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Food News

Legalization fuels increase in stoned pets

The Washington Post | Posted on November 1, 2016

As more jurisdictions legalize marijuana, veterinarians across the country say they are seeing a sharp increase in cases of pets accidentally getting high. Tasty “edibles” such as muffins and cookies that people consume for a buzz are also appealing to animals, who can’t read warning labels, and, in the case of dogs, rarely stop at just one pot brownie.

5 food safety challenges for broiler producers

Watt Ag Net | Posted on November 1, 2016

As part of its Healthy People 2020 initiative, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is setting up goals to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter infections. By 2020, it is targeting 11.4 cases per 100,000 people for Salmonella and 8.5 cases per 100,000 people forCampylobacter. According to the most recently available statistics, Campylobacter infections dropped to 14.3 cases per 100,000 people in 2011 from 24.6 cases per 100,000 people in 1997.Salmonella infections increased by 17 percent over the same time period.  The FSIS is shifting its focus, Peterson said, from whole birds to prepackaged parts because of shifting consumer preference. Regulatory agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, FSIS and FDA are all adopting full genome sequencing to track where exactly the bacteria is coming from and possibly pinpoint problem plants and processing locations.

EU grab of common cheese names worries U.S. dairy industry

Capital Press | Posted on November 1, 2016

The European Union’s attempt to “confiscate” common cheese names would cost the U.S. dairy industry billions of dollars if trade negotiators don’t hold the line, according to a new study.  Many cheese names such as Feta, which originated in Greece, are identified with a specific location but have been commonly used to identify that type of cheese, no matter where it is made.  The EU now wants to “confiscate” those generic names for the benefit of its farmers and processors, said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president of trade policy for the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation. “The problem is not with the well-defined (geographic identity),” she said. “The problem is with attempting to extend GI protection to many food names that have on one hand little to no geographic identity or on the other hand have become generic names, in some cases for centuries.”

Canadian court rejects environmental group’s appeal in AquaBounty lawsuit

Undercurrent News | Posted on November 1, 2016

Canada's Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal brought by the group Ecojustice on behalf of the Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society against Canada's Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. AquaBounty was also named in that suit, the firm said in a release. The suit had challenged the government's grant of permission to AquaBounty to allow production of its AquaAdvantage salmon for commercial use at a Prince Edward Island plant.

It might be time to reconsider your decision to buy only organic.

Cosmopolitan | Posted on November 1, 2016

Being the conscientious and considerate person that you are, you’re trying to be an environmentally friendly consumer. You read on the internet that farming is part of the problem, so you shop only for local organic produce at Whole Foods, and as for GMOs? Ain’t nobody got time for that. You donate to PETA and Greenpeace whenever they’re holding up signs outside your local supermarket and you’ve been buying the coffee labeled “environmentally friendly” and “toxin-free” and “not harvested with blood diamonds or dragon labor.” To reduce carbon emissions, you’ve signed a petition to keep a nuclear plant out of the state and to keep clean coal running strong.   You’re doing everything you can to help protect our planet, right?I’ve got some news for you.  It’s a jungle of misinformation out there on the internet. And you’ve probably been following some bad advice while trying to be a good environmentalist. Don’t get me wrong, you’re probably doing a lot of things you’ve read are right, and your heart is in the right place. Let’s navigate some of the ways that you’re not quite the environmentalist you think you are, and some easy ways to fix that.  1. You buy only organic. Those friendly green labels do draw you in, don’t they? You’ve read rumors that they’re healthier or that they’re better for the environment, but held up to the light of science, all the rumors fade away. Organic is definitely not better for you, and it uses older, dirtier farming techniques that are, across the board, not as environmentally friendly. Contrary to rumors, organic farming uses pesticides, in some cases equally toxic pesticides that need to be applied more frequently. Organic also uses more land to produce the same amount of food. 2. You avoid GMOs like the plague that you’re sure they are. If you’ve heard any of the rumors, they’re putting fish genes into the tomatoes. They’re killing the ecosystem. They’re killing the butterflies, the bees, and they might be responsible for your cat and dog not getting along. But despite what you may have heard, GMOs have actually been a gift to the environment.

Britain’s GMO Liberation

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on November 1, 2016

The promise of Britain’s exit from the European Union is to liberate the U.K. from the shackles of damaging EU regulations. So congratulations to Theresa May’s government for scoring its first Brexit victory by getting away from one of Brussels’s worst food obsessions. “As part of the preparations for EU exit,” Agriculture MinisterGeorge Eustice wrote to Parliament last week, “the Government is considering possible future arrangements for the regulation of genetically modified organisms.” He added: “The Government’s general view remains that policy and regulation in this area should be science-based and proportionate.”  This represents a significant shift from when London’s food policy was hostage to GMO-phobia across the EU. To allow GMOs to be regulated like other food products means that they will no longer be a taboo product in Britain.

Myth about hormone use in poultry still spreading

Watt Ag Net | Posted on October 27, 2016

No matter how much those in the poultry industry want it to, the phrase “hormone-free chicken” just doesn’t seem like it will go away.  But the problem is, the myth about hormone use in poultry production is at least partially being perpetuated by the companies that market poultry products.  General Mills, the parent company of soup maker Progresso, is one of those companies guilty of that. In September, General Mills issued a press release stating that it is “now using only 100 percent  antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breasts in all of its 36 chicken soup varieities.”

Fast-food calorie labeling unlikely to encourage healthy eating

Feedstuffs | Posted on October 26, 2016

Researchers from New York University (NYU) have shown why fast-food menu calorie counts do not help consumers make healthy choices in a new study published in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing.  The researchers found that only a small fraction of fast-food eaters — as few as 8% — are likely to make healthy choices as a result of current calorie labeling. The study comes just six months before a federal policy goes into effect requiring calorie labeling nationwide and provides recommendations for improving labeling that could boost the odds of diners making healthy choices.  "Health policies would benefit from greater attention to what is known about effective messaging and behavior change. The success of fast-food menu labeling depends on multiple conditions being met, not just the availability of calorie information," said study author Andrew Breck, a doctoral candidate at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Calorie labeling on fast-food restaurant menus was designed to motivate consumers to change their behavior by providing them with health information. In 2006, New York City became the first city to introduce labeling requirements for fast-food chains, followed shortly thereafter by Philadelphia, Pa., and Seattle, Wash. On May 5, 2017, calorie labeling will go into effect nationwide, as the Food & Drug Administration will require all chain restaurants with at least 20 locations to post calorie information.

Groups challenge federal approval of genetically modified salmon in court | Posted on October 24, 2016

Environmental groups head to court today to challenge a Federal Court ruling which upheld the government's earlier approval of genetically modified salmon.  "This whole approval process has taken place behind doors. There's been no engagement of Canadians on the subject should we genetically modifying animals for food'," argued Karen Wristen, of B.C.'s Living Oceans Society, one of the groups involved in the challenge.  In 2013, Environment Canada approved the production of genetically modified salmon eggs by the biotechnology company AquaBounty in a facility in P.E.I.

GMOs Are 'Safe as Conventional Choices,' says Tufts Study

Ag Pro | Posted on October 24, 2016

Genetically modified foods should be considered “as safe as conventional choices,” according to Timothy Griffin, associate professor at Tufts’ Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program.  Griffin and 20 other scientists reviewed 900 research publications and concluded in their 398-page report that “genetically engineered crops are as safe as conventionally grown crops.” The extensive two-year review found no apparent health risk or environmental impact of growing and consuming genetically modified crops. Most Americans are familiar with the term genetically modified, or GMOs. Many producers now mark their products with a “GMO-free” label. “Claiming that a food is made without GMOs doesn’t mean that particular food is healthy, and I think that’s where some consumers get hung up,” says  Lindsey Stevenson, nutrition and health education specialist for University of Missouri Extension. “I like to compare genetic modification of crops to vaccines for humans. In many cases, altering the genes helps the crops fight off certain diseases and pests. Without GMOs, we wouldn’t be able to produce this volume of food that feeds the world,” says Jill Scheidt, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.