Bakers Want More Flexible Standards of Identity

Claiming that the current standards of identity for bread, rolls and buns are outdated and too restrictive, the American Bakers Association (ABA) filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to simplify the standards and allow bakers to produce an array of products that take advantage of today’s modern ingredient technology.
The association urged the FDA to publish a proposed rule that continues to “protect the integrity of standardized foods while allowing for technological innovation and responsiveness to consumer desires for new products in the marketplace.”
Specifically, ABA proposed that the food standards should focus on just the product’s name and its essential components, such as flour, water and yeast or other farinaceous ingredients, moistening ingredients or leavening agents.
“Any provisions that extend beyond these two essential elements unnecessarily restrict modern food technology, deny consumers important new products in the marketplace and thus harm the public interest,” ABA’s petition stated.
ABA recommended that the agency should allow bakers to have the maximum flexibility to develop new variations of the standardized product “as long as the essential characteristics of the standardized foods are preserved and consumer expectations are satisfied.”
ABA’s petition, filed in August with input from the group’s Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee (FTRAC), is an updated version of a 1997 petition, in which the association sought to amend the standards of identity for many baked goods in response to a 1995 FDA advance notice of proposed rulemaking.
“Although at that time FDA did not take any action, the agency recognized ABA’s constructive and practical approach,” noted Lee Sanders, ABA’s vice president of regulatory & technical services and corporate secretary.
The new petition reflects the technical and policy developments that have occurred in the intervening eight years, Sanders said.
The bakery products standards were developed in the 1940s and ’50s for a variety of baked goods, such as enriched, milk, egg, raisin and whole-wheat bread, rolls and buns. However, there are other products, such as rye and artisan breads, for which there are no governmental standards.
Although the petition mostly seeks to modernize the standards, the ABA takes exception to an FDA proposal that would uniformly harmonize the U.S. standards with international ones.
“Particularly in the case of bread products, where national and regional traditions and preferences strongly influence consumers’ expectations about particular baked goods, it makes little sense to attempt to establish a uniform standard that is intended to have the same meaning to all consumers worldwide,” the ABA stated.
Additionally, ABA asked FDA to eliminate the definition and standard of identity for frozen cherry pie.
“There is no basis [whatsoever] for singling out frozen cherry pies for a standard of identity, but not similarly standardizing frozen apple, peach and other fruit pies,” ABA said. “The same quality issues that could arise for frozen cherry pies would exist also for other fruit pies. Nor is there any basis for differentiating between frozen and non-frozen fruit pies. Both categories raise the same quality issues.”
The petition added, “Put simply, standardization of quality is not properly a function of government in a democratic society.”
California Suit SeeksWarning Label for Chips
If California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has his way, manufacturers of potato chips and French fries will be forced to warn consumers about the acrylamide content in their products.
Lockyer filed a complaint in August seeking an injunction to stop restaurant chains from selling fries without some form of warning, claiming that the warnings were required under the state’s Proposition 65.
“In taking this action, I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips or French fries,” Lockyer said in a release from the California Attorney General’s office. “But I, and all consumers, should have the information we need to make informed decisions about the food we eat. Proposition 65 requires companies to tell us when we’re exposed to potentially dangerous toxins in our food. The law benefits us all, and as attorney general, I have a duty to enforce it.”
Acrylamide, a chemical byproduct of combining the chemicals in food with high heat, is found in low levels in a variety of foods and is known by the state of California to cause cancer. Potato chips and French fries have been targeted by the lawsuit because they contain higher levels of acrylamide than other foods.
Snyder’s of Hanover Plans to Expand Arizona Plant
Snyder’s of Hanover has obtained approval from officials in the city of Goodyear, Ariz., to move forward with a planned 85,000-sq.-ft. expansion of its existing 121,000-sq.-ft. pretzel bakery located there. Construction is expected to begin in December or January, once all other permits are obtained and after the selection of a contractor.
The bakery, located west of Phoenix, opened in August 1998 on a 69-acre site adjacent to Interstate 10 and currently employs 100 Snyder’s of Hanover associates. The expansion will raise the workforce at the bakery to 160 when all is said and done. Production in the expanded area will begin by fall 2006. The expansion is necessary for Snyder’s of Hanover to successfully support its growing distribution in the western half of the country as well as its growing Pacific Rim customer base.
According to a report in the Arizona Republic, Snyder’s is one of the Goodyear area’s highest-profile employers, and along with Poore Brothers, Inc., and Southwest Specialty Foods, Inc., it is helping to turn Goodyear into a snack food hub in the West.
How Consumers Are Impacted by Gas Prices
Skyrocketing high gasoline prices are prompting a large number of consumers to change how they shop and spend their incomes, according to an ACNielsen survey released in mid-September.
The survey of 37,000 members of its Homescan consumer panel indicated that more people are combining errands and eating out less often.
Not surprisingly, the higher gas prices have impacted lower income families, who are using coupons more often than their affluent counterparts. Specifically, 23% of low-income panel members report using coupon more often compared with 14% of affluent consumers. About one-fifth of lower income families are buying less expensive brands of groceries and lower grades of gasoline, ACNielsen reports. About 26% of affluent consumers report that higher fuel prices had no impact on their driving and spending habits.
“With the added economic uncertainty created by the disaster in New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast, you can be sure that there are even more people looking for ways to conserve fuel and reduce overall spending,” says Todd Hale, ACNielsen senior vice president of Consumer Insights.
Sanfilippo Breaks Groundfor Corporate Headquarters
John B. Sanfilippo and Son, Inc., broke ground in September on its new 1,000,000-sq.-ft. office, manufacturing and distribution facility in Elgin, Ill.
Sanfilippo, which manufactures Fisher Nuts and other packaged and bulk snack food products, recently acquired the 95-acre Panasonic corporate campus for its new headquarters, processing and distribution center. The company plans to consolidate its Chicago area employees to the new campus from current locations in Elk Grove Village, Des Plaines and Arlington Heights, Ill., over the next several years.
Sanfilippo also was granted financial incentives totaling $5 million from the state of Illinois, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune earlier this month, in exchange for retaining 930 existing jobs and adding 25 positions as part of the consolidation plan. According to the story, the plan is expected to cost between $90 million and $100 million, including $48 million to acquire the Panasonic campus.