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Vermont’s immediate impact is becoming clearer

Food Business News | Posted on May 20, 2016

The patchwork of state laws requiring food and beverage companies to label products that contain bioengineered ingredients is emerging and underscores the challenging situation the industry faces if a federal statute that addresses the issue is not passed into law. As state legislators from around the country propose legislation they are not only creating unique sets of regulations with which companies must comply, but they are putting a greater strain on the ingredient supply chain.  Fortunately, regulators in Vermont have sounded a conciliatory tone regarding implementation and enforcement of the bioengineered labeling law beginning July 1. The state’s attorney general made clear that his enforcement priorities will focus on what are deemed “willful violations” and will not bring enforcement cases based solely on a company’s failure to remove improperly labeled products that were distributed before July 1.  

Examining Two Ways To Enhance Tomato Flavor

Growing Produce | Posted on May 19, 2016

Researchers divided 60 tomatoes into three groups — refrigerating one group, keeping a second group at room temperature and dipping the third group in 122°F water for 5 minutes to simulate blanching.  The results showed that refrigeration greatly reduced 25 of 42 aroma compounds and reduced volatile levels overall by 68%. Blanching also greatly reduced 22 of 42 compounds and reduced volatile levels overall by 63%. The results spell out why it is better to store tomatoes — and wash them before use — at room temperature.

US Foods could raise $1 billion in IPO | Posted on May 19, 2016

U.S. Foods Holding has registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission to price its planned initial public offering between $21 and $24 per share. The company intends to price its 44.44 million shares, with an overallotment option for an additional 6.67 million shares. At the maximum price, the entire offering is valued up to $1.23 billion.

Fruit of the poisonous tree… How far down do GMO roots extend?

Food Navigator | Posted on May 16, 2016

‘Fat-free,’ ‘non-dairy,’ ‘all-natural’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘gluten-free’ . . . are all in recent history’s hit parade of terms perceived by many consumers as a sign that that a product is somehow ‘better’ or ‘healthier.’  The most recent term to join this hit parade is ‘non-GMO.’

In California, Couple's Return to Meat Sparks Vegan Uproar

ABC News | Posted on May 16, 2016

At the Cafe Gratitude restaurant chain in California, waiters serve plates of vegan rice bowls, vegetable pizzas and tempeh sandwiches with names such as "Gracious," ''Warm-Hearted" and "Magical."   The last two weeks, though, have been anything but kind.

Angry patrons and animal rights activists are calling on vegans to boycott the restaurants after learning that owners Matthew and Terces Engelhart have begun eating meat and consuming animals raised on their private farm.  "The brand has betrayed my trust by turning around and killing the animals that trust them on their property," said Anita Carswell, a communications manager for In Defense of Animals who says she won't eat at Cafe Gratitude again.

Though the restaurants continue to serve only plant-based food, the couple's decision has provoked a heated backlash in a state where vegan restaurants and juice bars can be as easy to find as burgers and barbecue.  Death threats were left at the couple's Be Love Farm in Northern California and demonstrators gathered outside a Cafe Gratitude restaurant in Los Angeles last week. Meanwhile, groups such as In Defense of Animals are calling on the couple to turn their farm into an animal sanctuary.

As Big Candy Ditches GMOs, Sugar Beet Farmers Hit A Sour Patch

NPR | Posted on May 16, 2016

Sugar, you might think, is just sugar, no matter where it comes from. But not anymore.

About half of all sugar in the U.S. comes from sugar beets, and the other half comes from sugar cane. Now, for the first time, sugar traders are treating these as two different commodities, with two different prices.

It's all because about eight years ago, nearly all the farmers who grow sugar beets in the United States decided to start growing genetically modified versions of their crop. The GMO beets, which can tolerate the weedkiller glyphosate, otherwise known as Roundup, made it easier for them to get rid of weeds.  They really didn't expect any problems.

Just in the past two years, though, that's changed. Many food companies have decided to label their products as non-GMO. And because practically all sugar beets in the U.S. are genetically modified, those food products are now using sugar derived from sugar cane grown in Florida, Louisiana or outside the U.S. There isn't any genetically modified sugar cane.

Price, demand driving Illinois' hog farm expansion

State Journal Register | Posted on May 16, 2016

    Illinois hog producers who filed more than 120 expansion notices with state regulators in 2015 already have filed half as many this year.  Consumer demand and the best pork prices in years are driving the expansion.

One Thing Consumers Get Right

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 16, 2016

Nearly 90 percent of Americans have a favorable view of farmers, and 92 percent said it was important to provide them with federal funding, according to a new national poll. This is an important finding since the public’s view of farmers and support for crop insurance are critical policy issues. Budget-cutting bureaucrats and anti-agriculture activists have long mounted attacks on crop insurance in an effort to derail the program.  When crop insurance replaced direct payments in the 2014 Farm Bill as the backbone of the farm safety net program, liberals and urban lawmakers started trying to chip away at its funding to get more federal dollars for federal food assistance and social programs.

The survey shows that the concept of farmers and the federal government both contributing to an insurance policy makes sense.

Maine-based poultry firm seeks help with expansion funding | Posted on May 16, 2016

A poultry processing firm that also happens to be the only USDA-inspected poultry operation in Maine hopes to expand the operation to handle 6,000 birds per week using grant funds. Wilson hopes to boost production to 6,000 birds per week during the busy summer season, but said he is hampered by a lack of enough trained workers, according to the report. Common Wealth Poultry is seeking $100,000 from the state program for employee training.

GMA urges FDA to define “natural” in food labels | Posted on May 15, 2016

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to more clearly define the term “natural” in food labeling.

“The criteria used to determine if a food qualifies for a ‘natural’ claim should focus primarily on whether the product’s ingredients are synthetic/artificial or natural and on the degree of processing the ingredients have undergone,” GMA general counsel Karin Moore said in a statement.  Farming and agricultural methods used in the production of a crop, including pesticide or herbicide use, the use of biotech seeds, or animal husbandry practices  such as “free range” or “grass fed” should not have a bearing on the “natural” status of a food or ingredient, GMA said.