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Food News

Citizens Petition To Require FDA to Designate Eggs as “Healthy”

Poultry Producer | Posted on July 5, 2018

Jesse Laflamme, CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organics is to be complimented on his initiative to file a citizens petition with the FDA to amend the definition of “healthy”. The FDA considers that eggs are too high in total and saturated fat and cholesterol to be designated “healthy” by food processors. In contrast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services consider eggs to be a part of a “healthy diet”. Current knowledge of nutrition has proven that dietary cholesterol does not raise serum cholesterol to any appreciable degree in consumers without a genetic predisposition to hypercholesterolemia. The petition filed by Jesse Laflamme emphasizes the nutritional value of eggs and the contribution of Vitamin D and choline.

Impossible Burger sets off debate in NZ

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on July 4, 2018

Air New Zealand announced this week that it would be the first airline to serve the Impossible Burger, as part of its Business Premier menu on selected flights from Los Angeles to Auckland — and immediately drew fire from that country’s Prime Minister and others. Critics were particularly unhappy with the airline’s investment in a video about the new offering, and a program to host journalists on a trip to the U.S. to promote the Impossible Burger and its maker, Redwood City, Calif.-based Impossible Foods."Air New Zealand is an airline built by the New Zealand taxpayer, was privatized, was bailed out by the New Zealand taxpayer, and is there because of the taxpayer. Some of the taxpayers are the farming industry who want to ensure they get top end of the product market offshore and our airline should be its No. 1 marketer," Peters is quoted as saying.For its part, the chief executive of Beef+Lamb New Zealand said the airline should at least promote local meat to the same extent it has promoted the U.S.-based plant alternative.

Is It Too Early for Fake Meat?

Bloomberg | Posted on June 28, 2018

It’s possible you’ve heard of the Impossible Burger. Heralded as a bleeding veggie patty that looks, tastes and even sizzles like meat, the product is sold in almost 2,000 restaurants—stretching across the bun-slinging continuum from Bareburger to White Castle.But not everyone is in cheeseburger paradise. Environmental organization Friends of the Earth, which claims 1 million U.S. members and activists and is part of an advocacy network spanning 74 nations, raised a red flag about the speedy advance of such food technology. Specifically, the group pointed to companies including Impossible Foods—maker of its eponymous burger—as well as Perfect Day and Memphis Meats, which develop animal-free dairy and lab-grown meat, respectively.The nonprofit group warned in a report Wednesday that the advent of genetically engineered proteins and lab-made meat hasn’t been accompanied by enough research, and that increased safety assessments, regulations and transparent labeling should be put in place.

Mandatory Labels Reduce GMO Food Fears

University of Vermont | Posted on June 28, 2018

s the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares guidelines for labeling products that contain genetically modified ingredients, a new study from the University of Vermont reveals that a simple disclosure can improve consumer attitudes toward GMO food. Led by Jane Kolodinsky, an applied economist in UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the study compared levels of consumer opposition to GMO foods in Vermont – the only U.S. state to have implemented a mandatory labeling policy – with consumer attitudes in the rest of the U.S. The analysis showed opposition to GMO food fell by 19% in Vermont after the implementation of mandatory labels. The study is the first to examine the real-world impact of consumer attitudes toward GMO foods in a state where consumers were exposed to mandatory GMO labels. “Our findings put to bed the idea that GMO labels will be seen as a warning label,” said Kolodinsky, professor and chair of the Department of Community Development and Applied Economics and a Fellow of UVM’s Gund Institute for the Environment. “What we’re seeing is that simple disclosures, like the ones implemented in Vermont, are not going to scare people away from these products.”

Why consolidating food safety efforts won't work

Food Safety News | Posted on June 28, 2018

The Trump administration on June 21 unveiled an ambitious plan to consolidate federal food safety efforts within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Currently, 15 agencies throughout the federal government administer 35 different laws related to food safety under the oversight of nine congressional committees. The administration calls this system “illogical” and “fragmented.” Concern about this state of affairs has been fueling similar consolidation proposals for decades. But my research for a forthcoming book on the U.S. food safety system suggests that the Trump administration plan faces a number of challenges that make a major reorganization of federal food safety regulation both impractical and undesirable. Why food safety regulation is so complicated.The curious division of labor between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration dates back to the passage of two laws enacted in 1906. First of all, the many congressional committees that currently oversee agencies that regulate food safety are unlikely to support any reorganization that would reduce their power. Congressional oversight affords lawmakers who serve on committees opportunities to help interest groups and constituents in exchange for political support.Similarly, industry associations are unlikely to support a reorganization that would disrupt their relationships with existing agencies. Consolidation threatens to reduce their access and influence over agency decisions.In addition to the political obstacles to consolidation, there are practical problems. Merely merging the 5,000 food safety officials in the FDA and the 9,200 officials in the FSIS under the oversight of a single administrator would not eliminate the differences in jurisdiction, powers and expertise responsible for the current bureaucratic fragmentation. Meaningful consolidation would require a complete overhaul of federal food safety laws and regulations, a task of extraordinary legal and political complexity.Moreover, consolidating food safety efforts in a single agency might create new forms of fragmentation. For example, transferring the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine’s program for regulating drug residues in beef and poultry to the USDA would separate it from the FDA’s veterinary drug approval program.And finally, reorganization is costly and would take years for the different agency teams newly working together to develop bonds of trust and cooperation. And these costs would have to be paid upfront, without a clear idea of whether the expected gains will ever pay off.

Wisconsin dairy farmers brace for cheese tariff impact

TMJ4 | Posted on June 28, 2018

Wisconsin cheese makers have found themselves caught in the middle of an escalating trade war. Some local companies that export are preparing to take a major hit as countries retaliate President Trump's newly imposed tariff on steel and aluminum. 

Trump proposes shifting USDA and FDA roles

Meat + Poultry | Posted on June 28, 2018

The White House released a proposal on June 21 that would shift all food safety functions to the US Dept. of Agriculture while moving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to a new Bureau of Economic Growth within the Dept. of Commerce. Merging the Depts. of Education and Labor into a single also was among the proposed reforms.

HSUS targets McDonald’s on animal welfare

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on June 21, 2018

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said today it is launching a new TV ad campaign aimed at getting McDonald’s to improve its welfare standards for the broilers that are raised and processed for the restaurant chain’s various chicken menu items. The 30-second spot, which depicts chickens “genetically selected to grow too large and too fast” experiencing “abuse and suffering” on “factory farms,” will reportedly air in the Chicago market, McDonald’s home base.

The USDA is right. Biofoods don't need labels.

Chicago Tribune | Posted on June 21, 2018

Should a federal agency issue a regulation that will impose up to $3.5 billion in costs next year, and billions more in the coming decade — while delivering essentially no benefits? That sounds crazy. But a few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed to do exactly that. The proposal is the outgrowth of the long-standing national battle over whether to require labels for bioengineered (or genetically modified) foods. The USDA's analysis of costs and benefits deserves careful attention, even if it raises serious questions about its own proposal.In the summer of 2016, Congress required the USDA to impose such labels. Last month, the department responded by inviting public comments on the rule, called the Proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.The department was candid about the high costs of its proposal. In the first year, companies — mostly food manufacturers — would have to spend $600 million to $3.5 billion in compliance costs. (The range reflects uncertainty about some assumptions behind the estimates.) After an initial period of learning and adjustment, the annual costs would range from $132 million to $330 million. In the history of federal regulation, that may not qualify as monstrously expensive, but it's a lot.

Salmonella outbreak in 31 states is linked to Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal, CDC says

CNN | Posted on June 20, 2018

A salmonella outbreak that has caused illness in 73 people across 31 states is linked to Kellogg's Honey Smacks cereal, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.Just before the agency announced the outbreak,the Kellogg Co. announced a recall of 15.3-ounce and 23-ounce packages of the cereal with a "best if used by" date from June 14, 2018, through June 14, 2019, according to a statement.Twenty-four of the sick patients have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC. New York has reported the highest number of cases -- seven -- while California, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have each reported five cases. The other states involved in the outbreak have reported between one and four related illnesses.