So, you’ve been in negotiations with wholesale buyers for months. They say they love your products, but you can’t get them to place that first order and start carrying your line. You know that if they took a chance on you, your products would fly off the shelves, but you don’t know how to get them to take that leap…

It’s time for Retail Ready, an online course specifically designed to help amazing producers land and grow amazing wholesale accounts.

Enrollment is now open! Check out the Details here: www.alliball.com/retail-ready-course-waitlist

Retail Ready will run again from August 28 to Sept. 22, 2017.

Get A $100 dollar discount by using the code SCIENCE17 at checkout! 

For producers looking to understand the behind the scenes of wholesale, gain clarity on what a Buyer thinks through as they consider new product lines for their shelves, finally decide if they’re ready for adding a broker or distributor, and confidently outline their steps for growth in 2017, Retail Ready is here for you.

After completing Retail Ready, you will:

  • Finally have a business plan that came together easily, without blood, sweat and tears, and guides you in decision making for your business
  • Have a clear game plan on how to increase your wholesale accounts- outlining what to focus on first, and how to make the right choices the first time around
  • Have Buyers knocking on your door, asking to bring in your product line
  • Get wholesale accounts to say “Yes!” to carrying your products after the very first interaction- no more back and forth for weeks, wondering when they’ll bring in your brand
  • Understand what makes killer marketing material- shelf talkers, promotional material and a sell sheet- and be proud when you see them on the shelf
  • Articulate and leverage what makes your product stand out on the shelf & finally gain understanding on who is actually buying your product… plus how to use that information to gain more sales
  • Happily make sales calls and pitch to new accounts, knowing that you sound polished & confident as you talk about your brand
  • Understand whether adding a broker or distribution is the right choice for you in your current stage of business – so that you continue to grow and start making money
  • Totally feel comfortable negotiating wholesale costs with Buyers, and have a clear picture of how much you’re actually making in your business
  • Have other food producers contacting you, asking “How did you do it?” as they see you gain more and more wholesale accounts

This four week, live online course runs fromAugust 28 to Sept. 22, 2017 and is uniquely positioned to help you rapidly assess, understand & grow your food business through homework assignments, conference calls, a private online group, and unlimited email support.

Join Food Industry Consultant and former Bi-Rite Market Grocery Buyer Allison Ball this fall to take your business to the next level.

Get A $100 dollar discount by using the code SCIENCE17 at checkout! 

Every year the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) hosts a culinary conference like no other. The Worlds of Flavor has been going on since 1999 and next year is their 20th anniversary event! Every year the show hosts about 600 like-minded flavor seeking culinary pioneers- including restaurant chain executive chefs, Food scientists, R&D professionals, food writers and educators. For three days we mingle, watch demonstrations, participate in workshops and then wander the CIA barrel room that is filled with sponsors demonstrating and serving food as it relates to the culinary topic of that year.

Past shows typically cover a category of food like “street food” or “comfort food”- but there have also been a few years that focused specifically on one countries cuisine like Worlds of Flavor Japan (2010) and my favorite Worlds of Flavor- Spain (2006). Spain was a very special Worlds of Flavor event because I lived in Barcelona back in 1987-so the foods demonstrated at that CIA event brought me back to those days—the days when romesco, gazpacho and paella was the typical and common culinary fare of the day.

More often than not though, the CIA tends to group together food categories that fall into multiple countries. This allows them to demonstrate the culinary diversity within a specific food space. This year the theme was “Casual By Design” Fast casual, upscale casual, street food, food hall casual, world casual, quality casual in food trucks, supermarkets and home delivery services. This allowed the guests to experience world class food from across the world that was diverse in its origins but all shared a common theme of casual.

I have now attended almost every World of Flavors conference since 2006- so I am pretty familiar with the general process of how this conference works and how to get the most out of the sessions and live cooking events! The 3-day conference always starts off with the registration and opening global flavor discovery reception on the herb terrace. This year the reception featured dishes the guests chefs like Chris Consentino, Asha Gomez, Jody Eddy and Cara Mangini. The opening tasting session doesn’t last long though (so don’t arrive late!) and the next part of the conference is the general session with keynote speakers and culinary demonstrations. This year we got to hear the keynote speaker K.F. Seetoh, the founder of Makansutra, a company dedicated to the celebration of Asian food, culture and lifestyles. A former photojournalist, he publishes food guides, a television series, and has built a 15,000 square food Asian Food Village in Manila, Philippines. K.F. Seetoh amused the crowd with stories about casual food, what it means and how it all started. The general sessions continued on till 7 pm with demonstrations on “Upscale Roots-Leveraging Lessons from Fine Dining for Casual Restaurants” by chef Erik Ramirez from the famed Llama Inn in Brooklyn, Niklas Ekstedt, Jonathan Wu, Chris Cosentino and then more demonstrations on “What the Market Wants Now- Business and Culinary Strategies for a Multi Model Restaurant”. The entire general session can be viewed online here– so you can experience it almost as well as we did (minus the eating samples)

After all that food demo watching, the hunger kicks in and we all go to the World Marketplace for the tasting/dinner in the Vintners Hall of Fame Barrel Room. This is the 1.5 hours of walking around, visiting all the chefs at their sponsored demo stalls, tasting big and small bites and drinking delicious wine. I take lots of photos during this tasting, you can view my photos of the opening barrel night here:
https://goo.gl/photos/UmzWJAbjkhsdxRHJA

Day two of the conference was a full day of watching, eating and learning, starting with the breakfast sponsored by Minors (I am sorry to say I overslept and missed the breakfast but I did have a wonderful bacon and egg croissant sandwich in St. Helena-check it out!

I made it back in time for sessions on Building Dishes Around Great broths- Techniques From French to Asian Cuisines for Maximum Flavor Layering— with demonstrations by Michael Gulotta, Maxime Bilet and Einav Gefen.

After our selected workshops (there were multiple to choose from both in the kitchen as demo’s and as seminars) There were then more general sessions and then.. my favorite.. back to the barrel room for lunch. The World Marketplace event on Thursday used to take place in the evening but the CIA understands that we don’t want to miss out on all the great restaurants in the PM so now we have the marketplace at noon. I ate like it was dinner though! Check out my Thursday afternoon photos here:
https://goo.gl/photos/k42Fqd7BepV8YyAR7

Right after lunch- we had the dessert back in the general session room. I had to try at least one of each!

So many desserts….

I was so full that I myself did not go out to dinner. Later that night though I did get to snack on mini bags of almonds and pistachios that the sponsor Pom Wonderful provided.

Day Three- the last day! The early breakfast featured recipes by Chef Ina Pinkey- we ate that as we watched General Session X Fresh Approaches for Casual-Flavor seekers in the Asian kitchen. We then had our breakout sessions and of course back to the barrel room for our third big feeding! My photos of day three are here: https://goo.gl/photos/MzKY2m69nM1EzcEG7

And then it was over. A big takeaway was that casual can be whatever you want it to be and all countries have casual. Fine dining is out, casual dining is in—but don’t confuse casual with simple—from what I experienced- the casual dishes are just as complex as the fine dining ones- from their flavor layering to presentation! Casual dining is derived not only from traditional cuisine but the younger generation of up and coming chefs bring their innovative versions of casual to the table.

Lots of foods that we buy can last a very long time, like thermally processed canned foods, diet soda, those protein shakes that they sell in the shelf stable cardboard boxes, and dry packaged items like spaghetti and rice. Those are the long lasting items—but there are many food items that don’t last a long time like fresh baked goods, meat, vegetables and fruit. These items can spoil fairly quickly when they are exposed to air, moisture, heat and other microorganism friendly weather conditions.

Most microorganisms that cause spoilage in food are classified as bacteria, yeast or mold. Bacteria are tiny single-celled organisms that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Bacterial growth cannot normally be seen, but the resulting damage that occurs when spoilage bacteria grow in food (bad odors and flavors, physical changes, etc.) is how we are able to detect that spoilage has occurred. Yeast and mold are both members of the fungi family, and are the cause of more visible spoilage in foods. Spoilage caused by yeast and mold can be seen easily as it grows and spreads on the surface of a food product. Mold is often seen as a fuzzy colored mass, while yeast will display itself as a white to pink/red circle on the spoiled food.

But how do these microorganisms get into your food in the first place? The microorganisms that are capable of spoiling food are ubiquitous in nature. They grow in the soil, land and air and also live on the skins of fruits, vegetables, animals and humans. They live inside the intestinal tracts of animals and can grow on improperly sanitized kitchen equipment with leftover residual food from the last production run. They can be transported directly to food via unwashed hands and dirty utensils. Spoilage organisms seek out opportunities to invade the flesh of any plant or animal tissue that can provide the specific nutrients and growth conditions that they need to survive. People who prepare food for consumption need to make sure they minimize the environmental conditions that promote microorganism growth. Generally speaking, products that have lots of moisture like meat, fruit and juices should be kept refrigerated. This will dramatically slow down microorganism growth. Products that are typically dry in nature like granola bars, cookies and candy should be packaged well to keep the outside moisture out. If moisture gets into a dry food product, that food will now be moist and support bacteria growth.

Here are a few tips to slow down mold growth in your food products:

1. Be as sanitary as possible during the entire production process: Wash up, wear gloves when handling post cooked cooled foods and sanitize all your cooking equipment before and after using. This will reduce the amount of bacteria, yeasts and mold from getting in the food to begin with.

2. Bake the brownies/cookies till they are very very dry: Moist baked goods are delicious if you plan to eat them within 24 hours. However, a moist brownie that sits on the shelf for a few weeks, has water in it that can support the growth of microorganisms. The more water you take away, the harder it is for them to grow.

3. If you must keep the brownie moist, add preservatives: Preservatives come in many forms such as potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and cultured dextrose. They are an additional layer of defense that will slow down yeast and mold even in a moist environment.

4. Gummy bears should be kept dry too: Those gummy bears you buy at the store went through a 2-day severe drying process in special dehumidified rooms with dehydrators. This is why store bought gummies don’t get moldy. Most entrepreneurs and small batch manufacturers don’t have that type of drying equipment, so the final gelatin treat retains moisture and can become moldy. If you can’t sufficiently dry out the gummies you should keep them refrigerated. Adding extra sugar helps too, it binds up the water making it unavailable for microorganism growth.

Big food companies spent years trying to extend the shelf life of their food products. Their food scientists scrutinize over detail of the product like precise sugar percentages, product pH, moisture levels, water activity and soluble solids. They try to adjust those product details to ensure they do not support bacteria growth. This type of research takes time and you too will have to adjust your recipe frequently. By utilizing math, technical measuring tools and the scientific method you will be able to isolate and fix your mold issues.

LIVE PODCAST

Ep. 017 – Why Phil believes in the RCA, with Philip Saneski, President of the RCA Student Committee

The below blog and above podcast Posted on September 12, 2016 by Author Adam Yee 

Today we have Philip Saneski, an inspiring, young, proactive, dude who has recently been working hard to build up the Research Chefs Association Student section.

Philip works in an innovative consulting company in San Francisco as an intern, has experience as a pastry chef and, as a student, during the school year, he is involved quite heavily in the Research Chef’s Association (RCA).

You might remember the Research Chefs Association or Culinology program in episode 12, where Kim Schaub talks about her experiences. Her podcast features culinologists from the RCA.

Enjoy the interview! Phil really shines a light on everything the RCA has to offer.

About Philip Saneski

Philip has culinary experience working in San Francisco Chronicle’s ‘Top 100 Bay Area restaurants’, and Michelin star kitchens as a line cook on multiple stations, as a Pastry Chef for an upscale hotel, at AQ Restaurant, a James Beard Award finalist for ‘Best New Restaurant in the Country’ and most recently Bob’s Well Bread Bakery, named one of the ‘Top 15 Small Town Bakeries in the Country’ by Travel & Leisure magazine. In addition to being a certified wine sommelier, Philip has expanded his palate by working for award-winning chefs in Portland and Austin. As President and Co-Founder of the Research Chefs Association Student Committee, he is passionate about providing long-term food industry careers to talented students who are able to combine food science and culinary arts – what he calls ‘extending the shelf life of chefs’. Interested students can find out more about these R&D opportunities through his Student Committee team’s student-run blog The Culinologist: Creating the Future of Food.

Philip’s extensive pastry experience and volunteer involvement for non-profit organizations led to a coveted internship at a San Francisco Bay Area-based food science product development consultancy, A LA Carte Connections, LLC. During his time as an intern, he became even more enthralled with developing future food products. From gluten-free baked goods to no-bake energy bars, from plant-based proteins to cricket flour. He says that representing innovative start-ups as well as established global corporations is (thankfully) never the same.

Whether Philip’s balancing school with early mornings as a Pastry Chef or in R&D, everyday his Food Job Rocks! He wants all food interested students to feel the same enthusiasm by making them aware of the numerous career paths available beyond the restaurant kitchen. In March 2016, Philip was given the Research Chefs Association President’s Award, the first student ever in the association’s 20 year history.

About the RCA

The Research Chefs Association is the leading professional community for food research and development. Its members are the pioneers of the discipline of Culinology® – the blending of culinary arts and the science of food.

 

A salt meter can help you measure…. SALT percentages for consistency and accuracy in final products!

A carpenter has his saw and hammer, a doctor has wooden sticks and stethoscopes and a food scientist has refractometers, water activity units, pH meters, bostwick, brookfield and salt analyzers. The more tools we have, the better we are at ensuring consistency and accuracy in both the creation and manufacturing of food products. What are these tools and how can they help you, the food maker, make consistent quality products that will never disappoint your clients.

Water Activity: These units measure the amount of “available” water in your energy bars, gummy bears and rice crispy treats. Your goal is to have a Aw reading below 0.65 to ensure no yeast and mold growth. These units typically cost around $2,000 dollars and can be used for quality control, product consistency and will help ensure that each batch will consistently last as long as the last batch.

Refractometer: In the wine world, refractometers are used to measure the amount of sugar in grapes- or the “brix”-so the wine makers know when the grapes are ready to be picked. In the food world, a refractometer is used to measure sugar and other “soluble solids” in an edible product. If you are making beverages this will ensure that the person who made the batch added the right amount of sugar, salt, caffeine and anything else that dissolved in your water or liquid base. When you buy a refractometer make sure that you purchase one with a brix “range” that fits your product. If you are making candy, you want a refractometer that can measure a range of 50 to 100, if you are making a beverage, you may only need a 0 to 50% range.

pH Meters: Acidity is important in food, not only for safety but also for flavor and quality. There are lots of pH meters on the market and you can buy a good one for under $300. Make sure you also purchase calibration fluids and calibrate your pH meter before you use it every time.

Bostwick: The Bostick, also known as a “consistometer” is a tool used in the sauce and condiment industry. It is a simple metal trough that is about 14 inches long. The Trough has a spring-loaded gate at one end, into which you load your sauce product. When you release the gate, the condiment slowly (or quickly) travels down the slightly angled trough and the distance that the trough travels in 30 seconds is your final reading. The thicker the condiment, the less distance it will travel.

Brookfield: A Brookfield unit is used to measure the viscosity of fluids. It consists of a metal spindle that pushes its way through a liquid or syrup—measuring the force or internal friction of that fluid. It is used to ensure that the mouth feel and texture of food products like yogurt or syrups are the same from batch to batch.

Salt Analyzers: A salt analyzer is just that—you take a drop of your solution mixture, place it on the readable unit, press a button and in less than a minute you will know the percent salt of your solution. Typical salt solutions will read between 0 and 5% or 0 and 10%.

These simple tools are available online or you can go directly to the manufacturer websites and order directly from them. I have complied a list of amazon available tools on my website RESOURCES page.

I added them up—I have been to the Worlds of Flavor Conference 9 times—My first one was the amazing WOF Spain back in 2006 where I was introduced to Calcots and Oriol Baglaguer and his famous Mazcleta chocolate, and I have only missed one show since. I almost feel like a regular now at the CIA—I recognize all the chef instructors and staff who work so hard every year to make the conference a great success. I see some of the same sponsoring companies there year after year but always with different recipes and exciting ideas to share!

This year the theme was Asia. I went into the show wondering what I would see that I had not seen before-after all I live in the bay area where there are tons of great authentic Asian restaurants—what could I possibly see that I had not seen already? Turns out I have not seen it all! Imagine that! There is a world of Asian flavors out there that I had not ever seen—Luckily the CIA brought in chefs from all over the world representing both the time honored and the innovative, but they also looked at lesser known traditional and authentic recipes that combined both east and west flavors. Here are a few of my favorite experiences from the show!

A mushroom shaped Dim Sum

Looks like a Mushroom, taste like Dim Sum!

Looks like a Mushroom, taste like Dim Sum!

 

 

Chef Leo Long of Koi Palace demonstrated his beautiful dim sum in the shape of a mushroom! I learned from Chef Leo that most dim sum in the bay area is Cantonese style but Koi actually has more of a variety from other areas as well! Chef Leo was the international and domestic lead chef for LSG Skychef, the owner and manager of The Bistro Burger in Macao, China, and the banquet sous chef at The Westin Hotel in San Francisco.

 

 

 

Shaved Ice

Not my 1979 Snoopy Snow Cone Machine (although I am sure they were inspired by Asian shaved ice desserts) this ice dessert was a whole new culinary experience for me. The ice was watery but soft—like snow! It melted like ice cream when eaten but had no fat in it! It was flavored with green tea and strawberry. This machine is currently not available in the U.S. but what a great unit to have around for summer BBQ’s. Here is a link to the Japanese site that you may be able to buy them from. The video shows it in action!

 

Edible Paintings

I was somewhat in awe of the edible paintings. Chef Janice Wong, chef owner of 2am:dessertbar in Singapore has been awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef and is pushing the boundaries between sweet and savory in her cutting edge high tech dishes! I got to try her edible paintings—the paint is made out of sugar and marshmallows and chocolate—and flavored both sweet and savory! I guess my food science questions are—is her chocolate paint all natural or does it have artificial colors? What is the shelf life on those paintings! So amazed at all the creativity going on with her pastries. Just glad I got a chance to taste the painting! Here it is, a video of me eating a painting and not double dipping!


Gochujang Paste

image2I have heard about this sauce randomly over the past few years but got to experience it in a more serious way at the conference. This Korean hot pepper paste is showing up everywhere including in the soon to be launched Gochujang Seaweed Crisps by Annie   Chun’s. This product is NOT EVEN on the market yet—but I got to taste them and they are delicious! I think that anything this sweet heat paste touches will be gold!

 

Ingredients For Food Scientists Too!

As a food scientist I was excited to see some of my favorite ingredient suppliers there like Perfect Puree of Napa Valley and Wixon Flavors! Its always fun to see great ingredient suppliers incorporating their ingredients into unique culinary applications like the Singapore Sling (all the World of Flavor cocktail recipes by Perfect Puree are available for free on their website!)

Perfect Puree Cocktails at the World of Flavors 2015

 

Wixon showed off their creative seasoning blends by creating a series of Bahn Mi like the Thai Issan Sausage Style, Char Siu Pork and Filipino Lumpia. All those recipes can be found on their website or you can contact Tara Headd(tara.headd@wixon.com).

Wixon Ban Mi Sandwiches

Wixon Ban Mi Sandwiches

Live General Sessions-Still Online

The general session featured lively chefs- my favorite ones were Will Goldfarb, Jehangier Meta, and of course always the crowd pleaser Martin Yang—famous for breaking down a chicken in under 20 seconds (always impressive to see that!). The general sessions are still available online for anyone to watch- and relive those moments.

Stay tuned for 2016 World of Flavors featuring Europe and the America’s—World of Flavor On Fire!

 

 

Food for scientists

Manufacturing and selling food to the masses is serious business. Its all fun and game to think about the media attention the fame and glory at the trade shows and the fun times but are you thinking about your food safety plan and the processes you must have in place in order to comply with FDA regulations? Big co-packers do, smaller start up companies often forget about these pesky details!

Every year 48 million (1 in 6) people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. Our food supply system has become quite complex with ingredients and major food components being imported from all over the world. Even if you have a handle on your own food safety procedures, do you know what all your suppliers are up to? Have you visited their plants in China and Germany or wherever else your supply comes from? Just because your ingredient came from a broker here in the USA, doesn’t mean that the food came from here.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are the new FDA rules for food safety. It was signed into law on Jan 4 2011 and the goal is to protect our public health by strengthening our food safety system. Scientifically based standards must be implemented from farm to table to fork to mouth! Everyone is and will be impacted by the act- from farmers to importers, to foreign countries to start up food companies making energy bars out of a commercial kitchen in the east bay! No one is immune to bacteria!

The major components of FSMA are similar to your company HACCP Plan (do you have one of those—if not, you should!) Every food establishment should evaluate the hazards in their system, figure out how they will control it and prevent it, how they will monitor it, correct errors, verify those corrections and of course keep track of it all. All food making facilities should have – at the bare minimum- a sanitation program, a training process for employees, GMP (good manufacturing practices) in place, a allergen program, a recall emergency plan and a supplier verification program. This includes commercial kitchens that are being used to make retail products.

The FDA is going to start cracking down—as they should! There will be more plant inspections and if anything in your facility is amiss, the FDA can now issue a mandatory recall (in the past it was all voluntary- now the FDA can force you to shut down) There will be more heavy monitoring at the borders to ensure that imported foods coming into the US are following their own similar safety plans.

The FDA is doing what they can to assist but you, the food maker, cannot rely on their program alone. Food makers have to have their own strict plans in place, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are well versed in all regulations and are following them.

How can you learn more about these regulations? You can start off by reading the FDA code of federal regulations. Its available for free and on-line ! You can specifically read about the FSM Act You can sign up for HACCP certification courses all over the U.S.

Private label co packers often have teams of food safety staff ensuring that all regulations are being followed. If you choose to work with a co packer don’t be shy about asking to see their HACCP plan and pre requisite programs. While the co packer holds the ultimate liability on the safety of your product, you still own the reputation. Do you want to be on the 6 PM news as the latest company to have killed 23 people in the Midwest?!

If you choose to make the food yourself via a commercial kitchen then you own the liability. Before you being to produce and sell make sure you speak with the health department about the specific safety concerns related to your product and understand all the requirements on managing that safety. Even if you are not meat or juice, you should still learn HACCP and set up a plan in your kitchen. HACCP is a great way to get a handle on your food safety process.

Taking SAFESERVE, the 30 minute online course- is not enough to ensure you are producing safe food. The day long classes that reenforce hand washing is also not enough. And knowing that TDZ (temperature danger zone) is also not enough. You need allergen programs, recall programs and a way to monitor your safety plan. Supplier verification does not mean knowing which stall you bought your kale from last week- it means knowing where that farm is, visiting it and knowing they are not washing it in dirty dish water.

Food safety is a shared responsibility. You, the FDA and your co packer.

See, making food ain’t so simple after all–!!

I would like to thank the city of Hayward, CA for proving a free workshop last week on FSMA.  The speaker Nikoo Arashteh did a great job of summarizing the latest information. You can learn more about her services via linked in https://www.linkedin.com/pub/nikoo-arasteh/3/ba0/2b0  The seminar inspired me to write this piece and I have used information directly from the presentation!

 

Seminar Here http://yournextep.com/presentations.a5w

For more musings on food safety, food science, development and research chefs check out my website The Intrepid Culinologist 

 

law office

Michele Simon and Lauren Handel of Foscolo & Handel PLLC will cover the top four legal issues for startup food businesses.

Watch the FREE 23 minute video here, post your questions and comments
https://circleup.com/community/article/presentation–the-top-4-legal-issues-for-food-startups/VMfLDCsAAKCj3k8k/

  1. Unlawful or risky marketing claims
  2. Marketing opportunities, such as key product certifications
  3. Managing product liability risks
  4. Unique regulatory compliance and liability concerns for innovative foods

This presentation will guide investors and companies through the legal nuances of operating, and investing in, upstart food businesses. Food and beverage start-ups are all the rage. Some are hoping to be the next high-tech protein supplement while others are angling for the hot gluten-free market. But before betting the farm, you need to understand the unique legal risks, compliance issues, and marketing opportunities impacting the value of a food business. An investor in a food business needs to consider more than the company’s financials and sales. You need to ensure, for example, that any product claims being made with the “pitch” for funding can be legally made when it comes to writing marketing copy.

The Fancy Food Show was in town this week! I love wandering around the show, checking out the trends and secretly searching for false claims, labeling violations or stuff that is just misleading! That’s what food scientists do, and then we pick up the phone, call the FDA and make sure violating entrepreneurs are BUSTED!!

But the reality is, there are just way to many products out there for the FDA to inspect for compliance and unless your product is under USDA jurisdiction, you don’t even have to have it inspected or approved before putting it on the shelf. This is all the more reason to do your diligence and make sure you don’t accidentally lie, mislead or omit any important information.

Here are a few common mistakes that start up food entrepreneurs make that could result in a product recall or even worse—causing someone to get sick or die!

Allergen Labeling– It is very important that you clearly state any of the 8 major allergens that are in your product. They include Milk, Eggs, Fish, Shellfish, Tree-nuts, Peanuts, Wheat and Soy.   Double check every ingredient that goes into your product to make sure they don’t have hidden allergens (like dry seasoning blends that may have soy or nut powders in them). Just check out the FDA recalls and you will see how many products are recalled almost every day for accidently not listing an allergen.   By the way—coconut is considered an allergen in the U.S.A., and Canadian allergens include sesame seeds and mustard.

Serving Size– Unfortunately, your 1-lb muffin that delivers 9 grams of protein is not an honest serving size! The FDA has what is called RACC (Referenced Amounts Customarily Consumed) and they say a normal muffin size is 55 grams (that’s about 2-oz). You may not consider this a portion, but the FDA does. Watch your sizes and base your nutritional information on what is the reference. Its all right here in Title 21 of the CFR part 101.12

All Natural? The FDA does not have an actual definition of “all-natural” and there have been plenty of class action lawsuits. The rules are vague and there are lots of ingredients that may seem natural- like modified food starch and alkali processed cocoa- that are not. You have to figure that if big companies like Trader Joe’s and Ben and Jerry’s are getting sued then you can get in trouble too. Your best bet is to just stay away from the “All Natural” term. The All Natural terminology is just so 10 years ago anyway- try to focus on other ways to market your product in a more measurable and certifiable way (Gluten Free, Kosher, Organic—etc)

Net Carbs– This is a made up word used to indicate the total number of carbohydrates minus soluble fiber and sugar alcohols. The term is not based on sound science and can give consumers the false impression that they do not contribute any calories or raise blood sugar levels. The FDA has not has not yet taken a position on words like “net carbs” on your food package- however they will evaluate labels on a case by case basis to ensure that the brand owner is not “characterizing” the amount of carbohydrates in a product. For example saying your product “ONLY” has 5 carbs per serving is characterizing it—you are doing more than just stating the facts. If you do want to market your product as having a lower carbohydrate level and imply that it will help with weight loss, be very careful of your wording and run your final statements by a regulatory lawyer expert!

Keep it real- I know that all food entrepreneurs have the best of intentions and want to make sure that their creations are healthy and clean. However, there are many tempting and alluring food science shortcuts that will make your product taste great or last longer on the shelf… but can all of a sudden make your product not as “real” or as “clean” as you want it to be. Don’t try to hide what you are doing! If you are going to jack up your fiber levels with soluble corn fiber then just put it on the label and fess up! Calling your natural flavors as “extracts” is not fooling anyone (ok maybe it is, but you know deep down that you are misleading!) -Don’t try to downplay your protein sources or bacteria inhibiting preservative levels.

Before you put your product on the market have the entire package reviewed by a regulatory lawyer or food scientist. Hidden mistakes can result in millions of dollars lost as well as your brand name reputation.

 

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