Spam, Spam, Wonderful Spam

Spam has been around for over six decades, and more than six billion cans of the luncheon meat have been produced. Now, the famous luncheon meat will receive the ultimate compliment--its very own museum.

In mid-September, the 16,500-square-foot Spam Museum, dedicated to "the quirky joys and unprecedented excitement inspired by Spam," will open in Austin, Minn.

"Spam luncheon meat is much more than a great-tasting food product. It's a slice of Americana that deserves recognition," said Julie Craven, director of public relations for Hormel Foods. "The new museum will be a fun place where people of all ages can discover the origin of Spam, explore its history and celebrate its overwhelming popularity."

Among the museum's features will be interactive and educational games, exhibits, a simulated Spam production line and even a chance to view the popular Monty Python "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam . . ." sketch.

In the Bag

StarKist Tuna continues to expand the use of its Flavor Fresh Pouch™ and now has unveiled a three-ounce, single-serve size. A nationwide television advertising campaign is touting the new pouch and plays up a competition between StarKist Seafoodw in a can versus that in a pouch.

The new 30-second commercial features real fishermen from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf as they engage in a live, unscripted taste test. The commercial aims to convey the freshness and taste quality of the tuna in a pouch over canned tuna.

"The new three-ounce StarKist Pouch will continue to transform the tuna-eating experience," said Don Binotto, managing director of Star-Kist Seafood, a unit of H.J. Heinz Company's StarKist Foods Inc. "This advertising illustrates the great taste and flavor of our pouch products. We believe that once consumers actually see and taste the difference versus canned tuna, they will be hooked on the StarKist Pouch."

Supplements Illegal in Foods?

The FDA informed three food companies that the use of herbal additives in beverages and cereals may be illegal.

The three companies were: Hansen Beverage (for echinacea in Healthy Start Immune Juice); U.S. Mills Inc. (for gingko biloba in New Morning Organic GinkgOs and ginseng in Organic Ginseng Crunch cereals); and Fresh Samantha, now owned by Odwalla Inc. (for echinacea in Fresh Samantha Super Juice).

The move is the latest in the FDA's efforts to control the expanding market for food and drinks with some of the same active ingredients as dietary supplement pills and traditional herbal medicines.

Earlier this year, an agency letter to several hundred food companies expressed concern about the use of herbal additives in food products without proof that they had either passed a food additive review or that they fell into the category of additives "generally recognized as safe."

Hue's Next?

Just as parents have become accustomed to seeing green-colored ketchup in the pantry, Heinz has announced a new color will join the condiment aisles. The company has turned to kids to decide which color should next grace ketchup bottles and will debut the new hue by late August.

The new EZ Squirt color will be either orange, purple, hot pink or yellow and follows on the heels of one of last year's most successful new products. Heinz reportedly sold more than 10 million bottles of Blastin' Green in its first seven months and had factories working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to meet demand. The launch made news around the world, though Heinz has only just begun expanding distribution outside the U.S.

The new color ketchup will be an addition to the green and traditional red varieties and will also be packaged in the kid-friendly EZ Squirt bottle, which is designed for little hands and is suitable for the typical, two-fisted grip favored by children. In addition, the new color will also be fortified with vitamin C (like its red and green counterparts in the EZ Squirt line).