12 february 2019

VICS Acquisition recalls chicken products due to undeclared eggs

VICS Acquisition is recalling 99,975lbs of chicken products in the US because of misbranding and undeclared allergens. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the chicken products that are subject to the recall contained eggs, a known allergen, that is not declared on the label.

The products that are subject to the recall include 1.5lb packages containing frozen steam bag meals of ‘happi foodi Bloody Mary Inspired Chicken’, ‘SE Grocers Marsala Chicken’ and ‘SE Grocers Mediterranean Style Herb Chicken’. The three food items were produced from 7 August to 15 October 2018 and bear an establishment number P-34622.

The issue was identified during a label review on 8 February 2019 and the FSIS was notified the next day. Happi foodi items were shipped to retail locations nationwide, while the Southeast Grocers Brand products were shipped to retail locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina.

So far, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions as a result of the consumption of the products. FSIS stated that anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. Consumers have been urged not to consume the products and to either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

This has been classified as a Class I recall, indicating a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable chance that consumption of the product would lead to serious, adverse health consequences or death.


6 february 2019

Unilever acquires UK’s snack brand Graze for $193m

Unilever has acquired the holding company of Graze, a UK-based snack brand that was set up in 2008 as a snack box delivery service. According to various media reports, Unilever has paid £150m ($193m) to acquire the brand.

Graze currently offers a wide range of food snacks including snacking nuts, seeds, trail mixes and snack bars that are claimed to be free from artificial ingredients.

Its products are available via retail stores, ecommerce and direct to consumers.

Unilever’s Food & Refreshment business president Nitin Paranjpe said: “Graze is the leading healthy snacking brand in the UK, delivering consumers fabulously tasty snacking options, delivered in beautiful packaging.

“A truly multichannel brand, Graze offers personalisation, convenience and great nutrition, brilliantly meeting the needs of millennial consumers. Accelerating our presence in healthy foods and out-of-home, this is an excellent strategic fit for the Unilever Food & Refreshment business and a wonderful addition to our stable of purpose-driven brands.

“We look forward to working with the Graze team to grow the business, leveraging their tech and e-commerce expertise for our wider portfolio, and offering more consumers the opportunity to snack in a healthier way.”

Graze CEO Anthony Fletcher said: “This deal marks a transformational moment in Graze’s growth journey. Graze believes that learning from Unilever’s sustainable living plan will become a key driver for the business.

“Graze has an incredibly exciting future ahead as part of Unilever and we look forward to working closely with the team to keep on inventing new healthy snacks, as well as continuing to work to understand the role technology can play in improving the food industry.”

Last December, Unilever expanded its portfolio with the acquisition of The Vegetarian Butcher to meet the growing demand among consumers for vegetarian and vegan meals. The acquisition was in line with Unilever’s strategy to add plant-based foods to its portfolio that are healthier and have a lower environmental impact.


6 february 2019

Almarai signs agreement to acquire 100% stake in Premier Foods

Saudi Arabia-based dairy conglomerate Almarai has signed a sales purchase agreement with Alamar Foods to acquire 100% of Premier Foods shares for SAR108m ($28.7m). Premier Foods provides meat and poultry products to the food services industry in the Middle East.

With this acquisition, Almarai intends to further expand its footprint in the foodservice channel. Almarai completely financed the deal through its operating cash flow, and the financial impact of this acquisition will be seen in next quarter’s results.

Listed on the Tadawul stock exchange, Almarai specialises in food and beverage manufacturing and distribution. Although Almarai is one of the leading dairy producers in the Middle East, it also owns poultry brand Alyoum. In 2009, Almarai entered the poultry sector with the acquisition of Hail Agricultural Development Company (HADCO).

In January, Almarai divested its 33% stake in United Farmers Holding Company (UFHC) to Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company (SALIC) for SAR105m ($28m) after receiving necessary regulatory and legal approvals. The company noted that it intended to use proceeds from the deal to support business and investments.

In addition to the dairy segment, Almarai is also involved in poultry, bakery, beverages and infant formula markets. In 2007, the company entered the bakery products market with the acquisition of Jeddah-based Western Bakeries. In 2009, it set up a joint venture with Chipita and Olayan Finance Company under the name Modern Company Industries and introduced the 7DAYS brand.


5 february 2019

McCormick and IBM to use AI for flavour and food product development

US-based spices and seasoning manufacturer McCormick is collaborating with information technology company IBM to use artificial intelligence (AI) for developing flavour and food products.

The company’s global workforce will make use of IBM Research AI for Product Composition to explore, learn and predict new flavour combinations from data points across the areas of sensory science, consumer preference and flavour palettes.

McCormick is planning to launch its first AI-enabled product platform, named ‘One’, later this year, with a set of initial one-dish Recipe Mix flavours, including Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin and New Orleans Sausage.

McCormick chairman, president and CEO Lawrence Kurzius said: “McCormick’s use of artificial intelligence highlights our commitment to insight-driven innovation and the application of the most forward-looking technologies to continually enhance our products and bring new flavours to market. This is one of several projects in our pipeline where we’ve embraced new and emerging technologies.”

The platform was developed to deliver flavours with the ability to season both the protein and vegetables. Seasoning blends are expected to be available on retail shelves in the US by late spring.

With the One platform and several other projects in the pipeline, McCormick’s product developers aim to use AI to unlock creativity, access new insights and share data with other companies around the world. The company intends to scale this technology globally by 2021.

IBM vice president for industry research Kathryn Guarini said: “IBM Research’s collaboration with McCormick illustrates our commitment to helping our clients and partners drive innovation across industries.

“By combining McCormick’s deep data and expertise in science and taste, with IBM’s AI capabilities, we are working together to unlock the bounds of creativity and transform the food and flavour development process.”


1 february 2019

Kellogg commits to ban animal testing for food products

Cereal manufacturer Kellogg Company has reached an agreement with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) with regard to a policy that prohibits the use of animal testing.

The development comes following Kellogg Company’s extensive discussions with PETA for a period of more than 11 years. The company had previously used animals to carry out harmful and deadly tests for its food products.

PETA vice president Shalin Gala said: “The global food industry is recognising that no marketing claim can possibly excuse force-feeding, poisoning, suffocating and killing gentle rats in cruel and deadly tests.

“The Kellogg Company is no longer a ‘cereal killer’ of animals in deadly tests, and PETA applauds the company’s decision to embrace superior, non-animal research methods.”

In 2007, PETA requested that the company stop conducting and funding experiments on animals. Kellogg Company pledged to reduce and limit the scope of its tests on animals and eliminated such tests in its own laboratories. As part of its new policy, the company will not conduct, fund or support tests on animals.

Deadly experiments that involved a total of 1,213 rats and 60 hamsters were funded by Kellogg from 1995 to 2016. PETA noted that tests conducted or funded by Kellogg Company involve common food ingredients with no toxicity concerns. They can be carried out safely using humans.

Kellogg Company joins a growing list of food companies that have worked with PETA to adopt policies that prohibit animal tests.


30 january 2019

Nestlé acquires New Zealand technology to combat iron deficiency

Swiss food and drink company Nestlé has acquired FERRI PRO technology, which has been developed by New Zealand scientists, to allow the company to address iron deficiency.

The FERRI PRO technology has been developed by Massey University researchers at the Riddet Institute Centre of Research Excellence (CoRE) to address iron deficiency without affecting the taste of food and beverages.

Riddet Institute director Harjinder Singh, who led the research team, said: The technology was developed to help to address the world’s most important nutritional deficiency, with over 1.6 billion people suffering from iron deficiency anaemia.

“But our goal was to not only address iron deficiency, but address it without impacting the product quality. So, we developed a novel protein-iron complex using food-grade materials and a unique processing method.

“The complex has substantially superior functionality compared with other products in the market. It provides advantages over other sources of iron present in foods, including ferrous sulphate, the recognised leading iron supplement.”

Nestlé head of nutrition, health and wellness Petra Klassen Wigger said: “At Nestlé we believe that we have a key role to play in support of global efforts to tackle the burden of micronutrient deficiencies.

“Through this collaboration with Massey University, we will have access to an innovative technology that enables us to effectively fortify our foods and beverages without compromising the quality and taste.”

Commercialisation and technology transfer will be taken up through Massey Ventures, a fully owned subsidiary of Massey University.

Massey vice chancellor Jan Thomas said: “The deal builds upon Massey’s reputation for world-class research by attracting the attention of the largest food company to solve a major global health problem.

“We’re excited about the future potential of the strong working relationship we have developed with Nestlé, and their interest in the food science and nutrition research capability at Massey and the Riddet Institute.”


24 january 2019

Stino Da Napoli recalls 11,392lb of products due to lack of inspection

Ohio-based Stino Da Napoli has issued a recall of 11,392lb of various meat products that were produced, packed and distributed without federal inspection. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the ready-to-eat meat products and meat sauce items were produced from 30 November 2017 through 20 December 2018.

The products subject to recall include 24oz (1.5lb) jars of Stino Da Napoli Gourmet Meat Sauce Bolognese with lot code 181284000013, and 24oz (1.5lb) jars of Stino Da Napoli Gourmet Pasta Sauce with Bacon Fumo Del Vesuvio with lot code 181284000303.

Also part of the recall were 1.3lb packages containing Stino’s Gourmet Italian Foods Meatball with lot code 181284000167, and 1.2lb packages containing Stino’s Gourmet Italian Foods Meat Lasagna with lot code 181284000150.

The sauce products being recalled carry establishment number EST 45779 inside the USDA mark of inspection. The meatball and lasagna products do not include the USDA mark of inspection. These items were distributed to retail stores in Ohio.

An FSIS investigator who visited a farmer’s market in Solon, Ohio, found the problem on 15 January 2019. The investigator then observed products produced by Stino Da Napoli for sale.

So far, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions as a result of consumption of these products. FSIS stated that anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider. Consumers have been urged not to consume the products and to either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

This has been classified as Class I recall, indicating a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable chance that consumption of the product would lead to serious, adverse health consequences or death.


21 january 2019

Brazil plans to introduce a self-monitoring system for food industry

The Government of Brazil is planning to introduce a self-monitoring system for agricultural producers and meat packers, following an inspection scandal that hurt its business with core markets.

Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said the government plans to send draft legislation on self-monitoring to Congress for approval in the first half of this financial year.

In an interview with Reuters, Dias said: “Why can’t Brazil do self-monitoring when Europe and the United States use it?”

The country’s meat exporting industry, which is the world’s largest, came under federal oversight for its alleged involvement in bribery to overlook unsanitary conditions. This scandal threatened the country’s roughly $15bn exports to markets such as China and Europe where shipments were halted pending a review of its inspection protocols.

Dias told the news agency: “Our agriculture sector can provide guarantees. Just because of one episode we shouldn’t demonise Brazil’s food industry.”

Major Brazilian meatpacking companies JBS and BRF have been both implicated in the scrutiny. The federal probe started in 2017 and was expanded in 2018. It is scrutinising the relations between food companies and laboratories that are required to certify the safety of meat being exported to markets such as Japan, the Middle East and Europe.

The Agriculture Minister is yet to commence negotiations with the European Union over lifting the ban on its chicken imports, as the new Brazilian government is still drafting its policies.

Dias added: “We have to find a middle ground going forward because Brazil cannot lose markets. What we need is to open new markets.”