Oser Communications Group

Restaurant Daily News May 24

Issue link: http://osercommunicationsgroup.uberflip.com/i/679179

Contents of this Issue


Page 46 of 127

R e s t a u r a n t D a i l y N e w s 4 7 Tu e s d a y, M a y 2 4 , 2 0 1 6 KIND ASKS FDA TO RECONSIDER LABEL REQUIREMENTS By Richard Thompson KIND bars are healthy and the Food and Drug Administration should allow the labels to reflect that, according to KIND, LLC. Last year, the FDA sent a warning letter to KIND stating that the company's labels on four of its products were mis- leading, resulting in label changes to comply with FDA regulations. In December, though, KIND sent a citizen's petition to the FDA requesting a new look at how the term "healthy" is defined. While the FDA reviews the company's request, KIND asserts that by updating the definition of "healthy" to reflect current dietary and nutritional understanding, not only will its products warrant the use of the term, but con- sumers won't continue to be confused about what foods are truly healthy to eat. "Under FDA's current application of food labeling regulations, whether or not a food can be labeled 'healthy' is based on specific nutrient levels in the food rather than its overall nutritional quality," reads KIND's citizen petition. "This is despite the fact that current science no longer supports those standards." Said Joe Cohen, Senior Vice President of Communication at KIND, "We're proud of the ingredients in our products, which contain wholesome ingre- dients like fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains." He added, "We will continue to work with the FDA to ensure our products are in compliance with the regulations." "Without commenting specifically on the KIND citizen petition," said Doug Balentine, Ph. D., Director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at the FDA, "The FDA recognizes that a great deal of scientific research has been con- ducted since the regulation defining the term 'healthy' was developed and we understand the interest in potentially redefining the term." The agency's ulti- mate determination will be based on the reevaluation of food labeling terms as additional scientific research and other data becomes available based on public health impact. For the last 20 years, the definition of what's healthy has been changing as more recent research shows that nutri- tional content is not the only indicator in determining what a healthy food is. Scientific evidence found in the U.S. Government's "2010 Dietary Guidelines" and the "Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee" – both of which KIND heav- ily refers to in its citizen petition – con- cludes that eating a healthy diet is consti- tuted by the maintenance of caloric intake for a healthy weight and that a healthy eating pattern emphasizes nutri- ent-dense foods and vegetables like fruit, nuts and whole grains. According to KIND, the best way to rectify consumers' confusion over nutri- tional content and healthful qualities of a product would be to create a dietary guidelines statement on the packaging that informs on the "usefulness of a food, or a category of foods, in maintaining healthy dietary practices" without mak- ing an explicit nutrient content claim or a statement about a particular nutrient. Until a decision is made, KIND says that a "dietary guidance statement" from the FDA is in order so that food compa- nies can better label their products with information that indicates the usefulness of a food "that is not subject to the requirements in FDA's nutrient content claim regulations unless it is an implied nutrient content claim." The FDA appears to disagree, and Balentine said that there is more to label- ing restrictions than how one company is affected by them. For now, companies need to continue following the standards laid out by the FDA so that the term means the same thing from product to product. Said Balentine, "That's the only way that consumers can trust what's on the label." CALIFORNIA OLIVE RANCH GROWING AMERICANS' TASTE FOR OLIVE OIL By Lorrie Baumann Silicon Valley technocrat Gregg Kelley had a nice little career going for himself in 2006. He'd taken two dot-coms public and settled into a consulting career in which he could choose the clients he wanted to advise on how to succeed the way he had. He ditched it all when the owners of California Olive Ranch came to him and said they'd learned how to make a good product and wanted his help to scale up their operation to compete in the national market. Eight years later, he has no regrets. "It was just the right time. The own- ers of the company had learned what they needed to learn and were looking for a CFO [chief financial officer]. I was inter- ested in their approach to the industry," he said. "I really liked the people who owned the company, liked the opportuni- ty. It checked that box for me. I took a pretty significant pay cut to join the com- pany. It was a leap of faith. It was right place, right people, right time." "It's been a great opportunity. A change of direction. I wanted to lead a life where I could look at myself in the mirror," he adds. "There were two things I wanted to do: be a good husband and a good father and have a positive impact on the world. I get to do that now.... Those are the simple rules to live my life by." Kelley is now California Olive Ranch's Chief Executive Officer, and the company has been registering sales growth rates of 30 to 50 percent per year for a compound annual growth rate exceeding 45 percent over the past eight years. California Olive Ranch has become the U.S.'s largest domestic olive oil producer: in terms of consumer sales, it's the #4 brand in the grocery channel, the No. 1 brand in the specialty/gourmet channel and the #3 brand in the natural channel, according to SPINS. With just under 15,000 acres planted with olive trees now, Kelley is actively looking for another 3,000 more acres to plant this year to feed rapidly growing consumer demand for extra virgin olive oils from California. A few factors have combined to drive that growth, according to Kelley. Americans are becoming more aware of the virtues of high-quality olive oils, and improved technology has allowed California Olive Ranch to provide a better product at an accessible price point. "California has had an olive industry for hundreds of years, but it stayed small until technology got bet- ter. The ability to hit a price point that makes it accessible is what accelerates that learning curve," Kelley said. "You break this barrier of accessibility for a larger number of people. California has made the norm become a much higher quality product. The American con- sumer, time and time again, has a proven preference for higher-quality products. Wine was an example of that. We're seeing it in cheese, in choco- late.... We are participating in the same evolution." Kelley is determined to propel Americans along the learning curve by putting the taste of California Olive Ranch oil on as many tongues as possi- ble. He says that letting people smell the aroma of a freshly opened bottle of good extra virgin olive oil and then letting them taste the oil and feel the warmth of it in their throats is all it takes to inspire them to want that experience again, espe- cially if they can have it for a price pre- mium of just a few dollars a bottle. "What makes us different is the ability to provide a much higher quality experience regularly," he said. "The vast majority of the oil we produce would win awards around the world." "Great olive oils add to the experi- ence of a good meal," he said. "That was the 'Aha!' for me that was the final hook that got me involved in the industry and got me into California Olive Ranch." FDA THREATENS TO WOUND SALT BUSINESS Hawaiian red salt and charcoal black salt could be disappearing from interstate sales because the Food and Drug Administration is calling the red clay in Hawaiian salt and the charcoal in black salt adulterants. With their businesses in jeopardy, salt producers are confused and angry about the potential losses if the FDA decides to prohibit them from sell- ing their salt across state lines. The FDA is saying that red alea salt gets color from added clay, and since the clay is not an approved color additive, the salts are considered adulterated. The FDA has regulations specific to this issue, stating in the Code of Federal Regulations that even if an additive's pri- mary purpose is not as a color, it can only be considered exempt if "… any color imparted is clearly unimportant insofar as appearance, value or marketability, or consumer acceptability is concerned." Naomi Novotny, President of SaltWorks, questions whether this guidance even applies to her product. "If you're using it for pork, that clay really seals the mois- ture in," says Novotny. "The clay has a functional use. The way I read that docu- ment, it doesn't really apply to Hawaiian salt." The addition of clay has been con- sidered by some to be equivalent to the natural colors that occur in other salts. "I buy French gray salt which is scraped off a salt lake. The gray color comes from the clay at the bottom of the lake bed. I scrape the salt, and it is not purely white in color, and [it is] according to this doc- ument perfectly fine," asserts Brett Cramer, Vice President of The Spice Lab. Charcoal, the additive that makes black salt black, is now also being con- sidered an adulterant. Cramer wonders why the FDA requires another approval for an additive that is already being legal- ly consumed. "If it's a problem with the carbon, everyone, including my dog who ate too much chocolate last year, would be dead right now," says Cramer. While charcoal has been tested for use in med- ical applications, the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety is still required to review charcoal in its capacity as a color additive. A great deal of speculation has sur- rounded the FDA's sudden attention on these salts. "I don't know why," says Novotny. "Especially since everything comes through as food grade." The FDA declined to comment on what prompted the guidance. One prevalent theory is that knock- off products have made their way into the market with inferior ingredients. Another belief is that a major salt producer brought it to the FDA's attention as a business tactic. "We make infused salts with spices in them. They're colored. Should they be outlawed? In the future, should the only thing we sell be pure white salt from two companies?" Cramer speculates. It is unclear whether the FDA is going to enforce this guidance in the near future. A representative of the FDA wants to make clear that the products are only considered adulterants because they have not been evaluated, saying "We encour- age people who are interested to go through the petition process. There's also guidance on the actual petition, in order to make this as easy a process as possible." The review process for a color additive generally takes 90 days, and carries a list- ing fee of $3,000. As of mid-November, no petitions for review for alea clay or charcoal have been submitted. Until fur- ther action or enforcement takes place, Saltworks and other companies are con- tinuing to sell red alea and black charcoal salts. "We've been working with our cus- tomers and letting them know if they have concerns at all about the salt," says Novotny. "We know this is safe."

Articles in this issue

view archives of Oser Communications Group - Restaurant Daily News May 24