Friday, May 12, 2017

Stealth Health: Reduce Added Sugars to Keep Dairy’s Momentum

I attended a food industry conference yesterday sponsored by ACG Chicago. This “FoodBites” event included local foodservice leaders who provided inspirational stories of corporate growth and leadership. The term “stealth health” was mentioned as an approach to staying relevant in the crowded and confusing food and beverage marketplace.

I’ve not heard that term in a while but it’s a concept all formulators should be incorporating into their product development endeavors. The term was coined around the turn-of-the-century when a book of the same name was published. Originally the concept was all about sneaking nutrition into foods. You know, blending a carrot into a chocolate shake for your picky toddler.

Today the term has evolved into the act of reducing some of the undesirables in food. It’s been going on with sodium for some time, namely in prepared foods. But it’s also happening with sugar, as manufacturers prepare for the labeling declaration of added sugar. 

Stealth is not about calling the reduction out. However, a number of dairy processors are so confident in the taste of their sugar-reduced products that they are making a big deal about it. I commend them. Their goal is to keep dairy’s momentum going among today’s health- and wellness-seeking consumers.

There are ample ingredient technologies to make sugar reduction an easy, and tasty fix. Now’s the time to take action. 

Danone has been reducing sugar across its brands since last year. Many of those products have started appearing in the global marketplace.

In February, Stonyfield announced it would be doing the same. The company announced a comprehensive plan to reduce added sugar across its portfolio.

“The commitment to reducing sugar across the product portfolio was born from Stonyfield’s mission to continually provide healthier food both for our consumers and the planet,” says Nichole Cirillo, the company’s mission director. “We are achieving a lower amount of added sugar in all Stonyfield yogurt without compromising taste or organic standards and are working towards purchasing 25% less sugar as a company this year.”

Linda Lee, chief marketing officer at Stonyfield adds, “Consumers want to limit the amount of added sugar in their diets, without sacrificing taste and the great benefits of yogurt like calcium, protein and added vitamin D. We’re accomplishing reductions across the portfolio through a committed team who’s finding a better way to deliver all of the nutrition and taste benefits of Stonyfield yogurts with less sugar. Stonyfield remains steadfast in our commitment to providing the very best yogurts, using sustainable practices, that consumers can feel good about feeding their entire family.”

Less added sugar is one component of a “healthy” food, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Earlier this month, IFT submitted written comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressing concern that labeling an individual food as healthy can be misleading for consumers.

“It’s important to be cautious in thinking of any food as healthy when what really matters is the overall quality of your diet,” says IFT President John Coupland.

Since IFT is committed to advancing the science of food and its application across the global food system, it recommended that if food and beverage products bear the term healthy, it should be used in the context of overall diet to help promote healthy eating patterns. Diets should be comprised of diverse foods and beverages across various food categories, as noted in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Further, consumers should be mindful of the amount and frequency of each of the foods and beverages they consume, in context of the overall diet. 

These comments, which were based on insights from IFT members, were in response to questions posed by FDA on “how the term ‘healthy’ should be defined when labeling food and beverage products.” IFT members work to develop food products for the retail and foodservice industry, to support consumer’s efforts to achieve a balanced diet by following the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. IFT recommended the following:

  • A hybrid approach to defining the term healthy. IFT suggested a food-based definition of the word healthy, which combines nutrient limits and a statement describing how the food helps achieve dietary recommendations.
  • The definition for healthy food should align with the three eating patterns recommended by the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Foods that exceed the recommended limits for sodium, added sugars and saturated fat should be excluded from labeling as healthy.
  • Foods fortified with essential nutrients should not be excluded from healthy labeling if the fortification is consistent with the FDA’s fortification policies and the food contributes to an overall healthy eating pattern.
Commit to keeping dairy healthy!

University of Tennessee Claims Team Win at Collegiate Dairy Contest

The University of Tennessee took the All Products honors at the 95th Collegiate Dairy Products Evaluation Contest (CDPEC) held April 12th in conjunction with the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. University of Tennessee student Michael Luethke was the All Products winner while Katie Magee (University of Tennessee) claimed the Graduate Student All Products category.

Fourteen colleges and universities from the U.S. and France participated in this year’s contest. In addition to the University of Tennessee, U.S. schools that competed were: Clemson University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Minnesota, the University of Wisconsin, California Polytechnic State University, South Dakota State University, Washington State University/University of Idaho, Cornell University, and Aims Community College in Colorado. France was represented by the Institut Polytechnique LaSalle Beauvais.

Clemson University placed second in the All Products category, while South Dakota State took third. The University of Tennessee team (pictured), is coached by Dr. Charles White. Also, pictured far right, is All Products Judge and CDPEC Board of Director Chairperson Kevin R. O’Rell.

Established in 1916 by several universities, the CDPEC initially was designed to identify quality defects in dairy products throughout the country so defects could be corrected. It expanded over the years to recognize those students and dairy product judging teams that had mastered the ability to identify high-quality dairy products. The contest gives students the opportunity to showcase their evaluation skills and prepare for careers in the dairy industry.

Students test their sensory abilities against professional judges in six different dairy products: fluid milk, butter, yogurt, cheddar cheese, ice cream and cottage cheese. Dairy industry judges from around the U.S. review eight representative samples of the six different dairy product categories and score each sample based on sensory attributes and the severity of their departure from the ideal. The students are challenged to present scorecards with answers that come as close as possible to the judgments of the experts.

All Products Winners
In the All Products individual undergraduate category, Michael Luethke of the University of Tennessee won first place, Shanna Pearce of Clemson University earned the second place award, and Krista Johnson of South Dakota State University won third place.

In the All Products individual graduate student category, Katie Magee of the University of Tennessee won first place and Kelsey Choquette of Iowa State University earned the second place award. 

Product Category Winners
First-, second- and third-place winners (and Team Category winner) were named in each of the six product categories. The undergraduate winners are: 

First place: Shanna Pearce, Clemson University
Second place: Michael Luethke, University of Tennessee
Third place: Thomas Reis, Cornell University
Team Winner: Clemson University

First place: Rachel Miller, University of Missouri
Second place: Ashley Burgess, Clemson University
Third place: Xiaoqing Tan, Pennsylvania State University
Team Winner: University of Missouri

First place: Krista Johnson, South Dakota State University
Second place: Yue Huang, Pennsylvania State University
Third place: Xiaoqing Tan, Pennsylvania State University
Team Winner: Pennsylvania State University

Cheddar Cheese
First place: Katelyn Johnson, South Dakota State University
Second place: Billy Kalil, University of Minnesota
Third place: Randall Clap, University of Tennessee
Team Winner: South Dakota State

Ice Cream
First place: Shanna Pearce, Clemson University
Second place: Zenia Adiwijaya, Iowa State University
Third place: Chris Eckerman, University of Wisconsin
Team Winner: University of Tennessee

Cottage Cheese
First place: Michael Luethke, University of Tennessee
Second place: Xiaoqing Tan, Pennsylvania State University
Third place: Shanna Pearce, Clemson University
Team Winner: University of Tennessee

The graduate student winners are:
Milk-first place: Kelsey Choquette, Iowa State University
Butter-first place: Akash Mazumder, University of Missouri
Yogurt-first place: Kelsey Choquette, Iowa State University
Cheddar Cheese-first place: Alexandra Kuechel, University of Minnesota
Ice Cream-first place: Katie Magee, University of Tennessee
Cottage Cheese-first place: Steve Beckman, South Dakota State University

To learn more about this unique competition, link HERE.

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