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Opinion: Agriculture should dig deep into social purpose

Agri-Pulse | Posted on September 19, 2016

While purpose-driven organizations can't be manufactured and must be rooted in authenticity, there are tools to help define an organizational purpose. In our view, there could be no better sector suited for purpose-driven planning than agriculture. After all, food - healthy and sustainable food - is the foundation not only for health and wellness, but also for allowing people and societies at large to thrive. Add to that a growing food culture, and the opportunity is ripe for purpose-driven food and agriculture organizations.

Research reveals eggs from small flocks just as likely to contain Salmonella

Food Safety News | Posted on September 19, 2016

Penn State researchers have found that eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks.  That conclusion was drawn from a six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state for the study. Federal regulations for these larger flocks require placement of Salmonella-“clean” chicks, intensive rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses, continuous testing of eggs from any Salmonella-positive houses, and diverting eggs from Salmonella-positive houses for pasteurization. However, small flocks with fewer than 3,000 laying hens are currently exempt from the rule. Eggs from these producers often are marketed via direct retail to restaurants, health food stores and farmers markets, or sold at on-farm roadside stands.

Can A Vegan Diet Give You All You Need? German Nutritionists Say 'Nein'

NPR | Posted on September 15, 2016

For some, there's a a glam factor attached to the vegan lifestyle. And these days, there seems to be a growing chorus singing the praises of the environmental and health benefits of a plant-centric diet.  Perhaps nowhere is the embrace of a vegetarian diet more on display than in Berlin, Germany, dubbed a global vegan mecca for its growing array of restaurants (think: vegan kebabs, pizza and ice cream) as well as vegan street festivals — and even a vegan butcher. One pro-vegan group estimates about 80,000 people in Berlin are following a vegan diet.   But not everyone in Germany is on board. In a new paper, the German Nutrition Society says a vegan diet can't provide everything your body needs.  "With a pure plant-based diet, it is difficult or impossible to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients," states the German Nutrition Society's new position on the vegan diet. "The most critical nutrient is B-12," which is found in eggs and meat. The group says if you follow a vegan diet, you should take supplements to protect against deficiencies. According to the German nutritionists, other "potentially critical nutrients" that may be a challenge to get in a vegan diet include omega-3s — found in fatty fish — as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine, zinc and selenium. So the group recommends that vegans get advice from a nutrition counselor and be "regularly checked by a physician." In addition, the society recommends against a vegan diet for pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding, children and adolescents.

How poultry companies are using evolving TV advertising formats

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 15, 2016

There is no doubt in my mind that television advertising has contributed to the gap between consumers and the source of their food.  The primary reason is that showing a steer to sell steaks is not a great marketing strategy.  Most commercials for meat products don’t use live animals but when they do it is usually a cartoonish approach.  Only occasionally do we see realistic videos or photos of live animals.  We know that humor will get a commercial watched.  The latest Perdue commercials use humor after a serious message while Sanderson uses humor to present the serious message.  I have no idea which will be the most effective as the messages are very different.  Perdue’s “no antibiotics ever” commercials take place in a broiler house with Jim Perdue and another person holding a bouquet of thyme in one and oregano in the other.  The birds, the lighting, the choice of locations where “windows” are visible.  I do not know if I’m seeing actual windows or fan panels, but I don’t think it matters as the average viewer will see windows.  The bottom line is that everything looks good. 

New report questions role of sugar vs. saturated fat in healthy diets

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on September 15, 2016

The recent discovery of documents that the sugar industry paid scientists to blame saturated fat for promoting heart disease appears to vindicate the findings of an independent author who found that eating meat, butter and cheese may not be completely to blame for human heart illness. The report released this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine publication suggests that the sugar industry manipulated information to shift more blame for heart disease away from sugar and more toward saturated fat intake. The Sugar Research Foundation paid three Harvard researchers who issued the 1967 report linking nutrition and heart health with ingestion of saturated fats in meat and dairy products rather than to sugar intake.

Emerging Pathogens in Meat and Poultry

Pew Charitable Trust | Posted on September 15, 2016

This study reviews microbial hazards and risks in the U.S. meat and poultry supply that have emerged, are emerging, or that evidence suggests may emerge in the future. The study’s goals are to identify factors that favor the occurrence of emerging pathogens (EPs) and pinpoint traits that EPs transmitted through meat and poultry may share; characterize the challenges these pose, be they scientific, technological, or regulatory; and determine mechanisms that might facilitate the expeditious detection, characterization, and control of such EPs.  For the purposes of this report, EPs are defined as new microbial hazards to which significant exposure to the public through meat or poultry is possible or likely, known hazards to which new or increased exposure is possible or likely, or known hazards to which human susceptibility is increasing. Unlike other definitions of EPs, this one includes pathogens such as Salmonella that have not increased in overall occurrence but have strains with new traits that continue to emerge.

United Fresh hopes to keep ‘fresh’ in fruit and vegetable program

The Packer | Posted on September 15, 2016

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides 4 million low-income elementary students in 8,000 schools with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. Funded at $184 million in 2016-17, the program began as a pilot serving only about 100 schools in 2002.  While the goal of advocates is to increase funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in the 2018 farm bill, DiSogra said the current fight is to protect the program and keep it focused on fresh produce.  DiSogra said United Fresh supports the Senate Agriculture Committee’s child nutrition bill, which protects the integrity of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program while allowing flexibility for schools in remote to serve processed fruits and vegetables. United Fresh opposes the House Education and Workforce Committee bill which would allow all forms of processed fruits and vegetables and other snacks to be served with the program. It is uncertain when the House and Senate will take up their respective bills, but some media reports say the Senate could be first to act.

How Connecticut plans to reduce food waste, both on the farm and at home

Daily Campus | Posted on September 15, 2016

Allowing homely fruits and vegetables to compost in the field has some benefits, but many of Connecticut’s 6,000 farms are choosing to process sub-standard produce into wine, jellies and pickeled goods, in addition to donating leftovers to food banks. “We’ll take ugly fruit, there’s nothing wrong with it,” James Arena-DeRosa, president and CEO of Foodshare, told students. Foodshare moves over six million pounds of donated shelf stable and perishable food into Connecticut communities every year, Arena-DeRosa said.   Christine Rice, clinical fellow at the Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, said the program has been looking into the legal barriers to food recovery for over five years now. She said liability concerns often prevent grocery stores, restaurants and manufacturers from donating. Inconsistent labeling between states also leads to many consumers trashing perfectly good food, Rice said. According to the clinic’s research, up to 84 percent of people have thrown away food past it’s supposed expiration date regardless of whether or not it was still edible.

Pew: U.S. must adopt on-farm pathogen monitoring

Pew Trusts | Posted on September 13, 2016

The United States must embrace on-farm pathogen monitoring by regulators as part of its strategy to prevent foodborne illnesses, Pew Charitable Trusts argues. Scores of sickness-causing microbes - including new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria - could arise undetected unless regulators have greater access to farms and feedlots, enabling scientists to better understand how pathogens evolve, Pew says in its report. The report, which examines health safety threats in meat production, calls for several other specific changes, too, including an expansion of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's antimicrobial resistance monitoring system to test farm animals and meat on store shelves. It also calls for collecting more data on antibiotics use in livestock. "Regulatory reform in particular is warranted to enable food safety agencies to monitor and address risks to the food supply beyond those occurring during slaughter or processing, in particular those originating on farms or feedlots," the report says.  Most of Pew's suggestions would greatly expand the reach of government into private agriculture businesses - a proposition that is sure to vex many livestock growers already facing the crush of low prices and a needy consumer base. But the authors of the report say that such preventative efforts could save lives down the road.

Researchers debunk 'five-second rule'

Feedstuffs | Posted on September 13, 2016

It turns out that bacteria may transfer to food that has fallen on the floor no matter how fast you pick it up. Rutgers University researchers disproved the widely accepted notion that it's okay to scoop up food and eat it within a "safe" five-second window. Donald Schaffner, Rutgers professor and extension specialist in food science, found that moisture, the type of surface and contact time all contribute to cross-contamination. In some instances, the transfer begins in less than one second. The researchers tested four surfaces — stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet — and four different foods: watermelon, bread, bread and butter and gummy candy. They also looked at four different contact times: less than one second, five seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds. They used two media — tryptic soy broth or peptone buffer — to grow Enterobacter aerogenes, a non-pathogenic "cousin" of salmonella that occurs naturally in the human digestive system.