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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Court Puts FDA on a Health Regimen

Last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to pick up the pace on rulemaking to implement the nation’s watershed food safety law. Clipping a two-year process that has gone well into overtime, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the agency to complete outstanding Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules by November 30 of this year.

That means some important areas tardily left gray by the agency will have to be inked in before year end, at least as proposed rules for public comment. They include:
• Foreign Supplier Verification Program
• Accreditation of Third Party Auditors
• Preventive Controls for Animal Feed
• Sanitary Transportation of Food and Feed, and
• Intentional Contamination

The court also set deadlines for the steps leading to the issuance of final rules. Typically, proposed rules are open for a public comment period of several months, and the agency weighs the input of trade groups, government agencies, corporations and individuals in crafting a final rule. Under the court order, public comment periods on the outstanding rules must end by March 31, 2014, and the FDA must publish final rules by June 15, 2015.

Noncompliance
FSMA was signed into law on January 4, 2011 with a stipulation that the FDA complete the rulemaking process within two years. The agency has moved the goalposts several times, sliding past legal mandates and its own rulemaking schedule. At 30 months out, the agency is in technical noncompliance with the law itself.

These delays have stymied full implementation of FSMA, along with rampant confusion and even paranoia as industries struggle to adapt their current food safety procedures to the strictures of the new law. In some cases, companies are making unnecessary demands on suppliers and importers in order to get out in front of uncertain regulatory demands.

Likely, it’s this scenario that led the California Center for Food Safety and Center for Environmental Health to file an action against the agency, which ultimately resulted in last week’s order. The plaintiffs succeeded in securing an injunction forcing the agency to act. Deadline determination was left to the parties to negotiate. However, the court stepped in to set the deadlines after it deemed the agency’s proposed “target timeframes” inadequate and the plaintiffs’ request to curtail the comment periods and order progress reports to be overly restrictive.

FSMA is a landmark act highlighting the FDA’s goal of modernizing the nation’s food safety system, putting a focus on enforcing preventive measures rather than reacting to problems after the fact. The statute deploys some fundamental changes to the food safety system, including mandatory FDA food recalls, prior notice requirements for imported foods and importers’ legal responsibility for the safety of the foods they import. The law applies to all facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food for human or animal consumption.

Following Coffee?

Consumers are jumping in to follow coffee – not the beverage alone, but also the culture and the experience. There’s a whole world that’s grown up around coffee – morning rites, social situations, cultural norms, identifiable icons and images, celebrated occasions and experiences, epicurean enjoyment, and multi-faceted associations with fun and frivolity.

Capturing the world of coffee is like herding cats. But, NCA’s new online coffeehouse concept has taken on the task. And, the early results show that it’s working deliciously.

MyVirtualCoffeehouse
In just four months, MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com has delivered a plethora of rich content, as well as hundreds of Facebook and Twitter posts that celebrate all aspects of the coffee experience. There’s material from the sublime to the whimsical, technical to the hilarious, and everything in between. The connection is coffee and the lifestyle that has grown up around it. Here are just a few examples of what you can find:

·         The latest episode of Season 2 of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

·         Coffee-based recipes and a chance to vote for the winner of the “Everything Tastes Better With Coffee” recipe contest

·         Latest findings of scientists linking coffee with significant health benefits

·         Funny videos and cartoons on coffee likes, habits and legends

·         Explanations behind coffee history and lore – like why we call it “joe”

·         Efforts to make sure coffee is grown in a sustainable way, and information about the certifications that prove it

·         Original music, like what you might hear at your local coffeehouse

·         Opportunities to buy coffee-related things at good prices – like coffee-themed shoes and coffee jewelry

·         Quirky coffee news items, such as what your coffee order may say about your personality and which city ranks top in coffee consumption

·         Information about how coffee is grown, harvested and processed

·         Coffee-centric quizzes, games and contests to test your coffee IQ and win gift cards and other prizes.

·         Useful tips on brewing methods and techniques

And, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. New content is being posted every day. Don’t miss a trick – or, for that matter, a fact, figure, cartoon, tip, recipe . . . .

Exploding Audience

An exploding number of consumers are jumping online to get the full coffee experience. Since MyVirtualCoffeehouse.comlaunched in early February, monthly visits have grown exponentially:

February

March

Apr

May

1,237

2,577

3,974

22,421

 MyVirtualCoffeehouse also has robust social media presence with Facebook and Twitter extension pages. Consumers partaking of the experience has ramped up exponentially:

FACEBOOK

Likes

February

March

Apr

May

June

0

2,000

4,614

7,184

7,848

TWITTER

Followers

February

March

Apr

May

June

0

5,000

23,800

26,963

38,438

Here’s what to do:

• Visit www.MyVirtualCoffeehouse.com
• “Like” us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/iVirtualCoffee
• “Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VirtualCoffee

See you in the coffeehouse if only you jump online!

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Are You Part of the 83%?

That’s the number of American adults who now say they drink coffee. That’s up from 78% last year.

So says the NCA’s newly published market research report, the 2013 National Coffee Drinking Trends. Maybe you’re also among the 75% who consume coffee at least once a week. Or, perhaps among the 63% who drink it every day.

If you drank a gourmet coffee beverage yesterday, you’re also in good company. Nearly one-third of American adults joined you, pushing total gourmet cups to 43% of all cups of coffee consumed. If you drank your coffee at home yesterday, you joined 80% of your fellow Americans, although 31%went out – that means many had some coffee both at home and away.

If you made coffee at home, did you brew up a pot yourself? Did you use an electric drip coffee maker like a Mr. Coffee? Or, have you jumped into single-cup? Drip brewing is still #1, but single-cup is closing in fast. According to NCA’s new report,  12% of American adults now own a single-cup brewer, up from 10% last year and 7% in 2011. Awareness of the new brewing format is exploding even faster, up 11 percentage points from last year.

Coffee drinking habits also vary by ethnicity. Last year, NCA started using survey panels that aligned proportionately with the changing makeup of the U.S. population. That gave the industry a first look at coffee habits among the growing Hispanic-American population. What NCA found was that Hispanic-Americans drink more coffee than the overall population and other ethnic groups.

Seventy-six percent of Hispanic-Americans told us they drank coffee yesterday. That’s 13 percentage points ahead of the total population. By comparison, 47% of African-Americans and 64% of Caucasian-Americans drink coffee daily. Within the Hispanic-American population, too, there were differences based on degrees of acculturation and country of origin.

And, there is much more information in NCA’s new market research report. Find out where you and your customers stand on the coffee personality spectrum. How typical is your behavior? Where is the sweet spot for product planning? Can you jump the shark and get out ahead of your peers and competitors?

You can’t ride the wave without knowing how the tide is running. That’s where the NCA’s 2013 National Coffee Drinking Trends comes in. Visit www.ncausa.org for more information or to order your copy.

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Coffee Found to Ease Diabetes Effects

A new study confirms that coffee helps reduce the ill effects of diabetes and pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome. Measuring blood markers that indicate related health consequences, Brazilian scientists concluded that coffee has a measurable, protective effect. That protection, they believe, comes from coffee’s well-established leveling effect on sugar and fat levels in the blood.

The researchers fed coffee to laboratory rats chosen for their genetic predisposition to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The animals were separated into two groups – those with diabetes and those without – each of which was further divided into those fed only water and those fed coffee. Among the diabetic rats who were fed coffee, there was a significant blood sugar reduction within 21 days. There was also a reduction in overall blood cholesterol level of 5%, and a decrease of about 40% in triglycerides.

Strong, positive effects were also found when kidney function markers were measured. Blood urea, an indicator of kidney damage, was reduced by about 31% in the diabetic group. The levels of creatinine, another indicator of kidney malfunction disease, were also lowered by about 31%. Yet another indicator of kidney problems, uric acid, was reduced among the treated diabetic group to the levels of the non-diabetic, untreated group. These findings led the scientists to conclude that “the coffee drink administered actually showed benefits in protecting the kidney of these animals.”

The researchers also discussed the ways coffee is thought to deliver these beneficial effects against diabetic health consequences. Essentially, the benefits stem from coffee’s well-known regulation of sugar metabolism. As for the way coffee regulates blood sugar, theories center around important components of coffee’s 2,000 chemical components, including: chlorogenic acid, which retards sugar “transporter” chemicals in the intestines; magnesium, which positively impacts glucose tolerance; and coffee’s many antioxidants, which neutralize so-called free radical cells that create the “oxidative stress” known to play a role in the development of insulin resistance and diabetes.

The study, Influence of Coffee Brew in Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes was published in Plant Foods in Human Nutrition in May. Lead by Dr. Sheila Andrade Abrahão, the Brazilian team concluded that “the coffee beverage showed an important effect in some markers of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.” However, they also caution that more animal and human studies are needed to clarify the causal connection.

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