Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Humane slaughter of animals for food purpose is a charter universally accepted and the animal food industry more or less adhere to guidelines for scientific and humane handling of animals in the slaughter houses. Arising out of such considerations, animal protection agencies also have evolved guidelines for treating domestic pets though most of the pet owners love their pets so much ill treating them does not arise. But there are people who indulge in mindless violence against animals for reasons which are not clear and this phenomenon is attracting attention from psychologists and social experts who see some perturbing trait in these offenders.

"At least 27 states now allow courts to bar convicted animal abusers from owning or coming into contact with pets, nearly double the number from a decade ago, and 3 other states are considering similar measures this year. Tennessee and California are considering bills to create online registries of animal abusers."It's not that animal abuse is more prevalent," said Stephan Otto, director of legislative affairs with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. "What has changed over the past few years is the recognition that animal abuse is often a warning sign for other types of violence and neglect."

In a country like the US domestic pets can be raised only through a licensing system which lays down stringent conditions for maintaining these hapless animals at the mercy of their owners. Offending owners are dealt with seriously for animal abuse and increased awareness about animal "rights" is making people vigilant against abuses in their neighborhood, reporting the violations to the civic bodies. The new measures being initiated in the US should be model for other countries also because an animal has equal right to live "honorably"in this planet without indignity and pain.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Ozone, the triatomic allotrope of oxygen is one of the most destructive oxidative agents known and has many industrial uses. Its importance to food and beverage industry is increasingly being realized and ozone is the most widely accepted water disinfectant to day. The high oxidative power of Ozone ensures that all contaminating microbes are decimated, making the product safe for consumption. Compared to Chlorine, the well established disinfectant used currently in most public protected water supplies, Ozone does not produce the dangerous organochlorine compounds or leave any residues due its decomposition to oxygen. Added to this, Ozone can also remove higher levels of Manganese, make cyanide less toxic and decompose urea present in water..

"Middleton said that an added benefit of using ozone in the food and drink processing sector is that it is environmentally friendly, with any residual ozone decomposing to oxygen. In terms of vapourised hydrogen peroxide, she added, it is also rapidly broken down to water vapour and oxygen, and thus leaves no problematic residues.She said that these whole room disinfection techniques can be used daily or part of the periodic cleaning and disinfection procedures that occur monthly – it depends on the output of the processor involved or the level of decontamination required.She said the methods might also only be employed when decontaminating an area after a pathogen contamination incident".

Unlike Chlorine, Ozone needs to be generated on site and generators of different capacity are readily available, compact in size. Where ever power is easily available or cheap, Ozone is the preferred choice as a disinfectant. Ozone has bad as well as good credentials when it comes to human health. Its presence in the upper atmosphere saves man from the dangers of UV exposure from the Sun while as a pollutant near earth's surface it is a health hazard. As Ozone at concentration as low as 0.2-0.3 ppm can achieve disinfection, its use is not considered a hazard for users.


Monday, March 29, 2010


Like GM Foods, Nano Technology application in food processing is also attracting world wide attention because of the uncertainties associated with its use and apprehensions about the safety of the nano particles. While industry is all excited about the immense potential for use of nano particles in processing of various foods, regulatory authorities have no clues regarding the ultimate effect these particles will have in human body. With no law barring the use of nano materials in foods, some processors are reported to be using them with no over sight from any body and lack of transparency in such practices is adding to the worries of the consumers.

"It is widely known that nano-titanium dioxide is used as filler in hundreds of medicines and cosmetics and as a blocking agent in sunscreens. But Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, worries that the danger is greater "when the nano-titanium dioxide is used in food." Ice cream companies, Hanson says, are using nanomaterials to make their products "look richer and better textured." Bread makers are spraying nanomaterials on their loaves "to make them shinier and help them keep microbe-free longer." While AOL News was unable to identify a company pursuing the latter practice, it did find Sono-Tek of Milton, N.Y., which uses nanotechnology in its industrial sprayers. "One new application for us is spraying nanomaterial suspensions onto biodegradable plastic food wrapping materials to preserve the freshness of food products," says Christopher Coccio, chairman and CEO. He said the development of this nano-wrap was partially funded by New York State's Energy Research and Development Authority. "This is happening," Hanson says. He calls on the FDA to "immediately seek a ban on any products that contain these nanoparticles, especially those in products that are likely to be ingested by children." "The UCLA study means we need to research the health effects of these products before people get sick, not after," Hanson says.

Probably there may not be any problem in using Nano Technology on the short term but long term implication needs to be ascertained before allowing industry wide use of this frontier technology. Any new technology is bound to raise concerns amongst the consumers unless the risk- benefit profile is scientifically established in favor of its use outweighing the risk factors. If Nano Technology is found to be a miracle means of improving quality and safety of processed foods, there should not be any opposition to its use. It is up to the industry and the governments to convince that the technology has been proved safe.


Saturday, March 27, 2010


The current President of USA has been picking on India for too long accusing, though subtly, for "stealing" American jobs through out sourcing business. But this myth has been demolished by the the respectable international agency Price Waterhouse through facts and figures. Though the forum where this reality came to light was organized for evolving bilateral "cooperation" for developing industry in India, what can be achieved from a collaborator keeping such a myopic view, can very well be imagined!

"This was clear to my interlocutors that the issue should be addressed. India is not just an exporter of services but it is also a net importer. There is more or less a balance, but if there is a tilt, the tilt is in favour of the US," he said. The Indian companies, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and International Business Forum, have created $106-billion income within the US in the past three years ending 2009, and created 300,000 jobs out of which 250,000 were taken up by the Americans. "It's a myth that jobs are being taken away by the Indians," Sharma said. "I have been urging the US CEOs that since they are aware of these facts they should sit with the members of Congress and give them the true picture, and when they are informed, they would withdraw amendments (read restrictions on travel by Indians)," he said".
Indian industry is woefully short of indigenous technologies and machinery for increasing their manufacturing potential and a viable cooperation regime must be put in place to augment the strength of Indian industry in general and the food processing sector in particular. It is known that importing US machinery to India is often very expensive because the material as well as the labor cost involved in fabrication is too high in the US. It makes sense if the machine building industry in the US shifts some of their manufacturing facilities to India for making India a hub for global supply at cheaper cost. Collaboration in R & D pertaining to materials, design and fabrication between Universities in India and the US also will be of relevance.


Energy is the driving force for development and India does not seem to be aware of this simple truth. Whole country is facing massive energy shortage and what development one can expect under such trying conditions. If India is able to register 6-8% GDP growth main credit goes to the rains which generally ensure adequate production of foods. Manufacturing sector also registers decent growth but if adequate power was made available the progress would have been phenomenal. The sordid tale of a failed country is not nice to hear but truth is bitter and must be faced. Here is a take on that.

"State authorities promise to have the plant running at 100 percent by the end of the month.But, so far, this plant remains a monument not to the problems of Enron, but to India's own corruption, cronyism and weak economic policies — some of the reasons that India remains a perpetual second fiddle to China, its increasingly powerful rival. For all the progress India has made in information technology and service-sector jobs, the country is still unable to provide, water, roads and other basic infrastructure to most of its 1.2 billion people. For instance, about 40 percent of the country's population is not connected to the electricity grid.This energy deficit is also an impediment to development. Here in Maharashtra, India's most industrialized state and the home of its commercial capital, Mumbai, formerly Bombay, the demand for electricity will exceed supply by about 30 percent this year, up from 4.5 percent in 1992.And if industrial companies that set up here can get electricity, they will pay more for it than elsewhere in the world, according to the Prayas Energy Group, a research organization. India's slow progress on power has kept some foreign companies away and has led many of them to largely shun the electricity business, in particular. The failure of the Enron plant in 2001, then known as Dabhol Power, was a turning point. No large power plants have started in Maharashtra since Dabhol".

The above commentary from western critics may not be palatable to patriotic Indian citizens but read carefully and see whether there is some truth in it. Inscrutable are the ways how state and federal governments in India work landing the country into a mess of such Himalayan proportion.



Till the recent real estate collapse, prices of agricultural land were ruling high, affordable only to big players with enormous resources. This is the reason why land acquisition by the state governments in various states for industrial projects had to face virulent agitation and resistance from the farmers. The shunting out of Tata Motors from Singur in West Bengal, is a typical example of what can go wrong in land acquisition proceedings and the suggestion, that prime agricultural land with high productivity should not be allowed to be diverted for non-agricultural projects, is worthy of consideration. On the other hand those farmers who get high prices, probably more than they deserve from private real estate developers, tend to fritter away the money they get, on conspicuous consumption, which is a matter of great concern.

"By Western standards, few of these farmers are truly rich. But in India, where the annual per capita income is about $1,000 and where roughly 800 million people live on less than $2 a day, some farmers have gotten windfalls of several million rupees by selling land. Over the years, farmers and others have sold more than 50,000 acres of farmland as Noida has evolved into a suburb of 300,000 people with shopping malls and office parks. That has created what might seem to be a pleasant predicament: What to do with the cash? Some farmers have bought more land, banked money, invested in their children's educations or made improvements to their homes. In Punjab, a few farmers told the Indian news media they wanted to use their land riches to move to Canada. But still others are broke after indulging in spending sprees for cars, holiday trips and other luxuries".

Land is an asset which has stood the test of time and rarely erodes in its value. Therefore it is imperative that sale proceeds from land is invested on permanent and non-depreciating assets by those who sell their land to developmental projects. It is worthwhile exploring whether GOI can think of bringing some legislation that will force the seller or the buyer to invest part of the sale proceeds in government bonds in the name of the seller with attractive annual interest. Already there is a provision in many states to prevent sale of agricultural land to non-agriculturists and this can be further stretched by including the clause that such sale is permissible if at least 25-50% of the proceeds is invested in government securities. Such a strategy will ensure that the sellers do not blow away the cash received from the land, pushing them to penury.



Contrast the facilities which have become an integral part of the kitchen to day with what the older generation had to content with and sure, modern house wives should not be complaining! Modern kitchen is fully equipped with gadgets like mixies/blenders/grinders, microwave ovens, pop-up toasters, sandwich toasters, auto-ignition gas stoves, baking ovens, auto-fryers, pressure cookers, milk cookers, auto-coffee makers, vegetable slicers/shredders, fruit juice makers, refrigerators and freezers and many others with varying functions. What it took several hours for grandmas to make a preparation, can be made under an hour to day thanks to these kitchen aids. Constant endeavor by the appliance industry to upgrade and innovate in kitchen functions is bringing out better, more versatile and multi-function kitchen aids, some of which were on display in a recently held international exhibition in USA.

"On display at the annual exhibition that ended on Tuesday was an appliance that, with a touch, perfectly browns toast and, at the same time, poaches an egg. The 60,000 people at the show could also consider the advantages of a bread maker that allows a not-so-ambitious baker to press a button and bake a cake. Fancy toaster ovens with convection heat have a one-touch "smart cookie" option so that store-bought dough can go from refrigerator to plate without a thought. Microwaves have graduated to buttons for pizzas, breakfast sausage and omelets".

Of course some of these new innovations will percolate down to India also soon either through imports or indigenous manufacture with foreign collaboration. It is a pity that pace of innovation in kitchen aids is relatively slow in India as no domestic player has the necessary R & D capability to usher in such changes. Energy efficient refrigerators with unique functions and versatility and induction electric stoves are examples of new innovations reaching India to cater to the aspiring needs of Indian kitchens.


Friday, March 26, 2010


Thousands of food adjuncts are used world over for improving different quality aspects of foods and each country has its own set of regulations that govern the use of these processing aids. International Standards Organization, WHO-FAO Alimentarius Commission and International Chemical Codex all have their own guidelines for use of additives in foods. But the Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list approved by the FDA of the US is by far the most referred guide by many industries when using new substances in formulation of food products. That the GRAS list is not reviewed seriously in the light of newer findings is a reason for alarm.

"FDA is not systematically ensuring the continued safety of current GRAS substances," according to the summary of findings. This lack of oversight goes against FDA regulations, which require the agency to reconsider the GRAS status of a substance as new scientific information emerges. Not only is the agency not reviewing the safety of GRAS additives, but it has not responded to a series of petitions from consumer groups over certain substances. Individuals and consumer groups submitted 11 petitions between 2004 and 2008, expressing concerns on salt, partially hydrogenated oils, and other substances, and FDA has only definitively responded to one".

Safety of substances added to foods for various purposes is of paramount importance and no price is too high for exercising vigilance in this area. With millions of words published every year on scientific studies from different parts of the world, consumers may find it difficult to remove "chaff from the grain" and come to any conclusion regarding the effect of various additives present in the food they consume. In stead of each country working piecemeal on this important subject, it is preferable to go for a global joint effort sharing the cost involved in establishing the safety of food additives on agreed protocols.


Amongst the inputs for agriculture the role of quality and reliability of seeds is most critical in ensuring high productivity. Under the conventional agriculture the farmers save a part of their production for seed purpose for use in the next season. But high yielding and biotechnology based seeds do not lend themselves to repeated use in the next generation affecting the yield significantly making their dependence on the seed supplier a perennial one. As the cost of such bought out seeds increases the production cost also goes up threatening the margins of the farmer. The situation is assuming alarming proportion affecting the stability of global grain prices.

"A decade ago, salesmen from as many as 50 seed companies would compete for their dollars. Each would promise healthier plants, richer yields or a better discount. Today the Leakes have little choice: There are four seed companies in their area, and all sell seeds that include genetic traits patented and licensed by Monsanto Co., the world's largest seed firm. "There's basically nothing else available," said Leake, 48. "You have to use their seeds and pay their prices." The concerns of farmers such as Leake will take center stage in Ankeny, Iowa, on Friday as the Justice Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture kick off the first of a yearlong series of public meetings to examine whether antitrust practices in agriculture are driving food prices higher. The meetings are intended to allow producers, competitors and activists to air their concerns about the grain, poultry, dairy and livestock industries. The government is also trying to ferret out reasons for the sometimes vast gaps between what farmers are paid for producing food and the prices shoppers pay at the grocery store. Justice Department officials, who spoke on background because they said it was too early to comment about concerns raised at the meetings, said the workshops were a chance for the government to examine the changes the food sector had undergone in recent years".

While it may be fashionable to criticize the seed monopoly that exists to day, a solution to this vexed issue is still to be found. Obviously dependence on the conventional agriculture system cannot meet the increasing demand for food by the growing population and mankind has to come to terms with more advanced technologies for food production that will not destroy nature and jeopardize human safety.



Organic foods constitute big business in many countries because of the threat perception that to day's agriculture depends too much on use of unsafe chemicals for increased productivity and quality preservation. Though not even 4% of world food production is accounted for by this sector its growth has been phenomenal till recently. In the US alone a staggering $ 26 billion worth of organic foods were consumed last year. Consumer has been placing lot of confidence on the ability of the government to oversee the activities of the organic food industry but a recent report suggests that fraudsters and bogus dealers are thriving in this market selling products that do not conform to the standards for organic foods.

"Spot testing is required by a 1990 law that established the basis for national organic standards, but in a report released on Thursday by the office of Phyllis K. Fong, the inspector general of agriculture, investigators wrote that regulators never made sure the testing was being carried out. The report pointed to numerous shortcomings at the agriculture department's National Organic Program, which regulates the industry, including poor oversight of some organic operations overseas and a lack of urgency in cracking down on marketers of bogus organic products".

It is not clear why spot testing, supposed to be fast is not compulsorily being done and why severe action is not taken on those violating the quality standards. New standards and testing procedures are now being put in place to test the products claiming to be organic which is expected to be taken up through licensed private analytical agencies with proper facilities later this year. The task is stupendous as there are already 28000 organizations involved in organic foods production and monitoring their performance and exercising control over the certifiers themselves is a logistical nightmare. Adequate infrastructure, sufficient personnel and whopping financial resources need to be mobilized. How far a lesser gifted country, compared to the US can ever hope for overcoming these constraints remains to be seen.



Recent trends in food prices are posing unprecedented challenges to the government regarding the approach it has to take to rein in the galloping cost of food to the common man. In spite of massive subsidies to the growers and distribution of food grains at heavily subsidized cost to families of the so called "below poverty line" (BPL) segment, there does not seem to be any respite from food inflation. Here is a treatise on what has gone wrong in this great country.

"Indian agriculture has performed so poorly largely because governments have treated it as a source of votes rather than as an engine of growth. The contrast with China is telling. China's epochal reforms began on the farms. The growing efficiency of agriculture liberated labour and capital, spawning non-agricultural firms which eventually challenged state-owned enterprises. India freed industry first, and has barely reformed agriculture at all. Its policymakers remain stuck in the mindset of the 1960s, when India relied on food aid from America. They are more anxious to avoid such humiliation than to exploit fresh opportunities: they regard a state warehouse bursting with grain as a sign of success, and imports of wheat as a mark of defeat. Politicians' outbursts against hoarders and speculators have stymied the development of storage facilities and commodity markets. And their concern to protect farmers from exploitative merchants has slowed the development of contract farming".

"India's government still fixes prices and subsidises inputs, when public money would be far better spent on infrastructure and research. It sets a floor under the prices of 25 commodities including rice, wheat, sugarcane and cotton, which discourages farmers from diversifying. Ashok Gulati of the International Food Policy Research Institute points out that an additional rupee spent on agricultural research yields 9.5 rupees of output. An extra rupee subsidising fertilisers, by contrast, returns just 0.85 rupees. Better storage and transport facilities would also allow farmers to profit from growing fruit, vegetables and flowers. These offer better prospects than staple cereals, like wheat and rice, which preoccupy policymakers. According to the World Bank, transporting grapes to the Netherlands from India costs more than twice as much as transporting them from Chile, even though Chile is twice as far".

Of course it not easy to make any prescription for curing the ills that confront the country. But the neglect of perishable commodities for so long is not excusable from either export angle or nutritional consideration. Shifting the multi culture agricultural system to mono culture practices progressively through use of intensive inputs does not help either the farmer or the consumer. Unless a national holistic agricultural policy vis-à-vis viable crop mixes and production strategies, is drawn up on a long term basis India is bound to face these uncertainties perpetually.



Industry and ethics rarely go together and the common impression that industry focuses only on profit while ignoring the safety of the consumer persists widely. Probably industry has to blame itself for this none too laudatory image that is prevalent to day. Look at the recent unpleasant tiff between Kerala Government and Coca Cola Corporation regarding the water issue which is snow balling into a major international ruckus. After accusing the beverage giant for many ills that visit the region where its beverage plant is located in the state, demands are being made on the company for a compensation to the tune of Rs 200 crore! It is another matter that no scientific assessment was made to find whether Coca Cola company has really violated any conditions stipulated while giving license in the first place. The Government of Kerala and its Pollution Control Board are also to be equally blamed for permitting this industry to violate, if any, the mandatory regulations vis-à-vis solid, liquid and gaseous wastes generated and disposed off by its operations. It is against such a background that the reported assessment of ethical credentials of major food companies by an international agency brought out its findings.

"Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, PepsiCo and Solae have been recognized by Ethisphere Institute as the World's Most Ethical Food and Beverage Companies for 2010.This is the fourth year Ethisphere, a think-tank dedicated to the creation, advancement and sharing of best practices in business ethics, corporate social responsibility, anti-corruption and sustainability, has published the World's Most Ethical Companies rankings, which appear in Ethisphere Magazine's Q1 issue.The World's Most Ethical Companies designation recognizes companies that truly go beyond making statements about doing business "ethically" and translate those words into action. WME honorees demonstrate real and sustained ethical leadership within their industries, putting into real business practice the Institute's credo of "Good. Smart. Business. Profit."There is no set number of companies that make the list each year. Rather, the World's Most Ethical Company designation is awarded to those companies that have leading ethics and compliance programs, particularly as compared to their industry peers".

For India, it is a good news that PepsiCo and Solae, two companies with presence in the country find prominent places in the international ranking. These organizations must do more for the society in India to maintain their new found image. As the beverage industry uses 3 times the water for producing its beverages and bottled water, it is but logical that they must help the water starved rural regions in the country to get access to water through modern technologies. A company like Solae can share some of the burdens of public feeding programs to help children become healthy citizens of tomorrow.


Serving food in a multi cuisine restaurant, especially in a country with cosmopolitan population can be nightmarish. Take for example India. There are many taboos and food habits that make the job of the Chef very difficult. Pork, onion, garlic, beef, cooking oil used, type of rice cooked etc can both attract as well as drive away customers depending on their food preferences. Same is true with foods served to different religious groups. While Muslims do not take Pork, Hindus detest beef. Similarly Halal and Kosher meats are essential for attracting some customers. Alcohol which is shunned by followers of Islam is used some times in cooking of some foods. Recently such foods being served in the Emirates have attracted the attention of regulatory agencies and guidelines have been issued when such foods are served.

"Khaled Sharif al Awadhi, director of Dubai municipality's food control department, said food containing alcohol could be served on condition it was segregated from other food and clearly labeled, The National reported. "We have found violations where hotels are not clearly stating alcohol content in their food," it quoted him as saying. Awadhi added that alcohol should be handled like other "non-halal products" such as pork".

The stipulation that alcohol comes under the non-halal food category may be a new approach that will insulate the followers of Islam from such undesirable items on the menu. It is a tribute to the progressive thinking of the rulers of Emirates that they do not blindly ban foods on one or the other consideration giving relative freedom to the multi faith community that contributes to the development of the region.


Thursday, March 25, 2010


That food industry can see the writing on the wall is amply demonstrated by the recent announcement by the beverage industry to adequately change their labeling practice to "highlight" the calorie content of their products prominently to catch the attention of the consumers and allow them to make a choice whether to buy or not. A welcome step indeed.

"The soft drink industry said Tuesday that it will start listing the calories in its products on the front of bottles and also on vending machines controlled by the companies. The new labels probably won't appear until early 2012 after the industry works out the details with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The industry's move came on the same day that the White House launched a campaign to end the nation's childhood obesity problem within a generation".

Though such a step may be disadvantageous to the industry from business angle, its move on calorie labeling is to be appreciated keeping in view the interests of the citizens. One can only hope that increased sensitivity to calories amongst the soft drink guzzling youngsters, through such bold initiatives, may moderate their consumption giving a chance for a better to morrow in a society, already burdened with too many citizens severely over weight and obese with attendant consequences.


Every politician loves the media because their utterances, however non-nonsensical they may be, have some news value for mass circulated news papers. The monotonous regularity with which policy announcements are made by ministers only to be forgotten soon, is like writing in water. If 10% of the pronouncements by the cabinet minister at the Center in charge of food processing industry during the last 6 years had come true, Indian food industry should have been in "Cloud Nine" to day surpassing China and the US. In reality look where the country is in global food trade, being not able to garner even 1% of the world exports! Here comes a profound declaration by one of the Ministers in Karnataka who seems to be blissfully unaware of what is happening elsewhere in the country!

"Karnataka will become the first state in India to have a separate policy for the food processing industries, according to state Minister for Large and Medium Scale Industries Murugesh Nirani. 'We had success in IT (information technology) and BT (biotechnology). Now, we are focusing on FT or food technology,' Nirani told the media here Friday after a meeting with Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay. 'We are creating a new department for food technology and have appointed a senior IAS officer for this department,' he added. The minister said that the state would frame a new industrial policy for the food processing sector before June this year, when the state would host a global investors' meet".

While Karnataka has impressive credentials in the IT sector, claiming exalted status in BT industry may at best be a boast not sustained by facts. One Biocon at Bangalore or a Lalchand Biotech at Mysore does not make an imposing industry and the state has a long way to go to establish as a force to reckon with in the BT area. As for the so called new initiative in creating a "Department of Food Technology with a senior IAS officer", one can only pity the level of comprehension the Minister has regarding food industry development. Way back in late eighties when the MFPI was formed, GOI wanted all states to set up dedicated ministries for food industry and it is unfortunate that Karnataka is taking more than two decades even for "considering" such a step. What can one expect from such politicians in charge of food industry development who are ignorant of the fundamentals of the subject?



Millets, the so called "coarse cereals" are always considered a poor man's food grain and command significantly less price in the market. It is a paradox that these agricultural crops containing more nutrients than their "fancy" counter parts like rice and wheat are looked down because of their association with economically poorer people. One of the reasons for their neglect could be their coarse nature that gives products like roti which are not attractive to look or eat by those habituated to consumption of rice and wheat. Gross neglect by the processing industry ensured that no branded products from coarse cereals are available in the market. It gladdens one's heart to see reports about the fancy taken by high end restaurants for these grains and sensitizing their customers to the "goodness" contained in these "God's Own Grain"!

"But some fads are actually good for us, and the millet revival is clearly one of them. If you were to draw a bar graph comparing the nutritional content of millets with that of rice and wheat, the millets' bars would tower imposingly. Calcium content in finger millet (ragi) for instance, is nearly 350 mg for every 100 grams. For the same amount of rice and wheat, it is below 50 mg. Millets also contain far higher amounts of iron, fibre and essential minerals than either rice or wheat. Says Ishi Khosla, a Delhi-based clinical nutritionist, "I now advise my clients to switch to millets." They are also showing up on menus in restaurants in Mumbai: the popular Swati Snacks has introduced khichri and uttapam made from bajra and the upmarket Moshe's offers a range of breads made from millets".

After the success of packaged and branded atta from wheat, marketed by a few food processing giants in India, cautious steps are being taken to test the waters regarding the viability of multi grain atta that contains up to 15-20% flour from coarse grains, by some processors. Though these grains contain higher levels of nutrients, their quality vis-à-vis utilization in the human body is still not certain. Being rain fed crops millets are not as susceptible to drought as fine grains and decades of efforts by ICRISAT, Hyderabad have resulted in foundation seeds of sturdy nature and high productivity. One can only hope that the new found love for millets by the high and the mighty in the society, does not hijack this poor man's food because of irrational hikes in price. Higher price tag on multi grain atta containing millet components, in the name of higher nutrition, is indicative of the emerging trend of deriving economic benefits by the industry, disproportionate to the cost of including millets in the product

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Canada is the latest to join the elite club of countries for providing access to a consumer-friendly, inter-active web site for on-line information on many aspects of food and its safety. Computer literate consumers can enlighten them selves regarding the food safety violations, food recalls, dangers and risks with foods, safe food handling, food labels and food borne illnesses and in a country where every one owns a computer, such facilities can have high impact on consumer awareness about market foods, health and nutrition aspects and government policies and food regulations.

"The Government of Canada launched a new website that provides Canadians with one-stop, easy access to food safety information. It gives Canadians valuable tips and tools to help them reduce the risk of food borne illness and acts as a gateway to important information during food borne illness emergencies".

It is time such initiatives are taken by other countries also that will serve at least those consumers having access to Internet services. With Cyber cafe out-lets dotting the major towns and cities in the country, India can also go for such a system managed by the FSSAI, if it has the time, inclination, commitment and vision to safeguard the interests of consumers,



The debate about the nutritional superiority of organic foods continues unabated with protagonists and antagonists taking pot shots at each other. Here is the latest on that issue sparked by the reports from the UK rubbishing the nutritional advantages claimed by organic food lobby.

"The purchase of organic food has become nothing short of a global trend, as consumers aim to spend money on products they feel they can relate to and trust. This means knowing exactly what food is made of, how it is processed and its country of origin. While millions of shoppers continue to flock to grocery stores and farmers' markets, investing their faith (and dollars) in the promise of healthy organic foods, the debate surrounding the true value of "organic" has yet to reach a definitive conclusion. The return to a so-called "natural diet" piques shoppers' interests – enough to generate a global organic market valued at an estimated $48 billion in 2007. In July 2009, researchers in London claimed that customers only purchase organic food because they believe it is healthier for their bodies. Scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, however, were not convinced. After a review of 162 scientific papers published in the last 50 years, the research team concluded that there was simply no notable difference between reportedly healthier organic food and conventionally processed food products.

To distinguish between the subtle layers of the labeling process, the USDA Organic Labeling and Marketing Fact Sheet requires the following: In order to be labeled "100 percent organic," products must contain only organically produced ingredients and approved processing aids. To be labeled simply "organic," products must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The remaining ingredients must consist of USDA-approved nonagricultural (non-organic) substances. To be labeled "made with organic ingredients," processed food products must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. Fines for mislabeling of organic products are substantial. According to the USDA, "a civil penalty of up to $11,000 can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program's regulations."

Irrespective the out come of this debate, fact still remains that organic foods pose less danger to the consumer because the production system is under a tight control regime not using chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, unclean water for irrigation etc. To add spice to the debate the "local produce" advocates have jumped into the fray claiming that foods locally produced are superior to that procured from sources far away. But in the absence of the organic label they cannot be trusted to be as safe as genuine organic foods.



It is a long time since one has been hearing about the heroic announcements from GOI regarding the so called "Food Parks", supposed to be the ultimate tool for development of food processing industry in the country. The tragedy is that very little is perceptible at the ground level in order to come to any meaningful conclusion whether this is the right type of "Special Purpose Vehicle" that is workable under Indian conditions. If those who feel bad about the lack of progress are to be believed, Food Parks are likely to remain a "dream".

"Is the government's plan on the food processing front proceeding as planned? In order to give a big boost to the food processing sector, the government proposed to set up five more mega food parks — in addition to the 10 parks being set up — in the Union budget for 2010-11. But the industry which is unhappy with the progress of food parks thinks this is likely to remain a dream. The Agro & Food Processing Technology & Equipment Providers Association of India (AFTPAI), a newly formed association, said that no concrete measure has been taken so far by the government as promised in the previous budgets for the sector". "The proposed five mega food parks are almost a distant dream for us. In reality, there are only two food parks which are working as of date. In addition, proper infrastructure, which facilitates the sector in some way or the other, is not in place, AFTPAI secretary Firoz H Naqvi said".

Who is to be blamed for this sorry state of affairs? MFPI of GOI or the State Governments? As of now there does not seem to be any one willing to accept blame for this ship shod performance and it is the responsibility of the taxpayers to bring to book those who play around with public funds for projects ill-conceived and non-implemented. Unless a thorough review of the reasons for the tardy progress is undertaken, no more food parks must be planned in this country.



With food inflation showing continuous rise during the last few months, GOI is faced with the arduous task of evolving an effective policy, making use of the enormous food stocks available at its god downs that will arrest the spiraling prices. Its limited efforts to prevent milling industry to siphon off open market wheat by releasing the stock to them selectively at subsidized prices, have had no impact so far. The option of exporting wheat is a Hob-son's choice since it will bring down global prices of wheat further from the alarmingly low level of about Rs 850 quintal. Fortunately the Agriculture Minister has ruled out this possibility after initially proposing it.

"Availability of food grains at reasonable prices is the national objective of India's food policy. This is achieved through a network of 4.5 lakh fair price shops (FPS) where food grains are sold at lower than market price, with the government absorbing Rs 47,000 crore annually as food subsidy. This round-the-year distribution of food grains through public distribution system (PDS) is ensured by the Food Corporation of India, which maintain buffer stocks of rice and wheat. The buffer stocks norms for wheat and rice for this time of the year are 4 million tonnes (mt) and 12 mt, respectively. Against this, the current stocks with FCI and other state procuring agencies holding stocks on behalf of FCI are five times the norm for wheat and twice for rice at 20 mt and 24 mt, respectively. Production of wheat in Rabi 2010 crop is estimated to be a record 82 mt, up from 80.2 mt last year. FCI is expected to procure 24 mt of wheat in the coming season, beginning next month. Thus, the government is faced with problem of handling plenty amidst rising food inflation".

Most tragic outcome of this "no win" situation could be loss of about 10 million tons of grains stored under CAP storage system which is vulnerable to spoilage within a short time. Looking back GOI has to be blamed for lack of vision in taking up a program for building up large scale scientifically sound storage infrastructure for ensuring long term food security. It is time a thorough review is undertaken to decide on the best storage technology that can be deployed for extending the life of food grains without affecting adversely their nutritional and other quality features.



Research scientists are continuously working on the existence of any connection between the food composition and amount of food eaten by individuals. The freak finding that the sensitivity of human tongue to fatty acids can vary significantly between individuals will have far reaching implications in man's fight against food gluttony. How far this finding will help nutrition experts to come out with any coherent plan to curb food consumption remains to be seen.

"Now, Jessica Stewart and colleagues from Deakin University in Australia show that a sixth sense, i.e. the ability to orally "sense" the fat content of foods may explain differences in fat preferences. Indeed, previous studies in animals have suggested that oral hypersensitivity to fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) are associated with decreased fat intake and body weight. In the current study, the investigators first examined the taste thresholds for different types of fatty acids (olate, linolate, and laurate) in 31 normal weight subjects and classified them as hypo- or hypersensitive. Subjects also completed a fat ranking task using custard containing varying amounts (0, 2, 6 and 10 %) of fat. Hypersensitive subjects reported lower energy and fat intakes, had an increased ability to rank the custards based on fat content and also had a lower BMI levels. These data suggest that the increased ability to detect nutritional fat may result in lower energy and fat intake, which in turn may result in lower body weights. Obviously, the idea here is that people who are less sensitive to fat are likely to need more fat in their foods to get that same level of enjoyment as people with more sensitive fat receptors. Because of fat's high caloric content, this means that they may in the end also end up with more calories, and thus, weight gain".

There was a recent report about people desperate to lose weight resorting to surgical intervention to stitch patches on their tongues which makes eating a painful experience. So is the bariatric surgery to reduce GI tract volume so that much less food is able to go through the system. If scientists can come up with a suitable method to increase the sensitivity of tongue to fat, it can be a boon to diet watchers.


Saturday, March 20, 2010


Food labeling regulations world over are intended to enlighten the consumer regarding the "horoscope" of the contents in side. How far it serves the purpose is an issue worthy of debate amongst the various stake holders but what is certain is that food industry and the trade know how to get around any stipulations, making the consumer vulnerable to cheating. While organized industry at least gives some information about the products it delivers, catering sector is having a heyday with absolutely no accountability regarding the foods they rig up and offer to their customers. The clientele of the restaurant sector is developed by the sensory quality of products served rather than the nutritional parameters. What happens if consumers are provided with right information about some of the critical health related ingredients like calories, is borne out by a mammoth survey carried out recently in New York.

"This might come as an unpleasant surprise for the fast-food industry, but when people can read how many calories there are in their fast food, they do cut back. In a study of millions of transactions at several hundred Starbucks outlets, economists from Stanford University found that consumers in New York City responded to required calorie postings by cutting almost 15 calories off their average purchases, a calorie reduction of 6 percent".

How far restaurants can be trusted to give actual figures vis-a-vis calories and fat remains to be seen as some reports do indicate fudging of the data to make the products look less in calories. Enforcement also may pose logistical problems as the recipes can be changed quickly at the time of inspection to show less calories while high calorie and high fat products are regularly peddled to the customers. There is an eternal conflict between taste and nutrition and generally more the nutritional value of a food, less tasty would be the product!.


How irresponsible large food corporates can become may be gauged by the recent report from the US that the meat industry there uses more than 70% of the antibiotics produced there for non-therapeutic purposes for raising "healthy" cattle, swine and poultry birds. Ironically most of these antibiotics are in use for treating many types of infection in human beings, raising serious concerns about development of drug resistance by some of the pathogens causing many epidemic diseases. Multi drug resistant S. aureus MRSA), a major health threat in the US probably must have evolved due to this detestable practice.

"A study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that in the United States, 70 percent of antibiotics are used to feed healthy livestock, with 14 percent more used to treat sick livestock. Only about 16 percent are used to treat humans and their pets, the study found. More antibiotics are fed to livestock in North Carolina alone than are given to humans in the entire United States, according to the peer-reviewed Medical Clinics of North America. It concluded that antibiotics in livestock feed were "a major component" in the rise of antibiotic resistance".

Why American consumer is not protected by that country's democratic government is a mystery that may never be unraveled. In contrast European Union does not permit use of those antibiotics, presently being used for human disease treatment, for non-therapeutic use by the meat industry. No wonder American meat products are increasingly shunned by many buyers in the international market!



Acrylamide was identified as a hazardous artifact produced in foods containing reducing carbohydrates and the amino acid Asparagine at high temperatures which are encountered during frying and baking. Though many countries are still to wake up to the dangers posed by this toxic substance, at international levels ways and means of overcoming this hazard are seriously being pursued. The reported development of a process to reduce Acrylamide in processed foods using yeast has been claimed by one of the private companies, anticipating the potential business that may be generated for such a technology. As the technology is protected under IPO regime, very little technical information is being provided by the innovators.

'The World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes acrylamide as a Group 2A carcinogen, along with substances such as lead, creosotes, PCBs, diesel exhaust and urethane. As well, California health officials recently proposed that acrylamide be listed as a known reproductive toxicant, under Proposition 65, in addition to its inclusion as a carcinogen since 1990. Acrylamide has also been recently added to the candidate list for inclusion on the European Union's Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) following a unanimous decision by an expert EU health panel. Importantly, national food safety regulatory bodies and the food industry have been cooperating closely on approaches aimed at reducing acrylamide levels in processed foods.

"Acrylamide is a high-priority concern among consumers, the food industry and health regulators around the world," said Garth Greenham, president and COO of Functional Technologies. "Preliminary lab testing is positive and we're very excited to utilize yeast, with its long history of use and familiarity in the food industry, to help resolve this important health concern."

One of the possibilities could be to make, one of the two components required for Acrylamide formation immobile, using some yeast constituents so that the amide forming reaction is arrested. Whether this new technology will be useful with all the products like potato chips, french fried potatoes, fritters etc is not known now. The intake limitation for Acrylamide is estimated at 0.5 mg/kg body weight/day and the current average daily consumption is not more than a few micrograms per kg body weight, considered safe. The chance of getting cancer is 1 in 10000 if one consumes heavy Acrylamide containing foods regularly which in practice is not possible considering that highest levels detected in foods so far do not exceed 1 mg per kg. Against this back ground, whether the new technology will be of any relevance to day remains to be seen.



There are thousands of treatise on the supposedly bad effect of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) consumption on health of humans and literally a ravaging war has been brewing on this corn based, man made sweetener which was linked to obesity epidemic. The high decibel condemnation of HFCS made sure that average consumer would start shunning products containing this sweetener. The first casualty of this orchestrated campaign was replacement of HFCS with sugar by the Cola beverages in the UK last year. Now comes the news that "damned" HFCS is turning out to be a big money spinner and many products after replacing HFCS with sugar are claiming "superior" value for their products! Read the current trend in HFCS vs Sugar "war" in the world capital of HFCS production as reported recently.

"Books, movies and news articles linking America's obesity epidemic to high-fructose corn syrup have made consumers increasingly wary of the sweetener. Some food manufacturers are responding by switching back to sugar in some products, including Heinz ketchup and Wheat Thins.The change is most visible in the realm of highly sweetened, highly advertised beverages. From Pepsi Throwback and Heritage Dr Pepper to Gatorade and Snapple, sugar is making a comeback - if only in hype-seeking "limited edition" batches. Many consumers cheer the move for reasons of taste. But some see drinks made with sugar as healthful, and that has some obesity experts worried. "Many consumers think, 'If I consume soda or a candy bar, and it has regular sugar, it's healthy,' " said Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Public Health. "And that's the danger, because they're equally bad." "Equally bad? This from the man who helped get the whole high-fructose corn syrup rebellion rolling. In a 2004 commentary in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Popkin and two co-authors noted that the sharp rise in high-fructose corn syrup consumption in the United States since 1970 mirrored the rise in the nation's obesity rate. "When we wrote the article six or seven years ago, we speculated high-fructose corn syrup might be worse" than sugar, Popkin said. "It was picked up by the blog world, and it became folklore that high fructose was poison." In the years since, research has shown that the body metabolizes high-fructose corn syrup differently from sugar. Some studies indicate that the syrup can have damaging effects on the kidney and liver. But strictly in terms of calories and, by extension, obesity, he said, the products are equally bad". "People think [sugar] is better and it's not better," said Dr. Benjamin Caballero, professor of nutrition at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Fructose has 4 calories per gram. Sucrose has 4 calories per gram." It's the super-sizing of sweetened drinks, not the sweetener in particular, that is probably to blame for super-sizing Americans, Caballero and other experts believe. The average American consumes about 97 pounds of various sugars - mostly high-fructose corn syrup and refined cane and beet sugars - each year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. That's up from about 85 pounds a year in 1970. A lot of that comes in the form of sweetened drinks. Liquids account for one in every four calories Americans consume, and the number of calories consumed each day has increased by 300 in the past 15 years, Caballero said". "Switching to sugar-sweetened sodas will do nothing to reverse that trend, nutritionists say. But it is helping the sugar industry snatch back some market share it's lost since the syrup's introduction in the 1960s. "There are 100-plus products that advertise on their packaging they don't contain high-fructose corn syrup," said Andy Briscoe, president of the Sugar Association, a trade group representing beet and cane sugar growers in 18 states. He maintained that scientific studies have found a link between high-fructose corn syrup consumption and obesity. He also said that sugar is a more natural product than the syrup, created in a highly complex process that involves changing molecular structures". "Consumers are coming back to simple products, and when they look at the ingredients on the packaging, it [sugar] is one they recognize and can feel good about," he said. "It's all natural, it's only 15 calories [per teaspoon], it's been used safely for over 2,000 years and, oh, by the way, it's a sweetener you can pronounce." He added: "We're not saying it's the new health food." Makers of high-fructose corn syrup have struck back with a public relations campaign, including advertising and a Web site,".

"The site prominently quotes a 2008
American Medical Association report: "Because the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose." "While scientific consensus seems to be in the high-fructose camp, books such as Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and films such as "King Corn" have brought more consumers into sugar's corner. Even people who aren't struggling with weight issues of their own have been taken by the story line: Warped American farm policies, which make high-fructose corn syrup cheap and plentiful, have warped American bodies".

There is no way any one can come to a definitive conclusion as to whether HFCS is really the cause of all the health problems America is experiencing to day because the lobbies representing both HFCS and Sugar are powerful with deep pockets capable of pushing their agenda irrespective of any consumer concern. For them, making money is more important than protecting the health of their customers, the hapless citizens in that country!


Food safety concerns have created the myth that a food dropped on the floor and picked up immediately within 5 seconds can be safe for consumption and free from contamination. Presumably, who ever has authored this "invention", took it for granted that the bugs present on the floor are not agile enough to move into the food within such a short time. Recently scientific studies have proved the myth wrong, giving much more credit to these tiny bugs than humans have thought of!

"Three baby carrots were dropped into a kitchen sink, onto a tiled floor, a carpeted floor, a table and a counter top. A control carrot remained undropped. In each case, germs glommed onto the veggie in 5 seconds. The germiest culprit? The countertop, followed by the carpeted floor and the tiled floor. The wet sippy cup actually picked up the most germs when dropped onto a highchair tray. The university also surveyed 500 parents, finding that 65 percent admitted to following the 5-second rule".

While it may be true that bacteria can get adhered to the food dropped on the floor, to what extent the few cells managing to cling on would be harmful is a tantalizing question. Unless a minimum critical mass is present and sufficient time elapses between picking up and consumption, bacterial multiplication to dangerous levels, probably may not take place. Does it mean that the "5-seconds" rule is still relevant? There are many variables such as extent of contamination on the floor, the surface characteristics of the floor, type of food dropped, quantity involved and the way it is picked up. One cannot be sure but if one is game for a gamble and does not feel unduly apprehensive, the dropped food can still be consumed after picking up within 5 seconds of dropping it


Every year business sector submits a "wish list" containing suggestions for the Finance Ministry to consider for improving the business potential further through financial policies which need to be included in the annual budget presented to the Parliament. Though food processing industry associations of various hues also go through this motion, nothing worth while happens because of the short sighted vision of successive governments. This year, a new body representing a strong segment of food processors, had raised a fundamental issue regarding what constitutes food processing before deciding about any supportive policies. Here is a take on that.

"AFTPAI had suggested in its memorandum that the government should define food processing industry with a broader perspective and all allied players like food processing and packaging machinery and packaging materials, and raw materials for food processing, and other service providers should also be included in it. There should be exemption in import duties of machinery and raw materials for a certain period and 100 per cent tax holiday from state and central governments till the units get sustained development".

The fundamental principle that higher taxes by the governments would make processed products costlier which in turn might exclude more and more people from the clientele of the industry, never seems to be bothering the policy makers. By agreeing for a tax holiday, the loss from taxes may be very negligible and the argument that such forgone revenue would be less than the cost involved in collecting them does not seem to receive the attention it deserves! If collecting taxes at "any cost" from the hard pressed citizens of this country, for subsidizing many unproductive and ill conceived programs, is the motto of the governments, there is no salvation for Indian Food Industry in the foreseeable future!


If any industry is detested by people, it is the pesticide industry, which turns out thousands of tons of deadly chemicals, sold as insecticides, pesticides and weedicides, used by most farmers for reducing losses due to infestation with various vectors. While farmer is happy getting more income for his crops, consumer is weighed down by the health damage caused by the chemical residues when such foods are consumed. Environmentalists are concerned about the pollution potential of these chemicals when applied indiscriminately to the land, water and the air and the resulting adverse consequences. That people are not going to sit helplessly watching this unfolding drama of slow poisoning of communities after communities by the irresponsible practices of business organizations is borne out by the collective action taken by the affected communities through litigation in some states in the US.

"A coalition of communities in six Midwestern states filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking to force the manufacturer of a widely-used herbicide to pay for its removal from drinking water. Atrazine, a weed-killer sprayed primarily on cornfields, can run off into rivers and streams that supply municipal water systems. As the Huffington Post Investigative Fund reported in a series of articles last fall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to notify the public that atrazine had been found at levels above the federal safety limit in drinking water in at least four states. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois by 16 cities in Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Iowa. The communities allege that Swiss corporation Syngenta AG and its Delaware counterpart Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. reaped billions of dollars from the sale of atrazine while local taxpayers were left with the financial burden of filtering the chemical from drinking water".

The attitude of the pesticide industry that "profits we take and pains you will bear" cannot be allowed to be the rule because industrial operations are supposed to be undertaken after assessing rationally the "risk-benefit" balance. Probably the industry seems to be taking umbrage under the logic that it is the user who has to take care and the problem arises because of failure to follow safety protocols by the farmers to prevent contamination of the environment. It will be interesting to follow this trial that may be harbinger for future class action suits by similarly affected populations against heavy polluters.


Friday, March 19, 2010


Advances in digital electronics and information technology are empowering consumers to make decisive choices during their purchase outings in the retail market. A modification in the configuration of the ubiquitous mobile phone enables a consumer to read the bar code to get a complete detail about every thing he wants to know about a product and zero in on the one he likes most.

"A product-information smartphone app has taken out the top spot at February's Greener Gadgets competition in New York. The app will allow a consumer to scan a product barcode with their phone's camera, revealing product origin, seasonal information, food miles, pricing history and previous buying habits. The app, known as AUG (short for Augmented Living Goods Program) will compile a directory of information on producers of fresh produce, such as meat, dairy, fruit and vegetables. Program members could scan a membership card, or their phone, at checkout, allowing them to track their purchases and review items".

Since this gadget is in early stages of development, how far the producers and retailers who have to provide the product details, will cooperate with the soft ware agencies to make it a reality remains to be seen. Similarly the ability of the phone to display on its small screen vast details about the information scanned from the barcode is a matter of conjecture. If such a gadget proves its success, food industry may not be accused of lack of transparency in their product promotion activities.



Lot has been said about truthful labeling that must reflect the quality of the contents in a packaged food and the guidelines and regulations are becoming more and more stringent with each passing day. But what is being ignored is the blatant claims of super quality and health boosting ability of products blaring through the media, printed as well as electronic, which go unchallenged and unchecked. South Africa has taken a lead in this area by taking action to clamp down on such unethical practices by the food industry in that country.

"The Department of Health published draft regulations for labelling and advertising food in July 2007 to crack down on misleading information provided to consumers. The regulations included a ban on advertising junk food to children under the age of 16, prohibited making health claims for a list of nonessential foods, and said food manufacturers and importers must provide scientifically valid information on their labels".

While the regulations are easy to be drafted, how they can be implemented is a difficult question. There are many Grey areas in human nutrition which the industry tends to exploit and it is here that technical inputs from knowledgeable resource persons are needed to interpret data provided by the manufacturers while making claims. A body consisting of food scientists, medical community, nutritionists, toxicologists and psychologists only can come to any meaningful conclusion regarding the virtues of any food and they should be the arbitrators for deciding on any clam of superiority for any food product.