Monthly Archives: August 2014

Measuring Water Activity

j0444789Did you know that water activity is not the same thing as moisture content? According to the UC-Davis Dairy Research and Information Center: “Although moist foods are likely to have greater water activity than are dry foods, this is not always so; in fact a variety of foods may have exactly the same moisture content and yet have quite different water activities.”

This level of activity can have a significant impact on your product as: “Water in food which is not bound to food molecules can support the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds (fungi). The term water activity (aw) refers to this unbound water.”

A common application of water activity measurement is the predicting of product shelf-life and stability especially in foods not relying on refrigerated storage. And for product that will ultimately be refrigerated, water activity measurement can be useful in production processes.

Monitoring and control of water activity in combination with pH and salt can effectively increase product safety and stability. With this in mind, if your lab does not currently test for water activity it may be helpful to add this useful tool to your SOP. To learn more about water activity click here for the full piece from UC-Davis or here for further information from Clemson University.  Also, be sure to check out our water activity offerings from Nelson-Jameson by clicking here.

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Change is Good

preview_white_bigHeraclitus once said, “Nothing is permanent but change”. This is especially true in business. Constant adaptation of strategy and processes help us to operate more purposefully while serving our customers more efficiently.

That said, while Nelson-Jameson is always open to new ideas and procedures, we certainly don’t subscribe to a mantra of “changing for the sake of change”. When we alter the way we do things, rest-assured that there is a thoughtful reason behind our decision.

In this case, the catalyst for change was you. We listened to your feedback, and realized that could use a face-lift. So, we went to work improving our website’s layout and increasing its functionality, while ensuring that its integrity as the virtual source for sanitary processing needs remained intact.

Some of the new features we’ve designed to enhance your user-experience include:

  • Enhanced Search Capabilities   Search results are grouped by category, and can be narrowed down within sub-searches so you can find exactly what you need when you need it.
  • Expanded Categories   We’ve doubled the amount of product categories in order to make navigating faster and simpler. Narrower, more-intuitive category navigation makes your job easier.
  • Product Quick View   View a product’s basic information in a pop-up box without having to visit the product’s main detail page.
  • Standard/Repeat Order Capabilities   Shopping lists can now be made, edited and saved. Lists can be easily added to your shopping cart for quick, repeated and/or ongoing ordering.
  • Shopping List Sharing   Easily email any saved shopping list or shopping cart with an optional personalized message. Each product on your shared list will include the price and an image link to that product’s detail page on, so that your recipient will know exactly what you’re purchasing.
  • Quick Order Pad   Use the new “Paste All” tab to paste product SKUs and quantities to your Quick Order Pad, and then add them all at once to your shopping cart.
  • Multiple Device Functionality   Access from your phone, tablet or laptop without losing functionality. We’re now touchscreen-friendly, too.

We kept the wide range of products and customer service that you’ve come to expect, but tried to make your web experience easier with a more user-friendly format, intuitive navigation and increased ordering capabilities. We really like the improvements that we’ve made, and we hope that you do too. Look for the newly-designed to debut soon. As always, let us know what you think. We’re listening.

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Tech Tip: Hose Supports

Extend the life of your sanitary hoses by purchasing hose supports! Prevent exterior wear and fitting damage by using hose supports to keep hoses off the ground and next to the ends.

We stock most sizes and can get other styles if you want something specific. Options include bright colors to help raise awareness and prevent tripping and adjustability to accommodate different hoses.

Shop Hose Supports

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Crouching Carrots, Hidden Spinach

Brace yourself—you’re in for a shock. The “Food Pyramid” of our childhood is no more. “What?!?,” you wonder aloud. “That ambiguous, theoretical nutritive guideline is defunct? To which geometric graphic will I turn for my daily nutritional suggestions now?”

myplate_greenWell, never fear my diet dilettante, the nourishment experts at the USDA have replaced the familiar triangular doctrine of food intake with a straight-forward graphic of a dinner plate. “My Plate” depicts a plate setting divided into 5 food groups: Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, Fruits and Dairy. The message is pretty clear – this is what your plate should look like at every meal if you want to optimize your health. Oh, and, no, you’re not imagining things – half of the plate IS vegetables and fruit. Basically, the USDA is sending a not-so-subtle message that it’s time to buff up on “Meatless Monday” recipes.

As a new mom, this message hits pretty close to home. My daughter is almost a year old, and increasing her intake of solid foods every day. Right now, her palate is pretty malleable. There’s no need for the hard-sell where vegetables are concerned. I mean, she’s just discovered opposable thumbs. Plying various veggies on my (literally) captive audience of one isn’t the most difficult part of my day. However, even at 11 months, I am starting to see food preferences emerge – cheese, yogurt and bread strong among them. It doesn’t take a giant leap of thought to imagine that these food propensities will only grow to be more pronounced and may soon edge out the vegetable category altogether. So, what’s a responsible, health-conscious mother to do?

I am clearly not alone in this dilemma. American’s overall consumption of fruits and vegetables has been stuck at less than half of the recommended amount for quite some time. The statistics are worse among children under the age of 18. Only about 16% of kids are meeting the government’s vegetable and fruit guidelines, with fried potatoes accounting for approximately a third of vegetable consumption and juice making up more than a third of fruit consumption.

It appears that the tide may be turning however, if food processors have anything to say about it. Two main pro-vegetable strategies are emerging among food manufacturers. The first is to make vegetables more attractive and user-friendly. Examples include pre-prepped fresh vegetables, such as fancy-cut baby carrots or shaved brussels sprouts. The other approach is to actually make veggies “stealth” by slipping them into other more widely-accepted foods, such as casseroles and baked goods.  Along those lines, Green Giant recently introduced “Veggie Blend-Ins” – prepackaged pureed vegetables that can be added to less-healthful foods. Similarly, Kraft added pureed, freeze-dried cauliflower to a variety of its Macaroni & Cheese Dinner and Chef Boyardee has increased the amount of tomato in some of its canned pasta.

Each of these strategies is decidedly different – one is rooted in good-intentioned deception, and the other speaks to our busy lifestyles while appealing to our fondness for the aesthetically-pleasing. I am happy that the food industry is actively tackling the kid vs. veggie challenge, and am sure that I will be practicing both approaches with my daughter. Because something tells me that there will be no shortage of grilled cheese sandwiches in my future – grilled cheese with veggies, that is.

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