In & Around Food World

Published in FOOD WORLD, December 2014
by Dick Bestany

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has denounced a new food ratings system announced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), saying the EWG new Food Scores program is "severely flawed and will only provide consumers with misinformation about food and beverage products they trust and enjoy."

EWG said its ratings were the first guide to the American supermarket landscape to rate foods against all three of these criteria: nutritional value; health concerns about ingredients (including additives and preservatives) and contaminants (such as mercury, arsenic and BPA); and the degree and type of processing. EWG's product scores range from 1 (best) to 10 (worst). Only one food out of six earns Food Scores' top rating.

"Today, shoppers who care about the quality of food and how it was produced might look for labels like 'natural' and 'whole grain,' organic' or 'non-GMO certified,' even as they wonder which claims mean something and which are marketing hype," EWG president Ken Cook said in a release." The truly conscientious scrutinize the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of the package. But few if any of us have the time or patience to peruse an entire food section and compare one label with another, much less read the microscopic fine print that lists ingredients we often cannot pronounce."

GMA, which represents product manufacturers, in a statement called EWG's methodology into question." Not only will the EWG ratings provide consumers with inaccurate and misleading information, they will also falsely alarm and confuse consumers about their product choices," GMA added. "Embedded in the ratings are EWG's extreme and scientifically unfounded views on everything from low-calorie sweeteners to the nutritional value of organic foods."

GMA urged consumers to follow the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which include eating a variety of foods as recommended by ChooseMyPlate.gov combined with regular physical activity to create an overall healthy lifestyle.

To assist in the Chesapeake Bay's conservation efforts and offer sustainable, affordable seafood in its stores, MOM's Organic Market has started its own oyster farm off of Fleets Island, VA.

MOM's sampled and sold oysters at the grand opening of its first store in Washington, DC November 14-6, as well as at stores in Rockville and Alexandria. MOM's customers can also recycle oyster shells in-store thanks to the Oyster Recovery Partnership. By having its own oyster farm, MOM's makes oysters more affordable to its customers.

Every year Coca-Cola pauses to honor the veterans and members of the United States military who sacrifice to serve their country and protect America's freedoms. This Veterans Day, the company recognized the famed "Alcatraz 11" by reuniting four of the six remaining Vietnam War veterans during a special recognition ceremony. The Alcatraz 11 were Navy and Air Force pilots, captured in North Vietnam, who were the most uncooperative and subversive POWs. The men survived for up to six years in captivity at an infamous POW camp called Alcatraz, where much of their time was spent in solitary confinement.

The company also honored the thousands of veterans employed by Coca-Cola. "Since the 1940s, The Coca-Cola Company has held a longstanding commitment to support our service members. This tradition continues today as we pay respects to the many men and women, including our associates, who have proudly served their country," said Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America. "It will be a true honor to welcome and reunite the distinguished members of the 'Alcatraz 11' and their families. They embody the incredible sacrifice and perseverance of veterans and their families across the country."

The four "Alcatraz 11" members who attended the recognition ceremony were George Coker, George McKnight, James Mulligan and Robert Shumaker. Other special guests included Louise Mulligan, spouse of James Mulligan and one of the founders of the POW-MIA movement, and Alvin Townley, author of "Defiant," the definitive account of the "Alcatraz 11" experience.

Retired Lt. Gen. Mick Kicklighter, current director of the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Team (DODVCT), recognized this year as the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Vietnam War during the ceremony. The Coca Cola Co. is a corporate sponsor of the DODVCT.

As part of the weeklong Veterans Day observance, Coca-Cola also hosted its annual USO care package stuffing party. Many Coca-Cola associates assembled more than 3,100 wounded soldier care packages which were distributed to soldiers wounded on the battlefield and evacuated directly to field hospitals with little or no access to basic hygiene items or other supplies.

We were sorry to hear about the death last month of Ralph Klein, founder of the nine-store Klein's ShopRite of Maryland supermarket chain. Klein died November 22 at the Hooper House Hospice Care facility in Forest Hill, MD of complications from heart and kidney disease. The lifelong resident of Harford County, Maryland, was 88.

Klein was born in Fallston, MD, on July 29, 1926. His parents operated a general store in Fallston that served the rural farming community. Ralph graduated from Bel Air High School in 1943 and attended St. John's College in Annapolis for two years before being drafted in 1945 to serve in the United States Army. He completed basic training in upstate New York, before deploying in April 1945 to the Europe. Following the defeat and surrender of Nazi Germany, Mr. Klein remained in the occupation forces, rising to the rank of technical sergeant. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1947, and enrolled under the GI Bill at the University of Maryland to complete his college studies. He graduated from Maryland's College Park campus in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, and returned to HarfordCounty, where he joined with his father to form Maurice Klein and Son, a general retail company. The company purchased all the assets of another local retailer, Eli Tucker, in Forest Hill. The principal building was expanded three times until the business relocated a mile south to its present location in 1978.

The company expanded from one store in Forest Hill to six supermarkets in Harford County, two supermarkets in Baltimore County and one supermarket in Baltimore City. In March of 2009 the company joined the Wakefern Food Corporation cooperative and began trading as Klein's ShopRite of Maryland.

Outside of his business endeavors, Ralph was active in local politics, running unsuccessfully for a seat on Harford County's first County Council, and later serving for more than a decade on the Harford County Democratic Central Committee. He served for more than two decades as a director of Forest Hill State Bank, and led the bank through its merger with Mercantile Bancorp. He principally focused on providing start-up loans for medical service, agricultural and other local business ventures.

Aside from business ventures and local politics, Ralph and his wife Shirley were dedicated to the cause of improving the quality of health care in Harford County. The Kleins were among the leading proponents and supporters of the $10,000,000 capital campaign to underwrite the construction of Bel Air's Upper Chesapeake Medical campus. The hospital, now associated with the University of Maryland Medical System, received several leadership gifts from the couple, whose names now grace the hospital's main lobby and the fašade of the new Klein Ambulatory Care Center. Ralph and Shirley Klein also gifted property to construct the hospital's Hooper Hospice facility.

Ralph provided construction funding for the Harford Equestrian Center's observation tower, and land for the Forest Hill substation of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.

He was a founding member of Temple Adas Shalom in Havre De Grace and a lifelong congregant of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation in Baltimore. He was also a lifelong supporter of the Jewish National Fund, B'nai B'rith International, and Israel Bonds.

Ralph is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley Snyderman Klein; sons Andrew, Michael and Howard; daughters-in-law Jayne, Clara and Susan; and grandchildren Marshall, Samuel, Sarah, Jacob, Rachel, Stephen, David and Victoria.

Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation, Temple Adas Shalom, or the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Torah Restoration Project.

Jeremy Diamond, owner of Diamond Marketing Group, reported that his cousins, Avi and Berly Schuster (an old name in Baltimore food retailing history), owners of the Markets at Highlandtown International supermarket in Baltimore City, recently welcomed their first grandson, Otto Ben-Tzion Hershkovitz, into the world last month. Parents are Josh and Lena Hershkovitz, owners of the award winning Federal Hill neighborhood restaurant, Hersh's Pizza and Drinks in Baltimore.

Otto Ben-Tzion is named after his late grandfather and Jeremy Diamond's uncle and grocery innovator, Ben Schuster of the former Food-A-Rama supermarket chain and Maryland Food Industry Hall of Fame member.

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA) recently elected its 2014-2015 officers and board of directors at its annual business meeting in Chicago.

David Leonhardi, director of tradeshows, tours and events for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, was elected the association's board chairman. William G. Klump, Butterball LLC, will continue to serve on the board of directors as past chairman.

In addition to Leonhardi, industry leaders elected to serve three-year terms on the board of directors for Madison, WI based IDDBA include: Gaetano Auricchio, BelGioioso Cheese; Craig Drefcinski, Hormel Foods Corp.; Peter Sirgy, Dreser's Fine Foods; Philippe Surget, Lactalis American Group; Erik Waterkotte, John Morrell Food Group; and John Wellenzohn, Rich Products Corp.

In addition to Klump, board members continuing to serve include: Jim Antrup, Dawn Food Products; John Cheesman, Maplehurst Bakeries; Linda Duwve, Emmi Roth USA; Rick Findlay, Whole Foods Market; Glenn E. Harmon, Pricemart; Tim Holler, Schreiber Foods; Jewel Hunt, Safeway; Ray Lippert, Bakery Crafts; Edward R. Meyer, Schnuck Markets; Mark Rudy, Hubert Co., Greg Schlafer, Lamb Weston; Joe Squires, Land O'Lakes; J.K. Symancyk, Meijer; Dotty VanderMolen, Advantage Waypoint; and Voni A. Woods, Giant Eagle.

As this is the last issue of Food World for 2014, all of us at Best-Met Publishing wish each and every one of our loyal and faithful readers and advertisers, a very happy and healthy holiday season. We look forward to an exciting 2015 in the food industry.