Probiotics – a new buzz word for health. What are they, where are they, and what do they do for you?

Today, there is an increasing focus on health and well-being. The natural, organic and non-gmo markets are some of the fastest growing segments around. Part of that focus is on the inclusion of probiotics, which are specific strains of friendly bacteria that enhance several physiological functions, particularly the body’s natural defense system and intestinal well-being.

There are two prevalent types of probiotics being used today: lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

Lactobacilli have been used in food fermentation  as starter cultures in  yogurt, buttermilk, salami and pickled vegetables. They are also part of the natural microflora in the gut, and studies have shown that ingestion of specific probiotic lactobacilli can help strengthen the immune system and reduce intestinal disorders.

Bifidobacteria are the reason most researchers feel that breast fed babies have a higher immune function that formula fed babies. Adults also have a high level of bifidobacteria as common microflora in their intestines. Maintaining that high level has been shown to be beneficial to health.

At SPI Group, we want to deliver on our customers’ needs, keeping  their products on the cutting edge of todays’ market. With our recent elevated partnership with DuPont, we are now recognized as a Preferred Distributor, giving SPI Group the ability to provide expert products and service covering the DuPont Health & Nutrition line. With that comes the ability to offer both the Howaru and YoMix lines of probiotics. Their applications range from, dry blended beverages, to bars, to stick packs and even snack applications.  Support on formulation, enumeration studies and technical assistance is available by SPI Group and DuPont Nutrition & Health – contact us today!

SCIFTs Suppliers’ Night and Southern California Food Industry Conference – March 4, 2015

This was another successful Southern California IFT Suppliers’ Night. Over 500 exhibitors showcased their products/services and it gave attendees the opportunity to learn about them. The show floor was vibrant with activity and it made the 4 ½ hours seem short.

Suppliers’ Night was preceded by the 28th Annual Southern California Food Industry Conference titled “Button Up for the Winds of Change”. The topics were very relevant to the regulatory changes including labeling, FSMA and consumer driven changes.

The event also included presentations from Chapul, USA’s first insect-based nutritional product. Very interesting comments were made as to how this is and has been a learning process for both the regulatory entities and Chapul. The conference also included the challenges faced by the emerging segment of Cannabis edibles.

Following are some points made during the presentation by Dr. Martin Hahn regarding the FDA proposed changes to nutrition labels and serving sizes.


Some of the proposed changes being reviewed:

Because mandating changes in just 1 ingredient would cost $ billions, the FDA would prefer changing several ingredients at once.

To require labeling “added sugar”, it would need to have a clear definition for, as examples, juice concentrate sugar or lactose.

Declare Vit K and D instead of Vit A and C.

Vit A and C could be voluntary as well as fluoride.

New definition of dietary fibers might include synthetic fibers.


Propose changing the sodium RDI to 2300 -2400 mg/day, instead of 1500 mg


Calories from fat would not be required.

Servings per container:

They are revising the definition of servings per container

Proposal in review: Any container with <200% of RACC would be defined as 1 serving.

FDA is proposing the label changes be implemented in 2 years from the date of CFR publication, while the industry is requesting 4 years.


The presentations by Dr. Florence Dunkel and Pat Crowley were interesting in showing how people can overcome the “yuck” and/or “embarrasement” factors when consuming insects or insect based products. They also presented the sustainability of this nutrition source.

We highly recommend attending this event next year. Our experience has been that it provides a head start into the trend challenges that continue to be relevant in the months following the event.


The Seismic Shift on How Consumers will Source Meals in the Future

I believe the best talk at the Intermountain IFT Suppliers show in Sun Valley this past week, was put on by Justin Shimek, the Chief Technology Officer with Mattson, located in the San Francisco Bay area. He gave a very informative talk about the direction consumers are heading to source their food.

Brick and mortar grocery stores and restaurant business are still going to increase. The change coming is in how their ingredients and meals are prepared and delivered to the customer. This change is already taking place in many metropolitan areas where delivery can be offered rather quickly and/or in the all area where frozen and refrigerated meals and meal kits can be delivered by standard carriers as well. Some food operations even guarantee they will get the meals to you in 20 minutes or less.

One new method aptly called is set it and forget it. It is where the customer subscribes to a service and like clockwork they deliver the ingredients or meals at set times. It can be daily, weekly or monthly.

Another method has more of a scratch cooking feel to it. This is where a manufacturer puts together meal kits. That are proportioned and premeasured, then shipped frozen or refrigerated to the customer, who simply put everything together according to the recipe included in the box.

The food on demand method is where the customer shops for groceries or meals online from a retail grocery store or a restaurant. It’s either delivered to the door or they can pick it up. The restaurants that are smart will utilize their kitchens during off hours of operation, to increase their profitability. Chefs will make hand make meals and send them via delivery truck to their customers.

So it appears restaurants are becoming more like manufacturing plants for meals and grocery store are becoming like distribution points for food ingredients.

The positive side of this trend is the customer feels like they are buying local, fresh and all natural products. It’s also about convenience, speed and variety of products available through these different channels.

A possible negative side effect that was mentioned was now the customers will only have one personal point of contact with the businesses that make and assemble their food order. That one point of interaction will be the delivery driver.

Someone mentioned that the liabilities of the contract delivery services have not been addressed properly. Who’s going to take the blame for food that goes bad in transit?