Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Challenges with Current U.S. Labeling Regulations: a spotlight on Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum presenter, Dr. Kathy Musa-Veloso

The Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum continues throughout October to explore the entire spectrum of plant protein nutrition from livestock to pets to humans. It also seeks to investigate the plant protein industry’s many facets, including quality determination and the sensory science of plant proteins.

Join the live session, on October 8, "Human Experiences with Plant Proteins: Nutrition & Health Benefits, Sensory Attributes and Personal Care," to explore how people "experience" plant proteins, including product labels, protein quality and sensory aspects in edible and cosmetic applications. Topics will explore new methods for determining proteins’ nutritional quality and the implications for nutrition labeling and consumer perception of products in which protein content and quality are characterizing attributes.  In addition, the use of comprehensive, quantitative sensory science methods to develop protein ingredients, the foods and other products that contain them will be presented. Finally, the opportunities and issues for using plant proteins, hydrolyzates and peptides in cosmetic and personal care applications will be discussed and illustrate this aspect of the use of protein ingredients to enhance the human experience.

Presenter spotlight: Kathy Musa-Veloso, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Health Claims and Clinical Trials within the Food & Nutrition Group, Intertek Health Sciences Inc., Canada

Her presentation, "Plant-based Proteins: Challenges with Current Labeling Regulations in the U.S.," will discuss:

  • Challenges in the naming of plant-based products
  • Challenges in meeting the eligibility criteria for making protein content claims for plant-based proteins
  • Risks associated with claims related to the non-nutritional attributes of the product

Meet Dr. Kathy Musa-Veloso

1) What do you plan to discuss at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum?
I plan to discuss nutrient content and health claim regulations in the U.S. and the opportunities and challenges inherent in making claims related to plant-based protein.

2) What is the significance of the information you plan to discuss at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum, either for future research routes or for real-world applications?
The information I plan to share at the Plant Protein Science and Technology Forum is important because it will help the industry understand the rigorous requirements for labeling foods containing plant-based protein with protein content claims.  It is critical to have this information as early as possible in the development of a plant-based protein.  Also, the information will help industry learn about opportunities for other types of claims, such as structure/function claims, that can help consumers understand the health benefits of plant-based proteins, thereby providing companies with a competitive advantage in marketing their products.   

3) Describe the biggest challenge industry faces when it comes to making claims for plant-based proteins? 
In the U.S., it is not possible to make a protein content claim (such as “good source of protein” or “rich in protein”) for a product simply based on its protein content. Claims related to the protein content of a food require an assessment of the quality of the protein, which takes into account whether all essential amino acids are present at levels that can support the growth and development of children, after considering the protein’s digestibility. Many plant-based proteins do not contain all of the essential amino acids or do not contain one or more of these amino acids at levels sufficient to support the growth and development of children. And so, to qualify for protein content claims, it is important to think of innovative ways to improve protein quality.   

4) Share a turning point or defining moment in your work as a scientist and/or industry professional.
I have had so many turning points in my work as a scientist and industry professional…so many aha moments. I would say that the first and most influential moment was during my graduate studies at the University of Toronto, where I witnessed firsthand the efficacy of ketogenic diets in the management of epilepsy in children who could not tolerate their medications or who failed to achieve adequate control of their seizures with their medications. This experience has stuck with me throughout the years. It serves to remind me of the power of diet. Hippocrates really was well ahead of his time when he said, “Medicine is our food, and food is our medicine.” I am passionate about health and wellness, and investigating the health benefits of foods and supplements brings me great satisfaction.

5) What excites you about your work?
My role is to ensure that claims made in product labeling and advertising are scientifically substantiated. I lead a group of 10 brilliant scientists and nutritionists who are dedicated to ensuring product claims are grounded in sound scientific evidence.  I guess we are like “claim detectives”!  I feel really excited when the results of a systematic evidence-based review we complete are favorable, and we find that consumption of the product/ingredient leads to a statistically significant and clinically meaningful health benefit. I also get really excited when the results of a clinical efficacy trial that we designed are favorable. It is incredibly gratifying to see products labeled with claims on the market and know we were involved in ensuring claim substantiation.

6) What do you like to do when you are not in the lab or presenting at meetings?
I love to cook and create new recipes. When I am in the kitchen, I listen to music (mostly rock)…I’m certain the music increases my creativity! I also love to go for long, scenic walks.  And, of course, I am a bookworm and spend a lot of my spare time keeping up with the latest science and news pertaining to health and wellness. 

This session is on October 8, but there are more high-quality sessions scheduled throughout the month of October. Find out more about the full technical program.

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