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Articles from 2004 In April


Pumped-up super veggies show their nutritional colours

Scientists around the globe are developing fruits and vegetables with boosted nutrient contents in a rainbow of unusual colours. Shane Starling sinks his teeth into a world of orange cauliflower and purple carrots

Given their inherently nutritious composition, most fruit and vegetable breeding programmes have tended to focus on improving aspects like appearance, taste, texture, shape and shelf-life. But more and more research energy is now being channelled into making fruits and vegetables even healthier.

From corporate seed developers through growers to academic researchers, enhancement of fruits and vegetables is continuing at such a pace in many parts of the world that commercial results are beginning to see the light of day. Consumers can now pick from purple carrots and tomatoes in the US to protein-rich potatoes in India to orange cauliflower in the UK.

The Vegetable & Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC) at Texas A&M University is a leading research hub in the area and created one of the world?s first ?super vegetables? about a decade ago—a purple carrot breed that had 40 per cent more beta-carotene than usual. The carrot, named BetaSweet, and now available throughout the US, was also bred to have a higher sugar content to improve flavour, as well as a crispy texture to make it more palatable for children. Other breeding programmes had taken place with regular carrots and they too had their nutritional profiles improved, but they lacked the unique marketing appeal of a carrot that wasn?t orange.

?If you develop something new that is truly significantly better for nutrition and health, you must be able to identify it,? says Leonard M Pike, PhD, research leader at the VFIC. ?It?s got to be carried through to the consumer. Once we develop these varieties, we must have a way to get the consumer to know what they are. That?s what this is about—breeding for nutrition and for the grower, shipper, trucker, chemical producer and retailer. The maroon colour is perfect for identifying and promoting the BetaSweet variety.?

Other work being conducted at the VFIC and its partner institutions include:

  • developing the anti-carcinogen properties of citrus fruits.
  • increasing the carotenoid content of watermelons and cantaloupes.
  • developing milder and sweeter onions with increased quercetin and anthocyanin levels.
  • increasing the quercetin levels of peppers and making them sweeter.
  • increasing anthocyanin levels in stone fruits.
  • developing lycopene-enriched tomatoes.

Associate professor Stephen R King, a researcher principally involved in the watermelon and cantaloupe programme, says most research at the VFIC is done using selective breeding principles.

Genetic-modification techniques, while not widely practised, are not totally conspicuous by their absence.

?We don?t do much GM,? he notes. ?That said, a researcher at one of our associated institutes has located genes that increase calcium in carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. He?s been getting some great results. He?s solving problems caused by calcium deficiency, such as blossoming end-rot in tomatoes and storage problems for potatoes. So he?s improving the nutritional profile of the product while also having a producer benefit. It keeps the vegetable healthy as well as being a healthier vegetable.? Despite such exciting GM-based work, the VFIC will remain focused on more natural methods in the short- to medium-term. ?Natural variation is already there in many cases, and it is just a matter of selecting for it. GM is not necessarily better,? King observes.

As its name suggests, the VFIC is principally concerned with fruit and vegetable research and improvement, but it also vigorously pursues links in the clinical sphere.

?In terms of efficacy, it?s important we connect with medical researchers to discover if the nutrient levels we develop are of any benefit to people,? King said. ?We might get a doubling or tripling of a compound, but the levels might be so low to start with that the end amount is insignificant. Potato is a good example. There are carotenoids and flavonoids in potatoes but they are at very low levels. But the consumption of potatoes is significant enough that these lower levels of nutrient presence can be significant.?

Potatoes are in fact the world?s most commonly consumed vegetable, although their consumption has been falling in some Western markets due to the effect of low-carbohydrate diets. Perhaps, with this in mind, Indian researchers using GM techniques have developed a high-protein potato that is being rushed to market to cash in on the low-carbohydrate diet craze.

Tomatoes rank next in the vegetable popularity league, with each US citizen consuming about 90 pounds of tomatoes in 2003. Recent work has focused on breeding programmes aimed at increasing their now-prominently marketed lycopene levels. Much of it has been successful. A programme at Oregon State University with a different bent has bred purple tomatoes with boosted anthocyanin content that could have tomatoes competing with the likes of blueberries and grapes both as functional foods and extracts and even as polyphenol supplements.

?We are learning about how anthocyanin genes are expressed in tomatoes and how we might cross tomatoes to get more nutritional value,? says Jim Myers, a professor of vegetable breeding. ?The medical, the nutritional and the food research industries all are keenly interested in the health benefits of phytochemicals in all sorts of fruits and vegetables. We are happy to find out we can accomplish this in tomatoes using traditional, classical plant-breeding techniques.?

This accent on health has seen seed growers like California-based Seminis alter its product development criteria. The company recently launched a broccoli variety high in glucosinolates—a naturally occurring cancer-fighter. ?In addition to our traditional focus on grower requirements, we have geared our research toward consumer needs and preferences,? president Eugenio Najera says, ?in this case providing nutritious vegetables with enhanced health benefits.?

Of course, this activity would not be occurring if demand weren?t there, according to Stuart Cox, technical manager at the UK division of Japanese multinational seed developer Sakata Seeds. ?The seed industry is looking further down the food chain to what consumers really want, and they want health. The functional elements are now key breeding objectives. The supermarkets do the consumer surveys and they are coming to us and asking for these new varieties, so the public demand is clearly there. And if they are visually identifiable as being extra-healthy, people will pay for that too.?

UK-based grower Staples Vegetables has found success in varieties that have unique colour and health properties, such as red, green and orange cauliflowers with boosted anthocyanin levels. Managing director Vernon Read points out that the potential for transference of colours between vegetable varieties is almost limitless and that growers are realising the benefits of carrying such new hybrids. ?If there is a demand for them we will be interested in them because they can set us apart from our competitors,? he states. ?This is particularly true when cheaper produce is often readily available from other growers in locations often thousands of miles away.?

Sales of the cauliflower varieties have been increasing steadily, even if many consumers are not immediately aware of the nutritional aspect of the produce. ?Although it?s the colour that attracts people in the first place, once we have their attention, we inform them of the health benefits,? Read observes. ?I think there?ll be more colour in the future. There?ll be the appeal of the product visually, and there?ll be the health benefit.?

So an apple a day—or perhaps a purple carrot or red cauliflower—may keep the doctor away for years to come.

European supplements industry shackled by GMO laws

New European Union labelling laws requiring full traceability of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have received a lukewarm welcome from supplements industry leaders who claim the regulations are overly time consuming, costly and in many cases unworkable.

Under the rules, effective April 18, products with ingredients that cannot demonstrate they are free from GMOs—even if the product itself contains no detectable GMO matter—will have to carry GMO warnings. Such products that in the past have borne ?GMO-free? labelling will be forced to provide proof. If they can, these products will be permitted to carry non-GMO labels.

Companies trading in ingredients like natural source vitamin E—almost exclusively derived from GM soy—will be forced to run the risk of incurring consumer rejection by opting for GMO labelling, using inferior-quality synthetic vitamin E or pulling products from the market.

?The problem with this legislation is that traceability is not always possible, but is always extremely costly,? said food law consultant Peter Berry Ottoway. ?Supplement manufacturers will have to stop sourcing raw materials from any suppliers who cannot guarantee 100 per cent traceability. Not many suppliers can do this.?

Cheryl Thallon, owner and director of UK-based supplements manufacturer Viridian, backed the legislation. ?We?re delighted that products now have to be genuinely non-GMO by going way back to the seed, which is good news for consumers and ethical brands. For this reason we are taking natural source vitamin E out of all of our multivitamins and antioxidant formula because we can?t guarantee it is not GMO contaminated.?

Solgar UK and UK-based NBTY-owned supplier and retailer Holland and Barrett said they were busy preparing the necessary traceability paperwork and were weighing their options in regard to vitamin E.

Delicious Living

May 1, 2004

Company News

More room for great grains
Whole-grain foods maker Hodgson Mill has recently doubled its manufacturing and warehouse capacity at its Illinois headquarters to 37,500 square feet. The company also has added new equipment, including two bulk tanks used to store ingredients, two 4,500-pound blends, a pouching machine and a carton machine.

Chairman earns medal for mettle
Unilever Chairman Niall FitzGerald has been awarded the Society of Chemical Industry?s Centenary Medal for his influential leadership in the food and pharmaceutical industries. FitzGerald has spent more than 30 years at Unilever, which has corporate centres in London and Rotterdam. Prior to becoming chairman in 1996, he worked as the CEO of food business in South Africa, director of finance, director of food and director of detergents.

Naturex eyes acquisitions
Since acquiring Brucia Plant Extracts in early 2002, Naturex now generates half of its revenues from the North American continent, the French company reports. It has recently retained the services of CANEC International to search for new acquisition opportunities among producers of extracts of vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices or botanicals that are sold to industry, but not to retail. For more information, contact Jocelyn Bertheau at + 1 416 486 7171, ext. 101. Or visit www.canec.com.

Chinese range crosses shores
Chicago-based SourceOne Global Partners has announced an alliance with Ginkgo Group Biological Technology, a manufacturer of natural-source ingredients in Beijing, China. SourceOne will be the exclusive marketer of Ginkgo Group?s Ginnovay family of products in North America, Europe and Australia. These products include IP non-GMO mixed tocopherols, IP non-GMO phytosterols, palm tocotrienols and rice tocotrienols.

Ajinomoto gives nutrition prize
The Ajinomoto Association has awarded the Prize for Research in Nutrition to a researcher on the development of adipose tissue who discovered that not all fatty acids have the same effect. Gerard Ailhaud, a professor at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, is the former president of both the French and European Associations for the Study of Obesity, as well as a former vice president of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. Following the discovery of stem cells in adipose tissue, Ailhaud?s findings have led to advances in the field of allotransplantation.

Danes do dairy in India
Danish ingredient-supplier Chr Hansen has opened a new subsidiary in Bombay, India, bringing the company?s total number of offices worldwide to 30. Its India operations will initially concentrate on vegetable rennet and bacteria cultures for cheese and yoghurt. Later this year, natural colours and flavours for soups and sauces will be added to the menu.

NBJ picks Cysteine Peptide
DMV International has been named a Product Merit Award winner by Nutrition Business Journal for its development of the ingredient Cysteine Peptide, which is made from milk protein and boosts glutathione levels in the human body. DMV International is part of the Netherlands-based dairy company Campina.

KGK Synergize names CSO
London-based KGK Synergize has named Penny Costello, PhD, as chief scientific officer. Costello most recently worked as associate director at Kinetek Pharmaceuticals in Vancouver, British Columbia, and brings research expertise in the field of angiogenesis.

Sigma-tau forms new division
Sigma-tau Group, a producer and supplier of L-carnitine, has formed the Sigma-tau HealthScience (STHS) Food and Beverage Ingredients Division. Believing the US is pivotal for world growth of its bulk ingredient products, STHS will relocate its global divisional management from Rome to Maryland, and eventually to New York City. No interruptions in customer service will take place during the transition, the company says.

Caramel colour changes hands
DD Williamson, a leading caramel colour manufacturer, has acquired Cargill?s Cerestar caramel colour operation in England. The company will source glucose syrup via pipeline from Cargill?s starch refinery in Manchester to manufacture a broader line of caramel colour and burnt sugar products. With the acquisition, DD Williamson will now operate two European production facilities; its first facility in Cork, Ireland, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

DD Williamson and Cargill are both privately held companies with head offices in the US. DD Williamson operates seven manufacturing sites in the US, Puerto Rico, Ireland, China, Swaziland and Brazil; Cargill employs 98,000 people in 61 countries.

Time has come for new rules in Europe’s health claims game

If the functional foods industry is to continue to grow and gain in credibility, the European Union needs to expand its approvals for regulated health claims, and the accuracy and balance of consumer media coverage has to improve, Tony Miles-Prouten says

The direct link between our health and what we eat is, for most people, increasingly understood. And it is often said that all we need do is eat a balanced diet. But what exactly is a balanced diet? There is no consensus on that.

Differing lifestyles, financial circumstances and preferences immediately dictate that one person?s balanced diet would not be right for someone else. As consumer knowledge increases, people should be able to buy and eat foods they believe will specifically benefit them, and which suit their lifestyle and personal preferences. But how are they to get clear and balanced information about the choices available?

Accurately communicating the facts about functional foods remains a challenge for European manufacturers in the face of two major factors: restrictive health claims controls, which are also inconsistent between member states, and the influence of powerful consumer media. The potential for success is significant—hence the number of new products vying for consumer attention and shelf space.

However, to really develop the opportunities for growth and secure the industry?s continued success, a regulatory framework needs to be developed. To help achieve this, the industry must work together to secure the benefits of communicating health claims in a consistently clear, credible and balanced manner.

Clear legislation
While unregulated or unsubstantiated health claims are damaging to the functional foods industry, the industry?s long-term success is equally jeopardised by the extreme difficulties in making any health claims whatsoever in Europe. Coherent European legislation governing health claims for functional foods is needed to provide manufacturers with labelling options that communicate truthful, reliable and useful guidance, based on sound scientific evidence, in a way that consumers can understand. The EU Food Labelling Directive (2000) does not currently define the conditions for the use of health claims, so they are largely prohibited. Consequently, manufacturers are very limited in what they can communicate to consumers. Although the EC is reviewing the regulations on health claims, proposed changes to existing legislation are still in a consultation phase. As Europe continues to work toward an agreement, are there lessons to be learned from the current leading markets for functional foods: Japan and the US?

The Japanese Food for Specified Health Use (FOSHU) system provides specific functional foods with an officially approved status. Indeed, the positive legislative environment in Japan plays a significant role in the continued popularity of functional foods with Japanese consumers. Since 1991, around 300 functional products have been proposed for approval, of which close to 200 have obtained FOSHU status. However, while the Japanese functional foods market is booming, there may be a risk that the proliferation of products carrying health claims could ultimately cause confusion among consumers. This is a key consideration for European legislators who may wish to focus on the quality, rather than quantity, of health claims.

In contrast to Japan, US legislation does not approve specific functional food products. The Food and Drug Administration has approved 12 generic health claims that meet Significant Scientific Agreement (SSA). The comprehensive SSA process is used by the FDA to evaluate health claims and initially focuses on a review of individual studies. After identifying relevant, good-quality studies and assessing their strengths and weaknesses, the agency conducts a more comprehensive review based on the body of evidence as a whole.

SSA claims that are already approved include calcium and osteoporosis, soy protein and the risk of heart disease, and stanol and sterol esters and the risk of heart disease. The FDA has also established interim procedures whereby lesser or so-called ?qualified? health claims can be made not only for dietary supplements but also for conventional foods. These claims aim to provide guidance to industry on the circumstances under which the FDA will consider exercising its enforcement discretion to permit health claims that do not meet the SSA standard.

The system of generic health claims developed in the US—the current middle ground between Europe and Japan—may prove to be a suitable blueprint for Europe. Indeed, some national governments have already established local codes to provide both manufacturers and consumers with interim guidance for generic claims, for example the Joint Health Claims Initiative in the UK and the Swedish Nutrition Foundation?s self-regulating code. However, for the generic health claims approach to function effectively, there must be harmonisation across Europe to prevent market fragmentation.

The might of the media
While manufacturers are very limited by EU legislation in what they can communicate to consumers about health benefits, the autonomous mass media holds the cards when it comes to influencing public opinion. Health news is big news. And to be successful, a company and its product offering must be credible in the eyes of the consumer—press coverage can make or break reputations.

Recent media coverage in the UK on soy clearly illustrates the dichotomy between balanced scientific argument and its communication to consumers through the press. The general understanding of the potential health benefits of soy consumption has significantly improved in recent year—soy is no longer perceived as an unappetising food just for vegetarians or those with lactose intolerance. There is also greater awareness of specific soy ingredients such as isoflavones, which are now often highlighted positively in health and women?s magazines. Nevertheless, mass media coverage of soy often takes an extreme view, either over-stating it as a ?miracle? food or reporting negative research without placing the findings in a broader scientific context.

The autonomous mass media holds the cards when it comes to influencing public opinion. Health news is big news
BBC News Online, for example, recently reported details of research under way at St Andrews University, Scotland, to develop methods to measure the effects of phyto-estrogens on humans. It was described as a study researching methods to ?beat breast cancer through eating high-fibre foods like strawberries, lentils and soy.? The coverage further stated that ?recent research has reported that breast cancer is less prevalent in Asian women, who have a high-soy diet.? While these positive headlines promote soy, the press report only provided limited information on the ?bigger picture.? Additional information on the quantities of soy involved in achieving the benefits highlighted in the scientific research would have provided a more accurate perspective.

In contrast, a study from Johns Hopkins? Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland received negative coverage in the mass media. This study examined the reproductive function in male rats exposed to phytoestrogens while in the womb and achieved such headlines as ?pregnant women warned soy may damage their sons.? In reporting the story, many newspapers did not place the report in context by mentioning the positive research findings about soy consumption or epidemiological evidence from East Asia where soy is a staple of the diet.

Clearly, those involved in manufacturing soy foods and soy-containing dietary supplements must take all research seriously—positive or negative. However, inaccurate or unbalanced reporting of scientific studies by the mass media has long-term repercussions on public opinion. The insinuation sometimes contained in European consumer press coverage that the consumption of soy is potentially harmful is in stark contrast to Japanese consumer attitudes about soy. In Japan, soy is a dietary staple for both men and women. From an early age, children are fed soy-containing products by their parents, with no thought of such issues as maximum daily quantities. For European opinions about soy to change and a more balanced perspective to prevail, it is clear that the attitudes of the press must also change.

Credible science
Manufacturers can play a role in improving press reporting and, in turn, consumer understanding by promoting credible scientific research to support health claims or by reacting to negative press coverage. An industry-wide initiative to promote reliable clinical research to support credible health claims would be extremely beneficial to ingredients and product manufacturers alike. The approved Joint Health Claims Initiative health claim for soy protein in the UK is an example of the impact that manufacturers can have when they work together.

Tony Miles-Prouten is ADM?s vice president of marketing, Europe. Respond: editor@ffnmag.com. Correspondences will be forwarded to the author.

AHPA open letter to the editor of Consumer Reports

An open letter* to the editor of Consumer Reports

April 28, 2004

Consumer Reports
Letters to the Editor
101 Truman Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10703-1057

An article in the current (May 2004) issue of Consumer Reports titled “Dangerous Supplements: Still at Large” identifies ten herbal ingredients or constituents as “too dangerous to be on the market.” While some of the information provided in this article is accurate, much of it is exaggerated and some is false.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has no disagreement with Consumer Reports’ advice to avoid internal consumption of four of the identified herbal substances. The safety concerns associated with aristolochic acid, for example, are sufficiently well established to support removal from the market of any product containing herbs in which this compound occurs.

The article fails to report, however, that products that contain aristolochic acid are illegal. Contrary to the statement that “until very recently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not managed to remove a single dietary supplement from the market for safety reasons,” FDA has used its current regulatory authority to identify products containing aristolochic acid as “adulterated” – and adulterated products are illegal products. This was not news to AHPA when FDA took this action in 2000, and AHPA had provided information to its members regarding the potential substitution of species of aristolochia as early as 1997.

Similarly, AHPA agrees that comfrey should not be an ingredient in any dietary supplement unless the potentially toxic compound that naturally occurs in this plant is first removed. This has been our formal position since 1996, which was five years before FDA acted, again by identifying comfrey as adulterated. Both FDA and the Federal Trade Commission have since acted, under their existing authority, to remove from the market products containing comfrey.

Also, the herb germander has no legitimate place in the market, but it is disingenuous of Consumer Reports to fail to disclose that the company that was identified as offering this plant for sale also warns consumers not to use the herb without the advice of a healthcare practitioner – and any knowledgeable practitioner (even if they have not subscribed to the magazine) will warn against its use.

In addition, AHPA and its members are aware of the concerns associated with oral consumption of pennyroyal oil, and have recommended that pennyroyal herb not be used by pregnant women. The dangers identified in the article for pennyroyal oil are not, however, necessarily relevant to the herbal products that were identified in the article.

At the other extreme, AHPA strongly contests the listing of skullcap as presenting a danger of “abnormal liver function or damage.” The only suggestion of such a danger was associated with an incident of misidentification of skullcap in a product that, in fact, contained germander and did not contain skullcap.

With regard to the other five herbs listed in this article, the evidence on each of these suggests that consumers who choose to use these products should be provided with information to assist them in making such choices. AHPA recommends, for example, that kava products bear a serious warning statement about the potential risk of liver toxicity that has been identified by FDA as “rare.” Though chaparral is not broadly sold, AHPA recommends that all such products also inform consumers of potential liver risks, even though such risks are based on similarly rare reports of side effects. In addition, many products that contain bitter orange caution consumers to consult with a healthcare practitioner prior to use.

Each of these five herbs can be used with respect and with knowledge – but that is true with every herb that is available as a dietary supplement. Respectful and informed use, however, is far from Consumer Reports’ advice to avoid all use of these herbs.

Sincerely,

Michael McGuffin
President, AHPA

Cognis Covers Cholesterol-Lowering Products at SupplySide East

Cognis Nutrition & Health is sponsoring a VendorWorks session (Friday May 7, 2004, 10-10:50 am) at this week's SupplySide East in Baltimore, Maryland. Consistent with the company expanding its role as a top tier supplier, category builder and industry leader, Cognis is taking this VendorWorks to a completely new level.

We spoke with Kathleen Moran, Global Market Segment Manager, Dietary Supplements and Laura Brennan, Marketing Manager, Dietary Supplements from Cognis Nutrition & Health, about the presentation and its objectives.

The presentation is entitled

Condition-Specific Focus: Cholesterol "Healthy Formulations to Meet the Growing Demand for Cholesterol-Lowering Products"

and is described as:

Cognis' spotlight on key health concerns begins with an in-depth look at cholesterol reducing ingredients. This information-packed session highlights major factors impacting formulations designed to lower cholesterol including research news, regulatory updates and new marketing data. Those in R&D, marketing and product management will learn from the review of over 10 cholesterol-lowering ingredients focusing on efficacy, allowable claims and cost per dose.


NPI: What is the objective of the presentation?

KM/LB: Traditionally, presentations have tended to be specific ingredient focused which has served attendees well, but now we're looking at our expertise and realizing that we're in a position, as a company, to add value by diving deeply into 3 health conditions: heart health, body composition and eye health.

Taking this approach lets us help our clients by adding even more value to the relationship. Here, in this presentation, we're presenting a marketing perspective, information on leading ingredients in the category, science, claims status, mechanisms of action, cost per dose data, summarizing the state of this health condition and measuring the available information against Cognis' exacting standards.

NPI: What's Cognis purpose and role in this?

KM/LB: The first step is to position Cognis as the category leader for heart health. From this position, we're actively seeking worthy ingredients to add to our portfolio. So in the longer term, we're looking for blends we can patent to create scientifically proven 'home run' products, working with R & D or ingredient companies to bring these products to market.

As it also turns out, as we prepared for this presentation, we were excited to discover that our Vegapure® is leading the pack, based on claims and evidence, but there are other ingredients that are strong as well.

We want to talk about our Vegapure criteria and point out that the science behind some ingredients is really not all it's cracked up to be. It's actually surprising - IRI says the products might be selling briskly, but there's sometimes little science behind them or it may be both 'pro' with some 'con'. Our intent is to raise the bar for setting standards and evaluating these products. Just because a product is selling doesn't mean it's supported or that the evidence is compelling, yet that's how it's presented and marketed. Clients need to be aware of these factors and not just jump on the bandwagon with the most 'popular' product.

This presentation is more than just about science, it's intended as an entire category review. What we've discovered is that there are a handful of products with good science, many with questionable data. And Cognis is in a position to help understand the category and its issues - we've done some homework, we understand the market and the importance of product positioning, the science, and we're willing to share the work we've done including consumer research.

NPI: Leading suppliers do seem to be taking a more active role and assuming responsibility for category education and growth - all the way up the value chain.

KM/LB: This is another example of the evolving role of the supplier providing more than just B2B information or product in drums, now the role is expanding - it's deeper into product positioning, marketing, claims, technical support including blending and product formulation, it's science support, it's a body of information and support that helps customers get to market faster and in the right position.

As an ingredient supplier, we sometimes have to respond to the request for exclusivity as part of the relationship, and that's an important decision to evaluate and in order to commit. If we were to go that route, we've got to make sure our decision is sound – we’re looking for customers who mirror our culture, strategy, not 'me-too' positioning, we want innovators with high standards and in this type of relationship, we've got to be watching each other's back. There has to be soundness and trust from a regulatory standpoint, the organization we work with in this type of relationship will have the right distribution, good marketing capabilities etc.

Our support and capabilities ultimately lets our customers get to market faster with the positioning they need to be successful.

NPI: Kathleen, Laura, what are your backgrounds?

Kathleen has a Chemical Engineering degree, and more recently, has followed this up with an MBA. She has been involved in the vitamin manufacturing sector for over five years, and most recently has spent 5-6 years in marketing on a global scale.

Laura has a health administration degree, with a focus on business and science and has been with Cognis for 10 years in a customer related capacity including sales and marketing. She has been with the Nutrition & Health Group itself for 3 years and now is focusing extensively on the heart health category.

NPI: How would you describe the (technical) level of the presentation?

KM/LB: It covers marketing, health claims, a bit about the drug world too, so it's not deep, rather it's a surface snapshot of technical information. We will offer back-up information for those that are interested, or need it. Of course our scientists are also available with additional information and resources.

NPI: If you were successful in your objectives what would it mean?

KM/LB: The biggest desired impact is to have Cognis identified as the category leader, and bringing people to the door to develop the market. As we mentioned earlier, this includes potential relationships with other ingredient suppliers and R & D companies. Ultimately we want to raise the bar and drive up standards. We want to present the fabulous efficacy of Vegapure. We realize that there are newer companies with interesting products, but recognize too that Cognis is the largest in the world for supply capacity.

NPI: We are increasingly seeing category targeted approaches from ingredient manufacturers. Why do you think this is?

KM/LB: We see a huge growth opportunity compared to letter vitamins. Consumers are busy, they want a package, a product, we can't expect them to be experts and know everything there is to know.

NPI: What is the future for this category and Cognis' role?

KM/LB: The recent shift in the guidelines for cholesterol measurement means that the number of people who need to manage cholesterol for instance, is expected to triple. The research suggests that those that are borderline can get the same type of effect for intervention as for drug treatment so that means for many that exercise, diet, sterols etc. can all help. With this in mind, there is an opportunity for everyone to benefit - supplementation will not be squashed.

Our role is expanding and it's really whatever is required to blend, add depth and produce sophisticated formulations. We realize that the FTC will continue cracking down on things like combination products making synergistic claims, so technical support and proof is needed and we've got the capabilities and expertise to provide the level of proof they'll require.

NPI: Whatare the challenges faced by ingredient suppliers? manufacturers? retailers?

KM/LB: We must all take an active role to promote category growth. From our own standpoint, it's meant we've had to become expert in marketing, positioning, and other elements maybe our customers have provided in the past, so it's a challenge, but if we can do this successfully, it's a huge opportunity for both ourselves and our clients.

It's also important to realize that consumers are increasingly taking a 'what ails' approach, so you've got to talk health condition, so there's a big transition occurring, and as a result, we've become comfortable talking about health challenges to reach our market. Data also shows that those consumers who are the most in need are not taking or doing anything - drugs, diet or supplements. So our main challenge is that at some point, the education is not there. It's also really about product efficacy, and on this subject, we need to educate our customers about how important our health claim is.

NPI: What message would you relay to those not able to attend?

KM/LB: Contact Laura Brennan for information at Laura.Brennan@cognis-us.com. All presentation materials are available.

NPI: There is a lot going on. Why is this a 'can't miss' presentation?

KM/LB: This category is certainly one of the biggest health problems we face, and there are some good products available. Every finished product marketer should have this category covered in their product mix, and they also need to make sure they're on track - for ingredients, positioning,marketing message, opportunities; they need to check what they have against the industry, and this session will let them do just that.

Our intention has been to gather the information in a digestible, understandable, manageable format without overwhelming our audience, to give them a good part of what they need.

General Mills Introduces Lower-Carb Line-Up; Lower-Carb Versions of Consumer Favorites Hit Shelves

MINNEAPOLIS, Apr 29, 2004 (BUSINESS WIRE) --
Today General Mills announced that at the 2004 Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show, May 2-4, 2004, the company will unveil a portfolio of products from throughout its family of brands that address current needs of consumers seeking lower-carb options of their favorite foods. The new introductions offer choices across a wide selection of products.

The company also released results of a new Opinion Research Corporation(a) survey revealing that 54 percent of consumers who are monitoring their carbs would be interested in trying a lower-carb version of their favorite foods. In choosing lower-carb foods, 79 percent of consumers said taste is important, 57 percent said price is important, 56 percent said shopping convenience is important, and 53 percent said convenient preparation is important.

'Research shows that nearly 70 percent of consumers are monitoring their carb intake,'said Gayle Fuguitt, General Mills vice president of market research. 'Whether they are on a lower-carb diet or just watching the amount of carbs they eat, we know they want lower-carb options that are convenient and that taste good. We have reformulated some of consumers'favorite General Mills products to fit a low-carb lifestyle, and added a few new offerings - without sacrificing taste or value.'

New From General Mills

The following products in General Mills'lower-carb line-up will be offered at competitive prices and will be available nationally. (Full releases and photos for these products available at www.generalmills.com in the Media Center).

8th Continent Light Soymilk: With 50 percent fewer carbohydrates and 25 percent fewer calories than skim milk, 8th Continent Light Soymilk boasts the health benefits of a low-fat, cholesterol-free, plant-based protein - soy protein. Each serving provides vitamins D, A, B12 and riboflavin and is an excellent source of calcium. Currently available in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors, the product will be available in Original in June 2004.

Betty Crocker Carb Monitor Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes: With just 16 grams of net carbs(b), the Carb Monitor product features the flavor consumers expect from the brand's instant mashed potato but with 27 percent fewer carbs.

Betty Crocker Carb Monitor baking mixes: The new baking mixes are 35 to 45 percent lower in net carbs, and 50 percent lower in sugar than regular Betty Crocker baking mixes. Offered in Chocolate Chunk brownie mix, Walnut brownie mix, Wild Blueberry muffin mix, and Chocolate Chip cookie mix.

Hamburger Helper Carb Monitor Cheeseburger Macaroni: This reduced-carb alternative features 30 percent fewer net carbs per serving than regular Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, the line's most popular flavor for five years running.

Momentum Bars: New from General Mills, each bar contains three grams of net carbs, provides 15 essential vitamins and minerals, and is an excellent source of calcium. The bars contain Splenda(R) and hit the spot for carb-conscious consumers craving an indulgent snack. Available in June, Momentum Bars will be offered in three flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Double Chocolate and Chocolate Caramel Nut.

Pillsbury Carb Monitor Frozen Dinner Rolls: The first reduced-carb dinner roll, this low-fat and naturally cholesterol-free product contains 70 calories, seven grams of net carbs, and four grams of fiber per roll. The Carb Monitor Frozen Dinner Roll is timesaving, going from freezer to table in under 10 minutes.

Progresso Carb Monitor Soups: With five to seven grams of net carbs per serving, the line features Chicken Vegetable, Beef Vegetable, Tuscan-Style Meatball, Chicken Cheese Enchilada Style, and Roasted Turkey Vegetable soups.

Total Protein: With 100 percent of the Daily Value of 11 vitamins and minerals, eight grams of net carbs, and a hearty 13 grams of protein, the lower-carb version of Total cereal offers a crunchy lower-carb breakfast option.

Yoplait Ultra: Yoplait Ultra offers the same great taste, but with 70 percent less carbs and sugar than regular low fat yogurt. The 6-oz. individual cup varieties include Strawberry Creme, Peach Creme, Blueberry Creme and Raspberry Creme.

While Product Scan information published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed that as many as 800 lower-carb products have been introduced in the last six months, General Mills believes its entrance into the low-carb market is a reflection of consumer interest in lower-carb options. Research the company has conducted with consumers and retailers indicates that low-carb consciousness is still building. And, the fact that General Mills is a trusted brand name gives the company confidence that it can establish itself as a key contributor to the marketplace. A recent survey revealed that 76 percent of consumers who are monitoring their carbs are more likely to purchase a lower-carb offering from a brand they recognize over products from an unfamiliar company.

Taste is Key

General Mills stresses that its offering of lower-carb foods does not mean the company has shifted direction or that it is cutting back on more traditional foods. The new varieties are simply additions to the existing product offerings, providing consumers more choices.

In considering which products to offer in lower-carb varieties, General Mills evaluated its current line-up and selected products that would maintain their taste if overall carbs were reduced, and that would offer consumers options for every meal. The company also added new offerings to fit the needs of consumers monitoring their carbohydrate intake.

'As a food manufacturer, we strive to offer consumers a variety of choices that fit a variety of lifestyles,'said John Haugen, Vice President of New Enterprises. 'But across the board one thing does not change - the fact that we want every product we produce to be the best-tasting product we can offer.'

About General Mills

Located in Golden Valley, Minn., General Mills is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. Its global brand portfolio includes Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso and more. It also has more than 100 U.S. consumer brands including Cheerios, Wheaties and other Big G cereal brands; Yoplait and Colombo yogurts; Betty Crocker desserts and dinner mixes; Betty Crocker and Nature Valley snacks; Totino's frozen pizza and snacks; and Progresso ready-to-serve soups. General Mills also is a leader in the bakeries and foodservice business as a major supplier of baking and other food products to the foodservice and commercial baking industries.

(a) Telephone survey conducted among a national probability sample of 1037 adults comprising 515 men and 522 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Interviewing for this CARAVAN(R) Survey was completed during the period April 8 - 10, and 12, 2004. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. All data collection efforts took place at Opinion Research Corporation's Central Telephone Facility in Tucson, Arizona and/or Tampa, Florida.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The information contained in this press kit and in the individual press releases about products mentioned in this press release is accurate at the time of release and may change with any product updates.

This press release contains forward-looking statements based on management's current expectations and assumptions. Such statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. General Mills undertakes no obligation to publicly revise any forward-looking statements to reflect future events or circumstances.

8th Continent(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. Betty Crocker(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc.

Hamburger Helper(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc.

Progresso(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. Momentum(TM) is a trademark of General Mills, Inc. Pillsbury(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. Total(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. Yoplait(R) is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc. Carb Monitor(TM) is a trademark of General Mills, Inc.
(b) Net carbs are total carbohydrates less sugar alcohol and fiber.

Hemp Seed Nut & Hemp Seed Oil Add Nutritional Zip and Flavor

Winnipeg, Manitoba –During the summer a cornucopia of fresh produce is plentiful, cooking in the kitchen becomes stifling, and hot cooked meals are heavy and unappetizing. That’s why salads are a summer staple, and it’s a great time of year to experiment with ingredients to keep the salad menu from getting dull.

Hemp seed nut (shelled hemp seed) and hemp seed oil are two ingredients that add a delicious flair to salad. Although both offer a pleasant nutty flavor, it is the incredible nutrition profile that sets hemp seed nut and hemp seed oil apart from other salad ingredients. Good nutrition is extra important during the summer as bodies can be compromised by the heat, and active lifestyles often push the body to physical limits.

Sprinkled on or tossed into salads, hemp seed nuts have a soft texture, attractive sesame seed-like appearance and offer a nutty flavor similar to sunflower seeds or pine nuts. Hemp seed oil is a delicious salad dressing base for those that make their own, or is an easy and nutritious supplement to a store bought dressing. Hemp seed oil has an attractive emerald green color, due to its rich content of chlorophyll, a powerful antioxidant. Hemp seed nut and hemp seed oil salad recipes are included below, and more can be found at www.manitobaharvest.com/recipes.

Medical evidence supporting the critical role of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) for enhancing and maintaining human health continues to grow. EFAs are the “good fats” that bodies need but can’t produce. Therefore, EFAs must be obtained through the diet. “Hemp seed oil is the richest source of the Omega 6 & 3 EFAs,” says Mike Fata, North American Sales Manager for Manitoba Harvest, an integrated producer of hemp food products.

Although Omega-6 EFAs are found in many vegetable oils used in salad dressings such as corn, soy and sunflower, many of those oils are not fresh and contain unhealthy Trans Fatty Acids. “Hemp seed oil is fresh and free of Trans-Fatty Acids,” says Fata. “It is also a unique plant source of the ‘super’ Omega-6 EFA called Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA),” Fata adds.

Although both hemp seed nut and hemp seed oil are high in EFAs and have a powerful nutritional profile, there are significant differences between the two, particularly with regard to protein. Hemp seed nut is one of nature’s richest sources of complete protein (35%). Two thirds of the protein in hemp seed nut is “edestin,” which are pre-cursors to such vital body components as hormones, hemoglobin, enzymes and antibodies. Hemp seed nut’s edestin structure is the highest in the plant kingdom. Furthermore, hemp seed nut does not contain gluten and is free of the enzyme inhibitor found in soy and other legumes and grains which can prevent protein absorption and cause gas and other digestive challenges.

In February 2004, the hemp industry won its 2 ½-year old lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit permanently blocks DEA regulations that attempted to ban hemp foods, and has greatly enhanced consumer interest in hemp foods.

Established in 1998, Manitoba Harvest™ is a USDA accredited organic and kosher certified hemp food processor that demonstrates a commitment to quality “From Seed to Shelf,” by growing, processing and packaging all of their products. Manitoba Harvest™ offers healthy staple hemp food products including nutritious Hemp Seed Oil, Hemp Seed Oil Capsules, Hemp Seed Nut (shelled hemp seed), Hemp Seed Nut Butter and Hemp Protein Powder. Manitoba Harvest™ products are offered nationwide by more than 1,500 natural food retailers, including Whole Foods Markets. For more information, please visit www.manitobaharvest.com or call 1-800-665-HEMP (4367).

“CHILLING OUT” WITH HEMP SUMMER SALAD RECIPES

Magical Mint Vinaigrette
Makes: 1 Cup
Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Hemp Seed Oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp fresh ginger (peeled & sliced)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth. Can be stored for 7-10 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
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Maple Vinaigrette
Makes: 1/2 cup
Prep Time: 5 min.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup Hemp Seed Oil
1/8 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp. dried oregano

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir together until well mixed. This recipe can be made in larger quantities and stored in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
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Smooth Carrot
Makes: 4 Cups
Prep Time: 5 Min

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Hemp Seed Nut
2 Tbsp Hemp Seed Oil
2 Cups carrots, diced
1/2 Cup water
1/4 Cup apple cider vinegar
1 Cup arugula (or spinach)
2 tsp paprika
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until creamy smooth. Can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. This recipe goes very well with coleslaw!

Carrington Laboratories Establishes Dr. Sheri Smith Memorial Award Through WOCN Foundation

IRVING, Texas, Apr 29, 2004 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Carrington Laboratories, Inc., (Nasdaq: CARN) announced it has created a semi-annual scholarship fund with the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society (WOCN) in honor of the late Sheri H. Smith, RN, PhD, CETN, CWS, former vice president of the Medical Services Division of the Company and award-winning, long-time member of the WOCN. The Dr. Sheri Smith Memorial Award in the amount of $2,500 will be awarded twice annually to an applicant selected by a six-member panel of WOCN members. Award recipients must be a nurse seeking education in wound, ostomy and continence nursing care and must be accepted or enrolled in a WOC Education Program.

Dr. Smith was an active member of the WOCN from 1992 until her death in August 2003 which resulted from complications of a bone marrow transplant. She was the recipient of the Southeast Region WOCN Researcher Award in 1996. She joined Carrington in 1996 to support Carrington's advanced wound care products and educate clinicians in their proper techniques and usage.

Dr. Carlton Turner, president and CEO of Carrington, stated, 'Sheri was a gifted clinician, an inspiring educator and truly an extraordinary woman who devoted her entire career to helping others. We feel that the most appropriate way to honor her memory is to continue in some way to assist others in achieving their nursing career goals.'

Carrington Laboratories, Inc., is an ISO 9001-certified, research-based biopharmaceutical company currently utilizing naturally-occurring complex carbohydrates to manufacture and market products for mucositis, radiation dermatitis, wound and oral care; manufacture and market the nutraceutical raw material Manapol(R); and market consumer products under the AloeCeuticals(R) brand. Carrington's technology is protected by more than 119 patents in 26 countries. Select products are honored with the internationally coveted CE mark, recognized by more than 20 countries around the world.

Certain statements in this release concerning Carrington may be forward- looking. Actual events will be dependent upon a number of factors and risks including, but not limited to: subsequent changes in plans by the Company's management; delays or problems in production; changes in the regulatory process; changes in trends; and a number of other factors and risks described from time to time in the Company's filings with the Securities &Exchange Commission, including the Form 10K filed March 19, 2004.