David Plank

December 8, 2015
Speaker Biography Feature Image

David Plank, Managing Principal, WRSS Food & Nutrition Insights /
Senior Research Fellow, Dept. of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota


David Plank is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota and Managing Principal, WRSS, Food & Nutrition Insights.  With over 35 years of research experience, his publications and patents in the field of protein chemistry have culminated in new insights for measurement of protein quality for human nutrition without the use of animal testing.  Additionally, his research and patents have focused in the fields of dietary fiber, fats and oils with focus on trans-fatty acid elimination, and acrylamide abatement.  Previous positions include Senior Technical Manager, Medallion Labs, where he advised a diverse clientele on food testing and risk mitigation.


Previous scheduled presentations by David Plank at Global Food Forums events:

2023 Clean Label Conference

Ethical Analyses and Labeling for Protein Claims 

To make a protein content claim on a food, it is required by law to label the percent of quality protein. Measuring quality protein requires the determination of protein digestibility in rats that are sacrificed. This is the only FDA regulation requiring animal testing for a food product label. Compliance with the law creates a dilemma for food manufacturers desiring a clean label concerning ethical animal treatment. We will present the financial risks of not complying with the existing regulations and a new method that accurately determines rat digestibility without using animals.


2022 Clean Label Conference

Dietary Fibers, Sweeteners & the Nutrition Facts Label

Populations that consume more dietary fibers and less sugars have a lower prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In response, the FDA has developed new labeling regulations designed to increase the appeal of foods higher in dietary fibers and lower in sugars. These foods, for example, those that fit ketogenic and low carb diets, have increased market share. This presentation will discuss labeling requirements for dietary fibers and sugars under the new regulations. When done correctly, commercial advantages can result. Done incorrectly, significant business risks may occur. Common assumptions and mistakes in food labeling resulting in class action lawsuits and competitor legal action for misbranding will be presented. New food ingredients and process aids, such as enzymes, consistent with clean labeling and achieving a healthier food product, will be reviewed.


2019 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

Product Challenges in the Development of Protein and Keto-friendly Food Products

Formulating new food products with a high-protein and keto-friendly profile presents unique challenges for delivering the flavor and nutrition profiles expected by a discerning and expanding consumer market. Beyond the challenges of achieving the taste and texture to meet consumer appeal, complicated regulatory hurdles need to be addressed to properly label for protein content and claims. Insights into these issues will be discussed on a practical basis for product developers and manufacturers. This presentation will focus on a case study involving on the development of almond-based products for this target market. Additionally, the range of nutrition profiles which legitimately fit a keto-friendly profile will be reviewed.


2018 Sweetener Systems Conference

Analytical Methods for Walking on the Lawful Side of Sugars, Dietary Fiber and Bioactive Sweeteners

Most manufacturers must comply with FDA requirements for updated nutrition label information by January 1, 2020. FDA’s interpretation of “added sugar” and “dietary fiber” definitions have been evolving. The definitions have led to interest in use of consumer-friendly dietary fibers to sweeten products without increasing net carbs or added sugars on a label. However, this type of formulation may set up a company for legal actions. This presentation will discuss the valid analytical methods that you can use for selection of sweetener ingredients that conform with the new FDA regulations. A new class of sugar sweeteners with the health benefits of dietary fiber will also be discussed.

2016 Protein Trends & Technologies Seminar

Making a Claim: Factors impacting Protein Quality and a New Way for Measuring

High-protein foods are increasingly desired by consumers and have been demonstrated to help satisfy an individual’s feeling of hunger for a longer period of time than when consuming comparatively lower protein foods. The feeling of fullness that high-protein foods can give helps limit over-consumption of food and can help promote a healthy lifestyle. Further, a high-protein diet can support muscle growth and maintenance for active individuals. Given the nutritional and lifestyle benefits of a high-protein diet, manufacturers are providing increasing numbers of high-protein products to the consuming public.

Before marketing these products, manufacturers must first quantify the amount of quality, digestible protein in each product to satisfy labeling requirements. The current standard for measuring protein digestibility is a rat model which is used in combination with amino acid analysis to determine the Protein Digestibility Adjusted Amino-acid Score (PDCAAS). The PDCAAS method suffers from being very expensive and time consuming thus resulting in delayed product development timelines and over-usage of valuable protein ingredient to assure meeting minimum targets for labeling. Additionally, the use of an animal model is counter to many of the brand equities supporting environmentally conscious lifestyles.

This presentation will review the regulatory requirements for making a protein claim on a food product, processing factors which impact protein quality and research on a new in vitro enzyme digestion model which provides results linearly comparable to the traditional rat PDCAAS method (r-square = 0.96-.98). This new methodology allows for more rapid development of high-protein food products by reducing the cost and turnaround time of analyses required to determine if a new prototype meets targeted label claims without the need for animal testing. Additional cost savings are achieved by reducing the need for over fortification of a new food product.