Nestlé joins Global Coalition to advance animal welfare standards

Nestlé and six other food companies have joined forces, through the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare, to advance welfare standards throughout the global food supply chain.

The global coalition is an industry-led collaboration uniting major companies and animal welfare experts to work towards improving standard for animals.

Other companies in the coalition include Unilever, Ikea Food Services, Aramark, Compass Group, Elior Group and Sodexo.

Nestlé hopes to accelerate the development of standards and progress on key welfare issues.

The global coalition aims to publish a collective action agenda in the first half of 2019, focusing on five priority work streams, including cage free policies and improved broiler chicken welfare.

READ: Nestlé pledges to use only certified sustainable palm oil within five years

In 2017, Nestlé announced that it will only source cage free eggs for all its food products globally by 2025.

Ensuring decent farm animal welfare standard in the company’s supply chain us a key focus.

Nestlé’s half-year results have also been released. The results show increased momentum in the United States and China, as well as in infant nutrition.

There has been an organic growth of 2.8 per cent.

Total sales increased by 2.3 per cent, to 43.9 billion Swiss Francs (CHF), compared to the previous half-yearly results.

Earnings per share increased by 21.4 per cent to CHF 1.92 on a reported basis.

Free cash flow increased by 52 per cent, from CHF 1.9 billion to CHF 2.9 billion.

Nestlé CEO said Mark Schneider said the first half results confirmed that Nestlé’s strategic initiatives and rigorous execution were paying off.

“Nestlé has maintained the encouraging organic revenue growth momentum we saw at the beginning of the year. In particular, the United States and China markets showed a meaningful improvement. We were also pleased by the enhanced organic growth in our core infant nutrition category,” he said.

Looking towards the second half of 2018, there would be further improvement in organic revenue growth, he said.

“Margin improvement is expected to accelerate with further benefits from our efficiency programs and more favorable commodity pricing,” said Schneider.

 

Aus online sales to China thriving – Tmall report

The 2017 Tmall Global Annual Consumers Report has revealed Australia has moved into third spot, on the list of importer countries into China, on Alibaba’s business-to-consumer (B2C) platform. This is up from fourth spot in 2016.

Led by strong demand from Chinese consumers for Australia’s health and nutrition supplements, baby products and milk powder, Australia ranked behind only Japan and the United States, and ahead of Germany and South Korea.

Managing Director of Alibaba Group, Australia and New Zealand Maggie Zhou said: “Since opening our ANZ headquarters in Melbourne last year, we have worked harder than ever to support the success of Australian businesses in China. These incredible results for Australian merchants demonstrate that we are succeeding in our mission to make it easier for local businesses to do business anywhere. With 515 million annual active consumers now using our China retail marketplaces the opportunity for Australian businesses remains enormous, and we are excited to be part of the China journey for even more local brands in 2018.”

The 2017 Tmall Global Annual Consumers Report was jointly published by Tmall Global and CBNData, a big data-based business research and integrated marketing communications strategy platform. Elsewhere, it found that Chinese post-millennials have become the main purchasing power for imported products, with content and emotional interaction becoming a major factor in driving consumers’ decisions when buying imported products.

The report highlighted that people born in the 1990s have now become the biggest spenders on imported products, which come from a more diverse range of countries and are consumed more frequently throughout the year.

Tmall Global sustained its position as the largest B2C e-commerce platform for imported products in China, with a market share of 27.6% in the fourth quarter of 2017. There is still significant untapped potential in this sector, with the report estimating annual growth of 20% in transaction volume and a market scale of RMB620 billion by 2019.

 

Bubs Goat Milk Infant Formula to be sold in Woolworths

Following a recent range review for the infant formula category, Bubs Advanced Plus+ Goat Milk Infant Formula will be available from selected Woolworths supermarkets in April.

Bubs Australia is pleased to announce that following a recent range review for the infant formula category, the company has received confirmation of ranging for all three stages of Bubs Advanced Plus+ Goat Milk Infant Formula in selected Woolworths supermarkets.

“Woolworths commitment to partner with genuine Australian producers, and respond to the rising demand and awareness of the digestive and nutritional benefits of goat dairy, including infant formula, should be commended,” said Bubs Australia Chief Executive Officer, Nicholas Simms.

He added that Bubs pathway to provenance through its strategic acquisition of Nulac Foods to become Australia’s only vertically integrated producer of goat milk infant formula guarantees sustainable supply and control over our key base ingredient and capacity to meet growing future demand, which is a key differentiator for Bubs versus other offerings in the market.

“Goat dairy and infant formula is experiencing rapid growth domestically and overseas. Woolworths ranging of Bubs Australian made goat milk infant formula will only further enhance the appeal to consumers both in Australia and internationally in China and South East Asia.” Simms said.

The Goat Milk Infant Formula will be available in selected Woolworths stores with high penetration of infant formula customers in April.

 

Nature One Dairy secures China baby formula deal

Nature One Dairy has signed a deal to manufacture baby formula, specialised milk powder products and other health-related products for Chinese pharmacy group Sinopharm.

The deal would involve export of the products to China.

China’s new policy on infant formula, which takes effect on the January 1 2018, limits the number of brands that manufacturers can register in China. This is part of the Chinese government’s move to improve food safety in the world’s most populous country.

Nick Dimopoulos, CEO of Nature One Dairy said the strategic partnership will the company to tap into Sinopharm’s core business which covers distribution, retail, research, development and manufacture of prevention, treatment, diagnosis, care, and other health-related products across China.

“Our aim is to be able to produce a wide range of formulated products to meet the demands of different consumer groups. We are excited to be able to work with Sinopharm on their infant formula brand Happy Veve, as well as to co-develop new products for the China market with Sinopharm who is the largest retailer of medicines and healthcare products,” he said.

He said Sinopharm decided to partner with Nature One Dairy because of its pharmaceutical-grade manufacturing facility and stringent food safety and quality management program.

 

Bellamy’s sacks CEO Laura McBain

Infant formula maker Bellamy’s has dumped CEO Laura McBain and replaced her with chief operating officer and chief strategy officer Andrew Cohen.

As the ABC reports, the company yesterday ended a 40-day trading halt and also announced a cut to its profit guidance for the next six months.

On December 2, following an announcement by Bellamy’s that new Chinese regulations were dramatically lowering sales in China, shares in the company fell by more than 40 per cent. Previously, booming demand in that country had seen its share price soar.

Cohen will take on the CEO role on a temporary basis while the Board undertakes a search for a permanent replacement.

“Laura has overseen the growth of the Company over the past decade since she joined Bellamy’s as General Manager in 2006, including the expansion of Bellamy’s markets and its brand. I would like to thank Laura for her contributions to Bellamy’s over the last 10 years,” Chairman, Rob Woolley said in a statement.

Bellamy’s shares plunge 41pc

Bellamy’s shares have dropped dramatically as the infant formula maker deals with slow sales in China.

AAP reports that Bellamy’s shares were down $4.98 – a 41 per cent fall – at $7.15 at 1041 AEDT. The company also warned that revenue for 2016/17 may be lower than last year’s result.

The company was expecting sales on Single’s Day, the Chinese online shopping event, to be higher than they were.

Combined with regulatory changes in China, this may see revenue drop from Last year’s $244.6 million to less than $240 million.

Infant and toddler formula

Nutrico Optimum infant and toddler formula is 100 per cent made in Australia from 100 per cent Australian powdered milk. The company is also 100 per cent Australian owned with its Stage 1, 2 and 3 formula distributed in Australia by Grocery Industries Australia.

Nutrico includes essential nutrients in each of its three stages including the prebiotics FOS and GOS, DHA (Omega 3), Taurine, Choline, Beta-Carotene and L-Carnitine.

Nutrico’s other key benefits are that it does not include artificial sweeteners, colours and flavourings, which are commonly found in branded infant formulas in Australia.

Graham Moran, National Business Manager of Grocery Industries Australia, said they are very excited to be associated with Nutrico and will be aiming to have Nutrico retailed in the 1,200 plus independent supermarkets they deal with Australia-wide.

“We have been looking for an infant formula range and Nutrico ticks all the boxes for us including being Australian made and owned, free from artificial sweeteners, colours and flavours, and of the highest nutritional value. We are confident Nutrico will be supported by shoppers and is truly optimum nutrition for their little ones,” Moran said.

Nutrico is produced from milk farmed in the western district of Victoria through its production partner Camperdown Dairy International (CDI).

Grass fed baby formula

Munchkin is bringing its 100% New Zealand grass fed baby formula, Munchkin Grass Fed to the Australian market.

Recognising there was no industry standard for producing high quality, 100% grass fed milk, the comapny created its own. Each dairy cow is milked a maximum of two times every 24 hours and produce milk that is certified to be GMO free, grain free, and rBGH free. All farmers signed up to the company’s 100% Grass Fed program receive a premium to ensure they deliver top quality milk for little ones.

Munchkin Regional Sales Manager, Gary Hunter said, “Most parents aren’t aware that formulas are typically made up of 65% milk or milk by-products, and therefore the quality of the milk is of paramount importance. Keeping our New Zealand cows on strict grain free diets of 100% grass and forage ensures that only the best milk goes into our Grass Fed Formula. We’re excited to see how the discerning Aussie parent takes to it.”

According to the company, unlike organic and other milk based baby formulas on the market produced from cows that eat a combination of silage, corn, gluten and grass, the grass fed difference not only results in a great tasting, premium milk formula, but milk that is higher in nutritional benefits for tiny tummies including:

  • Up to five times the amount of CLA
  • An ideal balance of fatty acids, vitamins, nutrients and protein, without the addition of hormones like rBGH
  • Higher levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin E and beta-carotene

For added benefits, the baby formula also contains Lutein and Omega 3 fatty acids ARA and DHA (hexane free) to help support brain development and eye sight.

Nanoparticles in baby formula: should parents be worried?

There’s a lot of stuff you’d expect to find in baby formula: proteins, carbs, vitamins, essential minerals. But parents probably wouldn’t anticipate finding extremely small, needle-like particles. Yet this is exactly what a team of scientists here at Arizona State University recently discovered.

The research, commissioned and published by Friends of the Earth (FoE) – an environmental advocacy group – analyzed six commonly available off-the-shelf baby formulas (liquid and powder) and found nanometer-scale needle-like particles in three of them. The particles were made of hydroxyapatite – a poorly soluble calcium-rich mineral. Manufacturers use it to regulate acidity in some foods, and it’s also available as a dietary supplement.

Needle-like particles of hydroxyapatite found in infant formula by ASU researchers.
Westerhoff and Schoepf/ASU, CC BY-ND

 

Looking at these particles at super-high magnification, it’s hard not to feel a little anxious about feeding them to a baby. They appear sharp and dangerous – not the sort of thing that has any place around infants. And they are “nanoparticles” – a family of ultra-small particles that have been raising safety concerns within the scientific community and elsewhere for some years.

For all these reasons, questions like “should infants be ingesting them?” make a lot of sense. However, as is so often the case, the answers are not quite so straightforward.

What are these tiny needles?

Calcium is an essential part of a growing infant’s diet, and is a legally required component in formula. But not necessarily in the form of hydroxyapatite nanoparticles.

Hydroxyapatite is a tough, durable mineral. It’s naturally made in our bodies as an essential part of bones and teeth – it’s what makes them so strong. So it’s tempting to assume the substance is safe to eat. But just because our bones and teeth are made of the mineral doesn’t automatically make it safe to ingest outright.

The issue here is what the hydroxyapatite in formula might do before it’s digested, dissolved and reconstituted inside babies’ bodies. The size and shape of the particles ingested has a lot to do with how they behave within a living system.

Size and shape can make a difference between safe and unsafe when it comes to particles in our food. Small particles aren’t necessarily bad. But they can potentially get to parts of our body that larger ones can’t reach. Think through the gut wall, into the bloodstream, and into organs and cells. Ingested nanoscale particles may be able to interfere with cells – even beneficial gut microbes – in ways that larger particles don’t.

These possibilities don’t necessarily make nanoparticles harmful. Our bodies are pretty well adapted to handling naturally occurring nanoscale particles – you probably ate some last time you had burnt toast (carbon nanoparticles), or poorly washed vegetables (clay nanoparticles from the soil). And of course, how much of a material we’re exposed to is at least as important as how potentially hazardous it is.

Yet there’s a lot we still don’t know about the safety of intentionally engineered nanoparticles in food. Toxicologists have started paying close attention to such particles, just in case their tiny size makes them more harmful than otherwise expected.

So where does this leave us with nanoscale hydroxyapatite needles in infant formula?

What do regulators know about nano-safety?

Putting particle size to one side for a moment, hydroxyapatite is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “Generally Regarded As Safe.” That means it considers the material safe for use in food products – at least in a non-nano form. However, the agency has raised concerns that nanoscale versions of food ingredients may not be as safe as their larger counterparts.

Some manufacturers may be interested in the potential benefits of “nanosizing” – such as increasing the uptake of vitamins and minerals, or altering the physical, textural and sensory properties of foods. But because decreasing particle size may also affect product safety, the FDA indicates that intentionally nanosizing already regulated food ingredients could require regulatory reevaluation.

In other words, even though non-nanoscale hydroxyapatite is “Generally Regarded As Safe,” according to the FDA, the safety of any nanoscale form of the substance would need to be reevaluated before being added to food products.

Despite this size-safety relationship, the FDA confirmed to me that the agency is unaware of any food substance intentionally engineered at the nanoscale that has enough generally available safety data to determine it should be “Generally Regarded As Safe.”

Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles may have different health effects from larger versions of the mineral.
Westerhoff and Schoepf/ASU, CC BY-ND

 

Casting further uncertainty on the use of nanoscale hydroxyapatite in food, a 2015 report from the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) suggests there may be some cause for concern when it comes to this particular nanomaterial.

Prompted by the use of nanoscale hydroxyapatite in dental products to strengthen teeth (which they consider “cosmetic products”), the SCCS reviewed published research on the material’s potential to cause harm. Their conclusion?

 

This recommendation was based on a handful of studies, none of which involved exposing people to the substance. Researchers injected hydroxyapatite needles directly into the bloodstream of rats. Others exposed cells outside the body to the material and observed the effects. In each case, there were tantalizing hints that the small particles interfered in some way with normal biological functions. But the results were insufficient to indicate whether the effects were meaningful in people.

Importantly, these studies didn’t consider what happens when particles like this end up in the digestive system, including the stomach.

So what happens when a baby eats them?

The good news is that, according to preliminary studies from ASU researchers, hydroxyapatite needles don’t last long in the digestive system.

This research is still being reviewed for publication. But early indications are that as soon as the needle-like nanoparticles hit the highly acidic fluid in the stomach, they begin to dissolve. So fast in fact, that by the time they leave the stomach – an exceedingly hostile environment – they are no longer the nanoparticles they started out as.

These findings make sense since we know hydroxyapatite dissolves in acids, and small particles typically dissolve faster than larger ones. So maybe nanoscale hydroxyapatite needles in food are safer than they sound.

This doesn’t mean that the nano-needles are completely off the hook, as some of them may get past the stomach intact and reach more vulnerable parts of the gut. But the findings do suggest these ultra-small needle-like particles could be an effective source of dietary calcium – possibly more so than larger or less needle-like particles that may not dissolve as quickly.

Intriguingly, recent research has indicated that calcium phosphate nanoparticles form naturally in our stomachs and go on to be an important part of our immune system. It’s possible that rapidly dissolving hydroxyapatite nano-needles are actually a boon, providing raw material for these natural and essential nanoparticles.

The formula’s safe, but begs other questions.
Andrew Maynard, CC BY-ND

Tempest in a baby bottle

And yet, even if these needle-like hydroxyapatite nanoparticles in infant formula are ultimately a good thing, the FoE report raises a number of unresolved questions. Did the manufacturers knowingly add the nanoparticles to their products? How are they and the FDA ensuring the products’ safety? Do consumers have a right to know when they’re feeding their babies nanoparticles?

Whether the manufacturers knowingly added these particles to their formula is not clear. At this point, it’s not even clear why they might have been added, as hydroxyapatite does not appear to be a substantial source of calcium in most formula. (Calcium in formula can come from a number of sources, including milk solids, calcium carbonate and calcium chloride.) If the nanoparticles’ inclusion was intentional, though, current FDA guidelines suggest that the regulator wouldn’t consider the material safe by default, and should be subject to further evaluation.

Certainly, from the data presented, these particles – so uniform in size and shape – look like they were intentionally manufactured to be nanoscale and needle-like. It’s possible they were supplied to the various manufacturers without any indication of their “nano-ness.” This doesn’t absolve the manufacturers of responsibility. But it does suggest that greater scrutiny and accountability is needed in the supply chain for food ingredients.

And regardless of the benefits and risks of nanoparticles in infant formula, parents have a right to know what’s in the products they’re feeding their children. In Europe, food ingredients must be legally labeled if they are nanoscale. In the U.S., there is no such requirement, leaving American parents to feel somewhat left in the dark by producers, the FDA and policy makers.

Given the state of science on nanoscale hydroxyapatite in foods, this is as much an issue of trust as it is safety. The FoE report may exaggerate the possible risks, and raise concerns where few are justified. Yet it’s hard to avoid the reality that, if manufacturers are adding nanoparticles to what we feed our children, we need to know more about how to ensure their safety and benefits. How else can we enable informed decisions?

Luckily, current research suggests hydroxyapatite nanoparticles in formula are most likely safe, and arguably, even beneficial. But given how high the stakes are, safety here should not, and indeed cannot, be taken for granted.

The Conversation

Andrew Maynard, Director, Risk Innovation Lab, Arizona State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

New analytical methods for micronutrient testing of infant formula

New International Standards have been introduced by the ISO to improve methods of testing vitamins and micronutrients in infant formula.

The nutritional quality of infant formula is often based in international standards and regulations, as it provides essential nutrients for the adequate and development of babies and young children.

Test methods are constantly evolving in an international effort to verify the delivery of nutrients, yet there is a lack of a streamlined approach in which parties can produce similar results around the globe.

A new Stakeholder Panel on Infant Formula and Adult Nutritionals (SPIFAN) project, in which ISO standards are globally integrated and published to help manufacturers of infant formula and official control laboratories check compliance with regulations.

According to ISO Communication Officer Sandrine Tranchard, the new ISO International Standards will be proposed to reference methods that enable them to be utilized for the purposes of dispute resolution internationally.

“This will result in more accurate determination of the nutritional quality of infant formula as well as fewer trade disputes caused by differences in analytical results. In addition, these methods will provide internationally validated anchor points to calibrate routine methods for manufacturing purposes,” Tranchard said.

Approximately 10 to 15 projects are currently underway to provide global stakeholders with up-to-date harmonized methods on other relevant nutrients in infant formula and adult nutritionals.

The Australian Federal Government is currently reviewing legislation to ensure that mums have access to infant formula for children under the age of one, as the popularity of formula feeding in China has meant that health and quality problems become more commonplace as the middle class has continued to rise.

ACCC proposes to re-authorise infant formula marketing code

An agreement to re-authorise an agreement which prohibits the advertising of infant formulas directly to the public has been proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Governing the interactions between manufacturers, importers and health care professionals, the self-regulatory code limits the marketing of infant formula for infants up to 12 months.

According to ACCC Commissioner Delia Rickard, “Breastfeeding of infants provides real health benefits to Australian society, and this industry agreement promotes and protects breastfeeding by restricting inappropriate advertising of infant formula.”

The MAIF Agreement gives effect in Australia to the principles of the World Health Organisation’s International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes.

When the ACCC is satisfied, it may grant an authorisation to the public benefit when the conduct outweighs any public detriment. 

Bega and Blackmores to develop infant formula

Women unable to breastfeed will soon be able to purchase a high quality infant formula developed through a recent partnership between Bega Cheese Ltd and Blackmores Limited.

Using a combination of Blackmores’ expertise in health and Bega’s expertise in dairy manufacturing, the two Australian brands are aligning on sustainably sourcing ingredients and corporate values to deliver nutritional products to mothers across Australia and Asia.

According to Chairman of Bega Cheese Ltd, Barry Irvin, “We are aware from our presence in the Asia region that there is significant demand for infant formula and we believe that, with the combination of Blackmores and Bega, we are uniquely positioned to support those women unable to breastfeed.”

A range of Blackmores and Tatura products will be developed to ensure that products meet the high demand for infant formula whilst maintaining a high standard of quality. 

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