Tag Archives: food security

Allergens & Protecting Consumers

allergensMay is Food Allergy Month and this week is Allergen Awareness Week. For the approximate 15 million Americans that have some sort of food allergy, it can be an exhausting task to grocery shop. Each aisle might feel a bit like a minefield. Carefully negotiating the vast array of products to ensure they can find the right foods for themselves and their families may bring stress and trepidation.

On the production side, it can also be daunting for food producers to think about successfully handling allergens in their production process, including the possibility of cross-contamination. Daunting as it may be, lives depend on food processors getting a handle on food allergen concerns and ensuring their products are labeled correctly. Consumers depend on producers to help them negotiate the minefield of allergens and deliver them to the checkout with a sense of security and peace that they have purchased the right food for themselves and their loved ones.

A good deal of emphasis is placed on the so-called “Big 8” allergens: milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy. Nelson-Jameson stocks a variety of allergen testing supplies that are important parts to an operation’s needs. Recently, Neogen just released the new, long awaited, Reveal Multi-Tree Nut Allergen Test Kit that tests for cashews, pecans, almonds, pistachio, hazelnuts and walnuts.

At Nelson-Jameson we are always here to help give you peace of mind when dealing with the allergen issues that face us, so that your customers can feel some peace of mind, too.

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Healthy People, Healthy Products, Healthy Planet

earth-day-foodToday is Earth Day, and our blog usually focuses around Nelson-Jameson’s social and environmental sustainability practices. This year, however, we’re taking a “big picture” approach, and exploring the overall food industry’s sustainability outlook. We’ll take a closer look at the ways in which food manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers are taking steps to increase sustainability and reduce waste in the supply chain.

So, what is sustainability? Well, in this context it means that a business’s industrial practices and strategies create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony while permitting the fulfillment of social and economic needs of present and future generations. For the food industry, sustainability is a major strategic issue for the entire food supply chain—agriculture, manufacturing, packing and distribution.  With an expected 60% increase in global food demand by the year 2050, the food industry is facing increasing pressure regarding raw materials, ingredient sourcing and food production in a competitive environment of constant supply chain optimization and control. Given the circumstances, achieving sustainable practices seems pretty daunting. So, what can be done?

One of the largest and most popular initiatives involves focusing on food waste. Food waste is food that is discarded or unusable, and it occurs at all levels of the supply chain. An estimated 40% of all food produced in the United States is never eaten. General food waste solutions focus on three overall strategies—Reduce, Recover and Recycle. Food waste can be reduced by improving product development, storage, packaging, procurement, marketing, labeling and cooking methods. It can be recovered by connecting potential food donors (food service providers, food retailers and food processors) to hunger-relief organizations. Finally, food waste can be recycled to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy and natural fertilizers. In addition to the positive environmental and social implications, managing and reducing food waste is also advantageous to the food industry’s overall financial health. Food waste is estimated to cost the commercial food service industry in the US approximately $100 billion per year, US consumers approximately $43 billion per year and global food processors approximately $750 billion per year.

Another way in which the food industry is increasing sustainability is through strengthening the links between industry and agriculture. Agribusiness is said to build sustainable food systems by providing more nutritious, healthy and foods and assuring increased food security. Many food manufacturers are reevaluating their ingredient and raw material sourcing, and are finding that building direct relationships with local agribusiness is efficient from both a cost and energy standpoint.

Using environmentally-responsible packaging is another example of a strategy in which many sustainably-minded members of the food industry are engaging. Americans recycle at only an average rate of 34.5%, so the majority of food packaging ends up in landfills or as street litter. Therefore, there’s a general perception that the onus to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling is on the makers of packaged foods and beverages. Although packaging only makes up a small part of a product’s environmental impact, packaging heavily influences buying decisions—especially those of sustainably-minded consumers. Therefore, many manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce plastic and paper waste in their packaging, while finding ways to make it easier for consumers to recycle, reuse or compost that packaging.

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