Who are these special cows, you ask? They're snack company Herr's cattle. And you can taste them—as steaks, burgers, and more—at a few restaurants in the Philadelphia area. Herr has long had cattle on more than 1,000 acres of farmland near their eastern Pennsylvania headquarters. The cows graze on grass watered by the company's otherwise unusable gray-hued wash—turned that unpleasant color after scrubbing potatoes—and they're fed a diet made up of the company's unsellable snacks. Don't worry: nutritionists helped develop their odd diet, which even includes cheese curds.
Sanderson Farms announced new television and radio ads called “Old MacGimmick” as the company continues a campaign to reveal what it says are prevalent falsehoods and half-truths in poultry marketing. "At Sanderson Farms, we have made it our responsibility to shine a light on misleading marketing tactics and labeling," said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and chairman of Sanderson Farms. "Rather than acquiescing to trending scare tactics and socially driven paranoia, Sanderson Farms has chosen to address the issues using hard science. While there may have been an easier route to take, we have chosen to continue this course of action for the benefit of our customers."
The Good Food Institute is calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to respond to a 20-year-old petition and clarify once and for all that soy-based beverages can be labeled as “soy milk.” The nonprofit, which works to promote plant-based meat, dairy and eggs, asked the FDA in a letter Monday to respond to the petition the Soyfoods Association sent on Feb. 28, 1997, asking the agency to allow manufacturers to use the term “soy milk.”The GFI has also submitted a petition of its own.The group asked the FDA in March to amend its regulations to clarify "that new foods may be named by reference to other 'traditional' foods in a manner that makes clear to consumers their distinct origins or properties." The GFI is threatening to sue if the FDA decides to restrict the use of the term “soy milk,” claiming it will have violated the First Amendment.The National Milk Producers Federation is pushing back. The group claims plant-based “milk” imitators are using dairy terminology and imagery to advertise their products as suitable replacements for cow’s milk and urged the FDA in a meeting last week to enforce its food standards.
And investigation into an E. coli outbreak around the twin cities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. that killed two children has determined that the likely source of the disease was infected animals, followed by person-to-person contact, according to the Southwest Utah Public Health Department. In a release, the agency said several livestock tested positive for the E. coli strain involved in this outbreak. Meanwhile, tests on water systems, springs, ground beef, produce and dairy products were negative.
The average price has dropped to $1.33 a dozen, down 48% from two years ago, but demand hasn’t rebounded since avian-flu bout. A glut of eggs is putting pressure on suppliers and farmers who are struggling to win back business two years after the worst bout of avian influenza in U.S. history devastated egg-laying flocks. Poultry farms in the U.S. have fully restocked and rebuilt egg supplies since the outbreak but demand hasn’t kept up. Some buyers who found alternatives during the outbreak haven't returned. Egg prices are near a decade low, a situation that cheers shoppers in grocery aisles but is spurring losses for industry giants and farmers alike.
Poultry farms in India are dosing their chickens with antibiotics at such high rates that 94 percent of meat chickens and 60 percent of laying hens tested in a new study harbored multi-drug-resistant bacteria that can cause grave human infections. In the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers from Washington, D.C., New Jersey, Minnesota and several institutions in India interviewed farmers and collected samples on 18 farms in northern India. Half of the farms raised broilers and half kept hens for egg production, some on solo family properties and others under Western-style contract arrangements in which farmers raise but do not own birds.All told, more than 500 chickens were tested — the largest such study yet done in India, the researchers said — yielding more than 1,500 samples of E. coli that was resistant to drugs that are important in human medicine. The most common resistance pattern was ESBL, which denotes bacteria that are resistant to penicillin and the drug family cephalosporins. The latter includes the common antibiotic Keflex. Eighty-seven percent of broilers and 42 percent of layers carried ESBL-resistant bacteria.“That was truly shocking; I had not expected that level of ESBL resistance,” Ramanan Laxminarayan, an economist and the study’s lead author, said by phone. “When the results first came out I asked the team if they were sure they were right. When we confirmed it, it was mind-boggling.”
Today American Farmland Trust and Growing Food Connections announced the publication of GROWING LOCAL: A Community Guide to Planning for Agriculture and Food Systems. The national guide showcases ways communities can strengthen their food systems through planning, policy and public investment. It includes the most comprehensive collection of local policies ever assembled to support local farms and ranches, improve access to healthy food, and develop needed distribution and infrastructure. Written for farmers, community residents and food policy councils, as well as planners and local government officials, this practical guide highlights real life examples of ways communities are growing food connections from field to fork. “GROWING LOCAL is an excellent resource, sharing successful policies and approaches to food systems development from across the country,” said David Rouse, managing director of research and advisory services for the American Planning Association. “It identifies key places in the planning process where a community can address the viability of local farms and improve healthy food access—from civic engagement, to visioning and goal setting, to developing solutions to grow its economy and the well-being of its residents.”
Maine has a new law that allows towns to regulate local food production without requiring state and federal rules. We’ll learn what this means for Mainers and how it ties into the national food sovereignty movement.
A new final rule establishing stricter animal welfare standards for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program are being delayed until at least November 2017, but Mid-States Specialty Eggs and Eggs “R” Us Inc. argue the final rule – originally published in January 2017 – won’t hamper the organic egg business or send prices skyrocketing as some are predicting. When in effect, the new rules will require all organic-certified animals to be given enough space to lay down, turn around, stand up, fully stretch their limbs without touching other animals or the side of the enclosure, and otherwise express natural behaviors. The regulation will establish new rules for housing, transportation and slaughter of organic poultry, too. Most importantly for egg producers, outside access will be mandatory. Verandas or porches attached to layer houses will no longer be classified as outdoor spaces. Marion Hostetler, an owner of Mid-States and a member of the Organic Egg Farmers of America, said his company is exceeding this new standard and it’s doing it at a cost where it can sell at a price that beats other major producers. Mid-States and Eggs "R" Us were profiled in the July 2017 issue of Egg Industry. He estimated the size of the organic layer flock is about 15 million to 17 million birds. If 7 million of those birds were taken out of organic production due to the rule, as he said the rule could potentially do, then there could certainly be a market disruption. But in the long term, the market will even out. Even if prices spike, he said, it’s not likely organic eggs will enter the $8 per dozen territory. As of May 2017, Mid-States’ organic eggs sell for $3.99 a dozen
Parents whose kids will only eat a finite list of foods now wonder whether a pantry favorite is off limits, thanks in part to last week’s New York Times story about a study that found “potentially harmful chemicals” in mac and cheese. The group behind the study is calling on Kraft Foods to lead the industry in eliminating phthalates from its products because they can disrupt the production of testosterone, which raises concerns about birth defects, and because they’ve been linked to neurological problems. But several critics say the story is a hyped interpretation of a non peer-reviewed report commissioned by scaremongers with an anti-chemical agenda. Popular Science points out that while phthalates could cause health problems at high enough concentrations, they’re found in much of our food, personal care products and home building materials, making mac and cheese an arbitrary scapegoat. In his blog post response to the mac and cheese scare, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, prolific communicator and director for Science and Society at McGill University, says the “Klean Up Kraft” group behind the report uses “the Food Babe Fallacy” to make its case.