Episode 12: CBD and the Chemistry of Food

CBD Podcast Episode 12



Joe: On this episode of the "CBD University Podcast," you've probably been told more than once, "Do not play with your food". Well, we are throwing that rule away. My guest today is our new food chemist at Global Widget. Yes, you heard that right, a food chemist. We'll tell you about his role, what a food chemist does, how one comes into play in the CBD industry and the continued commitment to the quality and compliance of all our products. This is the "CBD University Podcast" and it starts right now.

I'm Joe Agostinelli, your host for the "CBD University Podcast" and if you are a returning listener, thanks for coming back and tuning in. If you are a new listener, we are glad you found us on your favorite podcast platform or app of choice. We invite you to subscribe on your favorite podcast app and we'll break down some of the apps little later on in today's show. You'll get new notifications each week when episodes are published by subscribing. Making his first appearance on our podcast is one of our newest members of the Global Widget team. And I think it's the first time we've had a food chemist on the team here at Global Widget and we recently announced his addition in a press release. And Michael Torti, as I mentioned, first-ever food chemist here at Global Widget. Welcome to the podcast. Welcome to Global Widget and I have to say welcome to Florida because you're moving from the West Coast or recently moved from the West Coast, right?

Michael: Yeah. Thanks for having me, Joe. Yeah. Came here from a Los Angeles area. So, excited to be back in Florida.

Joe: And we'll talk a little bit about that as we go along here on today's episode. But first question, when I first heard food chemist, I was like, "Food chemist?" I mean, we obviously have the edibles line in different products, which that would play a part in, but what exactly does a food chemist do regardless of whether it's the CBD industry or you know, food and beverage industry, what are some of the typical day to day things you would be doing?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and you know, past experiences and here, you know, a lot of it is really looking at raw materials, kinda what we want to use in our products. Or even prior to that meeting with marketing or brand team or sales team and to kind of see which products we want to launch, what do we want to have in our product roadmap, kind of what goals do we want our products to achieve from whether it's a nutritional standpoint, obviously, it's gotta taste good and be safe and everything. And then just kinda taking the data that they give me and then kind of making a product that can meet some of those specific parameters. You know, obviously still tastes good, be safe, you know, have the shelf life that we're claiming it is. So, that's kind of in a nutshell, kind of what product development entails. You know, without going into the nitty-gritty too much.

Joe: So, when I was growing up, my dream was to be the next like ESPN, back when "SportsCenter" was cool, like the ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor for 6:00 and 11:00. So, how does one go into a field of food chemistry? What got you involved in that?

Michael: Yeah. Absolutely. I studied food science both undergrad at Virginia Tech and then grad school at University of Florida. And food science, you know, it's very interdisciplinary. You really have to have a great fundamental understanding of microbiology, chemistry, engineering, even sensory science and kind of the psychological aspect of food. And so, for me, when I got my Bachelor's in Food Science at Virginia Tech, I knew I wanted to do product development. That's kind of where my passion lied. And so, for that food chemistry is really important. You need to know, you know, things like water activity or pH or how different chemical compounds and raw materials interact with one another. So, then when I got to University of Florida for grad school, I really wanted to focus on food chemistry. So, I took a lot of my courses were food chemistry-based and I did a thesis in the area of food chemistry, I did a lot of research in the area of food chemistry to really prepare myself for an industry career and product development.

Joe: And prior to your time at Global Widget, you were in the health and fitness industry, correct?

Michael: Yeah, that's correct. Yeah, I was at Beachbody for a few years in the Los Angeles area before making my way back to the East Coast.

Joe: All right. So, two things you mentioned in that answer that we have to talk about number one, Beachbody because I've done a number of their programs. Have you met Tony Horton before?

Michael: I have, yeah, he was actually, funny enough, he was at my orientation. So, it was the first day at work. Purely coincidental. They don't bring Tony Horton in every week for the new hires. But yeah, he happened like come by the room when we were doing our orientation. So, yeah, as you'd expect, a super cool guy, very outgoing you know, definitely enjoys what he does for Beachbody.

Joe: And then Los Angeles, have you met or ran into any popular celebrities during your time there?

Michael: My favorite story is I didn't actually meet him, but saw him was like right next to him was Vince Vaughn, who's one of my favorite you know, kind of funny guys in Hollywood. I hadn't really seen too many celebrities and had a couple of friends come out and visit me and one of them, you know, they're kind of messing with me, but they're like, you know, "How many celebrities we're gonna see," type of thing. And I was like, "Guys, I haven't seen any." You know. And so, we were at dinner in Manhattan Beach one night and one of our friends was like, "Oh, it's Vince Vaughn." We thought he was joking and we turn around and sure enough, Vince Vaughn is walking by the restaurant. So, you know, it was like four of us there and we did a sensible thing, which is two of us left the restaurant and you know, kinda saw if it was him or not, we saw him go into like an ice cream shop, then it was definitely Vince Vaughn.

Joe: Nice.

Michael: So, that's my favorite celebrity I've met out there, not met, saw. But yeah, so, that's kind of a funny story.

Joe: So, from the past to the present and the future now with an extensive line of edibles in the CBD industry, how does a food chemist fit into our continued commitment to quality and compliance in the industry and setting the standards?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, with anything, quality and compliance is the most important thing before you do anything. So, I guess if it makes sense, I kind of do product development through a quality lens. Meaning that I'm making sure that the raw materials we're getting in are from verified suppliers. They're safe, they're not high in heavy metals or micros. You know, if we're getting in whey protein for example, and it's 80% protein, it needs to be 80% protein. I develop, you know, specifications for raw materials to determine when we receive our raw material prior to production, we want to test that raw material to make sure it meets the key parameters. So, designing specifications, I'll get contract manufacturers if you want to outsource manufacturing to a third-party. I'll be on-site for the production and make sure everything goes well. And then, you know, once the product is launched, you know, making sure that we have a stability study protocol in place to make sure our products are hitting the shelf life that we say they are.

When we're doing label reviews, making sure that our labels are fully accurate. So, I'm in product development, but everything I do has a quality and compliance lens to it if that makes sense. Those are some of the activities that I'll do to make sure that we're putting out good quality products that are safe and efficacious and obviously tastes good and where our products are what we say they are.

Joe: And when it comes to...we talked just now about the research and development of new products and if you missed it, one of our most recent episodes, cheap plug, is the review of some of the 2019 products that we had, a kind of a year reviews, so, if you haven't, you can go back in our past episodes and tune in to that one. But in regards to the research and development process, how do you take part in like the formulation and the science behind the product?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, a little similar to what I said previously, we want to meet with our brand team to say, you know, if we want to come out with a sports performance protein powder containing CBD, how much protein do we want in there? Do we want it to be whey protein or plant-based protein like pea protein? What claims do we want to make in terms of, you know, muscle, you know, stimulating muscle synthesis or reduces inflammation to make you not as sore for as long? So, then from there, it's kinda working with sourcing and someone else in quality to get in raw materials. And then I'll just formulate you know, have people come in and taste the product. We'll do consumer studies, whether internally or externally with employees or with others to see, you know, if we give them five formulations or five different flavor choices, which one is most well-liked.

And then, you know, we'll do sensory studies before we finalize the formula. Once we think we have a final formula, that's when we'll kind of research contract manufacturer options and do labels and everything like that. But yeah, definitely the fun part is kind of researching the raw materials that are out there. I mean, there's so many suppliers right now doing some really cool things. So, just seeing what's out there, if something looks interesting, getting in a sample and playing around with it in the lab and seeing if this will fit from everything from a taste point to nutritional point. And so, that's really kind of the fun part is researching, you know, the raw materials are out there. The claims that if we use this raw material at their efficacious level we can make that kind of thing.

Joe: I kinda have the job idea when I go grocery shopping, even though I know what I want, I've got to go around the perimeter of the store to get all the samples that are up just...

Michael: Absolutely. Yeah.

Joe: Just to have a taste, yeah?

Michael: Just to have a taste, right, you know.

Joe: Exactly. Now, you have some experience obviously in the food and beverage industry and now moving into the CBD industry. What are you looking forward to the most being a part of the CBD industry as we, you know, now head into 2020?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously it's a very rapidly growing industry, which is always something that's very exciting to be in. Especially, you know, as a food scientist to be a part of something that's rapidly growing industry versus something that's, you know, kind of stagnant. So, that's what's really exciting. And then, you know, for us here at Global Widget, we have a trend as you know, product road map and product pipeline. We're looking at a lot of cool products that we want to launch in 2020, which is what really excites me and what my passion is all about. So, you know, here at Global Widget, we have the opportunity to be very nimble and efficient and get to market pretty quickly. So, we have a lot of cool things in the pipeline going on that'll require a, you know, a lot of hard work to execute on. But it's something that's really exciting and, you know, this time of year from now our product portfolio hopefully be even more diverse than it currently is and we'll have offerings to, you know, have some something for everyone.

Joe: So, you obviously have a hand in the process from, you know, really seed to store. Do you have a favorite part of the process? I mean, do you like seeing that finished product and out in the consumer's hands or do you like the hands-on experience at the beginning of the research and development or a little bit of everything?

Michael: My favorite thing you know, I really enjoy kind of the market research aspect and really working with marketing and just kinda seeing what cool products are out there, you know, and what products we think we could launch on product pipeline. That's what's most exciting to me. And then kind of, you know, once you get to the finish line of launching a product, that's really exciting too to see the product finished good all you know, packaged and labeled and everything. And you know, that's what's really cool. And then in terms of the product development life cycle, launching a product is then really only the first step of the process because you may constantly want to reformulate to get into foreign markets. You may want to reformulate to maybe take out an ingredient or to put in another really cool ingredient. You know, if there are supply chain constraints, evaluating other ingredients to put into your finished goods. So, launching it you know, is really only kind of the first step in the whole life cycle but you know, even before that, I really like kind of working with marketing and seeing what trends they're seeing from a flavor standpoint as well as from a functional standpoint as well.

Joe: And once you have an existing product out there, and maybe we add a flavor, you know, does the formulation stay the same for like a new flavor and then you just add the flavor or how does something like that usually...

Michael: Yeah, it typically should. So, I guess the previous example I used was like protein powder that we wanted to launch, you know, sports nutrition, in a sports nutrition line protein powder CBD. That should be pretty consistent if we have like chocolate-flavored protein powder and then we want to go to something like a strawberry flavored protein powder. The key actives all stay the same if you're using whey protein, if you're using maybe like a tart cherry for inflammation reduction, then you're just kind of want to play around with the flavors, maybe, you know, kind of adjust the sweetness level if you have like a stevia or a monk fruit in there. Another cool thing is different acids bring out different flavor profiles. So, if you have like an orange-flavored product, you might want to use like citric acid. If you have a raspberry or black cherry flavored product, you may want to use malic acid. So, there's some secondary things that can change, but the primary matrix of the product would stay the same for like a flavored line extension.

Joe: I'll tell you what, a year from now, it'd be great to have you and we'll have you back on before then, but you know, we talk about the product road map and product development and when we do our year-end review episodes for the end of 2020, we'll have to include you in on that episode. Hopefully, look back at a wide range of new products that we've released in 2020. So, I thank you for taking time out of your always busy day especially as you just get started and on your feet, well, you've been here about a month, a few weeks now.

Michael: Now this is week three I think.

Joe: Yeah. And we've already put you on a podcast. So, we wasted no time. So, once again, I want to thank Michael Torti, our food chemist, the first-ever food chemistry to be here at Global Widget, my guest on today's episode of the "CBD University Podcast."

And a reminder to our listeners, if you have not done so already or viewers on our YouTube channel, I invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast app, which does include YouTube. You'll get notifications each week when new episodes are uploaded and published and you can find us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, our YouTube channel, and coming soon iHeartRadio. And a reminder, we'll answer your questions in future episodes of the "CBD University Podcast." So, if you have a question for any of our guests or different topics, please submit them to podcast@globalwidget.com and then we'll try and pick a few here and there from each episode that tie into the topics we're discussing and answer our listener and viewer email questions. Once again, I'm Joe Agostinelli, the host of the "CBD University Podcast." Thanks for listening.

These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.