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Articles from 2009 In July

DNP Down Slightly in 2Q09

SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. DNP International reported its 2009 second quarter sales were down 9.13 percent compared to the same period in 2008; however, the company noted it is focusing on strengthening its operations and customer relations, and expects sales to increase as the year progresses. Lynn Chau, DNPs executive vice president noted, DNP will focus on preparing its customers for cGMP (good manufacturing practice) compliance and making sure our strategies are aligned with our goals. We believe sales should continue to pick up in the later part of the year and we are looking for a modest increase of 10 to 15 percent compared to the previous years quarter.

Fish Intake and Colon Cancer

WAGENINGEN, The Netherlands— An increase in the consumption of either oil-rich or lean fish to two portions weekly over six months does not markedly change apoptotic and mitotic rates in the colonic mucosa (Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;90(2):354-61).In a multicenter, randomized, controlled intervention trial, 242 patients with colorectal polyps, inactive ulcerative colitis or no macroscopic signs of disease were recruited and randomly allocated to receive dietary advice plus either 300 g/week of oil-rich fish (salmon) (n=82), 300 g/week of lean fish (cod) (n=78) or only dietary advice (DA) (n=82).

The total number of apoptotic cells per crypt did not increase in the salmon or cod group: –0.10 and –0.06, respectively, compared with the DA group. The total number of mitotic cells per crypt decreased nonsignificantly in the salmon group and in the cod group compared with the DA group. Furthermore, the distribution of mitosis within the crypt did not significantly change in either group.

How Resveratrol Works

Numerous studies have indicated resveratrol, a polyphenol found in red wine, may be effective for prevention of age-related disorders ,such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But, until now, little was known about how resveratrol works.

A recent study investigated how resveratrol works to curb inflammation. Scientists found that resveratrol stopped inflammation in mice by preventing the body from creating two different molecules known to trigger inflammation: sphingosine kinase and phospholipase D.

House Passes Food Safety Bill

WASHINGTONThe House of Representatives passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR 2749). The bill, defeated by the House just a day earlier, represents a sweeping reform of the nations food-safety system.

The bill gives FDA the power to order food recalls and expands the agency's access to company records. The bill also requires all facilities to have a food safety plan in place and increases the frequency of food inspections.

Psyllium Successful in Gluten-Free Formulating

MILANAs the market for gluten-free products expands, so do formulation strategies for mimicking the structure of gluten-containing products. One ingredient that shows promise, according to research done at University of Milan and Michigan State University, East Lansing, is psyllium fiber.

Researchers evaluated doughs made with different levels of several ingredients: corn starch, amaranth flour, added for nutritional benefits; pea protein isolate; and psyllium fiber, which works as a viscosifier as well as a fiber source. They examined how these formulas affected the doughs rheological properties and ultrastructures. They found that psylliums film-forming ability enhanced the structure and the physical properties of the dough. The scientists also reported that they had designed several formulations that could  improve on current bread technology and nutrition when compared to commercial gluten-free mixes.

Vitamin B6 and Red Blood Cells

GAINESVILLE, Fla.Marginal vitamin B6 deficiency tended to decrease mean red blood cell (RBC) glutathione synthesis with no effect on RBC glutathione concentration, with a varied response (Am J Clin Nutr.2009;90(2):336-343). Glutathione plays various protective roles in the human body. Vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP) is required as the coenzyme in the formation of glutathione precursors. Despite this obligatory role of PLP, previous studies showed vitamin B6 deficiency caused elevated glutathione concentrations in rat liver and human plasma. Researchers measured plasma and RBC glutathione concentrations and the fractional and absolute synthesis rates of RBC glutathione in 13 healthy volunteers aged 21 to 39 years.
Dietary vitamin B6 restriction did not significantly affect the glutathione concentration in plasma or RBCs. Because the cysteine concentration in plasma and RBC did not change during vitamin B-6 restriction, researchers concluded the effects of marginal vitamin B-6 deficiency on glutathione synthesis are not caused by altered precursor concentrations.

Government Unveils New Food Safety Strategies

WASHINGTON, D.C.HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack have announced that prevention and partnership will help guide departmental efforts to improve domestic food safety. New strategies focus on prevention and close working relationships with growers, food processors and consumers.

This announcement included several key points, including:

FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg noted that the draft guidances represent a shift in FDA strategy toward prevention instead of reaction.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Secretary Sebelius, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announce New Strategies to Keep Americas Food Supply Safe

Cholesterol Claims Continue to Draw Regulatory Attention

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by Wes Siegner, Ricardo Carvajal and Susan Matthees

Earlier this year, FDA took a shot across the bow on claims about lowering cholesterol, sending a warning letter to General Mills in response to such claims made for Cheerios. Shortly thereafter, it was FTCs turn, as the agency closed its investigation of Pharmavites advertising campaign for CholestOff dietary supplements, which contain free-form phytosterols and are promoted to lower cholesterol. According to the April 2009 letter, Pharmavite used advertising and labeling claims that CholestOff is clinically proven to lower cholesterol and, more specifically, that CholestOff lowers low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol up to 24 percent or 42 points. FTC questioned whether there is adequate substantiation for these claims because most studies testing the effect of phytosterols on cholesterol involve either conventional foods or dietary supplements that contain phytosterols in their esterified form; CholestOff contains phytosterols in their free form. FTC also noted the more specific cholesterol-lowering claims made by Pharmavite singled out the most dramatic reductions in the underlying studies.

FDA regulations authorize health claims that describe the relationship between diets that include plant sterol or stanol esters and reduced risk of heart disease, but only in the labeling of certain types of conventional food and dietary supplements, and only those that contain esterified phytosterols (21 CFR § 101.83). In 2003, FDA issued a letter stating the agency would consider exercising enforcement with respect to these requirements, thereby opening the door to the use of the claims in the labeling of other types of conventional food and dietary supplements, including those that contain phytosterols in their free forms.

Citing FDAs letter of enforcement discretion and Pharmavites agreement to remove the claims to which FTC had objected, FTC decided not to take action against Pharmavites more general claims, even though in FTCs view, there were concerns about whether even these claims are substantiated.

Although the two actions are from different agencies, it appears that all eyes are being turned to cholesterol-lowering claims.

The authors are all with Hyman, Phelps & McNamara P.C., a law firm with primary practice focused on FDA and FTC regulatory and enforcement matters. Wes Siegner is a director at the firm, Ricardo Carvajal is of counsel and Susan Matthees is an associate with the company. This INSIDER contribution is based on a blogpost from the FDA Law Blog .

Starch in Frozen Sauces


Sauces are like icing for entrées. Whether thick and rich or light and delicate, sauces accent an array of foods and, in some cases, create the distinctive flavor or texture for which a product is known. And in sauces of all sortsfrom rich cream sauces that coat your mouth with lingering flavors to fiery marinades that transfer flavors of all sorts to meat, poultry and fishstarches have long been used for textural assistance.

Cold, hard facts

Growing interest in frozen products has, however, presented new challenges for developers. In general, starches are used in sauces to modify texture, increase emulsification and improve mouthfeel, says Denise Fallaw, technical manager for meat & convenience, Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Wayzata, MN. In frozen applications, it is important the starches have good freeze/thaw stability to maintain these characteristics through multiple cycles of temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations and freeze/thaw cycles are far more numerous than you might think. Rachel Wicklund, food scientist, Tate & Lyle, Decatur, IL, explains that such temperature swings are as likely to be seen in the manufacturing facility as on a distribution vehicle, or in a grocery store display case. Each time the door to the case is opened, the temperature in the display case goes up and the food may begin to thaw. Then, when the door is closed, the product re-freezes. If you combine that with the repeated freezing and thawing of the food that occurred before the food even reached the display case, with the repeated freezing and thawing that can occur as that food sits in your shopping cart and then your car before ever reaching the freezer at home, it is easy to understand why freeze/thaw is such a concern.


Regardless of origin, starches are made up of two primary components: linear amylose and branched amylopectin, arranged radially into granules. The ratio of amylose to amylopectin will affect the characteristics of the starch during processing. Starches with a higher proportion of amylopectin will thicken, but do not form a gel as their counterparts with higher levels of amylose, Fallaw says. Retrogradation, where starch reverts to a crystalline structure upon cooling, is more likely with higher amylose starches. Wicklund notes that the origin of a given starch will affect the amylose-to-amylopectin ratio, providing functionalities that make a starch more or less suitable for frozen sauce applications.

Waxy corn starches, which are essentially composed entirely of the branched-chain molecule amylopectin, are excellent low-cost thickeners for many foods, including frozen sauces, Wicklund says. Dent corn starches consist partly of the straight-chain molecule amylase, and the remainder amylopectin. The straight-chain amylose molecules can associate to create a more-firm, slightly gelled texture that is highly desirable for many sauces. Functionality of starches that contain both amylose and amylopectin is often affected by granule size. Larger granules often exhibit lower molecular bonding. This allows for more-rapid swelling and greater potential amounts of water absorption. Potato, rice and tapioca starches are examples of large granule starches that impart rich creamy textures to sauce products. Increased physical size, however, brings increased susceptibility to shear.


While native starches can provide texture and mouthfeel effects, usage is limited because viscosity becomes too great above 6% solids. Additionally, very few native starches can provide the level of stability required for modern frozen products, especially those that will be reheated by microwave oven. In such systems, manufacturers turn to modified starches to obtain the specific functionality they seek. By further processing and modifying the starches, starch manufacturers can change the viscosity, gelatinization temperature, pH stability and emulsification properties can be changed, reports Mark Purpura, technical service manager, Advanced Food Systems, Somerset, NJ. Starches can also be modified to become more resistant to shear and be cold-water-soluble. Side chains or groups can also be added to give the starch additional functionality. Cross-linking is a process by which bridges are formed between hydroxyl groups on the starch chains. These connections increase its tolerance to heat, acid and shear. Cross-linking strengthens the starch granule and provides stability at low temperatures, giving excellent freeze/thaw stability, Fallaw says. Cross-linking also yields a shorter texture. Stabilization blocks starch retrogradation and the syneresis that can result thereafter. Stabilization, she says, prevents shrinkage of the granule and provides stability at low temperatures, giving excellent freeze/thaw stability. Wicklund adds: It is also important to prevent boil-out of the sauce, which requires that the sauce not heat-thin excessively. The incorporation of a heat-stable cross-linked starch will maintain the sauce texture and viscosity during reheating and reconstitution. Substitution, reacting a starch with another compound, adds functionality that will vary with the reactant. Substitution opens and expands the starch granule structure, which adds viscosity, improves water holding and stabilizes the texture during the shelf life of a frozen sauce, Wicklund says. Acetylation increases water-holding capacity and is a cost-effective means to improve freeze/thaw stability, while high-hydroxpropyl substituted starches provide superior water-holding, as hydropropyl substitution is the go-to starch modification for water control and freeze/thaw stability. Pregelatinization is a physical modification by which a starch slurry is cooked-up, dried and ground. This process, according to Fallaw, yields a starch with greater process tolerance and increased ease of handling and dispersion. Grind size plays an important role in the starchs performance. Large-mesh material will show less lumping in water than a fine-mesh product. The former can, however, be used to provide a less-thin, more pulpy texture. Smaller mesh powders will, in general, provide smoother textures. Dispersion is more difficult, though, as rapid hydration can cause lump formation that will reduce the efficacy of the starch and create undesirable appearance and texture in the finished sauce.

R. J. Foster is a wordsmith with a B.S. in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and over 15 years of experience in the food industry. He can be reached through his website,

Childhood Obesity Rates Triple

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Rates of severe childhood obesity have tripled in the last 25 years, putting many children at risk for diabetes and heart disease, according to a report in Academic Pediatrics by an obesity expert at Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

“Children are not only becoming obese, but becoming severely obese, which impacts their overall health,” said Joseph Skelton, M.D., lead author and director of the Brenner FIT (Families in Training) Program. “These findings reinforce the fact that medically-based programs to treat obesity are needed throughout the United States and insurance companies should be encouraged to cover this care.”

Skelton and colleagues compared data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They looked at the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in a study population of 12,384 children, representing approximately 71 million U.S. children ages 2 to 19 years.

Severe childhood obesity is a new classification for children and describes those with a body mass index (BMI) that is equal to or greater than the 99th percentile for age and gender. For example, a 10-year-old child with a BMI of 24 would be considered severely obese, Skelton said, whereas in an adult, that is considered a normal BMI.