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American Botanic Council asks for lift on stevia import ban

BY Melissa Valliant

AUSTIN, Texas The American Botanic Council is calling for a repeal of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 1991 import alert on steviol glycosides, which are used under the name of “stevia” as food and beverage sweeteners and dietary supplements.

In ABC’s HerbalGram publication, Mark Blumenthal, ABC’s founder and executive director, calls the stevia alert “unreasonable and illogical” given the “current scientific and medical information supporting the safety of stevia when consumed in relatively small amounts in foods to give them a sweet taste.” Blumenthal notes that stevia importers would still have to conduct FDA GRAS reviews, thus further ensuring safety, in order to use their product. 

Currently, stevia’s low glycemic index allows it to be permitted solely as a dietary supplement in the U.S., and no food manufacturers have been able to gain FDA GRAS status for use in food and beverages. The American Herbal Products Association in 1992, as well as Lipton-Uniliver in 1994, petitioned to obtain GRAS status in order to use stevia in foods and beverage products, but the FDA refused both. 

Coburn & Coffman PLLC, a two-man law firm in Washington DC, disagrees with ABC, stating in a petition that stevia glycosides are drugs, since they have been studied for effects on blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Coburn & Coffman cite Sect. 301 (II) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) as grounds to “seize, and obtain injunctions against distribution of food other than dietary supplement to which have been added stevioside, rebaudioside A, or any other steviol glycoside.”

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Pepsi to buy Canadian snack maker Spitz

BY Melissa Valliant

NEW YORK In an effort to further expand into the healthy snack category, PepsiCo announced Wednesday it will be buying Canadian sunflower seed maker Spitz International Co.

Spitz would be included in PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America business unit and joins True North nut snacks and baked Lay’s potato chips in Pepsi?s handful of healthy food products. Spitz will continue operating in Canada?s Bow Island and Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Pepsi sales, especially beverage, have taken a hit as consumers reevaluate their purchasing options in the tightening economy. “Spitz enables Frito-lay Canada to grow our seed business in Canada and help us expand in the United States, while supporting PepsiCo’s broader health and wellness strategy,”Al Carey, president and chief executive of Frito-Lay North America said. The terms of acquisition were not disclosed.

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Hershey names Idrovo senior vice president, strategy, business development

BY Melissa Valliant

HERSHEY, Pa. Hershey announced Wednesday that Javier Idrovo, former president of Dole Packaged Foods, will be joining the chocolate company as senior vice president of strategy and business development, effective Nov. 3.

Idrovo’s responsibilities include leading Hershey’s strategic plan, overseeing and directing its merger and acquisition activities, developing a decision-making strategy for financial and operational issues and finding new locations in which to expand.

“Over the past year, we have developed and launched a very strong strategic plan,” said David West, president and chief executive officer. “[Idrovo]’s extensive background both in leading a global consumer business and as a management consultant will be of immense value as we implement our plan across the organization. Javier will ensure that we have the proper resources and alignment to successfully implement our strategy and rive long-term growth.”

Idrovo spent much of his career at Dole Packaged Foods, serving as senior vice president of strategy; vice president and chief financial officer and later rising to president. Prior to this experience, he was employed at The Boston Consulting Group, where he analyzed and led business strategies.

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