Specialty Food Chemistry at DC’s Fancy Food Show
Jun26

Specialty Food Chemistry at DC’s Fancy Food Show

Chemistry is everywhere, as we're fond of saying in the pages of C&EN. So I was excited to let my taste buds partake in the biochemistry at the Fancy Food Show, which rolled into DC this past weekend. Sponsored by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the Show is a mecca for makers of specialty foods such as cheeses, confections, and snacks. It draws the most diverse group of attendees I've ever encountered--on the expo floor I ran into folks from nerd gift emporium ThinkGeek, agribusiness giant Cargill, and the U.S. State Department. Chew on some tidbits of science I picked up at the show, some of which are connected to past C&EN coverage. AUTHENTICATING OLIVE OIL At the booth for Daskara, an extra-virgin olive oil brand from the West Bank, I spoke about olive oil authentication with Nancy Ash, who's participated in taste panels for multiple bodies, including the California Olive Oil Council, and who consults for multiple olive oil producers, including Daskara. As Sarah Everts reported in C&EN in 2009, olive oil is big business, which has made olive oil fraud a big problem. Authentication is important for new producers to succeed in the specialty food market, but "many people feel the current standard is not strict enough and is not well-enforced," Ash says. USDA enacted new standards for grades of olive oil in 2010, but the standards are voluntary. Ash told me the American Oil Chemists' Society, a membership society for researchers studying fats, oils, and detergents, is planning a proficiency testing series for olive oil sensory panels for this fall. (Sensory panels are trained to certify olive oils submitted by producers or importers). I confirmed this information with AOCS spokesperson Emily Wickstrom, who says enrollment for the testing for professional sensory panels should open at AOCS's site this week. SPACE-AGE PACKAGING As someone who loved astronaut ice cream as a kid, I was drawn to a press release from snack company Buddy Fruits, which claimed to use the same packaging techniques as NASA for its drinkable blended fruit products. The pouch-like packaging the company uses is not new, I learned. It's made from a flexible, laminated film with a straw built into the inside of the pouch. Buddy Fruits' containers come from an Italian firm called Gualapack. That company entered the market in 1988, after reaching an agreement with Japanese company Hosokawa Yoko for production and marketing of the packages. Here's a 1988 patent for a "Beverage Container" from Hosokawa Yoko. The patent notes the container body is made from a four-layer laminated film consisting of a polyester film, aluminum foil, nylon film,...

Read More