Insights into Challenges of Labeling “Added Sugar”

Posted on:June 6, 2017

June 6, 2017 — Why hold a conference on sweetener systems?

Sweetness-enhancing components have long been added to recipes, as well as packaged foods and beverages. However, the perception of sweetness and the impact of any one sweetener ingredient is highly influenced by other ingredients in a food matrix. The need for up-to-date information on sweeteners by product developers has increased. This is because there have been ingredient technological advances; and because there is increased complexity in the sweetener systems used. Other factors include evolving consumer attitudes, progress in nutritional science and, lastly, changes in regulations.

Global Food Forums, Inc. launched its first Sweetener Systems Trends & Technologies Conference (since renamed Sweetener Systems Conference) on November 2, 2016, in
Lombard, Ill., USA. The event proved successful beyond expectations— with over 160 registrants and an abundance of very positive comments. A brief summary of the excellent presentations from this year’s program is provided here.

All presentations and/or adapted versions made available by the speakers are posted on Global Food Forums Inc’s store page.

Please consider attending our 2017 Sweetener Systems Conference, November 7th, at the Westin Hotel, Lombard, Ill., USA. 

The following is the first of the presentations from the “2016 Sweetener Systems Conference Summary,” sponsored by Orochem.

Insights into Challenges of Labeling “Added Sugar”

Although entailing but a small change to a food or beverage’s nutritional label itself, the FDA’s recently mandated label change to include “added sugar” poses considerable analytical challenges for processors. [For a larger version of chart, click on image.]

Dietary sugar reduction is a global health objective, as per the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO). Thus, the compliance challenges posed by the U.S. Food & Drug Agency’s (FDA) recently published requirement to include “added sugar” as a subhead to the line-item “sugars” on the nutritional label have global implications for all food regulatory agencies.

David Ellingson, MSc, Senior Research Chemist and Project Manager with Covance, an international research laboratory, addressed two issues that should be of primary concern:
1) Industry’s inability to discern between naturally present and added sugars; and
2) the need to establish requirements for dynamic sugar concentrations that vary as a function of processing and storage.

“The FDA regulation defines ‘added sugars’ as either free sugar (mono- and disaccharides), syrups or ‘sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices that are in excess of what would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type,’” explained Ellingson.

There are four exceptions:
1) Fruit or vegetable juice concentrated from 100% juices sold to consumers;
2) fruit or vegetable juice concentrates used towards the total juice percentage label;
3) fruit juice concentrates used to formulate the fruit component of jellies, jams or preserves, or the fruit component of fruit spreads; and
4) lactose from milk.

“There are three high-level scenarios with respect to a product analysis: one being where all sugar is added; one being both natural and added; and a third where all sugars present are natural,” continued Ellingson.

“Typically, when we do an analysis for sugar in our labs, we are looking for these six: glucose, galactose, fructose, sucrose, maltose and lactose. We utilize HPLC and GC applications,” Ellingson noted. Whereas ion chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection is becoming the norm for HPLC-type applications, “more robust” gas chromatography techniques are still popular—even though they require derivatization of sugars prior to analysis. For quick, in-line production screening, a technology such as Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy may be quite adequate. However, he stressed, none of these techniques is capable of distinguishing between “natural” and “added” sugars!

“If a more forensic analysis is needed, laboratories have available a range of analytical techniques to identify the source of a sugar on a qualitative level,” explained Ellingson. Although more sophisticated isotope analyses can distinguish between C12 (found in cane and corn sugars) and C13 (found in maple and beet sugars), they cannot pinpoint the source origin of all sugars. Nonetheless, isotope analyses do offer limited use in identifying adulterants in products and ingredients.”

Continued Ellingson, “By farthe most difficult analytical challenge is when fruits or vegetables that have innate amounts of sugars are mixed with ‘added’ sugars, such as sweetener syrups, to improve taste or sweetness.” This includes products such as juice drinks, breakfast cereals and yogurt beverages.

Providing analytical chemists with a product’s formula in advance allows them to analyze the areas under chromatographic peaks and roughly estimate total sugar contents. If the chromatographic profiles conform to the formula provided, all may be well. However, it is much more difficult to determine whether a food, beverage or ingredient has been adulterated—and by how much—using only such techniques. Analysis of carbon isotope profiles and other impurity markers can flag possible adulteration—but not always.

An additional complication is when non-enzymatic browning, fermentation or other processes affect total sugar content during processing or storage. This is an important consideration for heat-treated products rich in amino acids, sweeteners, and fruit and vegetable ingredients, such as soups or sauces.

When asked a question about how one could establish a label declaration for sugar content for products exhibiting starch breakdown during storage due to acid hydrolysis, Ellingson allowed that this could be a complicating factor: At what point in the process or retail distribution of such products can an accurate determination of sugar content and profile be made? Perhaps a petition to the FDA for a labeling exception would be merited in such cases; the FDA regulations do allow companies to petition for exceptions.

[Note: The final, published FDA “added sugar” labeling regulation can be found in: FDA Federal Register/Vol. 81, No. 103/Friday, May 27, 2016/Rules and Regulations].

“Insights into Challenges of Labeling ‘Added’ Sugar,” David Ellingson, MSc, Senior Research Chemist and Project Manager, Covance,

Investments & Acquisitions in Protein Industries

Posted on:May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017Global Food Forums, Inc.’s fourth annual Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar was held in Oak Brook, Ill., USA. A Pre-conference: Business Strategies program was held on May 3rd, 2016, followed by a Technical Program: Formulating with Proteins on May 4th.

Speakers at the Pre-conference provided information for upper-level managers to help them guide their company’s protein ingredient business, and for those for whom the protein ingredient marketplace has significant impact on new product development strategies and/or their operations.

The following is the first of the presentations from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar: Business Highlights Summary” special report.

In 1960, experts estimated that the amount of food needed by the world in 1990 would double. Today, experts are saying the same doubling of the food supply will be needed by 2050, said Matthew Roberts, CSO for Nature’s Bounty (NBTY), in his Protein Trends & Technology Seminars presentation titled “Perspectives on Investments & Acquisitions in the Protein Supply and Finished Products Industry.” However, unlike 1960, the challenge now is a question of land resources. About 12% of the world’s land area is arable; another 26% can be used for grazing. However, those areas are declining.

When this data was released in early 2016, there were already more than 160 new plant-based protein food product launches for 2016, noted Roberts. [Click on the image for a larger PDF of the chart.]

The answer, Roberts said, must be plant proteins—and not only due to resources, but because of growing consumer concerns for health, climate change and animal welfare. “I think we’re in a really important time, not only as industry professionals, but also as human beings. The nature of food, agriculture and nutrition is changing, and protein is center-stage.”

In 1945, half of the world was malnourished, compared to roughly 15% today. However, one billion people have protein-deficient diets. “We’re being squeezed on the animal-production side but, on the plant side, we’re increasing production,” Roberts added.

Plant proteins are on the rise across all nutrient supplements. Some 41% of adults made an effort to limit/avoid meat in 2013, Roberts said. The vegetarian retail market reached $1.6 billion in sales in 2011 and has been rising ever since. Plant-based protein food product launches have likewise risen, according to Mintel, from about 150 in 2011 to more than 350 in 2015. (See chart “Plant-based Protein Food Product Launches.”)

“Vegetarianism has been on the rise for a number of years, but what we’re starting to see is the halo effect—with friends, family and extended network being influenced,” Roberts said. “They may not want to be vegetarian, but they appreciate the lifestyle; hence the rise of the flexitarian.”

More than half of U.S. consumers report eating some sort of meat alternative, including eggs, multiple times a week. Consumption of meat alternatives is also increasing in Europe, as 31% of Germans, 38% of French and 45% of Italians claim to be actively reducing consumption of red meat.

That said, plant proteins have some struggles. On the nutritional side, there are factors like fiber and under-availability of leucine that reduce protein absorption and muscle synthesis. On the consumer side, there are spreading health misconceptions about soy. Younger consumers are the most likely to seek meat alternatives for protein. However, soy is contending with negative health perceptions—even though studies have indicated otherwise—making Millennials highly likely to avoid it. Mintel’s free-from food statistics show that 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44-year-old internet users all seek out “soy-free” at high rates.

Soy is still big in Asia, however, with plant proteins eaten by 86% in China, 59% in Germany and roughly a third in both the U.S. and UK in 2014. Asia’s wide acceptance of soy makes it a prime target for other plant protein sources, Roberts added.

Plant proteins are estimated to account for 43% of the total protein ingredients market volume, according to Frost & Sullivan, with soy in the lead, followed by wheat, and then pea, which experts believe to have strong growth potential. Soy likewise leads the way for plant-based protein used in new food and drink launches from 2012-2014 (at 60%), followed by wheat (24%)—then pea (7%), rice (3%) and maize (2%).

The business world has begun investing in plant proteins. Cargill sold its pork business and opted to acquire a Norwegian agriculture company. Monde Nissin bought Quorn, and White Wave bought Vega—while Hormel, Glanbia, Post, Hershey and General Mills have also made moves. Almond milk is now a $1.3 billion segment dominated by three players, and plant-based beverages are 7.5% of milk dollar sales and growing at between 20-30%. Food and ag tech attracted $3.5 billion in venture capital globally in 2015, mostly going to increase yields and decrease inputs, but much of it concerns proteins.

The future will both bring new products—plant alternatives are already entering the ice cream, yogurt, cheese and creamer sectors—as well as protein system blends, Roberts said. Imagine combining characteristics like the ROI of soy, the supply of corn, the elasticity of algae, the label claims of wheat and so forth. “There’re a lot of good reasons to do that—from an economic perspective; from a sustainability perspective; and from an agricultural perspective,” he added.

“Sustainable Protein: Nourishing the Population While Protecting the Environment,”
Matthew Roberts, CSO, Nature’s Bounty

Next Generation Protein Opportunities: Sustaining the Rush

Posted on:April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017Global Food Forums, Inc.’s fourth annual Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar was held in Oak Brook, Ill., USA. A Pre-conference: Business Strategies program was held on May 3rd, 2016, followed by a Technical Program: Formulating with Proteins on May 4th.

Speakers at the Pre-conference provided information for upper-level managers to help them guide their company’s protein ingredient business, and for those for whom the protein ingredient marketplace has significant impact on new product development strategies and/or their operations.

The following is the first of the presentations from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar: Business Highlights Summary” special report.

Half the U.S. population is over 50—a group whose interest in exercising has noticeable increased.

Capitalizing on the Next Generation of Protein Opportunities: Sustaining the Rush

When looking at protein demographics data, the tendency is to focus on the X, Y and Millennial generations—and on how to create new products that appeal to those consumers. In discussing the next generation in protein opportunities, A. Elizabeth Sloan, Ph.D., President, Sloan Trends, Inc., recommended looking to other segments, as well.

Boomers are turning 70 and are taking what was familiar when they were young and bringing it along as they age. “Half the U.S. population is over 50; that’s where the money is,” Sloan said.

“Tiredness/Lack of Energy” is one of the top consumer concerns of those 50 and over. The connection of protein to both physical and mental energy is emerging. “Providing physical and mental energy to help adults and children get through the day and remain alert/energized is a top motivator” to get consumers to eat breakfast. The concept that foods can naturally provide energy is both believable and well-understood. More than half of 18-24-year-olds, for example, are regular energy drink users, Sloan pointed out. Protein drinks could be reformulated to better match the needs and interests of those older, as well, she suggested.

The $31 billion sports nutrition sector has expanded into the mainstream in recent years. The number of people regularly exercising has increased, with the most noticeable group being the 50+ crowd. Activities such as gym usage (14%), aerobic exercise (46%), walking (25%) and running (87%) have all gone up in the past five years.

When the 50+ group is asked about solutions to their health concerns, the number one response, consistently, is exercise. Mobility is a major consumer concern for aging consumers, and it’s firmly tied to weight loss and muscle loss—two areas already firmly aligned with protein. According to a 2014 Gallup “Study of U.S. Market for Vitamins & Other Dietary Supplements,” 30% of adults mention age-related muscle loss and loss of strength as issues of concern. Sloan added that “aligning joints with muscle and protein is a very big idea.”

Consumers link protein to muscle health exercise recovery, satiety, energy and weight loss (all more than 60%); lately, a new focus has been on protein to improve hair, skin and nail health (32%). Additionally, according to the “2014 Gallup Study of Protein,” 33% of adults surveyed also associate immunity as a health benefit of protein.

Consumers turn to protein for weight loss, and this area is “quietly on fire,” Sloan said. It’s up 7% in the last year, and the weight-loss business in the past five years has been driven primarily by men (69% of the growth), especially young ones.

Older women are trying to lose weight, while more senior women are trying to maintain weight. Women 55+ are the biggest bar consumers. “The largest untapped market in the U.S. is post-menopausal women,” Sloan advised. Linking weight control and proteins for this group is an opportunity.

In grocery meat cases, many retailers now provide nutrition information for fresh meat/poultry. Millennials want more energy, iron and protein—so retailers also call out protein in the produce department. Said Sloan, “Those buying fresh, minimally processed food are the same group who buy fortified foods and who want added nutrition and nutrition claims on fresh/refrigerated foods.”

Millennials still drive several protein trends, including plant-based proteins: 76% of households ate protein alternatives for weekly dinners last year, while the use of meat/poultry fell to an average of 3.7 times/ week. There is a $2.7 billion opportunity in plant-based dairy foods, beyond beverages, Sloan added.

Millennial parents drive opportunities in the $41 billion kid-specific market. More than 50% of parents are concerned about development and protection against diseases later in life. Some 47% of households with children actively seek out protein.

Another new arena for protein is the pet food market, which always follows human food trends. Also, the Latino, Asian and African-American segments are all more likely to seek out protein claims compared to Caucasians; this also is a relatively untapped arena.

“Capitalizing on the Next Generation of Protein Opportunities: Sustaining the Rush,” A. Elizabeth Sloan, Ph.D., President, Sloan Trends, Inc.,, 760-741-9611,

Update on GMO Labeling: Where do We Stand; Where are We Headed?

Posted on:April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017Global Food Forums, Inc.The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients, Amco Proteins, Givaudan, Orochem Technologies, RiceBran Technologies and Synergy. 
Label Claims-regulatory-Chip English-2016 PTT[Please note: This presentation was given before President Obama signed legislation that will require labeling of genetically modified ingredients for the first time. The legislation, passed by Congress on July 29, 2016, will require most food packages to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone that indicates whether the food contains GMOs. The Agriculture Department has two years to write the rules, which will pre-empt the Vermont law that kicked in March 2016.]

Today’s consumers want to know all about their food. But what limits are there on the powers of a government body to tell food manufacturers what they must tell their consumers? The GMO debate cuts to the heart of that question.

Vermont passed a GMO labeling law that goes into effect July 1, 2016. Connecticut and Maine also passed GMO labeling laws, but their laws would only go into effect if other states in the region passed similar regulations. Of course, it is difficult for a food manufacturer to comply with label regulations for one state only.

“In 2013, mandatory labeling laws, similar to the Vermont law, were introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate, but neither passed. In 2016, legislation establishing a national voluntary labeling framework preempting individual state laws was introduced and passed in Senate committee, but was subsequently
blocked by the full Senate,” explained Chip English, a partner at the law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, in his 2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar presentation titled “Update on GMO Labeling: Where do We Stand; Where are We Headed?”

FDA regulations preempt states from doing anything that interferes with the Nutrition Facts panel. In November 2015, the FDA did publish voluntary and non-binding guidance on GMO labeling. The FDA does not like the phrase, “genetically modified organisms,” and instead prefers the term “produced with genetic engineering.” The FDA also said that foods produced with genetic engineering are safe, and that there are no differences in food produced with or without genetic engineering.

The Vermont law requires that if a food is produced with genetic engineering, that information must be disclosed. The Vermont law refers specifically to genetically modified organisms, rather than addressing the processing issue. The Vermont law requires that the message must be screened and in bold letters on the ingredient panel. The law also allows the FDA message that there is no significant difference in foods produced with or without genetic engineering. Vermont law exempts finished foods from GMO labeling, if the animal from which the food was obtained had been given GMO animal feed. This means Vermont cheese does not have to have a GMO label, even though GMO feed was used for the cow.

The First Amendment right to free speech applies to states and localities. There was an excellent recent Arizona Law Review article on compelled speech under the First Amendment, according to English, discussing whether or not it is lawful. Currently, it is impossible to reconcile decisions by various courts with respect to compelled speech under the First Amendment.

The Grocery Manufacturers of America and the International Dairy Foods Association both sued Vermont to prevent the law from going into effect July 1. The local Federal district court did not rule in their favor, and the groups appealed. The appeal was heard on Oct 16, 2015, but, as of May 2016, nothing has been heard from the court of appeals. Currently, food businesses are spending hundreds of millions of dollars figuring out how to comply with the Vermont law.

So what are companies currently doing? Campbell Soup has said that it will implement voluntary labeling of GMO ingredients. While simultaneously calling for federal standards for labeling products with GMOs, Mars, General Mills, Kellogg and Danone recently announced that they also will comply with the Vermont law for national labeling.

Where does it stop, and how do conscientious food companies comply? Currently, gluten free labeling is voluntary. Will health-conscious consumers demand the labeling of gluten next? English believes that the Vermont law will become the de facto law of the country, unless the second circuit rules in a timely manner. And, ultimately this issue may need to be decided by the Supreme Court. In the meantime, marketing and packaging groups are left with difficult decisions.

“Update on GMO Labeling: Where do We Stand, Where are We Headed?” Chip English, Partner, firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, 202-973-4272,

From Gluten-free to Whole Grain: Formulating On-trend Products

Posted on:March 21, 2017

March 22, 2017Global Food Forums, Inc.The following is an excerpt from the “2016 Protein Trends & Technology Report: Formulating with Proteins,” sponsored by Arla Foods Ingredients, Amco Proteins, Givaudan, Orochem Technologies, RiceBran Technologies and Synergy. 

Maskus provided formulas using fava beans as the source of pulse flour that they have worked with to produce non-gluten pan bread with higher levels of protein. [For larger PDF of chart, click on image.]

The year of 2016 has been designated the “International Year of Pulses,” stated Heather Maskus, Project Manager at the Canadian International Grains Institute (Cigi), in her opening remarks. Her presentation, “From Gluten-free to Whole Grain: Formulating On-trend Products,” focused upon using combinations of pulses and whole grains to formulate foods—such as cereals, snacks, pastas, noodles, pan bread and crackers—with higher levels of protein.

Maskus noted that pulses are defined as the dry, edible seeds of legume plants and include lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans [but excludes soybeans; soybeans are not a pulse, because their seed is not dry]. Pulses have applications in whole, ground, dehulled, flaked and fractionated forms; the latter is usually produced through air fractionation and wet extraction.

“Pulse flours are nutrient-dense ingredients,” Maskus stated. “They are a high source of dietary fiber (14-25% dry weight) and are a protein source at about 20-30% dry weight.” Pulses are high in lysine but low in methionine and cysteine, while cereal grains are typically the opposite. “Combining pulse and cereal grains is, therefore, of interest to create more complete protein profiles in products.”

Maskus described research that focused on the development of extruded breakfast cereal that use pulses. Pea fiber (6.5%) added to a blend of corn meal (31.5%), and whole pea and semolina flour (56.5%), enhanced extrusion due to its starch characteristics. “The goal for protein levels in pulsebased products is 5g of protein per 30g serving,” she stated.

“However, this blend would not be able to make a protein claim, because the protein digestibility of peas at 87.9 is not high enough.” Maskus indicated that Cigi is continuing this work, using oats and buckwheat as complementary amino acid sources to improve end-product protein quality.

Maskus presented data showing the effects of various milling methods to produce whole yellow pea flour and resulting quality parameters of extruded snacks. She noted that similar formulation principles exist for snacks and cereals. Maskus stated that “extrusion of whole yellow pea flours is more controlled than for the split yellow pea flours. The additional fiber in whole yellow pea flour acts as a nucleation agent and controls air cell size within the final product.”

Pasta was one of the first products investigated for fortification with pulses, due to characteristically low fiber and nutrient contents. Pulse flour milling was undertaken to produce low-, medium and high- (21, 24 and 26.4%) protein content flour and blended with durum semolina (30:70). The advantages of including pulses in pasta include enhanced protein content, quality and nutrient density.

As pulse protein increased, it was necessary to change processing parameters. The challenges, Maskus noted, include sticky dough crumb due to the soluble proteins present in pulses which affect extrusion. Drying cycles should be modified to low temperature-long time to minimize color changes. Maskus stated that a “2% reduction in water addition for yellow pea semolina and the use of a fine semolina pulse ingredient will help to improve the appearance and cooked pasta firmness.” Cooked firmness of the pasta was increased with increasing pulse addition.

Maskus also discussed their work with pulses in flour blends for the development of gluten-free breads. (See chart “Formulation for Gluten-free Pan Bread with Pulse Flours” for products with 30 and 50% fava bean flour that resulted in breads of 5 and 6g protein, respectively.) The breads were also eligible to carry dietary fiber nutrient content claims with 4 and 5g of fiber.

Maskus noted that the gluten-free breads formulated with fava bean flour showed similar loaf characteristics and resulted in breads with a firmer texture and smaller cell diameters compared to the control bread.

“Pulse-based products offer several advantages, including gluten-free potential, as well as a product with higher protein and fiber,” concluded Maskus. “Pulses offer a sustainable protein that is non-GMO with low allergenicity. They can meet many of the requirements for a clean label and have increasing global recognition.”

Maskus went on to note that “challenges include texture, color and flavor, and also meeting protein claims. However, the blending of grain ingredients and processing modifications can solve many of these.”

Heather Maskus, MSc, Project Manager, Canadian International Grains Institute,

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