Labeling Regulations & Emerging High Protein-Based Foods

Posted on:September 23, 2019

EMERGING HIGH PROTEIN-BASED FOODS could trigger implications under existing U.S. Federal Standards of Identity (SOI), explained Jessica O’Connell, Partner with the international law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, in her presentation titled “From Cellular Agriculture to Plant-based Milks: Hot Issues in the Protein Arena.”

Some already are. O’Connell suggested today’s food and beverage consumers’ needs and expectations have evolved well beyond the original intents and purposes of SOI. The original reason the U.S. government established SOIs was in order to protect against adulteration, food fraud and the use of inferior ingredients. Conversely, SOIs also help protect product categories against lower cost, lower quality competition…as in butter vs. margarine, for example.

“Today’s deviations from standards are not so much about adulteration and the use of inferior quality ingredients, but more about technological advances made to ‘improve’ foods,” said O’Connell. This begs the question: What constitutes “improvement?”

Since 1939, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has established more than 280 standards, largely for staple foods and beverages, said O’Connell. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also has authority to establish standards in consultation with the FDA. Two product segments of particular relevance to the SOI debate are dairy (in particular, plant protein-based products labeled as “milk” and the emerging sector of meat alternatives, including cell-cultured meat proteins).

O’Connell pointed out that violations of existing SOI are hardly unique. For example, she said, “The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines ‘milk’ as a ‘lacteal secretion, practically free from colostrum, obtained from one or more healthy cows.’” Click here to see a selection of dairy products with established Standards of Identity.

Sheep and goats need not apply, which may come as news to some cheese manufacturers. Similarly, she continued, the CFR defines “flour” as acquired by “grinding and bolting cleaned wheat, other than durum and red durum wheat.” So, oat, potato, barley, rye and other bread flours also need not apply.

Bread is also implicated, as “the SOI for bread requires that it be made using ‘flour, bromated flour, phosphate flour or a combination of two or more of these;’ ergo, only wheat flour.” Small wonder, then, that more emerging foods are all but guaranteed to raise concerns about outdated SOIs and the need for potential reform.

The FDA and USDA are both under pressure from a number of sectors to address these questions quickly. In a fairly recent case, the FDA cited the alternative vegan mayonnaise product, Just Mayo, for not containing eggs, as per the SOI for mayonnaise. The FDA allowed a compromise by accepting the addition of qualifying language to the product label.

The National Milk Producers Federation recently petitioned the FDA to enforce existing “imitation” labeling requirements against non-dairy soy and nut milks. The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association also petitioned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to enforce a USDA-derived standard that defines “beef” as product “born from cattle, raised and harvested in the traditional manner.” This would preemptively target the potential threat posed to cattle producers by beef alternatives, such as plant-based or cell-cultured beef proteins.

A further complication is that individual U.S. states are taking the initiative to regulate these products on their own, which could throw a monkey wrench into interstate commerce considerations. Within the last two years, the State of Missouri prohibited the misrepresenting of “meat” by any product not directly produced from livestock or poultry.

In 2019, the State of Arkansas passed a law prohibiting the mislabeling of products containing meat and rice, in order to preempt imitative or cultured alternatives. O’Connell warned that these actions mark only the first trickles in a pending flood of similar state initiatives, so pressure has ratcheted up on both the FDA and USDA to develop pre-emptive regulatory guidelines for such products.

“One very important aspect, from a legal perspective, is that we need to consider what consumers think about these products,” added O’Connell. “Do consumers understand the differences?” The FDA issued a press release in 2018 declaring their intention to investigate consumers’ understandings of nutritional and other differences between these products—especially in relation to their public health consequences. But, while recognizing that it ultimately should be all about consumers, one should also recognize that nothing moves quickly in Washington, D.C.

“From Cellular Agriculture to Plant-Based Milks: Hot Issues in the Protein Arena,” Jessica O’Connell, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP

JUST Eggs Sampled at 2020 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

Posted on:September 21, 2019

JUST Eggs will be offered for tasting at the 2020 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

Promotional details offered to consumers note “Made from plants not chickens. JUST Egg is packed with 5g/serving of clean, sustainable protein, and scrambles and tastes like eggs. JUST Egg makes delicious, fluffy breakfast scrambles, and is also great for omelets, quiches, stir-fries, French toast, waffles, pancakes, and much more. It’s egg-free, non-GMO, cholesterol-free, and dairy-free, with no saturated fat, carrageenan, preservatives, FD&C colors, artificial flavors nor artificial ingredients. Easy to use – simply scramble like an egg.”

Ingredients: Water, Mung Bean Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Contains less than 2% of Dehydrated Onion, Gellan Gum, Natural Carrot Extractives (color), Natural Flavors, Natural Turmeric Extractives (color), Potassium Citrate, Salt, Soy Lecithin, Sugar, Tapioca Syrup, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Transglutaminase, Nisin (preservative). (Contains soy.)

Click on images to see an enlarged views.

Click on image to enlarge.

NUTRITION FACTS: Serving size 3 Tbsp (44ml) sAmount (% Daily Value) Calories 70; Calories from Fat 45; Total Fat 5g (8%); Saturated Fat 0g (0%); Trans Fat 0g; Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5g; Monounsaturated Fat 3g; Cholesterol 0mg (0%) Sodium 17mg (7%); Total Carbohydrate1g (0%); Dietary Fiber 0g (0%); Sugars 0g; Protein 5g; Vitamin A (0%); Vitamin C (0%); Calcium (0%); Iron (4%)

For more information:

2020 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

JUST Eggs Website Page


Sweetener Systems and Sensory: Three Practical Tools

Posted on:April 4, 2019

THE MARCH TOWARD HEALTHIER reduced-sugar product formulations may break new ground in the art and science of food formulation, but it will not necessarily break new ground regarding consumers’ expectations for the sensory qualities of their food and beverage choices. Hence, a consistent sensory evaluation protocol should be an essential adjunct to any sugar-reduction project.

Judy Lindsey, General Manager of the Brisan Group, broke down such a sensory evaluation protocol into three basic elements in her presentation, “Sweetener Systems and Sensory: Three Practical Tools to Help You be More Agile.” The first is to build a proper lexicon for use as a consistent basis of comparisons. The second is to develop the proper methodologies whereby to compare sensory properties and their deviations from development targets. A third is to properly understand consumer sensory priorities. “These three elements provide the foundations for building agile sensory programs that will allow developers to obtain results faster and with greater confidence,” said Lindsey.

Why does one need a lexicon? “It is important that new product development teams share the same terminology and thereby waste less time arguing about flavor perceptions,” said Lindsey. “The same lexicon should be employed by all different levels, be it by the technical team, the sales team or the management team.” For example, descriptors, such as “metallic,” “acrid” and “bitter” can overlap, but still describe distinctly different sensory experiences. Some descriptors, such as “stale,” can refer to flavor, texture or both.

“Use the lexicon terminology from the very beginning of the project and make sure that these words are the only ones used to describe the products in question. As new sensory observations are made about a product, add them to the lexicon,” said Lindsey. “But, if additional words come up to describe already-observed sensory attributes, strike their use and revert to the original lexicon,” she added.

“Constantly revisit the lexicon and keep it simple,” emphasized Lindsey.

In response to an audience question, Lindsey also recommended that development teams establish reference samples for each term included in a lexicon for training purposes. This will provide continuity between different projects and development teams.

Once you have a lexicon, you need methods that can compare and contrast one sample against another during the product development process. This requires having a consistent and accurate sensory protocol readily available in order to prevent time wastage. “The methodology should be systematic, simplistic and utilized in a uniform manner, always using the same forms,” said Lindsey. Potential sensory survey tools include: 1) flash profiling; 2) Difference from Control (DOC) methodology; and 3) using a “descriptive panel flight team.”

As an example of a flash profile-evaluation form, Lindsey displayed a survey form that quantified each attribute in the company’s lexicon on a 10-point scale. Deviations from control” can be measured on a 9-point scale measuring less-than and more-than the control value. [See slide 8 of Lindsey’s presentation at].

A “descriptive flight team” refers to a small, dedicated sub-group of the company’s descriptive sensory panel who are assigned to ac- company product developers for the length of the project. “This can be done at less cost and less time than employing a full-descriptive panel along the way,” explained Lindsey.

Such are the tools of an ongoing sensory analysis program. Other “need to know” project requirements are the boundaries of consumers’ sensory expectations for products. It is important to know just how much wiggle room one has in the inevitable redesigns of product sensory profiles that accompany sugar reduction, Lindsey noted.

“For example, if one is worried about a detected ‘artificial taste,’ and it emerges that most consumers cannot perceive it, then perhaps it should not be of concern,” she explained. “Also, when consumers evaluate a reduced-sugar ice cream, do they compare it to a high- end, high-fat ice cream or do they compare it to lower-end brands?” Product developers should know the answers to such questions before they embark on a project.

Lindsey suggested that much of this consumer preference information is likely available in company marketing data, published literature or in third party research available on the internet. It always pays to do one’s sensory homework, in other words.

“Sweetener Systems and Sensory: Three Practical Tools to Help You be More Agile,” Judy Lindsey, General Manager Brisan Group

This presentation was given at the 2018 Sweetener Systems Conference. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Sweetener Systems Conferences at

Tips for Reducing Sugar in Frozen Dairy Desserts

Posted on:

AS WITH BAKERY PRODUCTS, sugar’s most critical role is to control the texture of frozen dairy and frozen novelty products, began Jon Hopkinson, Ph.D., a technology consultant specializing in frozen desserts, in his presentation titled “Tips for Reducing Sugar in Frozen Dairy and Novelty Products.” It does so by managing water.

Sugar plays a crucial function in both ice cream-type desserts that are frozen while stirred, and quiescently frozen desserts, which are usually frozen in molds. First, it controls the freezing and melting characteristics of these products. It also contributes sweetness, viscosity, color and secondary flavors, such as browning flavors developed during pasteurization.

Although sugar, with its multi-functional properties, plays a key role in ice cream and frozen novelties, several strategies can be used to achieve quality reduced-sugar frozen desserts.

“Sugars are the most important control variables to determine proper freezing properties of mixes during processing,” explained Hopkinson. “Freezing-point functionality must somehow be compensated for when sugars are taken out of the formula.” Shelf-life is affected by sugar’s effect on product melting point, sugar migration and freeze-thaw recrystallization properties. For example, sugars can migrate and recrystallize on the surface of ice-pops, creating little round “cancer spots” on the surface during freeze-thaw cycles.

Colligative properties like freezing point are determined by the number of molecules (particles) per fixed unit of weight. Small molecular weight ingredients, like monosaccharides, contribute more particles per gram than disaccharides, and therefore have a greater effect on freezing point depression. The molecular weight of sucrose is 342; for glucose and fructose it is 180; and for erythritol, it is 122. Thus, selecting sucrose substitutes based on their molecular weights can help control freeze-point depression.

So, what if the goal is to reduce the sugar content in a gelato, sorbet or ice cream product by 50%, asked Hopkinson? He presented some strategies, with the caveat that one should carefully check the patent literature before mapping out a product development strategy.

One can hypothetically replace some or all the sugar with sugar alcohols (e.g., sorbitol), but their negative effects on digestive wellbeing at higher concentrations merit careful consideration. Erythritol, on the other hand, does not have the digestive liabilities of sugar alcohols, noted Hopkinson. “In fact, one can get away with 1:1 substitution of sugar with erythritol while keeping sweetness constant, cost permitting. However, you may also need to add additional bulking agents in order to control the amount of water available to freeze.”

A second strategy is to replace some of the sucrose with lower molecular weight ingredients. For example, one can use combinations of erythritol, glycerol and fructose, with a sweetness boost from high-potency sweeteners, such as acesulfame-K or natural stevia.

A third strategy for frozen dairy desserts is to remove lactose (a disaccharide) by ultra-filtration and add-back monosaccharides, such as glucose and fructose. This could be expensive, so another alternative might be to treat the milk with lactase enzyme, converting lactose to the monosaccharides, glucose and galactose. Hopkinson warned that there may be a patent issue here as well.

A fourth strategy would be to replace sugar with a fruit juice and bulking agent. However clean-sounding the juice component, this will likely require adding additional bulking agents with complex-sounding names (e.g., maltodextrin, erythritol). Under the pending nutrition labeling regulations, juice concentrates will need to be factored in as an Added Sugar on the nutrition label. “Trying to achieve an ‘all juice’ claim for a frozen dessert can be a regulatory nightmare, as most single-strength juices don’t contain enough sugar to meet processing, taste and product-quality requirements,” warned Hopkinson.

And, finally, “one can just remove a portion of the sugar from a formula and leave it at that,” concluded Hopkinson. “Quality won’t be as good, but at-least some consumers may be willing to accept the trade-off in the interest of reduced sugar and calories.” He finished his presentation by illustrating the very long and complex ingredient statements from some mainstream frozen desserts with low sucrose or no sucrose, showing that there is much room for improvement.

“Tips for Reducing Sugar in Frozen Dairy and Novelty Products,” Jon Hopkinson, Ph.D., technology consultant specializing in frozen desserts

This presentation was given at the 2018 Sweetener Systems Conference. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Sweetener Systems Conferences at

Analytical Methods for Lawful Sweetener Labeling

Posted on:April 3, 2019

THE REVISED U.S. NUTRITION LABEL regulations, to be implemented in 2020, will transform the carbohydrate portion of the label by including a line for added sugars along with revised definitions of dietary fiber. The food and beverage analysis industries are far from ready to accommodate these changes, explained David Plank, Ph.D., Managing Principal, WRSS Food & Nutrition Insights and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota, in his presentation, “Analytical Methods for Walking on the Lawful Side of Sugars, Dietary Fiber and Bioactive Sweeteners.”

“The FDA stated goals behind the regulatory changes are both to increase nutrition label transparency for consumers and to improve the health of the U.S. population via weight maintenance and a reduction in cardiovascular disease risks through reduced sugar consumption,” said Plank. The FDA’s goal for dietary fibers is transparency in order to erase the concept of “fake fiber” from nutrition labels. The objective now is to increase the consumption of “whole-grain, whole-food” fibers.

In regard to American food and beverage companies, the incentives are not just to avoid the wrath of the FDA for regulatory non-compliance, but also to avoid class-action lawsuits that will be brought whenever plaintiffs believe that they can demonstrate that food and beverage manufacturers have misled the “average” consumer. “Lawyers and consumers are always looking for a payday because they know that, in most cases, class-action lawsuits never go to trial but are settled out of court,” said Plank.

One of the potential warning signs should be if a formulation or label claim goes counter to the intent of the regulation, said Plank. He cited, as an example, a company adding a resistant starch to increase a product’s dietary fiber nutrition label declaration while also adding an amylase enzyme to digest the dietary fiber into glucose in order to increase sweetness. “Technically, it may be compliant with the letter of the regulations, but you will have violated the intent,” said Plank.

Plank identified two essential elements of the pending nutritional labeling regulations. The first element is that the label requires that all added mono- and disaccharides must be listed as “Added Sugars,” whether digestible or not. Thus, allulose and tagatose, which each contribute zero calories per gram, must be designated as “added sugars.”

Allulose, a monosaccharide, registers 0-0.4 Kcal/g and also inhibits” intestinal alpha-glucosidase, the enzyme that digests starch in the small intestine. Thus, not only is it non-caloric, it actually contributes the physiological benefits of a fiber through its action on reduced-starch digestion and concomitant reduced glycemic response,” said Plank. Even so, by the new regulations and existing current regulations, this physiological beneficial non-digestible carbohydrate must be labeled as added sugar, because it is a monosaccharide with less than a degree of polymerization (DP) of 3.

The second element is that none of the existing AOAC-approved dietary fiber analytical methods determine dietary fiber under the new regulations: They only measure non-digestible carbohydrates (NDC). However, when the existing AOAC-approved methods are used for determining insoluble and soluble NDCs in accordance with the new regulations, then a food manufacturer may claim zero calories per gram for the content of insoluble NDCs and 2 calories per gram for soluble NDCs on their food label—even if the NDCs do not physiologically qualify as dietary fiber. So, the determination of NDC content by these traditional AOAC analytical methods still has a practical benefit for those food manufacturers looking to make a low-caloric content product.

There are no analytical methodologies that can determine dietary fiber or added sugar as defined by the new regulations. As a result, food manufacturers are required to keep records of their food product formulations to support their nutrition label claims. FDA allows significant flexibility in how these records are constructed but does require them to be available for audit and maintained for a minimum of two years, post production.

The food analysis industry is hustling to catch up to the pending realities and liabilities of nutritional labeling compliance in 2020. They still have a long way to go.

“Analytical Methods for Walking on the Lawful Side of Sugars, Dietary Fiber and Bioactive Sweeteners,” David Plank, Ph.D., Managing Principal, WRSS Food & Nutrition Insights and Senior Fellow Researcher, University of Minnesota

This presentation was given at the 2018 Sweetener Systems Conference. To download free presentations and the Post-conference summary of this event, go to

See past and future Sweetener Systems Conferences at

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