New Regulatory Initiatives Will Shape Food Expo Offerings
BY: CATHERINE ADAMS HUTT
This past year brought in a host of new policy and regulatory measures for the food industry, and suppliers to the industry have been quick to respond with tools and support. The Food and Drug Administration released arguably the most important final rules emanating from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), for risk-based preventive controls for human food and parallel rules for animal feed, including pet food. The regulatory agency also issued the final rule for the most sweeping changes to nutrition labeling since the 1990s, which brings the issue of added sugar to the forefront for the industry and consumers. In addition, we saw the release of the much anticipated Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, which encouraged consumers to restrict specific negative nutrients and brought other positive nutrients top of mind. Meanwhile, consumers continue their march toward minimally processed foods and more transparency about genetic engineering. Expect to find a variety of new products and programs related to all of the preceding on the IFT16 food expo floor this year.
- Food Safety Plans. FSMA preventive control rules for human and animal feed require documented food safety plans that include thorough hazard analyses and preventive control plans. The sanitary transport final rule also requires new procedures and documentation for food carriers that change the paradigm for many companies not familiar with these “HACCP-like” requirements. Look for service vendors who can support the design and implementation of new rules and for software providers that offer tools to support the documentation of plans and ease the burden of inspection and audit requirements.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020. Every five years, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Dept. of Health and Human Services are mandated to update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This document guides policy makers and directs new government feeding programs, including school lunches. This eighth edition of the Dietary Guidelines once again draws attention to added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium in the diet, but it omits warnings about cholesterol, changing the pattern of consumer and policy advice spanning two decades. The emphasis is placed on healthy eating patterns characterized by colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and low-fat and fat-free dairy products. Protein is emphasized, but the focus is on sourcing protein from plant sources. Manufacturers need to be mindful about providing complete proteins to consumers. Look for novel plant-based complete protein providers at the food expo.
- Nutrition Labeling Reform. FDA released its final rule for revision of nutrition and supplement fact labels. Highlights include a refreshed fact panel design that will prompt revisions for all product labels. The list of required nutrients has been updated to include vitamin D and potassium, which will drive testing for these nutrients’ labeling. Also, there is a requirement to label “added sugars” and not just “total sugars,” which will prompt label changes, but more importantly, will drive a search for alternative flavor enhancers that will modify the sweetness of food products without added or with limited added sugar.
- Verified. The trend for clean label and minimally processed foods continues. There will be services to support product development for clean label and alternatives to genetically modified ingredients. Look for other service providers who can help verify ingredients are what they are reported to be and are free of allergens or verified to contain only those allergens declared. Undeclared allergens continue to be the greatest reason for food recalls. Regulators look to verification organizations like the Non-GMO Project Verified to support labeling.
Catherine Adams Hutt is chief science and regulatory officer for SloanTrends and president and CEO of RdR Solutions Consulting (firstname.lastname@example.org).