Mérieux NutriSciences and Biofortis are excited to welcome our new Principal Scientist, Oliver Chen, PhD, formerly the Interim Director of the Antioxidants Research Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University. Oliver is a great addition to our science team, assisting our research sponsors with their clinical nutrition projects. We sat down with Oliver for a quick Q&A to pick his brain on some important topics in the industry.
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The evolving regulatory and consumer demands for “healthy” products with “clean labels” are challenging food and beverage manufacturers in North America. How can sugar, sodium and fat levels be reduced in products in order to meet public health goals, yet the products still retain a “crave-able” flavor and texture to satisfy consumer expectations?

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Where have we been, and where are we headed?  

These are the two questions I ask myself every Friday evening before I close the lid of my laptop. Lately, I’ve had to sieve out a lot of foreign matter to get to the pure kernels of truth.

The food industry is just that – an industry. As such, there is an ongoing struggle between sticking to convention while also keeping pace with changes in resources, technology, perhaps most importantly, consumer trends. Yeah, easier said than done.

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When you take a look at a packaged food in the United States and compare it to one from Canada, it’s more than just the dual languages that are displayed that make the Canadian market unique from their southern friends.  Let’s discuss a few of these not so obvious differences that you need to consider when producing or marketing your product in Canada.

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How important is pet food safety to the average American? The American Pet Products Association has estimated that 70% of U.S. households own a pet, including more than 100 million households with at least one dog or cat. In recent years, consumer demand for premium and specialty pet food products has fueled a spike in U.S. sales of pet food to nearly $30 billion annually. Due to the growing consumer demands for high-quality pet food and an increasingly complex pet food supply chain, it seems the safety of animal food has never been more important.

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Although it initially felt like the date may never come, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  compliance date for the menu labeling regulation went into effect on May 7, 2018. Hooray! Restaurants and food service establishments are now required to add calorie counts to their menus and menu boards. Nutrition information can be found both on the restaurant’s website and within the establishment to provide customers with more transparency on the nutrition information for the menu items they love to eat.

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Understanding the shelf life of your product plays a critical role in protecting your brand, but the way a food’s “best by” date is determined depends highly on the attributes of your individual product. When a food manufacturer contacts me about running a shelf life study, I typically ask a series of questions to help determine which methods are the most relevant – what is the pH and water activity? How is the product processed and packaged? Is it stored ambient, refrigerated or frozen? If you don’t have answers yet, don’t sweat it! We can walk you through what we need to know.

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