In early 2004, New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) charged CremaLita Management LLC with 61 counts of allegedly deceptive and misleading trade practices. The DCA was seeking maximum penalties of $500 per count. That's $30,500!
The labeling issue arose in 2002, when The New York Times conducted lab tests on products from two chain scoop shops: CremaLita and Tasti D-Lite. Samples from both stores showed the ice creams had two to four times as many calories as advertised.
This summer, DCA and CremaLita worked things out; however, DCA is still investigating Tasti D-Lite. What's the moral of this story? Quality control and product testing are a must for anyone in today's food industry.
Indeed, talk to any manufacturer and they will tell you that their laboratory and quality assurance personnel are working more and harder than ever before. These folks are testing for more variables, and testing more samples.
Suppliers at this year's IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo showcased many innovations to relieve the burden of testing and more testing. Here are some new products worth exploring.
Weber Scientific, 800/328-8378, www.weberscientific.com
"The AOAC's approval of the method used by Smart Trac will give manufacturers of dairy products a rapid, direct test that is also officially recognized, helping them meet regulatory requirements and productions needs," says Michael Collins, pres. and CEO. "This will enable them to optimize their processes by improving their quality control, saving time and money."
CEM Corp., 800/726-3331, www.cemsynthesis.com
New Bluehill™ software from Instron is a fully integrated modular software package with a new "web-like" design. It offers a familiar look and feel that creates an easy-to-use interface. For increased laboratory testing productivity, the software is divided into four major tabs separating testing, test method definition, reporting and system administration. Additionally, new features allow the user to "cut and paste" both graphics and results, email results and reports automatically at test conclusion. It utilizes familiar programs like Microsoft Word and HTML.
Instron, 800/695-4273, www.instron.com
Foss, 952/974-9892, www.foss.dk
Mettler-Toledo Inc., 800/638-8537, www.mt.com/us