Food Safety Modernization Act

By Debby Winters

If you recall from my January 10, 2012 post, I reported that on January 4, 2011 President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  “It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.” I gave you the update in my November 18, 2013 post. There is now a new more comprehensive update called “The Future is Now for the Food Safety Modernization Act.” This report tells us that we need more money and more inspection of the system to insure the safety of our food.  “The bottom line is that with program efficiencies we can gain, plus the FSMA funding increases FDA has received to date, enactment of the President’s request for a budget authority increase of $109.5 million for FY 2016 would make it possible for FDA to move forward in 2016 toward successful implementation of FSMA. The report claims that “if we invest properly in 2016 to prepare FDA and the industry for success, we will have success, in the form of better food safety, stronger public confidence, and a level playing field for U.S. farmers and food companies. If we don’t invest properly in 2016, food safety will suffer — people will get sick who wouldn’t otherwise — and the food industry will be disrupted — large and small operators alike — for lack of guidance and technical assistance for industry and lack of consistent, technically well-supported inspection by FDA and the states.” For a complete review of where we are read the report for yourself.


The Keurig…Part II

By Debby Winters

It isn’t often that the day after I post a blog that I see two very relevant articles to update my blog from the day before, but that happened today.

I opened my local newspaper and saw an article entitled “Keurig coffee-pod disputes percolate.” My immediate reaction was to the title. I wished I had thought of something that clever for my blog yesterday. I went on-line to find the original Associated Press article entitled “In Battle for Coffee Pod Market, It’s Keurig v. Recyclables” by Ellen Knickmeyer. This article references the same video and gives the same statistics that I listed in my blog. Ms. Knickmeyer says Keurig’s response to this environmental controversy is “Keurig says the fight boils down to how to make the best cup of coffee, and the company has pledged to come up with a fully recyclable pod of its own by 2020. The throw-away containers, both by Keurig and its competitors, allow coffee drinkers to get a quick cup without messy grounds.” At least Keurig is trying to make things better. And at least their main concern is making the best cup of coffee.

Well, this is the main concern for inventor Alan Adler as well! At the age of 75 he invented the AeroPress or the Aerobie. His invention is the “$30 single-serving plastic device that looks like a hand pump and, in the opinion of some of the world’s leading coffee snobs, outperforms thousand-dollar espresso machines.” Before his quest for the perfect cup of coffee, he invented and patented “a portable lamp, which had a circuit which converted three-volt battery power into high voltage to power a fluorescent bulb. But it never got into production.” He is also credited for designing and improving toys that he licensed to Wham-O, including a toy much like the slinky. That’s not the only toy he invented that I’m sure you’ve seen. He invented the Skyros that Parker Brothers sold by the millions. It is an “improved” frisbee with an open center.  If you are as much into inventor’s stories as I am, you’ll delight at reading this interview of 76 year old Alan Adler- ” The Invention of the Perfect Cup of Coffee.” There’s a picture of Adler as an extra bonus. I guess the moral of his story is- It is never too late to invent!


Are you an Emotionally Intelligent Person?

By Debby Winters

I frequently read articles about traits that the masses find appealing in a leader, or that give you the leg-up in business, or something framed like that. They usually list common sense thing, as does the article “13 Habits of Exceptionally Likable People,” but for some reason the 13 habits listed below and elaborated on more by Travis Bradberry, the author, really seemed to make sense and seemed like everyone should think about, even for a few minutes.

  1. They Ask Questions
  2. They Put Away Their Phones
  3. They Are Genuine
  4. They Don’t Pass Judgment
  5. They Don’t Seek Attention
  6. They Are Consistent
  7. They Use Positive Body Language
  8. They Leave a Strong First Impression
  9. They Greet People by Name
  10. They Smile
  11. They Know When To Open Up
  12. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)
  13. They Balance Passion and Fun

Check it out and let me know what you think.

May the roof above us never fall in, and may we friends beneath it never fall out.

By Debby Winters

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day and many of you probably wore green and went to parades and events to celebrate the patron Irish saint. But did you know that St. Patrick was not Irish? And that Green was not the color originally associated with the day? Blue was. And did you know that green was considered an unlucky color? I was surprised
to find out these and other historical facts. If you are curious to find out more about the history of this day, read “What is the History of St. Patrick’s Day?


The Keurig…good invention or bad invention?

By Debby Winters

Keurig has been in the news a lot lately.  First there was the news of Coca Cola buying a stake in Keurig Green Mountain so they could make do-it yourself Coke to challenge the popularity of Sodastream’s soda making device.  Remember the reports that the inventor of the Keurig machine said he doesn’t own one and he regrets inventing it? John Sylvan, who sold his interest for a mere $50,000 to Green Mountain, which should have paid Sylvan a lot more, says not only are the cups bad for the environment, but the replacement cups are expensive, costing as much as $40 per lb, and that “it’s not like drip coffee is tough to make.”

For those interested, Keurig’s patent on the original K-Cup (US5325765) expired in September 2012. Keurig holds at least one additional US patent (US6645537) detailing improvements that have subsequently been incorporated in their K-Cup design. There are additional stories surrounding competition and licensing of these products but that’s for another post. And then there are the other similar systems, like Nespresso, with its own triumphs and failures. Again, another post.

Now, on with the Keurig story. Then came “Kill the Kcup” trying to kill the k-cup because the k-cups were killing the planet. In the video they say that the K-cup has “reached unparalleled levels. Output became so high that there was enough discarded K-Cups to circle the earth 10.5 times.” The 2 minute video shows the K-cup invading and taking over the planet. The following statistics are listed:

Know your facts:

1. In 2013, Green Mountain Coffee produced enough coffee pods to wrap around the equator 10.5 times.
2. The new Keurig 2.0 does not offer reusable filters and the existing “my K-cup” filter does not fit on the machine.
3. Green Mountain only makes 5% of its current cups out of recyclable plastic.
4. Keurig Green Mountain’s mission is to have a Keurig System on every counter and a beverage for every occasion – hot, cold, maybe even soup.
5. The pods are made of No. 7 plastic, which can’t be recycled in most places. They have an aluminum lid, which is hard to separate from the cup. Even if the plastic, aluminum and coffee could be separated, the pod is too small to be handled by most recycling systems.
6. TerraCycle, a company that provides recycling solutions for spent coffee pods, has teamed up with Tassimo, Mars Drinks, Nespresso and Illy, but despite reaching out to the company multiples times, has not be able to develop a relationship with Green Mountain (Keurig).

Sounds alarming, I know!

A couple of good things that have come out of this controversy over the K-cup are that it has gotten people to discuss the best ways to make coffee and how the Keurig business model has affected the business world. Is a French Press really the best and easiest way to make coffee? You decide. Is the Keurig business model outselling the old “razors and blades” business model pioneered by Gillette? Interesting. I’m looking forward to the next installment of news surrounding the K-cup.