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How might Trump’s food box plan affect health? Native Americans know all too well

NPR | Posted on February 27, 2018

The Trump administration unleashed a flood of outrage earlier this month after unveiling a proposal to overhaul the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps. The plan would replace half the benefits people receive with boxed, nonperishable — i.e. not fresh — foods chosen by the government and not by the people eating them. Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have historically received, with devastating implications for health.  Since 1977, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has bought nonperishable foods to distribute on Indian reservations and nearby rural areas as part of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. The program was designed as an alternative to SNAP for low-income Native Americans living in remote areas without easy access to grocery stores. The food boxes delivered were filled with canned, shelf-stable foods like peanut butter, meats and vegetables, powdered eggs and milk.  "If you talk to people like me who grew up solely on this stuff, you hear stories of 'I never even tasted a pineapple or real spinach' — you didn't taste these foods until you were older," says Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. Both of her parents worked full time, but "it just wasn't enough to support a family," she says. They relied on government provisions for meals. Breakfast was often a grain like farina served with powdered milk with water. "A lot of times we had mashed potato flakes — you add water, too — and maybe canned peaches, and if you had any vegetables, it was canned. And that was pretty much it."  The effects of this kind of government commodities-based diet can be seen all around Indian country, says Jernigan, now a University of Oklahoma researcher who studies the impacts of food environments on Native American health. "There's even a name for it — it's called 'commod bod.' That's what we call it because it makes you look a certain way when you eat these foods."


Illinois Governor Drinks Glass of Chocolate Milk to Prove Commitment to Diversity

The Cut | Posted on February 26, 2018

Today in unfortunate food analogies, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner took a big gulp of chocolate milk to demonstrate his commitment to workplace diversity during a Black History Month celebration. Standing on stage alongside Hyatt Hotels executive Tyronne Stoudemire, Rauner was eager to mix the Hershey’s chocolate syrup — an apparent metaphor for marginalized communities — into the glass of milk in his hand.“This chocolate syrup represents diversity: women; people of color; people with disabilities; the aging population; and generation X, Y, and Z,” Stoudemire said before squeezing a big glug of syrup into Rauner’s milk. As soon as the chocolate settled on the bottom of the glass, Stoudemire noted: “Diversity sits at the bottom of the organization.”


No antibiotics ever not good for poultry welfare standards

Watt Ag Net | Posted on February 22, 2018

Having a no-antibiotics-ever requirement in a program that is supposed to promote better bird welfare puts a marketing claim above bird welfare.  One of the core standards for all Global Animal Partnership (GAP) animal agriculture welfare programs is that no antibiotics, animal byproducts in the feed or added hormones can ever be used. This means that if birds get sick and have to be treated with antibiotics, then they are no longer part of the GAP Program. Meat from broilers or the eggs from layers that have been treated have to be marketed elsewhere. This could put an egg producer in quite a difficult spot if their flock is treated early in the laying cycle.


Raw feeding trends continue to rack up risks for dogs

Veterinary Practice News | Posted on February 22, 2018

In a new study, researchers at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital found that consuming raw chicken meat increases a dog’s risk of developing acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times. The cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time, said Matthias le Chevoir, DVM, DECVN, chief investigator on the project.“It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak,” he said. “It can then progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face. Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralyzed. Most dogs eventually recover without treatment but it may take up to six months or more in some cases.“In our clinic alone we see around 30 cases per year and around three in ten cases would not recover,” Dr. le Chevoir continued. “Watching your pet suffer is obviously very distressing and it can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet if the condition can gradually improve.”Paralysis results from the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.APN is the canine version of Guillain-Barré s


FDA to investigate after ABC7 exposes euthanasia drug in dog food

WJLA | Posted on February 22, 2018

We tested 62 samples of wet dog food, across more than two-dozen brands for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.After months of tests and re-tests, one brand repeatedly came back positive for pentobarbital.In total, we tested 15 cans of Gravy Train. Nine cans — 60-percent of the sample — were positive for pentobarbital. And while the levels detected were not lethal, under federal law they are also not permitted at any concentration.Gravy Train is made by Big Heart Pet Foods and owned by Smucker’s. According to Neilsen data, it accounts for more than $40 million of the company’s annual revenue.Big Heart Brands is also the maker of Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Kibbles’n Bits, 9 Lives, Natural Balance, Pup-Peroni, Gravy Train, Nature’s Recipe, Canine Carry Outs, Milo’s Kitchen, Alley Cat, Jerky Treats, Meaty Bone, Pounce and Snausages.


When it comes to making it into your 90s, booze actually beats exercise, according to a long-term study.

Chicago Tribune | Posted on February 22, 2018

The research, led by University of California neurologist Claudia Kawas, tracked 1,700 nonagenarians enrolled in the 90+ Study that began in 2003 to explore impacts of daily habits on longevity. Researchers discovered that subjects who drank about two glasses of beer or wine a day were 18 percent less likely to experience a premature death, the Independent reports.Meanwhile, participants who exercised 15 to 45 minutes a day, cut the same risk by 11 percent.“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas stated over the weekend at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Austin, Texas.Other factors were found to boost longevity, including weight. Participants who were slightly overweight — but not obese — cut their odds of an early death by 3 percent.“It’s not bad to be skinny when you’re young but it’s very bad to be skinny when you’re old,” Kawas noted in her address.Subjects who kept busy with a daily hobby two hours a day were 21 percent less likely to die early, while those who drank two cups of coffee a day cut that risk by 10 percent.Further study is needed to determine how habits impact longevity beyond people’s genetic makeups.


Trump's Harvest Box could leave farmers with empty plates

Des Moines Register | Posted on February 20, 2018

So why is it such a horrible idea to replace part of the SNAP federal food assistance program, formerly called food stamps, with a box of American-grown food? First of all, the Trump administration’s proposed “Harvest Box” is nothing like Blue Apron, or Hello Fresh, or one of the other meal-subscription services on the market.  Most commercial boxes provide some consumer choice.  If I don’t eat meat or loathe kale, I can choose meals that don’t include them.The Trump administration’s idea sounds more like Hello Fallout Shelter, with its description of “shelf-stable” milk, off-brand peanut butter and canned fruits and vegetables. There was no mention of any choices for recipients except for “take it or leave it.”Imagine the kids’ excitement when the “Harvest Box” shows up with the week’s allotment of whole-wheat pasta and canned beets. It sounds like a recipe for food waste, which not only squanders money but also poses a serious threat to the environment.  In the United States, food waste equals 30 to 40 percent of the food supply, according to USDA. In 2010, food waste totaled about $161 billion worth of food.Money that should be spent on food would be spent on packing and shipping these boxes of disappointment.  The Trump administration didn’t go into detail on how the boxes would be distributed, but convenience is unlikely to be part of the package. In the Iowa Senate, a bill filed by Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, would try to persuade the federal government to prohibit the purchase of soda and other carbonated beverages with SNAP.Only people with their own money should have the luxury of poor nutrition, right? Low-income people should eat grainy peanut butter and canned sauerkraut and like it! But that sort of petty vindictiveness toward children, disabled people and the working poor (the majority of SNAP recipients) shouldn’t take the place of common sense. Besides, conservatives are supposed to want government to get out of the way of personal choices.


USCA petitions USDA to label alternative ‘beef’ products

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on February 20, 2018

The United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) on Friday submitted a petition to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) asking the agency for rulemaking on beef labeling to clarify for consumers what is beef derived from cattle and “beef” products created in a laboratory.


Sessions clears way for food companies to ignore FDA guidance

Food Safety News | Posted on February 13, 2018

Those guidance documents the Food and Drug Administration hands out to food manufacturers and others don’t mean as much as they once did. The Department of Justice has changed its policy so government lawyers will no longer rely on guidance documents to establish civil law infractions. In his memo on the subject, Sessions said the DOJ would no longer engage in the practice. Actions by an associate AG on Jan. 25 made the policy change official. In the future, DOJ’s civil litigators won’t be able “convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” And more importantly, noncompliance with any guidance document cannot be used to prove violations involving federal civil enforcement actions.Megan E. Grossman, who chairs the life sciences practice group for the law firm of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney in Philadelphia, is an expert on the policy change. She says FDA “routinely issues guidance documents for all areas under its control, including food, cosmetics, veterinary products, drugs, medical devices, and vaccines, blood, and biologics, among others.”Grossman expects the new DOJ policy “will likely have an effect on the amount of governmental actions” brought against FDA-regulated companies. She thinks DOJ’s civil attorneys will be under instructions that FDA guidance documents cannot be used to prove violations of affirmative civil enforcement actions…”


Kraft Heinz Made Its Factories Really Efficient. Now It Has to Sell Bologna

Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 13, 2018

For decades, Kraft Foods Group produced Oscar Mayer cold cuts out of a six-story, former slaughterhouse built in 1872.The systems seemed out of another era. Workers drove forklifts loaded with giant vats of ham, turkey and chicken parts on and off freight elevators to different processing points. A typical turkey breast required four rides between floors to get from raw meat to packaged slices. Breakdowns could slow production to a crawl. The inefficiency was easy to spot for 3G Capital LLC, the acquisitive Brazilian investment giant, which took over Kraft in 2015. The outdated plant—workers called it the world’s biggest bologna maker—immediately landed on a list of seven facilities to close when the 3G-run H.J. Heinz finalized the $49 billion deal, one part of a plan to extract nearly $2 billion in savings by applying 3G’s cost-cutting mantra to operations.Over the past 2½ years, thousands of workers lost their jobs, and iconic Kraft buildings, including the original Oscar Mayer headquarters in Madison, Wis., have been shuttered and sold. The cost-cutting project is now wrapping up, giving Kraft HeinzCothe highest operating profit margin among its peers in the U.S. food industry. That success, however, has unveiled a new, tougher challenge, one that is outside 3G’s traditional area of expertise. Kraft Heinz commands a smaller share of a shrinking overall market for processed meats, hit by consumers’ desire for fresher, more natural foods. And while 3G is expert at taking over iconic American brands and squeezing out costs, it is less known for building sales—especially for a product out of sync with consumer tastes.


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