Note: This is the second installment in a three-part series. Part I can be found here; Part III will appear on April 25th.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard is now the law of the land. From a consumer’s perspective, there are now federal regulations requiring food products containing bioengineered/GMO ingredients to disclose this on their packaging. From an industry perspective, the potential implications, impact, and costs could be significant. Mandatory disclosure could play out in a number of ways.  There are, however, numerous paths to exemption.

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Note: This is the first in a three-part series. Part II will appear on April 12th. Part III will appear on April 25th.

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has issued its final rule governing bioengineered food and food ingredients. The law outlines the businesses, products, and high-risk inputs covered under the regulations, as well as the criteria for exemption. Yes, there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s all about disclosure. 

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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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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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During my 30-year career in the sensory and consumer research industry, I’ve found that some of the most misused and misunderstood tests by food manufacturers are difference tests, which determine if the attributes of two food products are different. One common difference test is a triangle test, which presents panelists in a study with three different samples to taste. Two of the samples are from the same product and one is from a different product. The test determines if the panelists are able to pick out the sample of the different product from the three presented. Continue Reading

When consumers make a trip to the grocery store, increasingly they are choosing private label products over similar brand name products. Over a two year period from 2013 to 2015, sales of store-brand products in supermarkets rose by 2% to total $62.5 billion in sales, according to P.L.M.A.’s 2016 Private Label Yearbook. Offering strong private label products to consumers equals increased sales and customer loyalty for retailers.

Following this trend, retailer interest in improving and monitoring private label quality has also grown exponentially. Retailers are focusing on ways to increase private label quality, starting with how they choose suppliers and following it up with a robust quality monitoring program. These monitoring programs serve to prevent customer complaints and create customer loyalty to the brand owned by that retailer.   Continue Reading

This year, the Chicago Section IFT Symposium and Suppliers’ Night focused entirely on the hot topic of Clean Labels. During one popular session, a moderator asked a panel of consumers several questions regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) undefined term, “clean label,” and marketing claims surrounding the term such as natural, which has also not been defined by the FDA. Research from Mintel was presented demonstrating how claims like, “no additives,” “no preservatives” or “non-GMO,” are becoming more commonplace. Below are four key takeaways our experts found most valuable from Chicago IFT 2017. Continue Reading