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Food News

Lack of farm labor could make fruits, vegetables unaffordable

USA Today | Posted on November 22, 2018

My farm's fresh strawberries are available at reasonable prices all year because of foreign labor. But immigration rules could put farms in the lurch.As a third-generation family farmer with decades of experience, I’ve spent years grappling with the impact of this worker shortage.I grow strawberries. This April, at the beginning of peak harvest season, I didn’t have enough workers to pick all the ripe berries before they rotted in the fields. In a single month, I lost $500,000.When I first entered the strawberry business in the 1970s, the fruit was considered a luxury item. In the winter, we’d sell them to New York City vendors for the equivalent of nearly $200 a box today. If you wanted to bake a pie with fresh fruit, you had to wait until the early summer harvest. Today, fresh strawberries are readily available and reasonably priced in grocery stores year-round because farms like my own are growing more fruit.The United States already imports more than half of the fresh fruits and almost a third of fresh vegetables that Americans eat. This is happening because the demand for fresh produce has been steadily increasing, while the number of people willing to work on farms has plummeted.


FDA extends milk labeling comment period

FDA | Posted on November 22, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is extending by 60 days, until January 28, 2019, the comment period on the request for information on labeling plant-based products with names that include the names of dairy foods, such as “milk,” “yogurt,” and “cheese.” The original comment period was scheduled to end on November 27. The agency is taking this action in response to requests for additional time to submit comments. FDA believes that the extension will allow adequate time for interested persons to provide input without significantly delaying any potential further action on these important issues.The FDA is announcing the extension in the Federal Register.


Trade deal between Mexico, European Union creates stink for U.S. cheese makers

USA Today | Posted on November 22, 2018

In Mexico, asiago cheese can no longer be labeled and sold as asiago unless it comes from the alpine region of northern Italy where the mild, nutty-flavored formaggio originated. The labeling restrictions are part of a new trade deal that Mexico signed in April with the European Union – one of several trade pacts that countries around the globe have been pursuing with each other, often with ramifications for U.S. companies.Other nations have been driven to form their own trade pacts in part, analysts say, because of the Trump administration’s focus on slapping tariffs on imports and updating a 25-year-old agreement with Canada and Mexico instead of negotiating new deals that would expand markets for U.S. goods.The European Union has been particularly aggressive – signing new deals with Mexico and Canada, finalizing another agreement with Japan and announcing plans to hold separate talks with Australia and China. But other countries also are pursuing deals of their own.“Most of these countries continue to view trade as beneficial to their economic growth, to job creation and to attract direct foreign investment,” said Wendy Cutler, a top official in the U.S. Trade Representative’s office under President Barack Obama.But many also “are trying to reduce their dependence on the United States now, viewing the U.S. as an unreliable trading partner,” she said.Trade deals that exclude the U.S. can still have costly consequences for U.S. companies. Hence, the asiago imbroglio.


Bockchain lets you learn about farms where Thanksgiving turkeys came from

Chicago Tribune | Posted on November 21, 2018

Visiting the family farm, which still uses 1960s-era technology in its plant, is a decidedly old-school way for people to learn more about where their Thanksgiving meal comes from. But many people don’t have the time or stomach for the on-the-farm experience. For those who don’t, there are an increasing number of options. One of the nation’s largest turkey producers is experimenting with using cutting-edge blockchain technology to connect shoppers with farmers even before they leave the grocery store.Cargill, which produces about a quarter of all turkeys consumed during the holidays in the U.S., recently expanded a program it piloted last year that allows shoppers to trace their turkey to the family farm where it was raised. Select Jewel-Osco and Walmart stores in Chicago are among the 3,500 retail locations nationwide where the traceable turkeys are available, the company said. About 200,000 of Cargill’s Honeysuckle White brand turkeys have codes on their packaging that consumers can use — via text message or on the Honeysuckle White Web site — to learn more about the farm, including its history, how it treats its birds or family Thanksgiving recipes. Seventy farms in Missouri and Texas, out of the 700 farms that Cargill contracts with, are participating.


Draft EPA study finds newer nonstick compound may be harmful

AP | Posted on November 21, 2018

Long-term exposure to a chemical compound currently used for making nonstick coatings appears to be dangerous, even in minute amounts, according to draft findings released Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency. It was the first time EPA weighed in on newer, supposedly safer versions of an increasingly scrutinized family of stick- and stain-resistant compounds. Older versions of the compound are turning up in dangerous levels in drinking water supplies around the country.Drinking water contamination has been the main concern cited by public health officials and regulators in connection with the compounds, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalyl substances, or PFAS.The EPA findings said animal studies show the so-called GenX nonstick compound has the potential of affecting the kidneys, blood, immune system, liver and developing fetuses following oral exposure. “The data are suggestive of cancer,” the draft report said.Concern over GenX, used in Teflon and other materials, has been strongest in North Carolina. Authorities have found it in water supplies serving hundreds of thousands of people downstream of a Chemours Co. plant that makes it outside Fayetteville.Wednesday’s draft findings suggest chronic exposure to GenX is dangerous at levels as low as a few hundred parts per trillion, Ferguson said. Two older versions from the same family of compounds — taken out of manufacturing in the United States — have been found to be dangerous at less than a hundred parts per trillion.


Petco drops pet foods, treats with artificial ingredients

Pet Food Industry | Posted on November 18, 2018

Petco announced it will not sell dog or cat food and treats containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives by May 2019.


Schwan’s Sold to South Korean Company

KSAL | Posted on November 17, 2018

Schwan’s Company, a leading U.S. food business, announced Thursday it has reached an agreement to sell a majority stake of the company to CJ CheilJedang (CJCJ), of Seoul, South Korea.Schwan’s Company began in 1952 as a one-man-and-a-truck home-delivery business operating in rural Minnesota. Today, Schwan’s is a leading U.S. food manufacturer and marketer with approximately 12,000 employees and trusted brands like Schwan’s® fine foods, Red Baron®, Freschetta® and Tony’s® pizza, Edwards® and Mrs. Smith’s® desserts, Pagoda® Asian-style foods and Schwan’s® Home Delivery.


Cost of Thanksgiving Day dinner drops by 75 cents

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on November 17, 2018

American Farm Bureau Federation’s 32nd annual price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.12, a 75-cent decrease from last year’s average of $49.87.


Sucking your baby's pacifier to clean it may prevent allergies

Science Daily | Posted on November 17, 2018

New research suggests a link between parental sucking on a pacifier and a lower allergic response among young children.


Dietary fat is good? Dietary fat is bad? Coming to consensus

Science Daily | Posted on November 17, 2018

Which is better, a low-fat/high-carbohydrate diet or a high-fat/low-carbohydrate diet -- or is it the type of fat that matters? In a new paper, researchers with diverse expertise and perspectives on the issues laid out the case for each position and came to a consensus and a future research agenda.The researchers agreed that no specific fat to carbohydrate ratio is best for everyone, and that an overall high-quality diet that is low in sugar and refined grains will help most people maintain a healthy weight and low chronic disease risk. They agreed that by focusing on diet quality -- replacing saturated or trans fats with unsaturated fats and replacing refined carbohydrates with whole grains and nonstarchy vegetables -- most people can maintain good health within a broad range of fat-to-carbohydrate ratios.


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