In September, I attended the Society of Sensory Professionals (SSP) annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. Although I have been involved with this organization for a few years, this was my first SSP annual meeting. While it has taken me some time to write this summary (cough, cough), it was a great experience and I wanted to share some of the most impactful takeaways for other sensory scientists who may be looking to attend in 2019. 

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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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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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An integral part of choosing your ingredient suppliers is verifying the safety and quality of the product they’re sending you. Perhaps you work in a quality assurance or food safety role at an FDA-registered facility. Perhaps your facility’s hazard analysis states the ingredient in question is associated with a hazard that requires a supply chain-applied control. Do you know what to do if you’re volunteered to conduct the onsite audit of a potential ingredient supplier? Maybe you’re an ASQ Certified Quality Auditor, but you’ve never actually audited a supplier before. You may be panicking a bit… wondering where to start, yes? Of course you are!

To help with this process, I’ve broken down the seven steps you can take to ensure the successful audit of an ingredient supplier: Continue Reading

An Ever-Expanding List

California’s Safe Drinking Water & Toxic Enforcement Act, known more commonly as Proposition 65, is a law adopted by California voters in 1986. The goal of the new regulation was, to not only protect citizens from potential health hazards in water, but also protect them from exposure to any cancer-causing substances, in general. Since its enactment over three decades ago, the list of chemicals within the legislation has grown to include nearly 1,000 entries. The regulation requires businesses to publish a “clear and reasonable” warning prior to knowingly and intentionally exposing any consumer in California to a listed chemical. On food products, this warning must be placed somewhere on the food label. Keep in mind, Proposition 65 allows for a one-year grace period from the date a chemical is added to the list before a warning is required. Continue Reading

A recall is a potential source of anxiety for any food manufacturer, but, if conducted effectively, recalls can be an invaluable tool for protecting a company’s reputation, brand image and sales. However, a recent government study has identified deficiencies in the food recall processes of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has prompted the agency to propose new policies for improving the oversight, communication and implementation of its recall process.   Continue Reading

The infant formula market is growing rapidly as consumers decide to use powdered formulas as a supplement to, or in place of, breastfeeding. Formula typically serves as an infant’s sole source of nutrition, which poses unique challenges to infant food manufacturers. Because it serves as one of the only foods an infant consumes, it is vital to safeguard and protect infant formula against potential adulteration issues, whether that be physical, chemical or microbiological. Infant formula also contains more nutritional components than traditional foods, so the supply chain tends to be longer and more global than other commodities due to the procurement of many ingredients. Continue Reading