Category: Wine & Beverage

At Yeast We Can Mold the Future

The food industry surely sees its share of yeast and mold concerns.   Both are relentless aggressors in food deterioration and spoilage that: “can invade and grow on virtually any type of food at any time; they invade crops such as grains, nuts, beans, and fruits in fields before harvesting and during storage. They also grow on processed foods and food mixturespetrifilm.”

Not only can the presence of yeast and mold compromise your product but they sometimes also make people sick.

So, how do we control unwanted yeast and mold when it comes to our food supply?   Obviously, industry innovations targeted at inhibiting yeast and mold growth have done a great deal for quality assurance and producers’ bottom lines.

Yet, peace of mind might be much more difficult to come by than a piece of moldy food in your operation.   Even with such preventative measures in place, yeast and mold still cause issues and are wont to show up anywhere at any time.  This provides a great deal of frustration to food producers, as their equipment, the facility, and the foods produced are all susceptible.  Consumers, naturally, can grow weary when yeast and mold compromise their latest purchase at the supermarket.

Thankfully, the industry continues to research methods to minimize the waste and possible ill health effects generated by yeast and mold issues.   For example, 3M recently introduced a new line of defense in this battle against yeast and mold: 3M™ Petrifilm™ Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plates.

Instead of waiting on traditional agar methods, which may take up to five days to incubate, the new Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plates provide results in 48-hours, allowing for more oversight of incoming ingredients and finished products leaving food facilities.  You can check out 3M’s Petrifilm™ Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plates in 50-count boxes here or 500-count cases here.

Nelson-Jameson is continuously searching out new methods and products, like the 3M Petrifilm™ Rapid Yeast and Mold Count Plates, to ensure food safety and integrity.  Keep checking back here for more updates on food safety and quality issues, including a host of innovative solutions that target food quality and safety concerns.

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What You Need to Know: References for Potential New Food Industry Operations

Are you one of our hobbyist customers that makes your own cheese, brews your own beer, etc. for non-retail use?   If you are one of these small operators/hobbyists and you have a passion for your product(s), it might be possible that you have thought about going into business for yourself. Going from personal use to public consumption does take a lot of effort.  It can be very easy to get overwhelmed by the number of rules and regulations that are out there at the federal, state, and local level.

This might seem like a lot to take on, but there numerous resources out there to assist in the process. For instance, there is a resource that gives an overview of federal regulatory requirements to keep in mind if you find yourself considering opening a food business. The FDA’s “How to Start a Food Business,” “provides concise information and directs readers to additional relevant information and publicly available resources.” You can check out information on documentation, inspections, registration, etc. To take a look at this brief overview and to find further information on the subject click here.

At the state and local level, it is important to find the regulations and standards that apply to you and your operation. Click here to track down the information that is pertinent to you.

Finally, remember that Nelson-Jameson’s food industry experts are there to help you get what you need to run an efficient and safe operation. Give us a call at 1-800-826-8302 today to get started.

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Fluid Milk: Market and Generational Differences Are Influencing Consumption

Milk GlassThe publication of the USDA’s “Why Are Americans Consuming Less Fluid Milk?   A Look at Generational Differences in Intake Frequency” this May has lead to frank discussion in the dairy industry. Citing a ‘“slow continuous shift downward’ in milk drinking since the 1940s,” the report analyzes the causes and potential effects of this downward trend. The trend has been especially felt significantly in the last several decades: “Since 1970 alone, per capita fluid milk consumption has fallen from 0.96 cup-equivalents to about 0.61 cup-equivalents per day”.

So, what is going on here?  The authors point to several issues that have energized this trend including the following: frequency of consumption, a diversified marketplace, and generational differences. In regards to frequency, Americans “have become less apt to drink fluid milk at mealtimes, especially with midday and nighttime meals, reducing the total number of consumption occasions.” Part of the reason the frequency has decreased is due to an expanding array of beverage options that are out there for the average consumer.

Milk has been displaced by the consumption of energy drinks, sodas, juices, tea, coffee, etc. The current market offers a wide selection of beverages, choices, and purported claims. For younger consumers this variety and choice is something they have always known, unlike older consumers who remember fewer choices and a lack of access to Taurine-infused energy drinks, iced teas, iced coffee drinks, chocolate soy milk, etc. Continue reading

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“Hot” Foods for 2013

Food-Safety-300x300It’s the beginning of a new year, and most Americans welcomed 2013 with resolutions, contemplations and a glass of bubbly. The food processing industry, however, has its own way of welcoming a new year—with an abundance of research-driven food trend predictions. Forecasting what will be in our refrigerators and on our plates is crucial to our customers’ success. But it’s also critical to our success as a distributor to those food processors. Anticipating customer needs and understanding the end consumer makes us a more responsive, solution-oriented channel-partner—thereby cementing our value as an integral part of the supply chain. Interpreting these trends also helps our company to grow by discerning which customers and industry segments may be poised for growth.

Trade organizations, specialty publications, news outlets, consultants and even the United Nations (it’s the year of quinoa—haven’t you heard?!?) have taken stabs at predicting what foods are going to be hot in 2013. However, the most reliable information seems to come from our own customers. Nestle USA, for example, prides itself on operating the largest research and development network of any food company in the world. Below, is an edited list of oft-repeated food trends for 2013:

The Kids are Alright. The emphasis on better nutrition for the youngest consumers is growing. Look for whole grain added to kids’ meals and more sophisticated pre-packaged food offerings targeted toward children. But, just as children’s tastes are becoming more cultivated, it seems that adults long for the days of unrefined comfort food. Watch for comebacks by traditional childhood favorites such as pot pie, burgers and casseroles.

Location, Location, Location. Given a lack of standard regulations, the organic distinction is dubious at best. What is a concerned consumer to do? Buy local, eat local—the less distance food has to travel to your plate often cuts down on both contaminates and preservatives. 2013 will see a strong uptick in consumer demand for locally-sourced produce, meats and seafood. To save money and meet demand, look for food processors to adopt a “make it where you sell it” production model—more money will be invested in regional production of both frozen and prepared foods to ensure freshness and convenience.

Eat Your Vegetables. No longer satisfied playing bit parts on dinner plates, veggies will take on a starring role in 2013. As food processors continue to make progress in increasing the nutritional value of food, vegetables will champion the main course. In particular, potatoes are expected to enjoy some time in the spotlight. According to the U.S. potato industry, potato consumption has increased over 40% in the past year.

It’s a Small World After All. More than 85% of the U.S.’s population growth is coming from multicultural population segments. Look for food processors to concentrate on connecting with consumers’ ethnicity, as research shows that family food traditions are important to 80% of the multicultural population. The U.S. market for Hispanic food and beverages is expected to increase 30% over the next four years, and traditional Asian dishes are poised to become the next big thing in comfort food. Currently, the top ethnic food choices among all American consumers are Mexican and Italian.

Well, Isn’t That Special? The specialty food market has experienced big growth over the last year, with sales jumping 11% in just the last 6 months. Specialty foods are defined as foods of premium quality that are often made by small or local manufacturers. They often have ethnic, exotic or distinct flavors. The top specialty food categories are chocolate, olive oil/specialty oils and cheese/yogurt/kefir. Though currently third in specialty food sales, the cheese/yogurt/kefir category has experienced the most growth over the past year. Greek yogurt has enjoyed triple-digit increases in sales over the past year, and almost 800,000 people on Facebook list “Cheese” as an interest. Apparently, the cheese no longer stands alone. Continue reading

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Labeling Labs: The ISO/IEC 17025 Accreditation Process

In the food industry and in food safety, accuracy is key. To be able to sample, test, and conduct other lab-related operations on-site or via a third-party lab, is no longer the territory of just large operations. Businesses like small cheese makers, craft breweries, and countless other kinds of small and medium size operations depend on labs for quality control and quality assurance purposes.

Due to this demand for accuracy in testing by regulators, consumers, etc., some businesses have found themselves somewhat jumping into the deep end of laboratory science. A recent article in Food Quality highlighted ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation and indicated to labs that becoming accredited was the “first and most important step in setting your laboratory apart from some of your competition.”

More than an impressive, George Lucas-like combination of letters and numbers, ISO/IEC 17025 is an accreditation process food industry interests may want to know more a bit about. The process was originally developed by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission. It essentially is a process in which a lab is certified as being “competent to carry out specific tasks” with valid and accurate systems. In industries that demand accurate testing, like the medical field and the food industry, accreditation might be an attractive feature for companies looking to work with a third-party lab. The accrediting process is carried out by several organizations: some for-profit, and others being non-profit.

Becoming accredited is often problematic for labs in terms of cost. Fee structures vary depending on the accrediting body and the accreditations sought. Regardless, labs have to foot the bill for many costs such as the following: application fees, annual fees, report fees, assessments, and travel expenses for the assessors. These costs, however, can mean increased business for the labs, as the accreditation certification may pull in more businesses.

As food industry interests contend with greater regulations, international regulations, and federal regulations, there are some difficult choices to be made. Figuring out how something like accreditation might fit in with your company’s QA/QC may prove to be difficult due to the cost of doing business with an accredited lab, but the investment may also be one that will pay off in the long run, with a greater assurance of testing accuracy/reporting. The issue is further complicated when choosing a lab, in that there also is the possibility that some labs may be claiming false accreditation.

Hence, for operations large, small and everywhere in between, some homework needs to be done on how best to choose a lab and how to work closely with a lab to ensure QA/QC. How much does accreditation mean, how much will it cost you to work/not work with such a lab, and what level of QA/QC is possible, are all discussions labs and food industry operations are having. In the era of the Food Safety Modernization Act, some homework can go a long way in establishing a good relationship with a lab, or in establishing standards for in-house lab operations.

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