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Food News

Trump team makes controversial change to allow chicken plants to operate at faster speeds

Washington Post | Posted on January 3, 2019

he Trump administration is now allowing more chicken-processing plants to operate at faster speeds, a controversial move that some fear will hurt workers and chicken consumers by lowering safety standards. Plants that receive a waiver from the Trump administration will be able to process up to 175 birds per minute, up from the old limit of 140 birds per minute. The administration recently published new criteria spelling out what it would take to get a waiver.


FDA weighs legalizing interstate sales of cannabis-based CBD in food and drinks

CNBC | Posted on January 3, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration signaled a potential softening of its stance on cannabis-based food and drink sales. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency is looking for “pathways” that would legalize the sale of CBD oil and other cannabis-derived compounds in food, beverages and supplements.

IBM and Walmart suggest a way to achieve timely traceback of contaminated produce from farm to store

Ag Policy | Posted on January 2, 2019

Anyone who walked through the produce section of their local grocery in the week before Thanksgiving could not help but be aware that all romaine lettuce and salad mixes that contained romaine lettuce had been removed from the shelves. The stores took this action in response to a November 20, 2018 warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a multi-state outbreak of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) had been traced to the eating of romaine lettuce. As in most cases of a multi-state food borne illness, it took a period of time between the first reported illness and the identification of the food product responsible for the outbreak. The common link in the illnesses was romaine lettuce. The traceback process is tedious and takes a considerable amount to time to track the contaminated lettuce from the store where it was purchased, to the distribution center that supplied the store, and eventually the farm where it was grown and harvested. A standardized identifier for each lot of produce grown would shorten the traceback time considerably and could prevent additional illnesses.IBM Food Trust has developed a computerizes system to track the many links in the chain of transactions from farm to fork. Their system “uses blockchain technology to create unprecedented visibility and accountability in the food supply chain. It is the only network of its kind, connecting growers, processors, distributors, and retailers through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food system data”

Lean finely textured beef reclassified as ‘ground beef’

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on January 2, 2019

he ultra-lean beef product made primarily by Beef Products Inc., which has been called out on labels on a voluntary basis since 2012 as “lean finely textured beef,” has been reclassified by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service as simply “ground beef.” “We're not producing LFTB anymore. We're producing ground beef from this point on,” said Craig Letch, BPI’s vice president of sales and marketing, in an interview with Meatingplace about the agency’s move. “Even our traditional customer base, whom we've been supplying lean meat to, they now will be receiving ground beef from us rather than ‘LFTB’.” The decision comes at the end of a six- to nine-month review by FSIS across multiple departments, said Letch and Nick Roth, BPI’s vice president of engineering. The process included a consumer panel comparing samples of BPI’s lean beef product alone to commercially available ground beef purchased at retail.

Burgers Must Be Meat, Ranchers Say

Pew Trust | Posted on December 24, 2018

Food labels such as “veggie burgers” and “Tofurky” prompted a new Missouri law making it illegal to stick meat-like names on products that aren’t made from meat — pitting cattlemen against vegetarians in a food fight poised to spread across the country. The battle is heating up as new foods flood the market, from vegetarian items that emulate animal proteins to soon-to-come lab-produced meat that never saw the inside of a barn and makes ranchers fear for their livelihoods.Even though the Missouri law is being challenged in court, a handful of other cattle-raising states, including Iowa and Montana, see it as a precedent they may want to follow. And there is precedent for state food-labeling laws leading the way for U.S. regulations. A Vermont law requiring labeling of genetically modified foods took effect in 2016, and several other states followed suit. But Congress overrode Vermont’s requirements by passing a nationwide GMO labeling law, which critics argue is weaker than the state law.

Oat Milk Prices Are Surging Due to a Nationwide Shortage

Cooking Light | Posted on December 20, 2018

Out of all the alternative milks on the market, oat milk may be the hardest to find right now—and if you do find it, be ready to cough up some serious cash. The United States is currently experiencing a national oat milk shortage, according to a new Eater report, and Amazon sellers are taking advantage of the current imbalance in supply and demand. Cases of Oatlyoat milk are currently selling for upwards of $200 per case, (which adds up to about $16.50 for a 32-ounce carton) compared to its usual price of $4.99.

Premium A2 Guernsey milk brand building

Edairy News | Posted on December 20, 2018

The brainchild of Cleveland-based Adrian Bota, the Origin brand​ ​– launched in early 2016 – sources 100% certified a2 milk from Guernsey cows that produce milk containing only the a2 beta casein protein. But Origin does not make any hard claims about a2 milk on pack, and instead focuses on the fact that its Guernsey milk is locally sourced, tastes incredible, and has a distinct nutritional profile, Bota told FoodNavigator-USA.“It’s the best taste, the best nutrition, with more fat​ [c.5% milk fat], protein​ [c.12% more], calcium​ [c.15% more], and vitamins A and D than regular milk, and it’s rich and creamy. Oh, and if you have digestive discomfort when you drink regular milk you might want to try it for that reason, but we have a lot more going for us that just that.”​ It’s still early days, but the plan is to build a network of farms and milk processors around the country to supply and process 100% certified a2 milk from Guernsey cows into Origin branded dairy products, which are already gaining a loyal following in Ohio, and are now expanding into other markets including New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. in chains including MOM’s Organic Market and The West Side Market, as well as high-end coffee shops and some schools.Asked about the branding, he said: “We want to connect with the consumer in a kind of vintage way with a modern twist. Our #1 consumers are 30-something, 40-something Moms who have grown up with the local, natural and organic food movement and care about high quality local food for themselves and their families.​“But our #2 consumers are people over 50 or 60 that remember what milk used to taste like. When we demo this product in stores, people say I just love this milk and it takes me back.”​

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.