December 7 is a day that will live in infamy. December 12 is a day that will change the way members must do business in the United States.
That’s when new regulations under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 take effect. On that day, measures aimed at protecting the U.S. food supply from potential terrorist tampering make it illegal to ship food to U.S. ports of entry without prior notice to the federal Food and Drug Administration. On that day, too, each domestic or foreign facility that manufactures, processes, packs or holds food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. must be individually registered with the FDA.
To the coffee industry, such requirements are like having to secure a license to change one’s socks – an everyday occurrence that becomes far from routine. As leading trade association for the U.S coffee industry, the NCA has tried to get members up to speed before the day arrives, by bringing together industry, legal and FDA experts in special seminars and keeping members apprised through our various communications vehicles. To help members with foreign facilities, the NCA offered to serve as members’ U.S. agent on their behalf.
But, with one month left to go, let’s recap what members can do to be prepared –
· Know the regulations – read them yourself at www.cfsan.fda.gov/ or find detailed explanations in the FDA Fact Sheets at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fsbtac12 (facilities registration reg) or www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fsbtac13.html (shipment notice reg).
· Survey all of your facilities that handle coffee – from green to cup – to determine which come under the regulation’s reach.
· Seek professional assistance with definitional or procedural questions – visit the NCA website at www.ncausa.org, check out the frequently asked questions page of the FDA website [URL], or call the NCA, FDA or an attorney who specializes in the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
· Sign an agreement to designate the NCA as U.S. agent for foreign facilities that need to be registered – a free service to members. To complete an agreement, visit www.ncausa.org/public/pages/index.cfm?pageid=289 ; you will also be linked to appropriate FDA web pages for facility registration forms.
· Be diligent and don’t take the deadline lightly. However, the FDA states that, to assure that the regulations can be implemented efficiently and with minimal disruption, it will exercise broad enforcement discretion for the first four months after implementation.
So, while there are 40 shopping days left until Christmas, there are only 18 business days left until the Bioterrorism regulations ring in a new season of compliance.
Start preparing today, and you won’t be caught empty-handed.
In a move symbolic of new directions in the coffee industry, the National Coffee Association will hold its 93rd Annual Convention in Dana Point, California on March 4-6, 2004. Under the banner "From Source to Finish: New Origins, New Horizons, New Technologies," the conference will target the spectrum of challenges facing the industry, from origin shifts, to market realities, to consumer delivery. Special focus will be on producer issues, with guest speakers from Brazil and Uganda.
"With challenges coming at the industry from all fronts, the NCA decided to zero in on the pressing issues in each stage of production -- from the farm to the gourmet retailer, and everything in between," said Steve Wolfe, NCA Director of Marketing. "Pressing issues confront producers, roasters, exporters and retailers, and we aim to focus on their unique set of challenges as well as to demonstrate how common goals can both bridge and solve the industry's problems."
Diverse Expert Presenters
Scheduled to speak at the convention is seven-term U.S. Representative Cal Dooley (D-CA), one of the leading House Democrats promoting an aggressive pro-trade agenda and a specialist in agricultural issues. Also on the roster are: Henry Ngabirano, Managing Director of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority; Sandy McAlpine, President of the Coffee Association of Canada (CAC); Dan Steffen, Manager of Scientific Relations at Kraft Foods; and Rollinde Prager, a veteran Washington insider.
With the industry becoming increasingly interdependent, the vitality of the producer community is critical to the sustainability of the entire coffee business. The convention will address the latest developments in the global response to the supply-demand imbalance, and give attendees an important opportunity to join in the dialogue and have their individual voices heard.
With many challenges facing the coffee marketplace, the convention will take a long-range view of industry strategies that go beyond individual issues. Beyond the supply-demand balance, beyond the Bioterrorism regulations and beyond application of new technologies, we will examine what is in store for the industry as a whole.
Advances in technology are impacting every aspect of our lives, and the coffee industry is no exception. From green coffee traffic to information technology to Internet marketing, the convention will address how technology is changing the way we do business in every aspect of the coffee trade.
Among the convention's multiple general and breakout sessions will be:
Echoing such wide-ranging changes in the industry, the NCA has chosen a new venue for the 2004 convention -- the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in southern California. Since 1911, the NCA has hosted an annual gathering where coffee executives come together in pleasant surroundings to talk business, build relationships and participate in substantive informational and educational programming. The Ritz-Carlton, on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Dana Point, between Los Angeles and San Diego, offers world-class accommodations conducive to comfortable working sessions, reflective thinking and ready interaction with other industry members.
Registrations for "From Source to Finish" are being accepted online. Visit www.ncausa.org for details.
Fall Education Conference
Also, you can now access presentations from the NCA's Fall Education Conference, held in New York City in October, in the members' section of the NCA website.
Beginning July 1, 2004, manufacturers and exporters must begin labeling foods containing caffeine sold in counties of the European Union. Drinks with certain caffeine levels must carry a consumer warning, "High Caffeine Content," in eyeshot of the name of the product. However, drinks based on coffee or tea or their extracts will be exempt if the name of the product makes this fact clear to consumers.
The new rules expand previous EU law, enacted in July 2002, that mandates declaring "caffeine" as a "flavouring" on food labels. However, many manufacturers already have voluntarily begun to label foods containing caffeine. The same regulations have been adopted in the U.K, and will take effect there on July 18, 2004.
Under the new regulations, drinks that contain 150 mg per liter or more of caffeine must carry the prominent "high caffeine" warning as well as specify the amount of caffeine in mg per liter. The intent is "to alert consumers to unexpectedly high levels of caffeine in some drinks."
Finland's National Food Agency has taken the EU rules even further, requiring special warnings for children, pregnant women and people with caffeine sensitivity. Finland also requires labeling, indicating recommendations for daily intake or warning about the harmful effects of excessive caffeine. Energy drinks must also add a warning against consumption with alcoholic beverages, based on recommendations of the EU's Scientific Committee on Food. Current Finnish law requires those importing beverages containing more than 135 mg per liter of caffeine secure a special permit from the National Food Agency.
For comparison with U.S. measurements, the caffeine content of coffee ranges from 275 to 507 mg per liter, amply triggering the requirement were it not for the specific exemption where coffee content is clear in a product's name. Red Bull energy drink contains 320 mg per liter, as does Finland's Battery drink. Both Red Bull and Battery will be required to exhibit the "high caffeine content" warning.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) cited NCA in an impassioned plea on the Senate floor calling for the United States to rejoin the International Coffee Organization (ICO) and seeking Congressional action to address the international coffee crisis. In his remarks, Leahy, chair of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee, supported his efforts by referencing the support of NCA and other industry groups.
Specifically, the NCA and other groups hailed the Senator's recent allocation of $500,000 for a U.S. contribution to the ICO. The Bush administration allowed the statutory deadline to pass without using the funds, and the Senator has reintroduced his proposal in the 2004 fiscal year appropriations bill. Leahy says the Bush administration has yet to endorse ICO membership.
Leahy, with the help of influential senators Christopher Dodd, Diane Feinstein and Arlen Specter, also won passage of a Senate Resolution calling for the administration to formulate a comprehensive, multilateral strategy to address the coffee crisis. Getting no response, Leahy included his proposal in the Foreign Operations Bill requiring the Secretary of State to report on progress, but says the administration nevertheless has yet to act.
"With much of the world focused on Iraq and the Middle East," said Senator Leahy, "it is perhaps not surprising that a crisis affecting tens of millions of people, on virtually every corner of the earth, has received little attention." However, he notes that with worldwide coffee prices plummeting almost 70 percent, economies of poor nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America have been decimated.
A Human Crisis
Leahy, citing the devastating economic impact on developing nations around the world, also noted that the crisis has undermined the livelihoods of millions and damaged U.S. foreign aid and counter-narcotics efforts in those countries. Despite $3 billion in counter-narcotics aid for Colombia, for example, the goals are being undermined by the collapse of coffee prices. In fact, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe wrote Leahy last year, outlining the devastating impact the coffee crisis is having on his country.
In Colombia, said Uribe, 800,000 people directly are employed on coffee farms and another three million dependent on coffee for their livelihood. Coffee farmers are struggling to cover costs of production, and the problems of oversupply and declining coffee prices have brought poverty and uncertainty to the country's coffee-growing regions. He attributes increasing violence and "narcotrafficking" activity in those areas to the failing coffee business.
The New ICO
Leahy recognized old prejudices against the ICO that led the U.S. to abandon membership. However, he emphasized the ICO's new mission and structure. In the past, many viewed the ICO as a cartel working to stabilize worldwide coffee prices. Today, the ICO has substantially rewritten its charter, specifically to get out of the business of price-fixing. In its new form, the ICO is now supported by U.S. industry, humanitarian NGOs, many allied nations and a bipartisan group in the U.S. Congress.
Beyond the ICO
Leahy also noted that ICO membership alone is not the silver bullet that will fell the coffee crisis. Rather, he views it as "one arrow in a quiver" along with funding for alternative assistance for coffee farmers, cooperation of friends and allies, and the deep involvement of other international organizations such as the World Bank.
With the U.S. being the world's biggest importer of coffee as well as provider of billions of dollars of foreign aid to impacted nations, Leahy emphasized how the U.S. has a strong interest in finding a solution to the international crisis.
A few weeks ago, the British press was abuzz with news about their youthful prime minister's sudden health scare. A day later, he was back at work in Parliament, assuming his normal, heavy schedule no worse for wear. However, the real victim in the ensuing tabloid flap was coffee -- banned by Sherri Blair from 10 Downing Street following the incident.
According to The Times of London, what Blair suffered is called paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia, a benign and common heart arrhythmia marked by a temporarily rapid heartbeat. What coffee suffered was a bum rap by a well-intentioned wife and celebrated attorney who is no doctor.
No Caffeine Connection
Current scientific conclusions find no link between coffee consumption and tachycardia. According to a recent study that confirms 15 years of research on the subject, caffeine intake has no effect on tachycardia. Tracking hospitalized arrhythmia patients, the study found no difference in the incidence of symptoms between those who consumed caffeine versus those who abstained.
As reported in the American Heart Journal, "The Effect of Caffeine on Ventricular Ectopic Activity in Patients with Malignant Ventricular Arrhythmia" by T.B. Graboys, C.M. Blatt and B. Lown, [Arch Intern Med 1989 Mar;149(3):637-9] tracked 50 patients with malignant ventricular arrhythmia. Each patient underwent two short-term trials, receiving either caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee. Continuous electrocardiographic recordings were made, and no differences between the caffeine and decaffeinated trials were observed in either individual or group data.
While research has found small changes in certain nerve firings in heart electrical impulses, the American Health Journal article asserts that no research has supported speculation that higher doses of caffeine affect cardiac electrical conduction. A study by L.B. Chelsky, J.E. Cutler and M.D. Griffith et al, "Caffeine and ventricular arrhythmias; an electrophysiologic approach" in the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA 1990;264:2236-41] observed no changes in inducing arrhythmias among tachycardia patients before and after caffeine ingestion. This finding was underscored in an ambulatory electrocardiographic monitoring study by P.F. Newcombe, K.W. Renton, P.M. Rautaharju, C.A. Spencer and T.J. Montague, "High-dose caffeine and cardiac rate and rhythm in normal subjects" [Chest 1988;94:90-4].
In supraventricular tachycardia, heart rhythm is disturbed by rapid electrical activity in the upper parts of the heart, or atria. The heart goes from beating at a normal resting pulse of approximately 70 beats to between 140 and 240 beats per minute. Patients usually experience this surge as palpitations, or a fluttering of the heart. According to the BBC News, the underlying cause of tachycardia is likely to be a slight congenital abnormality of the electrical activity of a person's heart.
Experts have been debating whether caffeine consumption can impact cardiovascular disease for many years. It is well established that moderate coffee drinking has no ill health effects for most people. However, can coffee actually help prevent acute coronary disease?
Yes, according to a new study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition. The study found that coffee consumption has a "J-shaped effect" on the risk of developing acute coronary syndromes. That means that drinking coffee, up to a certain amount, not only does not increase risk, but actually decreases it. While drinking larger amounts can increase risk, according to the study, the risk actually goes down with larger intake, along the bottom curve of the "J", before increasing.
Specifically, "J-shaped" means that some consumption is statistically correlated with a lower risk, and that the risk then increases with increasing consumption. The study postulates that this J-shaped association between coffee consumption and coronary disease syndromes may partially explain the conflicting results from past studies.
The study was based on a random sample of 848 patients who had had their first coronary disease event and1078 who had no cardiovascular disease in their medical history. It also compensated for the presence of a wide array of other medical conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, family history, activity, and smoking habits to isolate the coffee effect.
The New York Board of Trade opened a new, state-of-the-art grading facility in New York's Financial District on October 29. The $1.1 million, 1,800-square-foot operation is now the largest green coffee grading facility in the United States.
Opening of the facility, a short distance from NYBOT's new home in the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) building in Battery Park City, marks the completion of the exchange's return to downtown Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of September 11. With the addition of this important function, the exchange can go forward as the premier provider of coffee and cocoa grading in the world.
The new grading room has an open floor design with abundant natural light, ideal conditions for the grading process. There are four customized cupping tables designed by CoffeeTec of Redwood City, CA and built by Geiger Manufacturing of Stockton, CA. The tables accommodate three graders and one preparer each. They have a 54-inch, granite-resin, rotating top with hot and cold water and house three basins. In addition, there are eight roasting machines, built by Jabez Burns and Sons of New York. Six are new, computerized roasters with automated timers and roasting controls, and two are antique roasters built in 1909 and donated by the Sara Lee Corporation.
The NYBOT annually grades approximately 11,000 lots of coffee, or 412.5 million pounds, accounting for 55% of total U.S. certified coffee stocks. For cocoa, NYBOT currently grades an average 7,000 lots per year, equal to about 155 million pounds.
Louis "Lou" Terrarosa, a longtime active member of the Green Coffee Association, Inc., passed on October 31 on Staten Island, New York.
An esteemed colleague to many in the coffee industry, Lou Terrarosa served on many GCA committees and as both a technical and quality arbitrator. Lou was also an active New York Board of Trade certified coffee grader at the time of his passing.
Lou had an illustrious career in the industry, working as a coffee trader for many trade houses on Wall Street, including Carl Borchsenius & Co., Sprague and Rhodes, Imperial Commodities and Van Ekris & Company, from which he retired in 2000. He began his professional life in 1949 with Enright Brothers, and highlighted his career with the opening of his own company, L. Terrarosa & Co, where for several decades he represented the U.S. interests of many Colombian coffee exporters.
Terrarosa is survived by his wife of 27 years, Grace, 5 children, 2 stepchildren and 10 grandchildren.