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Archive for Sunday, May 22, 1994

NEW LABEL LAW FITS SOME PRODUCERS

May 22, 1994

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A few area food companies are working to put nutrition labels on their products to comply with new federal standards.

It's a hassle, some say. And it's too costly to do just yet, say others.

But some local food companies are already putting the new federally standardized nutrition labels on their food products.

"It takes a little legwork. But it hasn't been a major problem," said Kristi Boomhower, marketing director of Pine's International.

The company, which is located about five miles north of Lawrence at the Midland Junction, produces wheat products, such as wheat grass tablets and supplements.

In recent weeks, the company worked with state officials and Kansas State University's department of foods and nutrition to get nutrition labels made for its wheat grass pasta.

The 17-year-old company, which ships its products to about 7,000 health food stores in the United States and exports to 20 countries, is required by the FDA to put the labels on the pasta. But its other products are exempt, Boomhower said.

Although the FDA required most food products to have the new labels by May 8, several local food companies are exempt under the guideline.

Meat and poultry products don't need the labels until July 6. And small companies that employ less than 300 people or produce less than 600,000 units per year are now exempt.

Karen Pendleton, owner of Pendleton's Kaw Valley Asparagus, Rt. 2, said her company will be required to put the new nutrition labels on its blue corn chips and pickled asparagus in about two years.

"We do have the information for our labels," she said.

Yet monetary considerations are keeping the company from redoing its labels immediately.

"The cost of labels is a large part of our profit," she said.

Tom Pyle, owner of Pyle Meat Co. Inc., Eudora, said he'll be required to have labels on some of his products in 1995. But because customers have been asking for the nutrition information, he will put them on in June. They will go on the company's smoke sausage, polish and hot polish sausages, and in about three months on a Cajun sausage.

Like Pine's International, Pyle has enlisted the aid of the Kansas Value Added Center at KSU to do a free product analysis for him. Getting each product analyzed is costly -- about $500 per product.

Faudi Aramouni, assistant professor of foods and nutrition at KSU, encourages all businesses to put the nutrition labels on their foods.

"Although many of them will be exempt, it might be essential to put the labels on for marketing purposes," he said.

Central Soy Foods, 11 W. 14th, is currently exempt, said Jim Cooley, general partner. But the labels are a good marketing device, Cooley said.

"The more information and the easier the information is to read, you give the consumer more choices," he said.

The company sells tofu, hickory-smoked tofu, four different varieties of tempeh, silken tofu and soy milk.

"For a small company, it's a burden. Fortunately, we didn't have to meet a deadline," Cooley said.

Brenda Frankenfeld, a partner in Amazing Grains Bakery, located in Community Mercantile, 901 Miss., said her business is exempt. Amazing Grains makes organic whole-grain bread, cookies, cakes, granola, bagels and muffins.

Clayton McHenry, who owns Leo Risin' Foods, a home-based business, sells deli items and makes his own sauces. McHenry, who markets his products in health stores in Lawrence and the Kansas City area, said he's not required to put the labels on.

"I am thinking about doing it on most of my non-perishable products, but I haven't done it yet," he said.

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