Thursday, April 27, 2023

Putting Lactose to Work to Lower Added Sugars


Before we talk about added sugars and lactose, a HUGE congrats to the American Dairy Products Institute’s very successful annual conference in Chicago this week. The ADPI, a trade association representing manufacturers in the dairy-based ingredients category, celebrated its centennial year at the meeting and has big plans for the next century.

Read about how ADPI is seeking the next generation of dairy innovators HERE.

Reducing and eliminating added sugars in foods and beverages was the buzz this week, with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) hosting a virtual three-day Sugar Reduction Summit with the theme of “Supporting Science, Sparking Advocacy, Strengthening Communities.” Public health experts, community advocates, and policymakers from state, local, national and international levels convened to promote public policies that seek to reduce health harms from excess added sugars in foods and beverages. 

On Tuesday, CSPI and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene filed a joint petition with FDA to set voluntary targets for reducing added sugars in foods and beverages.  

When it comes to setting added sugar reduction targets, some of the heavy lifting has already been done by the New York City health department. Its National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative—started in 2009 to focus on salt and amended in 2018 to include sugar—has already developed total sugars reduction targets for the 15 categories of foods that contribute the most added sugars to the diet. This includes sweetened milk and milk substitutes, refrigerated and frozen desserts, and yogurt. You can read more HERE.

photo source: Chr. Hansen

The petition asks FDA to do four things. First, the agency should issue guidance for the food and beverage industry that provides short-term (2.5-year), mid-term (5-year) and long-term (10-year) targets for added sugars content in the commercially processed foods and drinks from categories that contribute the most overall added sugars. The long-term goal of the targets should be to bring Americans’ consumption of added sugars to less than 10% of calories, and the FDA should monitor industry’s progress toward achieving the targets, according to CSPI and New York City. 

Second, the FDA should create a public online database of all of the top-selling products included in the targeted food categories as well as each product’s nutrition information (including added sugars content) and ingredient list. Third, the petition says that after publishing its initial guidance to industry, FDA should provide public progress reports indicating how much progress companies have achieved toward the short-, medium- and long-term targets. And finally, the petition calls on FDA to expand its guidance to include prepared foods sold at restaurants and elsewhere, once menu labeling regulations are updated to require restaurants to disclose added sugars in menu items upon request. 

“When you account for the naturally occurring sugars in fruit, milk and other foods, there really isn’t very much room left in anyone’s diet for high-fructose corn syrup or other forms of added sugars,” said CSPI president Peter Lurie. “Yet food manufacturers are seemingly shoehorning added sugars into cereals, yogurts, breads and virtually every other category of processed or restaurant food. This needs to be reversed and the FDA needs to show the way.” 

photo source: Chr. Hansen

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), said, “People want to be healthy, and they want their kids and families to be healthy too. Processed, packaged foods make it all too easy to overconsume added sugars, which can lead to higher risks factors for a whole host of health conditions and chronic diseases with related astronomical health care costs, such as diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. We are at a tipping point. Implementing added sugars reduction targets for processed, packaged foods will ultimately lower added sugars in the food supply and the amount of added sugars people consume daily.”   

Dairy processors need to put that naturally occurring sugar in milk—lactose—to work. Processors may add lactase to milk before processing in order to make a lactose-free claim. The lactase enzyme breaks down lactose, a disaccharide, into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and galactose, which are sweeter tasting than lactose. 

Couple this enzyme technology with effective use of natural flavors and flavor modulators, and you got yourself a dairy product that the Big Apple will embrace. With ice cream, refrigerated desserts, yogurt and even flavored milk, proper selection of fruit ingredients may assist, too. That’s because, like milk, the sugars in fruit are intrinsic, too. Single-strength fruit ingredients, such as purees, are not considered added sugars. 

photo source: Chr. Hansen
All of these technologies together may allow for a no-added-sugar claim. At the same time, breaking down the lactose makes the product easier to digest for those with lactose intolerances or sensitivities. 

Approximately 65% of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose, according to the National Institutes of Health. When lactose does not break down in the small intestine, it passes into the large intestine, where it may cause diarrhea, bloating and gas. 

In case you missed this new product announcement last week, Clover Sonoma, a third-generation family-owned-and-operated dairy and Certified B Corporation, is rolling out Clover the Rainbow Milk with a Splash of Flavor, the newest addition to the Clover the Rainbow product line designed for kids and kids at heart. The milk comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry flavors and is made with 100% USDA organic 2% lactose-free milk. Lactase enzyme is added to eliminate lactose and assist with natural sweetness. 

Chocolate has 2 grams of added organic cane sugar. It is made with organic cocoa and organic natural flavors. One cup contains 140 calories, 5 grams of fat, 14 grams of sugar of which 12 grams are inherent, and 8 grams of protein. 

Strawberry has no added sugars. It is made with strawberry juice concentrate and natural flavors. One cup contains 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of inherent sugar and 8 grams of protein. 
Vanilla has no added sugars. It is made with organic vanilla extract and natural flavors. One cup contains 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of inherent sugar and 8 grams of protein. 

Good Culture has been finding much success with its lactose-free cottage cheese and sour cream products. All of Good Culture’s lactose-free cottage cheeses are made with just five simple ingredients: pasture-raised milk and cream, sea salt, live and active cultures, and lactase enzyme. 

And, in case you had not heard, “Cottage Cheese Is Making a Comeback,” according to Janet Helm’s recent article in U.S. News & World Report. Link to it HERE.

What do lipstick and dairy have in common?
The answer is they can both be treats for shoppers. The lipstick theory is that consumers will more often treat themselves to little luxuries, such as lipstick, when times are tough. The so-called “lipstick index” has been in effect over the past few years. However, Deloitte’s latest Global State of the Consumer Index findings imply that when it comes to treating ourselves, we may be more inclined to spend on food and beverage than cosmetics. 

In its latest paper, “For consumers, splurges aren’t just lipstick,” Deloitte asked consumers in 23 countries if they were making purchases to treat themselves. Then analysts created a database with nearly 150,000 consumer descriptions of their splurge purchases, including what they bought, how much they spent and why they bought it. You can access the paper HERE.

Key findings include: 
  • Most of us are splurging. Deloitte found more than three in four consumers globally (77%) say they made a splurge purchase in the last month. In the US, that jumps to 81%.
  • We eat and drink our treats. The most popular category for splurging is food and beverage. US consumers are four times more likely to have said their latest splurge purchase was food and beverage (42%) vs. personal care (11%).
Let’s make those treats free of added sugars and lactose. 

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