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Food News

Anti-hunger advocates slam Cuomo's farm-to-foodbank veto

Fox News | Posted on December 4, 2016

 Anti-hunger advocates and agriculture groups are criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo's opposition to legislation that would give farmers a tax break for donating surplus fruits, vegetables and other locally grown products to food banks to address New York state's growing hunger problem. The Democratic governor vetoed the bill this week. It's the second year the bill has passed the Legislature only to be blocked by Cuomo. He says that while he supports the idea, the measure would reduce state revenue and should be handled in the state budget process. Susan Zimet, director of the Hunger Action Network of New York State, says Cuomo's opposition is "misguided." She says lawmakers should return to Albany to override the veto.

Bill would force schools to seek USDA waiver for imported food

Capital Press | Posted on December 4, 2016

A California congressman wants to tighten controls on school districts purchasing imported foods for lunches.  A bill by Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat, would add teeth to a current law allowing districts to use food that wasn’t produced in the United States if they obtain a waiver from the USDA. Schools can look overseas for items such as canned fruits and vegetables if the cost of domestic products is significantly higher, but districts don’t always bother seeking the waiver, according to Garamendi’s office. The lawmaker’s American Food for American Schools Act would make the waiver a legal requirement and mandate that waiver requests be made available to the public.

Multi-state Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak linked to dairy bull calves

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 1, 2016

Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings have identified dairy bull calves from livestock markets in Wisconsin as the likely source of infections in a multi-state outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg infections.   The CDC is working with Wisconsin health, agriculture and laboratory agencies, several other states, and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to investigate an outbreak that has infected 21 people from eight states.

Cuomo announces Taste NY sales | Posted on December 1, 2016

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Taste NY initiative has surpassed his goal of doubling gross sales of participating businesses in 2016. In less than one year, total gross sales of New York products from Taste NY stores, concessions and events have jumped from approximately $4.5 million in 2015 to more than $10.5 million to date in 2016. The increase in sales reflects the growing consumer demand for local products, which supports New York’s agriculture industry and small businesses.

Denmark’s chicken fight with salmonella

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 1, 2016

Pictured below is a retail package containing raw skinless/boneless chicken that was recently purchased in Denmark (DK) Europe. The labeling on the package is claiming to Danish consumers (where there’s an orange drawing of a chicken within a round circle): “Dansk Salmonelllafri Kylling,”when translated means - “Danish salmonella-free chicken.”  How would such a labeling declaration that claims the raw chicken one is purchasing is “salmonella free” be received in the states? Do DK’s poultry hatcheries/farmers/processors and academia know something regarding the lowering of salmonella that the U.S. poultry industry and USDA don’t know? No. Having “salmonella free” chicken on a mass scale isn’t possible – or if it’s close, at what price? For contextual comparisons, DK’s geographic size compares to the state of Maryland with a population boarding 5.5 million people. DK harvests 100 million chickens a year compared to the states’ 8.5 billion chickens.  In 1993, a major Danish retailer (COOP-DK) stopped the marketing of domestic broiler chickens that exceeded the <5 percent target. Danish chicken that couldn’t meet <5 percent resulted with producers suffering severe losses as they were forced to export their chickens to inferior priced markets.With the initial program being successful, the NSCP lowered their initial goal from <5 percent to a complete eradication, or zero tolerance of salmonella involving broiler production. The revised program centered on a pyramid that started prudently at the hatcher/broiler breeding level that trickled downstream to Danish dinner plates.Danish farmers were given incentives (the DK government and the EU initially compensated owner’s of destroyed breeding stock for their losses) for salmonella free birds, which allowed them to label their processed birds as “salmonella free.”

Organic foodmaker fined $22,000 by ecology

Capital Press | Posted on November 30, 2016

A maker of organic granola bars and cereals in Blaine, Wash., has been fined $22,000 for water quality violations, mostly by releasing acidic wastewater into a city sewer system, the state Department of Ecology announced. Nature’s Path Foods, based in Richmond, British Columbia, violated its wastewater permit 39 times over a two-year period that ended in July, according to Ecology.  The company violated permit conditions for flow, dissolved oxygen levels and suspended solids, according to Ecology. The agency, however, singled out acidic wastewater as the primary problem.

Precut salad may encourage growth of Salmonella

Science Daily | Posted on November 23, 2016

Small amounts of damage to salad leaves in bagged salads encourage the presence of Salmonella enterica, new research has found. Juices released from damaged leaves also enhance the pathogen’s ability to attach to the salad’s plastic container.

Hormel posts record Q4 results, sets ambitious 2020 margin goals

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 23, 2016

Hormel Foods Corp. today reported record net income in the fourth quarter and all of fiscal 2016 and told industry analysts that it is working on a goal to post overall annual margins of as much as 19 percent by 2020.

McDonald’s shareholders want stricter antibiotics policy

Watt Ag Net | Posted on November 21, 2016

The Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas, a McDonald’s shareholder, is wanting directors at McDonald’s to eliminate the use of antibiotics also used in human medicine in its global poultry supply chain. McDonald’s already has adopted that policy for the chicken served in its U.S. restaurants, with the company revealing on August 1 that it had achieved its goal of removing such antibiotics from its U.S. poultry supply chain.

If you thought you were paying fair prices for chicken at the supermarket, think again

The Washington Post | Posted on November 18, 2016

In the vast and complicated U.S. economy, it is rare for an individual to exert much control over the price of a major commodity. But then there is Arty G. Schronce and the price of chicken. As director of a bulletin from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Schronce makes a weekly calculation that gives supermarkets around the country the going rate for a pound of chicken. The price average from Schronce directly affects what big retailers such as Walmart and Safeway pay for chicken — it’s often built into supermarket purchasing contracts — and that price is then passed along to shoppers. It has, in other words, affected billions of dollars in purchases. But has it been accurate? Recently, this influential estimate has drawn questions about whether it artificially inflated U.S. chicken prices and elicited scrutiny from the U.S. Agriculture Department. Now it turns out that even Schronce has harbored serious doubts about its accuracy.   Over the past two years, the price estimate, known within the industry as the “Georgia Dock,” has drifted significantly upward from other chicken price averages, rising about 20 percent or more out of line with a separate but lesser known index maintained by the USDA. A deviation in supermarket chicken prices of that magnitude would have cost U.S. grocery shoppers billions of dollars in recent years.  Food price estimates such as the Georgia Dock affect the price of many perishable products — such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and livestock — because producers rely on them to set the terms of long-term contracts. Many of the price measures, used for decades, are products of long tradition.