Several topics on my notepad today, so I thought I’d spend some paragraphs on each one.
First, I believe an ugly chapter is coming to an end in the Ivory Coast. This morning’s headlines suggest that President-elect Alassane Ouattara will finally have the opportunity to take over as the country’s leader.
Strongman Laurent Gbagbo, the loser in the elections held last year, was reportedly in the process of surrendering to French and U.N. peacekeeping troops. (At press time, it wasn’t an absolute since the most recent reports suggest he might fight to the bitter end.) The former historian turned autocrat will not be remembered for his mild-mannered rule of a country that once was a showcase of democracy and prosperity.
What’s important here now is how quickly President Ouattara responds to food and water shortages, lifts the embargo on cocoa exports and returns this war-torn country back to stability and sanity. Give some credit to the French troops who finally flexed a bit of muscle, thereby precipitating Gbagbo’s departure and no doubt saving hundreds of lives as a result. As recent events reveal, despots and dictators don’t necessarily feel any need to give up their power, unless persuaded - often times by military force - to do so.
On another topic, the Food and Drug Administration’s expert panel just recently voted against putting warning labels on foods with artificial colors, saying there isn’t enough proof they cause hyperactivity in children. Prodded by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, as well as the 2007 Southampton Study, the panel revisited the issue this past week. Although the vote was relatively close, 8-6, the experts decided that in the end, there wasn’t enough evidence presented to warn against artificial colors. Nevertheless, they did ask the FDA for additional research on the topic.
As our Ingredients Technology article this month on natural colors points out, many companies are already replacing artificial colors with natural alternatives. Still, for confectioners, the reformulation can pose problems.
In talking to several suppliers, the 2007 Southampton Study seems to have several flaws regarding scientific research. Hence, I side with the experts on this one. And while I’d be the first to err on the side of caution regarding food safety and children, this issue needs to be resolved on the basis of real science, not nutritional nuance. This debate also evokes some irony, given the national campaign being waged against obesity and the lack of activity.
It reminds me of the political cartoon that appeared on the Chicago Tribune’s editorial page several days ago. The graphic showed a plump boy sitting on the couch watching television, with the news on the tube screaming about artificial colors and hyperactivity in kids.
Finally, a word about some confectioners participating in their own way to help our global and local communities. Last week, Chicagoland-based Chocolatines participated in a Japan diasaster benefit held at Japonais restaurant.
Chocolatier Rieko Wada (see Candy Industry’s Candy Wrapper profile in the May 2010 issue) contributed more than 300 pieces of artisan chocolates for the event, which drew more than 220 people. From March 30 through April 12, Wada is donating 105 of the proceeds of every 9-piece box of chocolates to help the survivors of earthquake/tsunami disaster. (www.chocolatines.com)
And another shout-out goes to Goetze Candy Co. Last week, the company presented a $5,000 check to Christopher Sims and his Troop 772 for successfully solving “mind-bending pictograms” for several months and then being the lucky entrant to capture the grand prize. The money will go toward the entire troop to assist in their efforts to do things such as earn badges, purchase needed equipment, and take educational trips.
Dubbed the “Give & Goetze” initiative, the program started with the September issue of Boys’ Life magazine and ran through the end of 2010. Scouts were asked to work together to solve a mind-bending pictogram featured in each issue and submit their answers. Monthly Troop winners were awarded with Candy-Grams courtesy of Goetze’s to personally deliver to a charity of their choice. All winning entries were then placed into the Grand Prize drawing for $5,000.
“We wanted to give the Scouts the ability to spend some time really getting to know the people in their community while giving them a special treat,” explains John Leipold, Goetze’s director of sales & marketing (www.goetzecandy.com). As he says, it’s “another opportunity for [Boy Scout] troops to not only Do a good turn daily, but do a sweet turn daily.” “Doing a sweet turn daily.” Not a bad personal motto to have, eh?