017 that date was extended to January 2020.  However, food companies were concerned about food waste so they were granted an extension to July 2020 so they were able to sell food products with the old label already printed.

So why did we need a new food label? The new label reflects updated scientific information (link between diet, chronic disease and public health),  the updated serving size reflects amount of food people actually consume, and the new format draws attention to calories and serving size. There are several changes to daily values including increases for: total fat, fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin D and decreases for: carbohydrates, sodium, and vitamin A.  There is a new addition of “added sugars” which has been a challenge to food producers.  The daily value for added sugars is 50 g per day.  Added sugars is defined as: added during processing or packaged as such; includes free, mono- and disaccharides, sugars from syrups, honey, & concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.  Naturally occurring sugars (e.g., dairy products, whole fruits and vegetables) is not considered added sugar .  The challenge? Analysis cannot differentiate total sugar from added sugar and record keeping is required to verify labeled added sugars.

Brenda then went into a discussion of bioengineered (BE) and Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labeling.  Many think bioengineered is the same as GMO but it is not. The USDA defines bioengineered as:  “contains genetic material that has been modified through in-vitro recombinant DNA and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.” The term GMO has a more broad definition and includes anything that has had its genes altered, including by nature, such as plants or animals.  BE labeling disclosure is required for BE food or foods that contain BE food ingredients.  Any highly refined foods (e.g., sugar, oils, food starch) or ingredients that do not contain detectable modified genetic material are not considered BE. The list of BE foods include:  alfalfa, some apple varieties, canola, corn, cotton, some eggplant varieties, some papaya varieties, some pineapple varieties, potato, some salmon varieties, soybean, summer squash and sugarbeets. Labeling is mandatory for items on the BE food list or known BE + detectable rDNA.  Labeling is voluntary for itmes from the BE food list with no detectable rDNA or highly refined ingredients from BE food list: oils, sugars, modified food starch.  Food items that are exempt from labeling include: organic, incidental additives, animal products (meat, poultry, milk, eggs), animal feed, or below 5% threshold for adventitious presence.  Simple, right?  NO!

Brenda gave a great example of where confusion can lie.  Where an ingredient lies in the ingredient list determines whether labeling is mandatory, voluntary, or exempt!  A soup with order of ingredients: broth, corn, chicken, etc. is subject to BE disclosure because chicken is 3rd ingredient- not the second after broth.  However–soup with chicken as 2nd ingredient (broth, chicken, corn, etc.) is exempt from BE disclosure.  Another example was breaded chicken nuggets with ingredients of chicken breast, breadcrumbs (wheat flour, corn flour, etc.) is not subject to BE disclosure because chicken is the most predominant ingredient- it doesn’t matter if corn flour is from BE corn.  

The last section of her presentation was about Standards of Identity (SOI).  SOI includes required and optional ingredients, may specify manufacturing procedures, may include added nutrients and amounts, and may include specific methods of analysis.  There are 280 SOI foods (37% of the foods are dairy items!).  They were established  in the 1938 Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act.  The purpose of SOI is to  promote honesty and fair dealing in the interest of consumers, prevent food fraud (must meet minimum level of a valuable ingredient), to create a “level playing field” for food producers, ensure products meet consumers’ nutritional and expectations/needs.  A food is deemed misbranded if it does not conform to the definition and standard or it must be labeled “imitation”.  In March 2018 the FDA determined modernizing SOIs as an important step to update for technology advancements, promote innovation and provide flexibility to produce more healthful foods.

Brenda acknowledged that these new labeling regulations are likely to cause some confusion among consumers.  For instance, right now the old label and the new label can be found on products on shelves until July 2020.  One might grab a pint of ice cream and see two different serving sizes and think one is more “healthy” than the other.  She closed with saying that as consumers are now less familiar with agricultural practices, it’s becoming more important  to help consumers know “what is in my food”.  It is our role as food and consumer science professionals to help!