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Unlikely adversaries: PETA and Impossible Foods

Watt Ag Net | Posted on September 6, 2018

One wouldn’t think that an animal rights group like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) would have a beef with a company that makes plant-based protein products, but that is what has happened. PETA, on its website, posted a blog titled “Why It’s Impossible for PETA to Get Behind the Impossible Burger.” That blog, as the headline implies, explains exactly why PETA is against Impossible Foods.While Impossible Foods, the maker of the Impossible Burger, proudly proclaims on its website “We found a way to make meat using plants, so that we never have to use animals again,” PETA found that at least one species of animals was used. The animals weren’t used as an ingredient for the food, but they were used to assure the product was safe for human consumption.In other words, laboratory rats were used to test the Impossible Burger.It’s a move PETA alleges was done in disregard of PETA’s advice and that there was “no need to hurt and kill animals to test its burger.”

Got Milk? Or Was That Really a Plant Beverage?

The New York Times | Posted on September 6, 2018

 No one can even agree on milk anymore. What is it? Where does it come from? Must it be lactated?This seemingly existential debate is now pitting the dairy industry against the makers of what are known as “alternative milks” and neighborhood baristas. It was set off most recently by the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, when he made a surprising remark in July at a panel discussion in Washington. “An almond,” he said casually at the end of the event, “doesn’t lactate.”With his comment, Dr. Gottlieb plunged into the tensions over alternative milks — the plant-based beverages made from macadamias, almonds, quinoa, peas, rice, coconut, oats, soy, walnuts or cashews. A growing number of Americans are embracing these milks, made through maceration and sometimes fermentation, at their neighborhood coffee shops and at home.

Now ‘meat,’ apparently, doesn’t have to be meat

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on September 6, 2018

Impossible Foods CEO Pat Brown is saying in interviews that, essentially, meat isn’t “meat” — that it doesn’t have to be derived from animals or any part of an animal. For example, a “lightly edited” version of an interview with a reporter from the Associated Press has been published in newspapers around the country. One exchange said:Q: You refer to the Impossible Burger as "meat" on your website.A: It is meat.Q: What's your response to the argument that ‘meat’ should come from cows?A: If you ask a hundred meat eaters, ‘Is the fact that your meat is made from the corpse of an animal part of what you value about it?’ Approximately zero of them will say yes. They love meat because of its flavor, its nutritional value, its convenience, its affordability — in spite of the fact that it's made from the corpse of an animal.Similarly, in an interview captured for a blog posted on the website of the Good Food Institute, Brown explained the importance of having the support of high-end chefs when the Impossible Burger first was rolled out for foodservice:“We started with top chefs who are uncompromising meat lovers … — chefs revered by meat lovers, whose reputations and livelihoods depend on serving uncompromisingly delicious meat to their customers — [who] were eager to put the Impossible Burger on their menus. Their support delivered the most important message we needed to send to our target customers: the Impossible Burger is meat, and it’s delicious meat.”Impossible Foods’ website promotes its products saying, “Love meat? Eat meat. Impossible meat delivers all the flavor, aroma and beefiness of meat from cows. But here’s the kicker: It’s just plants doing the Impossible.” Brown’s Impossible Burger is a combination of wheat protein and 

FDA expands Third-Party Certification program

Daily Intake Blog | Posted on September 6, 2018

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) established the Accredited Third-Party Certification Program, which is a voluntary program that allows “accreditation bodies” to apply for recognition by FDA. Recognized accreditation bodies have the authority to accredit third-party “certification bodies,” otherwise known as third-party auditors. In turn, the certification bodies (1) conduct consultative and/or regulatory food safety audits and (2) issue certifications to eligible entities that produce food for humans and animals. As previously mentioned on this blog, FDA has recognized four accreditation bodies, ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), and the International Accreditation Services, Inc. (IAS) to assess and accredit certification bodies.Today, FDA notified stakeholders of the recently expanded scope of ANAB’s recognition under the voluntary Accredited Third Party Certification Program. 

Tofurky sues to stop Missouri law over meat terminology

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on August 30, 2018

Vegetarian food-maker Tofurky filed a lawsuit in Missouri on Monday seeking to defend its right to describe its products with meat terminology such as "sausage" and "hot dogs," as long as the packaging makes clear what the ingredients are. The Hood River, Oregon-based company and The Good Food Institute, an advocacy and lobbying group for meat alternatives, say a Missouri law set to take effect Tuesday that bars companies from "misrepresenting" products as meat if they're not from "harvested livestock or poultry" is too vague and could be used to go after a range of vegetarian products that use such terminology. Tofurky says if the law is allowed to stand, it would have to change its packaging.The Missouri Cattlemen's Association, which supported the statute, said its concern isn't with products like Tofurky that make clear they're from plants. Mike Deering, the group's executive vice president, said the worry is the emerging science of meat grown by culturing animal cells in a lab, and whether they'll disclose how they were made once they're on the market.

USDA official: ‘Shame on Consumer Reports’

Meat + Poultry | Posted on August 30, 2018

An Aug. 29 statement from US Dept. of Agriculture Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Carmen Rottenberg discredits Consumer Reports (CR) for recently publishing a story claiming that meat and poultry sold at retail outlets contain drug residues that are harmful to humans. The story claims that drugs prohibited in meat and poultry products, including a “hallucinogenic party drug,” a risky anti-inflammatory, an anemia-linked antibiotic and other banned and restricted drugs, may show up in US meat and poultry products more often than previously known. The CR story said its findings, based on information from the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), “raise serious concerns about the safeguards put in place to protect the US meat supply.” The report goes on to state that the findings, which Rottenberg claims were based on information mistakenly released on March 3, 2018, and that included unconfirmed, preliminary test results from poultry samples, call into question the validity of the federal government’s testing, investigating and enforcement of food safety violations.

General Mills To Remove 'Natural' Label From Granola Bars After Glyphosate Lawsuit

Forbes | Posted on August 30, 2018

General Mills will remove 'Made with 100% Natural Whole Grain Oats' from its Nature Valley granola bar labels, part of a settlement in a lawsuit over glyphosate in cereals and other products. A recent EWG report revealed the presence of glyphosate in Cheerios and Quaker Oats in levels above what EWG considers "an adequate margin of safety" for children, according to the report. The report, which covered 45 different products, also revealed the chemical in some samples of granola bars, snack bars and other cereals. Five of 16 samples of products made with organic oats contained trace levels of the chemical, blamed on residue left in the soil or cross-contamination in production facilities. The suit was filed by Beyond Pesticides, Moms Across America and the Organic Consumers Association.But the glyphosate levels in the organic products are considered safe for consumption, according to EWG's standards. Note that EWG's safety threshold for glyphosate in grains and cereals, measured in parts per billion, is lower than the EPA's; 160 ppb and 30,000 ppb, respectively. The Cheerios tested by EWG had 470 to 530 ppb of glyphosate.The word "natural" doesn't have a set meaning for food labels. This loophole can allow for deceiving marketing tactics that confuse consumers into buying unhealthy — and what some deem unsafe — products. 

Federal Policy, Administration, and Local Food Coming of Age

Choices magazine | Posted on August 29, 2018

Between the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills, local food sales grew a purported 27%, to an estimated $6.1 billion. The majority of these sales were attributed to intermediated marketing channels (e.g., sales to restaurants, institutions, retailers). Accordingly, the 2014 Farm Bill continued to support and expand LRFS policy and programming, with a noted increase in funding to support the development and expansion of intermediated markets. This Farm Bill included new programs, such as Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (SNAP Incentives), and increased mandatory funding for such programs as the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, 2014). Although permanent funding increased for LRFS programs in aggregate, some programs, such as provisions for Farm to School, did not receive the support advocates had wanted.All indications are that demand for LRFS will continue to increase. Indeed, industry analysts have estimated that local food sales will increase to $20 billion in 2019, outpacing the growth of total food and beverage sales. Therefore, regardless of where LRFS comes out during this Farm Bill debate, public choice theory suggests that we can expect policy makers to continue to respond to their constituents and LRFS stakeholder advocacy groups by pushing legislation that reduces market barriers and expands access for both farmers and consumers, building on past policy development.

A Local Food System Glossary: A Rose by Any Other Name

Choices magazine | Posted on August 29, 2018

“Local food”—much like “value-added agriculture”—is an umbrella term for an array of niche food distribution strategies in the agribusiness context, each with a set of characteristics that holds value for a segment of consumers and producers. Unlike “certified organic,” the USDA has not arrived at a uniform set of standards for local foods but rather embraces a rather broad definition—food produced within 400 miles or within a state’s borders (Martinez et al., 20010. It could be argued that one common characteristic of all local food definitions is a short supply chain with few (or no) intermediaries and some sense of proximity between the producer and the end consumer. “Local”—and who defines “local”—has become a heated debate, both politically and within agribusinesses, and has been a common theme in recent food/agribusiness articles and publications.Ultimately, research has shown that the definition of local is subject to the locavores themselves, those consumers who highly value purchasing and consuming local foods. These consumers have spurred many restaurants to market their products as locally sourced in order to attract who want to consume locally grown foods. Lusk and Norwood (2011) go so far as to say that “locavores seek to export goods without importing.”

Can egg producers win the food safety race?

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 22, 2018

Egg producers need to remember that regulatory compliance is just the first step for a food safety program that pursues continuous improvement. Walmart executive says chicken producers are in a race between their companies’ ability to prevent foodborne illnesses and society’s ability to detect them. Big data tools are making it easier to detect consumer trends. Data from credit/debit card purchases and shopper loyalty programs provide a more accurate history of what consumers really purchased and where they were purchased. Information on social media posts and online search behavior is used to identify areas where foodborne illnesses may be trending up, and this can allow for pockets of illnesses in different states to be linked. All this means that foodborne illness outbreaks will be easier to detect and tie together.