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Food News

Alaska Eyes New Crops for Added Food Security

News Deeply | Posted on November 10, 2016

With the right investments in research and infrastructure, farming could become more profitable in Alaska and less of an alien concept, says Milan Shipka, the director of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Root crops and tubers do well in Alaska, but grasses and grains, leafy greens and flowers can also succeed.  There are more than 750 farms in Alaska, including some that produce more than $500,000 annually. But, like elsewhere in the U.S., the average age of a farmer in Alaska is tipping toward 60. “If we’re going to talk about all the things that we can grow in the Arctic, then we have to talk about who is going to grow these things. We have to create enterprises that can support them economically,” says Shipka.

So, What’s Algae Flour? And Why Is It Making People Sick?

Cooking Light | Posted on November 10, 2016

In October, consumers began reporting cases of gastrointestinal distress, including symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, after eating Soylent Bars and a specific version of the company's powder. Soylent recalled the bars, stopped selling the latest powder mix, and investigated.  After looking into the formula issues, the company believes that all those who experienced GI distress ate a product containing algal flour, Rob Rhinehart, the co-founder of Soylent, told Bloomberg Technology. Soylent uses AlgaVia, a whole algae powder manufactured by a company called TerraVia. You can find the ingredient on Soylent's nutrition facts label as "whole algal flour." TerraVia describes the Protein-Rich Whole Algae powder's composition as 63% protein, 19% carbohydrates, 11% lipid, 4% ash, and 3% moisture. It is currently unclear why the flour made customers sick, while people who ate products with algal oil did not become ill. The algal flour product received an initial "no questions" letter from the U.S. Food and Drug


GMA vows to fight $18M campaign finance fine

Agri-Pulse | Posted on November 10, 2016

The Grocery Manufacturers Association says it will “vigorously pursue its legal options” to overturn $18 million in fines levied by a Washington state court judge for campaign violations associated with the group's opposition to a GMO labeling referendum in 2013.

Massachusetts outlaws confinement at egg, pig farms

Watt Ag Net | Posted on November 10, 2016

Massachusetts voters handily approved Question 3, a measure that would outlaw the use of cages in egg production and gestation crates in pig production. About 78 percent of the voters approved of the measure.  The law is to take effect in 2022.  The measure will not have a large impact on Massachusetts agriculture, as only one commercial egg producer uses cages. There are no pig producers in the state that use gestation crates.  The larger impact of the rule for state residents would be that Massachusetts businesses would be prohibited from selling products from animals raised under those confinement conditions.

A McDonald's moment for the broiler chicken industry?

Politico | Posted on November 9, 2016

In August, the Humane Society of the United States put the poultry industry on notice: With the cage-free egg war all but won, the group would train its fire on broiler chicken producers. “As we look to the future, our focus is likely to shift toward broiler welfare issues,” Josh Balk, the senior food policy director, wrote in a letter to CEOs of major poultry companies, extending an offer to talk privately.  If anyone doubted the Humane Society’s resolve, they got their answer Thursday, when two of the biggest food vendors in the country, Compass Group USA and Aramark, announced they would source only humanely raised chickens by 2024. The companies, which cater to cafeterias across the country, said they would begin buying chicken raised with more space, perches, hay and natural light — embracing the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-step program for animal welfare. The companies also said they would switch to controlled-atmosphere stunning, a process that renders birds unconscious before slaughter.

USDA takes on animal-raising claims

Meat + Poultry | Posted on November 8, 2016

The US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on Sept. 30 issued an updated compliance guideline on documentation required to support animal-raising claims that must be submitted before the claims may be used on product labels. Examples of such claims include “raised without antibiotics,” “organic,” “grass-fed,” “free-range,” and “raised without the use of hormones,” among others currently in use or that may be used in the future.  The FSIS previously issued a compliance guideline on animal-raising claims in 2002. The agency said changes from the earlier guideline contained in the new version include definitions for frequently used animal-raising claims, the detailed supporting documentation required for each specific claim that appears on the label, additional information regarding the claim “grass-fed,” information required for duplicating animal-raising claims from purchased products, and examples of labels bearing claims.

Aramark, Compass Group Announce Deals with Animal Rights Activists

Washington Report | Posted on November 8, 2016

Food service companies Aramark and Compass Group USA, in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States and Compassion in World Farming, yesterday announced separate sourcing plans for their future supplies of broiler chicken. Aramark is asking its suppliers to take the following actions by 2024, or sooner if possible: Transitioning to strains of birds that measurably improve welfare issues associated with fast growth rates per Global Animal Partnership’s (GAP) standards; Reducing maximum stocking density to equal to/less than 6 lbs./sq. ft. per GAP standards; Providing chickens with enriched environments including natural light, hay bales and perches that meet GAP standards; Evaluating with animal welfare organizations over the next year issues related to litter quality, lighting, air quality, and other environmental conditions; and Rendering chickens unconscious prior to shackling using Controlled or Low Atmosphere Stunning. Compass is agreeing to ensure certification under GAP’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program for all broiler chickens as a buying requirement across 100 percent of their business by 2024.

Survey finds U.S., Brazilian consumers more likely to buy antibiotic-free beef

Feedstuffs | Posted on November 8, 2016

Newly released survey results comparing consumer attitudes in the two largest beef-producing countries – the U.S. and Brazil – have revealed several important trends in purchasing preferences that are influenced by how beef animals are raised and fed.  Cargill's "Feed for Thought" survey of more than 2,000 people in the U.S. and Brazil found that the majority of U.S. consumers (54%) and Brazilian consumers (69%) are more likely to purchase beef raised without antibiotics. Still, only 35% of people in both countries are willing to pay more for it.  "I expect that as American Millennials age, we will need to work toward continuously heightening our efforts in the area of transparency while always working to address consumer food trends with a nutritious and affordable food supply," said Randy Krotz, chief executive officer of the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance. "Animal feed companies and farmers must continue to find alternatives to meet consumer demand and should be prepared to serve a customer base that scrutinizes where their food comes from and how it's made."

Kids control household food purchase choices

Feedstuffs | Posted on November 8, 2016

The parents might bring home the bacon, but it’s probably the kids who pick the brand. Children have a disproportionate sway over household grocery purchases and decisions — and food marketers know it.

In the report “Kids Food & Beverage Market in the U.S., Eighth Edition,” survey data from market research publisher Packaged Facts revealed that more than a quarter of parents (26%) learn about a new product as a request from their child. Kids ages six and up, in particular, wield a considerable amount of purchasing power, but in reality, brand loyalty is nurtured in children even younger than that.  “Children under age six are just as important to marketers as older children are because life-long dietary habits are established during this time period and brand loyalty begins,” said David Sprinkle, research director at Packaged Facts. “This suggests industry players should focus on product development designed to capture younger kids and gain allegiance from parents earlier to keep them involved with the brand throughout childhood.”  Ultimately, the items that end up in parents’ shopping carts stem from an assortment of factors. Chief among them are: What brands or products are recognizable to the children; 2. What parents deem healthiest and most nutritious for their children; 3. Which foods kids themselves enjoy eating, and 4. What’s recommended by parents’ peers either directly or through social media or online reviews.

Consumers want more access to food info

Feedstuffs | Posted on November 8, 2016

More of today's consumers crave information about food and how it's produced, but the latest consumer trust research from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) found that most want even more. Only 28% strongly agree with the following statement: “I have access to all the information I want about where my food comes from, how it's produced and its safety.” Charlie Arnot, chief executive officer of CFI, said, “Having posed this question for eight straight years, we see that food system efforts are paying off as the long-term trend shows more consumers agreeing, but the overall number must rise if the goal is to earn consumer trust. The industry still has work to do.” “Consumers have a right to know what is in their food and where it comes from,” said Deb Arcoleo, director of product transparency at The Hershey Co.