Outstanding Foods, the maker of plant-based, better-for-you junk foods like cheese puffs and pork rinds, is set to debut soft-baked, gluten-free cookies and is also developing egg substitutes. In this episode of the Xtalks Food Podcast, Sydney talks about the Los Angeles-based brand’s products, which are formulated with pea protein and a blend of nutrients from broccoli, spinach, kale and more. Outstanding Foods brought on several high-profile celebrity investors, including rapper Snoop Dogg and ex-professional skateboarder turned investor Rob Dyrdek, so that they could leverage them in creating content. Sydney also discusses how the brand takes advantage of nostalgia by innovating classic snacks, but it is not the only one in the competitive $70 billion better-for-you snack market. The team wonders how Outstanding Foods will retain customers (since junk food purchases are often unplanned) and whether the better-for-you snack category contributes to harmful narratives around diet culture.
Also in this episode, Sydney talks about the US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent draft guidance for industry on action levels for lead in baby food as part of its Closer to Zero action plan. Currently, toxic elements like lead can be ingested from various sources, including baby formula, breast milk and baby foods, but infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure to toxic elements. So far, the FDA has released only drafts of guidelines around lead and is not issuing strict regulations, making enforcement optional. While some baby food manufacturers monitor toxin levels, they are not required to report the results to the public or to list them on product labels. The agency has not yet offered guidance for arsenic, mercury, cadmium and other heavy metals, leading to concerns that regulatory changes may not be coming quickly enough. The team is disappointed in the agency’s lack of enforcement but believes there are still reasons to be optimistic when it comes to limiting lead levels in food.
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