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How animal welfare claims fare in the grocery aisle

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 17, 2018

upermarket executives seeing strong sales of products with claims and certifications that indicate better animal welfare, and are motivated to provide them with precious shelf space. However, supermarket decision-makers largely do not understand the differences between animal welfare claims and animal welfare certifications, according to a study co-authored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Technomic, summarizing the grocery retail landscape for products that bear animal welfare-related claims. The report, entitled "Understanding Retailers' Animal Welfare Priorities," found that most retailers already stock products with one or more claims around animal welfare; that almost half of retailers stock products with verified animal welfare certifications, compared to 71 percent stocking products with unverified "all natural" claims.

Is lab grown meat really meat?

Slate | Posted on July 17, 2018

After centuries of a veritable monopoly, meat might have finally met its match. The challenger arises not from veggie burgers or tofu or seitan, but instead from labs where animal cells are being cultured and grown up into slabs that mimic (or, depending on whom you ask, mirror) meat. It currently goes by many names—in-vitro meat, cultured meat, lab-grown meat, clean meat—and it might soon be vying for a spot in the cold case next to more traditionally made fare. To put it bluntly: the kind that comes from living animals, slaughtered for food. In February, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrote a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking the government to ban cultured-meat companies from using the terms meat and beef at all. In response, a rival cattlemen’s association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, wrote a letter opposing the petition. Cultured-meat companies also opposed the petition, for probably obvious reasons. In May, the Missouri Senate passed an omnibus bill that included a provision that “prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” The fight over how to label these products gets wonky pretty fast, but you can boil the debate down to three main questions: Who is going to make the rules, who gets to use the word meat, and what else should the labeling language say?


At FDA meeting, controversy over lab-grown meat

The Food & Environment Reporting Network | Posted on July 16, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, a series of FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. As alternative meat products enter the market, their regulation has become a top issue for the food industry. The livestock industry has particularly pushed back on the arrival of these products, arguing that they falsely call themselves “meat” and should be held to higher regulatory standards. The FDA and the USDA have battled over which agency should regulate animal cell culture technology. Some saw Thursday’s meeting as a way for the FDA to expand its influence in the emerging sector.


Full fat milk could cut risk of stroke, heart attack

Newsweek | Posted on July 16, 2018

Consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese could cut the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study that challenged the commonly held belief that dairy is harmful.  Marcia Otto, lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology, human genetics and environmental sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said in a statement: "Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults." One fatty acid present in dairy was actually found to potentially lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke, she said.

Public overwhelmingly favors term ‘lab-grown’ over ‘clean’ meat

Food Safety News | Posted on July 16, 2018

Consumer Reports, published by the 7 million-member nonprofit Consumers Union, last week reported on survey results showing the public expects laboratory-produced meat from cultured animal cells to be clearly labeled. The results show the public favors different language that those pushing the new products.  “By an overwhelming margin, our survey found that consumers want clear labels identifying meat produced in the lab from cultured animal cells,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.“Federal regulators should ensure these emerging food products are clearly labeled so consumers can make informed choices for their families and easily distinguish them from conventional meat.”The Consumer Reports phone survey found that 49 percent said it should be labeled as “meat, but accompanied by an explanation about how it is produced,” while another 40 percent said it should be labeled as “something other than meat.”  

Poultry company loses a customer because of these labels

Ag Daily | Posted on July 15, 2018

I may have to start buying that grocery off brand since the kind carried at the gas station recently switched their labeling, marketing, and packaging to bombard consumers with misleading claims that I just can’t support and won’t purchase. Let’s break them down one by one, shall we?  1: Non-GMO. GMO or GE grains allow farmers to be more sustainable by growing more crop on less land while using less pesticides, tillage, etc. Furthermore, everything we eat has been modified in some way, so the term “GMO” is somewhat scientifically meaningless. GMOs do great things for farmers and the planet though, so this is just a marketing ploy used to mislead and sell a product which is generally worse for the earth. 2: Raised with no antibiotics ever. OK, that’s admirable and commonplace nowadays. However, antibiotics can play a very important role in animal health and shouldn’t really be demonized. Would you withhold medicine from a sick pet or child? No, and we shouldn’t be cruel to livestock either. Also, if antibiotics are used, the animal must go through a withdrawal period before they can legally go to market, so all meat is actually antibiotic free.3: Never fed animal by-products. Chickens are not vegetarian by nature (they are omnivoires). They’ll eat anything that crosses their path, and a majority of livestock receive a grass- or grain-fed diet regardless, so this is pretty much a moot point.4: Family owned and operated. Well, 99 percent of farms in the U.S. are family owned so … again, a moot point.

Stand up for Safe, Affordable Food

Coalition for Safe Affordable Food | Posted on July 15, 2018

A uniform, national food ingredient disclosure solution was passed  by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. The law prevents the confusion and costly red tape associated with a 50-state patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws that could have raised the cost of food for families by up to $1,050 per year. The bipartisan law includes a consistent labeling standard will allow consumers to access more product information than ever before through tools such as SmartLabel TM, and will ensure that foods produced with genetically modified ingredients are not unnecessary stigmatized with an on-package label. However, the fight is not over. Federal regulators will now begin a long-term process to determine how the law is carried out across the country. Check back for more details about how you can stay engaged as this new law enters the rule-making process at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

New research could banish guilty feeling for consuming whole dairy products

Science Daily | Posted on July 13, 2018

Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.The study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke -- two of the country's biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported."Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke," said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study's first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.

Washington farm groups join bid to nip city food taxes

Capital Press | Posted on July 13, 2018

Soft drink rivals Pepsi and Coke are partners in financing a ballot measure that would bar cities from taxing select foods, like Seattle has done with sweetened beverages. Initiative I-1634 has the backing of several agricultural organizations, though no Washington city has followed Seattle’s example on soda or targeted other foods, such as beef or dairy products.

Milked by organic

The Star | Posted on July 12, 2018

We investigated organic milk in Ontario, tracking its journey from cow to carton, and found the product is no different than cheaper conventional milk. So why are we paying more? While fewer people are drinking milk overall these days, organic milk is holding steady in Canada’s $5-billion organic industry, with an estimated 2017 sales totaling $77 million.Its popularity stems from consumers’ perception that organic milk is purer and more natural, not only because it’s made the old-fashioned way from happier cows on cleaner farms but because it is free from unhealthy additives, such as antibiotics and hormones.The Star investigated organic milk in Ontario, tracking the staple’s journey from cow to carton, and found the product is no different than cheaper regular milk: The nutritional content, the synthetic vitamin D added after pasteurization, the levels of pesticides and metals and heart healthy fats – all the same. And Canadian law forbids antibiotics and added growth hormones in any kind of milk.We visited organic and conventional farms, tested milk in labs, and interviewed industry experts, dietitians, scientists and professors, and found that consumers’ belief is cultivated by mischaracterizations about conventional milk and a 100-year-old, mystical farming philosophy that denounces regular milk producers as too reliant on chemicals. The organic seal of approval is awarded to farmers for meeting bureaucratic standards that emphasize note-taking and gives points to farmers who try but fail to meet them.