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Food News

Cattle industry fighting to bar "meat" and "beef" from plant-based protein packaging

CBS | Posted on March 16, 2018

The nation's largest cattle industry lobby group is fighting to defend the traditional meaning of the word "meat." The U.S. Cattlemen's Association filed a petition last month with the Department of Agriculture arguing that "lab-grown and plant-based products should not use the terms 'meat' or 'beef'" on their labels. Kelly Fogarty, whose family has raised Black Angus cattle for five generations, represents hundreds of ranchers as the executive vice president of the U.S. Cattlemen's Association. For them, defining meat is easy. "We don't want them to think of a laboratory. We don't want them to think of something that's created under a microscope," Fogarty told CBS News' Jamie Yuccas.The association is concerned about the increase of animal-free products that have names like beef-less ground beef. The Cattlemen's federal petition argues "the labels of 'beef' or 'meat' should inform consumers that the product is derived naturally from animals as opposed to alternative proteins such as plants…artificially grown in a laboratory."But Ethan Brown, the CEO of Beyond Meat says it's time to rethink that definition. This isn't the first fight over food labeling. Dairy farmers have, so far, been unsuccessful in their battle to make the word "milk" exclusive to products from cows. In some stores, these animal-free alternatives are currently sold alongside their competitors. 


Most of America’s fruit is now imported.

The New York Times | Posted on March 14, 2018

It’s obvious to anyone who visits an American supermarket in winter — past displays brimming with Chilean grapes, Mexican berries and Vietnamese dragon fruit — that foreign farms supply much of our produce. Imports have increased steadily for decades, but the extent of the change may be surprising: More than half of the fresh fruit and almost a third of the fresh vegetables Americans buy now come from other countries.Although local, seasonal and farm-to-table are watchwords for many consumers, globalization has triumphed in the produce aisle.The surge in imports, mostly from Latin America and Canada, flows from many other changes during the last 40 years, starting with improvements in roads, containerized shipping and storage technology. Horticulturists developed varieties and growing practices adapted to warmer climates — enabling, say, blueberries and blackberries to be grown in central Mexico.Growth in American incomes spurred greater demand for fresh produce year-round. Immigrants brought tastes for the foods of their homelands, and in some cases (like avocados and mangoes) these tastes have became mainstream. Foreign growers took advantage of lower labor costs. International trade agreements reduced tariffs and other obstacles to imports, while many American farmers, facing regulatory hurdles at home, have responded by shifting production abroad, mainly to Mexico. One crucial part of the story is little known: Over the past two decades, the United States Department of Agriculture has issued roughly 100 new rules allowing specific crops to be imported from certain countries — like peppers from Peru. Crops that previously would have not been approved because they might introduce invasive pests and diseases were allowed in through new “systems approaches” that manage those risks by combining methods like orchard inspections, sprays and bagging of fruits.


AtlantaFresh closes its doors after Whole Foods terminates 7-year contract, 14 months in: 'we were naive.."

Food Navigator | Posted on March 13, 2018

Georgia-based grass-fed dairy brand AtlantaFresh hasclosed its doors after nine years in business following the abrupt termination of a contract withWhole Foods that accounted for the vast majority of its revenues.


Silicon Valley wants to give us eggs without chickens, and meat without animals. Do we want that?

The New Food Economy | Posted on March 8, 2018

Just is at the forefront of an industry-wide arms race to reinvent the future of protein as we know it—a push toward products we’ll readily accept as meat, but that don’t require animals to be sacrificed on the altar of our hunger. These “alternative” proteins are about to hit the American market in two varieties, both of which manage to sidestep the messier realities of the farm and slaughterhouse. First, there are “plant-based” proteins, vegetable-derived simulacra that convincingly mimic the taste and texture of animal flesh. Just’s eggless scramble is one example, though the best-known example may be the Impossible Burger, an eerily meat-like plant burger that oozes with soy-derived “blood” to approximate the texture of medium-rare ground beef. Though that product is still in limited release, Beyond Meat, Impossible’s primary competitor, has started selling its futuristic “plant-based meat products”—an oxymoron if ever there was one—in stores across the country. Companies like these hope their next-generation meat substitutes will see the same success in the meat case that soy and almond milks—even oat, pea, and algae milks—have already seen in the dairy aisle. “Clean meat,” on the other hand, is real, biological meat. But rather than harvest it from the bodies of living animals, clean meat companies grow it from cultured cells inside a lab. Memphis Meats, a food technology startup that promises “meat without slaughter,” has received backing from Tyson, Bill Gates, and Richard Branson. These products aren’t commercially available yet, but they’re close on the horizon if corporate promises can be believed: Memphis Meats says its first cultured beef product will be available in supermarkets by 2021, and Just has pledged to sell its “clean” chicken by the end of 2018. Call it the alt-protein revolution. It’s coming, and faster than you might think.


McDonald's: We will "Go Big" on fresh beef marketing

Ad Age | Posted on March 8, 2018

After years of preparation, McDonald's is ready to serve fresh, cooked-to-order beef in many of its burgers, backed by what promises to be a lot of marketing. It's the latest signal the world's largest restaurant chain is responding to what customers want. The Golden Arches is gearing up for the national debut of fresh (as opposed to frozen) quarter-pound beef patties, which comes one year after McDonald's announced its "hot off the grill" plans and four years since the world's largest restaurant began working on it. Fresh quarter-pound patties are now in about 3,500 U.S. restaurants and most of the rest of the Golden Arches' 14,000 U.S. locations should have them by early May.


Possible food stamp replacement worries grocers nationwide

WTOL | Posted on March 7, 2018

A federal proposal to replace food stamps with what is called "America's Harvest Boxes" is worrying some small grocers in towns across the nation. President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2019 budget includes a proposed change to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, most often referred to as food stamps. The program would trade food stamps for boxes of food."On reading about this federal proposal it does concern us in that we are a meal program that does accept food stamps from clients," Carolyn Fox with Mobile Meals of Toledo said. "A lot of them pay with their food stamps and that's all of their food stamps so hopefully they could still use those totally to support their meal program, because these people aren't people that could go out and like I said get food."Many small grocers say exchanging food stamps for "America's Harvest Boxes" could hurt not only their bottom line, but also shoppers' nutrition.


Food stamp benefits are already too low in 99 percent of U.S. counties

The Washington Post | Posted on March 1, 2018

Researchers found that in 99 percent of counties those meals regularly cost more than even the maximum benefit disbursed by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In Manhattan, for instance — home to nearly a quarter-million food-stamp recipients — SNAP allows $1.86 per meal, while the average meal costs $3.96. The reports add to a growing body of evidence that SNAP benefits may already be too small to fully prevent hunger and related health risks. In light of the Trump administration’s calls to reduce spending in the program, advocates are pointing to studies like this to argue that the program cannot take further reductions.


Amid rise in craft brewing, legislators mull changes to laws on self-distribution, barrel caps

CSG Midwest | Posted on March 1, 2018

With the popularity of craft beer on the rise, state legislators across the nation have been re-examining their laws to allow for greater growth in the industry, from statutory changes that help increase production to the removal of restrictions on self-distribution. That trend has continued in 2018, with South Dakota and Kansas among the states exploring proposals to assist craft brewers.


Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging Dannon’s “Natural” Label

Texas Agriculture Law Blog | Posted on March 1, 2018

The Court found the Plaintiff’s claims to be conclusory–based on her feelings that GMO products were not natural.  Further, she offered no evidence of the feed actually fed to cows whose milk was used to make Dannon yogurt; instead, she based her case on her own speculation that because most of the milk in the United States is from cows given feed with GMO ingredients, the milk used by Dannon to make the yogurt she purchased was from cows fed GMO corn.  Further, she offered no evidence that she was unaware that the products were not wholly produced by milk from cows fed no GMOs.  On the contrary, statements by Dannon that they were “working with feed suppliers and farmer partners to start planting non-GMO feed…”, along with a host of surveys on this topic offered as evidence by the Plaintiff indicated she did have information that Dannon’s products were like from cows fed GMO feed. As the Court explained, “Plaintiff does not allege that any ingredient used in the products is unnatural; her claim is that, several steps back in the food chain, there may have been something unnatural ingested by a cow….There is no legal support for the idea that a cow that eats GMO feed or is subjected to hormones or various animal husbandry practices produces ‘unnatural’ products.”


'Cows lives matter' protest in meat section gets protesters kicked out of Madison grocery store

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on March 1, 2018

Protesters chanting "cows lives matter" in front of steaks, roasts and ground chuck were kicked out of an East Side supermarket Saturday, the same store they protested in last Thanksgiving over turkeys.The protesters, one playing a guitar, loudly chanted "murder" and "cows lives matter" while filling the aisle in front of the meat display."The store manager said the protest prevented customers from making purchases, so she told the animal rights activists she was calling police," said police spokesman Joel DeSpain.The protesters left the store and went across the street, where police talked to them.


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