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Gene-edited food is coming, but will shoppers buy?

WTOL | Posted on November 15, 2018

The next generation of biotech food is headed for the grocery aisles, and first up may be salad dressings or granola bars made with soybean oil genetically tweaked to be good for your heart.By early next year, the first foods from plants or animals that had their DNA "edited" are expected to begin selling. It's a different technology than today's controversial "genetically modified" foods, more like faster breeding that promises to boost nutrition, spur crop growth, and make farm animals hardier and fruits and vegetables last longer.The U.S. National Academy of Sciences has declared gene editing one of the breakthroughs needed to improve food production so the world can feed billions more people amid a changing climate. Yet governments are wrestling with how to regulate this powerful new tool. And after years of confusion and rancor, will shoppers accept gene-edited foods or view them as GMOs in disguise?"If the consumer sees the benefit, I think they'll embrace the products and worry less about the technology," said Dan Voytas, a University of Minnesota professor and chief science office

FDA Says Leafy Green Industry Must Improve Safety

Growing Produce | Posted on November 15, 2018

In his wrap up letter following the 2018  Yuma-AZ-linked Shiga-toxin producing E. coli(STEC) outbreak, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. is calling for improved safety measures for growing leafy greens. “We recognize and appreciate the efforts that the leafy greens industry has taken to date. But we know more must be done on all fronts to help prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks,” he says.FDA is calling for specific improvements, ssure that all agricultural water (water that directly contacts the harvestable portion of the crop) used by growers is safe and adequate for its intended use (including agricultural water used for application of crop protection chemicals).Assess and mitigate risks related to land uses near or adjacent to growing fields that may contaminate agricultural water or leafy greens crops directly (e.g., nearby cattle operations or dairy farms, manure, or composting facilities).Verify that food safety procedures, policies, and practices, including supplier controls for fresh-cut processors, are developed and consistently implemented on farms (both domestic and foreign) and in fresh-cut produce manufacturing/processing food facilities to minimize the potential for contamination and/or spread of human pathogens.When a foodborne pathogen is identified in the growing or processing environment, in agricultural inputs (e.g., agricultural water), in raw agricultural commodities or in fresh-cut ready-to-eat produce, a root cause analysis should be performed to determine the likely source of the contamination, if prevention measures have failed, and whether additional measures are needed to prevent a reoccurrence.

Massachusetts raw milk dairy suspends production for antibiotic traces

Food Safety News | Posted on November 15, 2018

Nick Hoffman and family practice Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) at Hoffman Farm in Franklin, MA, offer fresh vegetables, eggs and raw milk to shareholders who pay $615 every week.But earlier this month, Hoffman Farm ran into a snag in its bucolic business plan. Raw milk sold by Hoffman tested positive for traces of antibiotics.The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) does not tolerate any amount of antibiotics in milk, not even a smidgen. The trace amount found in Hoffman’s milk was likely because the farmer treated an infected cow with medication.Hoffman is an experienced farmer. He started in 2003, farming for a decade in New Braintree, MA, where he grew hay and vegetables and milked 40 goats. He sold fresh produce to local restaurants.Today, Hoffman holds a Certificate of Registration from MDAR that permits the farm to sell raw or unpasteurized milk legally. MDAR has not received any reports of anyone becoming ill or experiencing an adverse incident.However, Hoffman Farm has recalled its raw milk for antibiotic contamination and suspended production.

How we fell out of love with milk

The Guardian | Posted on November 14, 2018

Soya, almond, oat... Whether for health issues, animal welfare or the future of the planet, ‘alt-milks’ have never been more popular. Are we approaching dairy’s final days?But the surge in popularity for alt-milks has many different sources. There are those who are concerned about animal welfare or our perilous environmental situation: recent research found that a quarter of us now consider ourselves “meat reducers”. In October, a major study on our food system published in the journal Nature advised that prosperous countries such as Britain and the US should cut their milk consumption by 60% (and beef intake by 90%).

Pets or People, Big Food Faces the Same Supermarket Battle

Wall Street Journal | Posted on November 14, 2018

Food makers betting on pets to make up for falling sales to people are facing some familiar problems. Pet foods with fancier ingredients are eating away at market share for mainstream brands. Snacks for dogs and cats are selling faster than meals. And a flood of new products is putting pressure on prices.

New report details sources of foodborne illnesses

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on November 14, 2018

The most common sources of foodborne pathogens causing illness are widely varied and, for most pathogens, not meat, according to a new report from the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC). The report, titled “Foodborne illness source attribution estimates for 2016 for Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, and Campylobacter using multi-year outbreak surveillance data, United States,” is the result of collaboration among the Centers for Disease Control, the Food & Drug Administration and USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.The authors used outbreak data to produce new estimates for foods responsible for foodborne illnesses caused by four pathogens in 2016. The CDC estimates that, together, these four pathogens cause 1.9 million foodborne illnesses in the United States each year. The 2016 report shows that:Salmonella illnesses came from a wide variety of foods.E. coli O157 illnesses were most often linked to vegetable row crops (such as leafy greens) and beef. Listeria monocytogenes illnesses were most often linked to dairy products and fruits. Dairy and fruits remain the top two categories with the highest estimated attribution percentages, but the difference between the two categories is not statistically signifcant.There was an increase in the estimated attribution of Listeria illnesses to vegetable row crops from 3.4 percent in 2013 to 12.5 percent in 2016 due to the impact of a large multi-state outbreak in 2015 linked to prepackaged lettuce.Campylobacter illnesses were most often linked to chicken after removing dairy outbreaks from the estimates.Most foodborne Campylobacter outbreaks were associated with unpasteurized milk, which is not widely consumed, and those outbreaks likely over-represent dairy as a source of Campylobacter illness.        For 2016, chicken had a significantly higher estimated attribution percentage than the other non-dairy food categories. The adjusted chicken percentage increased from 9.5 percent to 30.3 percent after removing dairy.

Devon farmer receives death threats after offering 'pick your own Christmas turkey' service

itv | Posted on November 12, 2018

Staff at a farm shop in Devon say they have received death threats from a "vegan mafia" group after offering a "pick your own Christmas turkey" service.Vandals spray painted pheasants and the words "Murder" and "Go vegan" at the Greendale Farm Shop in Woodbury Salterton.Farmer Mat Carter told ITV News staff had discovered the vandalism on Tuesday morning and it was "disappointing and disheartening".He added the whole thing was "completely baffling".The farm posted on social media details of its service where people can name their own turkey and "help look after it for the next two months".Mr Carter said: "In hindsight the post could have been better written but the principle is the same - come to Greendale Farm Shop and see where your meat comes from."

Water buffalo meat sparks labeling concerns

Capital Press | Posted on November 8, 2018

The appearance of imported water buffalo meat on U.S. retail shelves has alarmed U.S. bison producers, who worry the product isn’t being inspected or properly labeled. The National Bison Association has requested an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after discovering Australian water buffalo meat sold simply as “wild ground buffalo” through a 200-store grocery chain along the East Coast.In North America, the word “buffalo” commonly conjures up images of native bison roaming the prairies, not foreign livestock, said Dave Carter, the NBA’s executive director.The mislabeling problem is worrisome for the bison industry because there are only about 400,000 native bison in the U.S. and Canada, compared to nearly 100 million water buffalo in India alone, Carter said.

What ballot measures affecting food and grocery passed?

Food Dive | Posted on November 8, 2018

In the midterm elections Tuesday, voters returned mixed results on three ballot measures impacting the food and grocery industry. Oregon voters rejected Measure 103 — which would ban all new grocery taxes — with 57.2% voting against the ban on taxing groceries, according to unofficial results on Wednesday morning​, with more than 1.3 million total votes counted. Washington's Initiative 1634, which would also ban all new grocery taxes, passed with 54.8% of the vote with 1.9 million votes counted, according to unofficial results on Wednesday morning. 

Can fermented dairy shield you against heart disease?

Medical News Today | Posted on November 5, 2018

Many experts have debated the effect of dairy on cardiovascular health. A recent study in Finland has shown that consuming a particular type of dairy, namely fermented dairy, may actually have a protective effect against heart disease. Such products include cheese, kefir, yogurt, quark, and sour milk.The team's findings, which appear in the British Journal of Nutrition, indicate that men who consume fermented dairy have a lower risk of incident CHD than men who prefer non-fermented dairy products.