The Pros and Cons of Minimally Processed Food

On April 11, 2012, Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman managed (in their usual hilarious way) to put their finger on one of the dilemmas facing the food industry when they penned a Zits comic strip showing Pierce grabbing a live chicken during lunch so he could have a fresh egg, while Jeremy contents himself with a sandwich on processed white bread.  Jokes aside, we all know that there are people who will go to extremes (as Pierce always does) in the name of “natural” or “organic” food.  We also know that there are some (like Jeremy) who think people like Pierce are nuts.  So what is a food company to do?

These days, everyone is focused on fresh food.  “Natural” is a buzzword.  “Processed” is a dirty word.  But is processed really dirty?  Often, the “process” removes impurities.  It also kills germs.  It can even add nutrients  (how many people drink milk that isn’t fortified with Vitamin D?).  How could that be bad?  And is “organic” really “natural?”  Sometimes it is, but often it isn’t.

Some people (like Pierce) will pay extra for “natural” food.  They might even understand that the claimed health benefits – benefits that are not universally accepted – come with some corresponding risks.  Look no further than the recent E. coli outbreak associated with raw milk from an Oregon farm and the recent Campylobacter outbreak caused by raw milk originating from a Pennsylvania farm.

Others, like Jeremy, prefer the convenience of processed food.

Neither one is necessarily right.  Both are viable markets.  It probably doesn’t matter which market you target.  But you should make a conscious choice, and know who you are marketing to.

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Cozen O’Connor has a national team of attorneys experienced in handling food contamination and product recall coverage matters related to first-party, third-party and specialty policies. The firm also developed a Food, Beverage & Nutritional Products Industry Team to provide advice and counsel to a wide range of companies connected directly and indirectly to the food and beverage industry.
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