July 14, 2017

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Lipstick on a Pig

Debra Topham, Director for Knowledge Bank –  spoke at this year’s IFT meeting; and was picked up by the news by Mary Ellen Kuhn.

Debra Topham

This is not simply putting lipstick on a pig

Debra Topham in a session titled “Navigating the New Nutrition Labeling Regulations for Various Segments of the Food Industry.” It’s a serious mistake to believe that label changes can be accomplished quickly and easily, said Topham. “I’m here to tell you that that is a myth.

“This is not simply putting lipstick on a pig,” she continued. “You will not find it easy to take the old numbers and slap them into a new format.” For one thing, she observed, not all labeling software is created equal, so it’s important to exercise caution in this area. “Not all software is generating [data] that is compliant with the new Nutrition Facts format.”

July 14, 2017

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Sign with phrase Ask More Questions

New Guidance for California Prop 65

California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has posted new guidance for Proposition 65 Clear and Reasonable Warning regulations.


OEHHA announced on September 2, 2016, their final rule concerning California Proposition 65 “clear and reasonable warnings” the would be effective August 30, 2018. 


Here’s just a few of the Q&A. But we recommend the Q&A fully at Link for OEHHA’s PDF.

Can a business replace the September 2008 warnings and provide the new warnings immediately? Yes, during the two-year phase-in period from August 30, 2016 to August 30, 2018, a business can follow the safe harbor methods and content from either the September 2008 regulations or the new regulations (Section 25600(b)).


Who should provide a warning? Consistent with the Act, OEHHA’s new regulations place primary responsibility for providing warnings on

  • product manufacturers
  • producers
  • packagers
  • importers
  • suppliers
  • distributors.

…businesses…must either provide a warning on the product, or provide notice and warning materials to “the authorized agent” for a retail seller and receive an acknowledgment that the notice and materials were received. The retail seller is responsible for placement and maintenance of the warning materials he/she receives from the product manufacturer, producer, packager, importer, supplier or distributor. Businesses should carefully review the new requirements (Section 25600.2).


Can a business provide a general Proposition 65 warning at each public entrance to a store instead of providing warnings for specific consumer products? No. A standalone warning at public entrances purporting to cover all possible consumer product exposures would not meet the requirements for safe harbor warnings under the new regulations

July 13, 2017


Can you be truthful and misleading?

In a recent Food Navigator article  Odwalla ‘no added sugar’ case to go to private mediation by Elaine Watson+, 12-Jul-2017, the California court has ordered Odwalla into private mediation to resolve a dispute over ‘no added sugar’ claims on 100% juice products.

Why the lawsuit?

In short a truthful claim is misleading! WHAT?@#$? Let’s dissect the issue.

Odwalla proudly displays the claim “No Added Sugars” – that’s a truthful statement, as 100% has nothing added.

What does the regulation say?  21 CFR 101.6(c)(2)

(2) The terms “no added sugar,” “without added sugar,” or “no sugar added” may be used only if:

(i) No amount of sugars, as defined in §101.9(c)(6)(ii), or any other ingredient that contains sugars that functionally substitute for added sugars is added during processing or packaging; and

(ii) The product does not contain an ingredient containing added sugars such as jam, jelly, or concentrated fruit juice; and

(iii) The sugars content has not been increased above the amount present in the ingredients by some means such as the use of enzymes, except where the intended functional effect of the process is not to increase the sugars content of a food, and a functionally insignificant increase in sugars results; and

(iv) The food that it resembles and for which it substitutes normally contains added sugars; and

(v) The product bears a statement that the food is not “low calorie” or “calorie reduced” (unless the food meets the requirements for a “low” or “reduced calorie” food) and that directs consumers’ attention to the nutrition panel for further information on sugar and calorie content.

So technically, 100% orange juice is not a substitute for 100% juice, and thus Odwalla product mislead the consumer and was ‘mislabeld.’


The issue is now in arbitration, we’ll have to wait for the outcome.

Bottom line, know what your claims mean – read all the text or hire an expert that does it for you.  But a truthful phrase,  “No added sugars” has caused Odwalla (i.e. Pepsicola) a lot.


June 22, 2017

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Nutrition Facts Label Deadline Extended

FDA Intends to Extend Compliance Dates for Nutrition Facts Label Final Rules

Updated Jun 22, 2017: Scott Gottlieb assured the Senate “This is a time-limited delay. This is not a suspension of the regulation. We are not reopening the regulation.”  Source Keller and Heckman LLP.

Posted June 14, 2017

In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts Label and Serving Size final rules and set the compliance date for July 26, 2018, with an additional year to comply for manufacturers with annual food sales of less than $10 million. After those rules were finalized, industry and consumer groups provided the FDA with feedback regarding the compliance dates. After careful consideration, the FDA determined that additional time would provide manufacturers covered by the rule with necessary guidance from FDA, and would help them be able to complete and print updated nutrition facts panels for their products before they are expected to be in compliance.

As a result, the FDA intends to extend the compliance dates to provide the additional time for implementation. The framework for the extension will be guided by the desire to give industry more time and decrease costs, balanced with the importance of minimizing the transition period during which consumers will see both the old and the new versions of the label in the marketplace. The FDA will provide details of the extension through a Federal Register Notice at a later time. (Source: FDA — Note: The FDA buried the information under “compliance date” section.)

Knowledge Bank’s take – you can check out the following to see the diverging opinions as to ‘why’ the extension.

  • Food Navigator–  ACI FOOD LAW FORUM: GMO labeling blues, Nutrition Facts delays, daily values and de-fortification, and will the FDA ever nail down natural?
  • CNBC – FDA delays rule requiring new nutrition facts panel on food
  • The National Law Review -FDA to Extend Compliance Dates for Nutrition Facts Label Changes
  • Associated Press / The New York Time – FDA Delays Revamped Nutrition Facts Panel


June 22, 2017

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Mutant Cows – A labeling claim that went too far.

Arla Foods had launched a massive ‘Live Unprocessed’ campaign, depicting bovine growth hormone rbST as a six-eyed monster. Needless to say a lawsuit was filed for “false claims.”  (Source Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel   June 6th “Lawsuit says dairy ads portray bovine growth hormone rbST as a six-eyed monster”)

Which promptly resulted in  Judge order[ing] Arla Foods to halt ‘Live unprocessed’ campaign: ‘Ads create false impression that rbST is something foreign and dangerous’ (Source Elaine Watson, 15-Jun-2017, Updated 21-Jun-2017)

Knowledge Bank’s take – labels and more broadly labeling is all about being truthful and non-misleading. Consumers want and demand transparency.  Just because you develop a cute campaign or even a fancy label, does not mean that you can simply add a footnote (* † see back panel) to make everything better.  In other words you can be creative; you can’t hide the facts.


June 12, 2017

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Head of Cauliflower

Name that Food: Rice – Not Cauliflower!

WWL Radio station brings us this article

Louisiana rice in a food fight with cauliflower


JUNE 12, 2017 – 7:09 AM
Louisiana’s most popular grain is in a food fight with a vegetable…over the US government’s [food] definitions….has flared up again. The rice industry is not happy with the emergence of ‘cauliflower rice.’  … the issue is similar to a concern for milk farmers, who’ve grown increasingly angry about plant-based food companies (think soy, almond, and cashews) calling their liquid products ‘milk.’  Full article

Knowledge Bank’s take – Product names are important.  They are so important that people will fight over them. It is perfectly normal that when you enter a market the existing stakeholders will notice and will react if they think you are encroaching on “their” name.

Before naming a product, do your homework and research the regulatory and competitive landscape.  Picking a name is a balancing act between regulatory definition,  popular meaning and the stakeholders with similar names.

In this case, rice is certainly a grain. But it’s also possible to rice a potato or vegetable by forcing it through a ricer, to create rice sized version of the vegetable.

Where this fight will go is anyone’s guess.  But remember names are important; and name calling can start a fight.

June 5, 2017

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Prop 65 Hearing on Lead in Candy – Rescheduled to July 6th

Hearing on Petition Requesting Adoption of Regulations Setting a “Naturally Occurring” Lead Level in Candy Containing Chili and Tamarind

The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has decided to hold a public hearing in response to a petition from the Center for Environmental Health requesting that OEHHA “commence the regulatory process to issue regulations pursuant to Health & Safety Code §110552 setting a ‘naturally occurring’ lead level in candy containing chili and tamarind.”  Pursuant to requests from interested parties, the hearing has been rescheduled for July 6, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the Sierra Hearing Room at the CalEPA Headquarters building at 1001 I Street in Sacramento.  The hearing will be webcast at https://video.calepa.ca.gov/(link is external) (not active until the day and time of the hearing).  Notice and background documents are provided below.

June 5, 2017

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Four Gluten Free Icons

FDA Finds 99.5% of foods sampled comply with “gluten-free”

You can breath a sigh of relief. When it comes to “Gluten-free” the industry is doing a good job.  The FDA recently reported its findings. A copy of their release is below.

FDA Sampling Finds High Level of Compliance with Gluten-Free Standards

Constituent Update

May 30, 2017

More than 99.5 percent of sampled food products labeled “gluten-free” are in compliance with FDA’s requirement that such foods have less than 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten.

This is the finding of an FDA sampling assignment in which 702 samples from more than 250 products labeled “gluten free” were collected and analyzed. Only one of those products was found to not comply with one of the major FDA requirements that went into effect in August 2014 for manufacturers using the term “gluten-free” on their labeling. This product was recalled and subsequent sampling by the FDA did not find levels of gluten that violated the regulation.

FDA set standards for gluten-free labeling to give consumers with celiac disease confidence about what the term “gluten-free” means on foods that carry this label. May is Celiac Awareness Month. People with this disease are at risk of very serious health problems if they eat gluten, found in breads, cakes, cereals, pasta and many other foods containing wheat and related grains. The sampling was undertaken from July 2015 to August 2016 to gauge the level of compliance with one of the major requirements of the gluten-free labeling rule.

For More Information

June 5, 2017

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Menu-Labeling Regulations – Congressional Subcommittee June 9th

HEARING: #SubHealth to Examine Common Sense Solution to Menu-Labeling Regulations

Jun 2, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Health, chaired by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), announced a hearing for Friday, June 9, 2017, at 9 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Examining H.R. 772, The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017.”

#SubHealth will examine committee member and House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ (R-WA), H.R. 772, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2017, legislation to provide clarity and flexibility for small businesses from costly and burdensome regulations.

“The Trump administration’s announcement last month to delay the rule and reopen the FDA’s comment period was an important step for small businesses that have felt the burdens of the mandate. It also gives us an opportunity to reexamine how we best empower consumers with information,” said Chairman Burgess. “Next week’s hearing is an important opportunity to further discuss Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ bill and the FDA’s efforts in moving toward a more reasonable standard that works for both consumers and small businesses.”

The Majority Memorandum, witness list, and witness testimony for the hearing will be available here as they are posted.


May 5, 2017

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a single Cacao Pod picture

Fair Trade – Ethical Label Claims

What does it mean to be fair trade?

You can test your own understanding of fair trade.  Look at the four logos below from Fair for Life, Fair Trade USA,Fairtrade International, Rainforest Alliance . What is their percentage of ethical ingredients? If you need to cheat and see the answers…here’s the original Washington Post comparison “Your ethical chocolate might be only 20 percent ‘ethical’” .

Fair for Life LogoFairtrade International logoRainforest Alliance Certified Logo

Knowledge Bank’s take:  Providing consumers with choices that align to their food philosophies is just good business.  Certifications are good, but understand your risks.    Make sure your marketing team and more broadly your customers understand what the certifications mean.  Align and harmonize your romance copy to the certification’s meaning and not what you might think it might mean.  Ensure you have systems in place to document and manage your supply chain.