Previous Speaking Engagements


Speaking Precis

Précis of Previous Speaking Engagements


  • "Select Regulations Affecting Functional Foods in Canada: Current Opportunities and What is Ahead"
  • "Multi-stakeholder Perspectives: Consumer, Industry, Scientific Community and Regulator"
  • Guelph Food Technology Centre--"Government Intervention and Special Interest Groups"
  • Guelph Food Technology Centre--"Marketing Perspective: The Importance of Lower-Sodium Foods"
  • National Seafood Sector Council--"Turns, Trends & Timing"
  • Oat & Barley Council of Ontario--"The Consumer Connection" Forum
  • New Brunswick Food & Beverage Processors Association--Nutraceuticals and Natural Health Products
  • New Brunswick Food & Beverage Processors Association--Food Trends in the Making
  • Women in Food Industry Management
  • Association Ontario Wheat Opportunities Conference
  • New Brunswick Food & Beverage Processors' Association
  • Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology

Back to upcoming speaking engagements

Précis of Previous Speaking Engagements

Functional Foods: Market Opportunities, Regulations & Ingredients for Wellness Foods Seminar
April 18-19, 2006, organized by Guelph Food Technology Centre

"Select Regulations Affecting Functional Foods in Canada: Current Opportunities and What Lies Ahead"
There is no one particular section or division to regulate functional foods in Canada's Food and Drugs Act and Regulations. Nor is there a regulated definition of functional foods. However, functional foods are on the Canadian market and they are in compliance with the regulations.

Three select regulatory strategies with which to bring functional foods to market were reviewed, as follows:

  1. the many ways to make a health claim in Canada. While there are five categories of health claims, collectively there are 19 different ways to express those five claims, all of which are dependent on compositional requirements and thresholds;
  2. the making of a biological role claim -- how to do it, what is and is not permissible, overlooked market potential in the use of these claims;
  3. upcoming legislation that will radically change the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods, and as well, result in age-specific and gender-specific nutritional supplements to support Canadians' active lifestyle through all stages of the lifecycle.

"Dietary Fibre: Health Benefts & Applications in Foods" Seminar
March 30, 2006, sponsored by Guelph Food Technology Centre
"Multi-stakeholder Perspectives:
Consumer, Industry, Scientific Community and Regulator"
Dietary fibre means very different things to different people. To the Canadian consumer, it is one of the two most common nutrients that is verified on packaged food labels before purchase (the second being fat). Canadians repeatedly demonstrate their knowledge that the physiological role of some types of dietary fibre goes beyond laxation, to one of reducing serum cholesterol, for example. In contrast, surveys indicate that American consumers do not share Canadian's awareness of nor familiarity with dietary fibre.

The Canadian food regulator, Health Canada, is one of the most informed and advanced organizations when it comes to dietary fibre, subsequently reflected in a very restrictive regulatory climate. While Canadian consumers are protected from fraudulent dietary fibre claims, ingredient and food manufacturers face the toughest dietary fibre regulations in the world. In contrast, the American food regulator, the FDA, which does not reference a FDA-approved definition of dietary fibre, for example, has a much more lax regulatory oversight of dietary fibre. Examples of successful regulatory strategies to stickhandle one's way through the thick regulatory market barrier in Canada, as well as the regulatory pathway in the US, were provided.

"Lower Sodium Foods--Benefits and Formulations" Seminar
February 7, 2006, Guelph, ON, sponsored by Guelph Food Technology Centre
"Government Intervention and Special Interest Groups"
The UK is a country with one of the highest incidences of hypertension, coupled with one of the highest intakes of sodium, in the world. As much as 75% of sodium intake is from processed food.

In May 2003, the UK government, through the Food Standards Agency, solicited sector-wide support from the UK food processing industry, to reduce the sodium content of its offerings, so as to reduce the average daily intake of sodium from the current level of 9 g to a level of 6 g, by year 2010.

Means and measures by which the UK government and special interest groups have obtained industry support were documented.

Similar health promotion activities in the USA were reported, in which the new Food Pyramid Ð now aptly titled My Pyramid (see www.mypyramid.gov) identified current sodium intake in the American population as too high, and as well, targeted processed foods as the major source of sodium in the American diet.

"Lower Sodium Foods--Benefits and Formulations" Seminar
February 7, 2006, Guelph, ON, sponsored by Guelph Food Technology Centre
"Marketing Perspective: The Importance of Lower-Sodium Foods"
The first functional food in history is that of fortified salt, to which iodine was added in the year 1924 to combat the incidence of goiter. Today, reduced intake of salt and sodium is advocated throughout the western world. A history of Canada's Food Guide was used to demonstrate how the food supply in Canada changed from one of an adequate, or even perhaps inadequate salt and sodium content during the pre-war era, to one of excess salt levels, within 15 years of the conclusion of WW II, and the onset of the industrial boom.

Salt and sodium intakes in the USA, Canada and the UK were reported, along with incidences of heart disease, particularly hypertension, even among teenagers.

Consumer pressure and restrictive legislation on this issue is not existent at this point in time. However, indications are strong that special interest groups, or even government intervention through persuasion or legislation, could soon result in a call for sodium-reduced food, much as we are witnessing societal pressure, proposed, or in some countries such as Denmark, passed legislation, to reduce or remove trans fat content.

National Seafood Sector Council
National Conference
November 16 & 17, 2005, Moncton, NB

"Turns, Trends & Timing"
The primary purpose of this keynote speech was to identify dominant trends in the food industry that may serve as training and employment opportunities for personnel employed in the seafood sector.

Carol first differentiated a 'trend' from a 'fad' providing marketplace examples, followed by a description of the following major trends affecting the food industry today:

  • The globalization of food-borne illness and pathogens;
  • Electronic Data Interchange--EDI--and how it is changing retail and foodservice sectors;
  • Mandatory Nutrition Labelling in Canada, and in the US, a proposal before FDA which includes fresh fish and seafood;
  • Distribution channels--what old is new again--the return to the Corner General Store, complete with gas pumps;
  • Consumer Complexity and a fragmented marketplace;
  • Specific food trends in the Canadian marketplace.

Additive-free entrées, sophisticated take-out merchandising and advertising techniques from the more advanced and highly competitive UK retail sector were illustrated.

As a conclusion, all trends covered in the speech were categorized within a SWOT analysis, along with specific recommendations as how to prepare and position personnel working in the Canadian seafood sector to avail themselves of these trends and employment opportunities. Then Carol left them with this quote:

"Knowledge is high in the head, but the salmon of wisdom swims deep" Neil Gunn (1891-1973)

Oat & Barley Council of Ontario
"The Consumer Connection" Forum
September 27 & 28, 2005, Toronto, ON

"Is the Consumer Upstream or Downstream?"
CTC will present a lead-off overview of consumer trends and preferences with respect to quality-enhanced food products. The importance of beginning with an understanding of consumer needs and perspectives in the development of value-added food chains will be highlighted. The presentation will outline opportunities, common pitfalls, and current consumer 'hot buttons' specifically related to better-for-you food.

New Brunswick Food & Beverage Processors Association
"The Third Atlantic Conference on the Food Industry"
November 2 - 3, 2004, Delta Beauséjour, Moncton, NB.

"Nutraceuticals and Natural Health Products"
  • What they are
  • How they are now regulated in Canada
  • Why particular nutrients are best obtained through supplements

The role of nutraceuticals, now regulated as Natural Health Products (NHP's) in Canada, was reviewed in terms of opportunities and threats from a manufacturer's viewpoint. Differing definitions of the term 'nutraceutical' between Canada and the USA were provided, also referencing that the term has no currency in the EU. A definition of the term 'functional food', recognized in Canada, the US and the EU, was covered. The preliminary groundwork for Canada's new NHP regulations was reviewed. Although NHP's have a dedicated, segregated division within Canada's Food & Drugs Act, NHP's are, for all intent and purposes, regulated more as drugs, than as food. NHP's offer many benefits to consumers. In contrast to functional foods, they do not alter the diet of the individual or their family members. In contrast to prescription drugs, they provide access to selfcare when traditional medicine fails to provide solutions. The Western World sector, valued at an estimated US$ 27 Billion, is flat due to consumer unease stemming from safety and efficacy issues substantiated by science, and, more restrictive legislation. On the other hand, a review of two case studies - one on omega -3 fatty acids, the other on the anti-oxidant lutein - illustrated that a strong argument can be made for supplementation of the diet with nutraceuticals/NHP's, due to the difficulty of acquiring adequate intake levels by the addition of these nutrients to processed food.

New Brunswick Food & Beverage Processors Association
"The Third Atlantic Conference on the Food Industry"
November 2 - 3, 2004, Delta Beauséjour, Moncton, NB.

"Food Trends in the Making"
  • What is a 'trend' and what is a 'fad'
  • The 'come and gone' of past 'fads' came and the lingering effects of past and current 'trends'
  • Case study examination of current food trends in Canada

The definition for each of a 'trend' and a 'fad' were reviewed. The two types of trends - groundswell and milestone - were explained. The role of the three factors - consumers, the media, and repetition - required to develop a food trend, were provided. Four case studies were examined: low-fat trend; low-carb 'fad'; general nutrition trend; and, milk and cream consumption trends in Canada. The five influential factors which contribute to lasting effects of a food trend were investigated: consumer needs and interests; scientific advancements; media coverage; regulations; and, milestone events.

Women in Food Industry Management -- Guest Speaker for Annual General Meeting
June 24, 2004, Toronto Board of Trade Country & Golf Club

"The "Skinny" on Low-Carb"
--How Low-Carb Diets work (physiologically)
--Why they don't work (in practice)
**The Anti-Atkins Countertrend . . . how to prepare for it!!
This presentation covered the 30-year history of low-carbohydrate diets, the scientific and physiological bases for the regime, and the human physiological effects of short and long term low-carb dieting. A macro-nutrient comparison to other popular weight-loss diets (for example, South Beach, the Zone Diet) was made. Size and characteristics of the current low-carb sector was provided and that of the future forecasted. The typical low-carb consumer was profiled. Marketplace performance of specific food industry sectors effected by the low-carb 'craze' (some up, some down) was included.

Evidence of the arrival of the Anti-AtkinsTM counter-trend was detailed, including products, nutrition education, proposed multi-pronged regulatory intervention programs and marketplace data.

Recommendations for manufacturers both considering entering the low-carb sector, and for those needing to directly and successfully compete against low-carb foods was provided.

Ontario Wheat Opportunities Conference -- Wrap-up Speaker
Monday, May 17th, Toronto Congress Centre
"Have Your Cake and Eat it, too!!"
All of the information provided in the WFIM presentation was provided, however, expressed in the context of wheat and wheat-based foods. The contribution by wheat of macronutrients and important micronutrients to the Canadian diet was documented. Current misconceptions of wheat and wheat-based products held by Canadian consumers were discussed, along with strategies to address these misunderstandings in both the short and long term and ultimately, allow wheat-based foods to regain and sustain solid footing.

New Brunswick Food and Beverage Processors' Association
May 6th, 2004, Delta Beausejour Hotel; Moncton, NB

"For Every Trend, a Counter Trend; For Everything, a Season"

Horizontal trends -- those which effect many sectors of the food industry -- were highlighted throughout this comprehensive presentation.

The two dominant horizontal trends of interest to both the trade and consumers -- trans fatty acids and low-carb diets Ð- were profiled and explained in depth. Recommendations to address real or perceived consumer concerns were provided, such as the vital role of including consumer input through market research (i.e. sensory evaluation) throughout a product formulation or re-formulation process.

Other horizontal trends covered included:

Organic food: its prevalence, current sector growth and growth of specific categories

Obesity: Canadian and American prevalence and expectations placed by some stakeholders on how the food industry should be responding to this epidemic

Food Promotion to Children: Industry self-regulated initiatives and education sector programs to improve the nutrient profile of food selection in schools. Societal expectation that food manufacturers play a more tangible role in advertising, food composition, education and distribution so as to combat childhood obesity, overweight and malnutrition.

Regulatory Reform, Update and Outlook: Health claims are now permitted on some foods in Canada; a new Nutrition Facts panel is mandated, and declaration of more nutrients is now possible. The gap between science and regulations is narrowing and indications are that it will be even narrower in the future. These advancements on the Canadian regulatory scene also indicate many opportunities for food manufacturers to differentiate their products on a science-based nutrition platform. The outlook points to revisions of the Food Guide in Canada and Food Pyramid in the USA, as well as RDI harmonization between Canada and the USA.

Two media outlets -- CBC morning radio as well as the Moncton local journal, The Moncton Times -- provided extensive media coverage of this presentation.

Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology
May 16, 2004, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON

"Natural Health Products Workshop"
Carol Culhane, as Chair, Functional Foods Division, CIFST, co-chaired this workshop.

Background: In January 2004, Canada formally recognized NHP's (Natural Health Products) as a legal category in and unto itself. NHPs labels must provide evidence-based indications that have been approved by a pre-market regulatory assessment. Approved products are assigned NPN's (Natural Health Product Identification Number), similar to a drug-specific DIN, and can be produced in only licensed manufacturing sites that follow NHP GMP's.

This ground-breaking legislation presents many opportunities for manufacturers, retailers, marketers and product developers of both food products and NHP's.

Workshop Content: This workshop was specifically designed to prepare all stakeholders, those in the food industry and the NHP industry, to take advantage of this newly-recognized sector by building on existing skill-sets and knowledge. Practical, news-you-can-use topics for discussion included:

   1. Should I continue to market my product as a food, or, does the NHP category offer greater opportunity?
   2. What type of scientific evidence do I need to support a claim; where and how do I get this information?
   3. What GMP's (Good Manufacturing Practices) are appropriate for the products I am considering?
   4. What may be involved in converting our manufacturing facility from meeting food regulations, to one meeting NHP regulations?
   5. What is the cost of producing and marketing the product as a food, versus producing and marketing it as a NHP?


A select group of well-known and sought after experts in the fields of NHPs, food and nutrition, regulatory affairs, product development, manufacturing, marketing and finance prepared a day of information-packed seminars and activities.

Case Study: Following the presentations, the real part of the workshop (the work part of the shop) unfolded. Participants were divided into breakout groups, in which they addressed a case study prepared by Carol Culhane and subsequently reconvened for group presentations and feedback from the expert panel.

Participants rated the Case Study examination as a definite highlight of the workshop. Assumptions were tested, options explored, more information acquired, networking maximized, and learning in a funfilled way was realized.