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Vegetable Growers’ Food Safety Vigilance Is Paying Off (Opinion)

Growing Produce | Posted on August 17, 2017

I wanted to get a handle on just how often food safety recalls involving vegetable growers occur, so I pored through public records from the FDA. The agency reports every recall it issues, from medical devices to vitamins and supplements, to meat and dairy, to produce. It turns out vegetable growers are doing pretty well.There have been 210 food safety recalls so far in 2017 as of this posting. Out of those recalls, only 49 involved foods that included vegetables in some way, including processed foods like carrot muffins and prepared salads, as well as straight up vegetables like salad greens.I read through each formal recall notice and learned that only 19 recalls could potentially be traced back to a grower. Disease Is the Leading Cause of Vegetable Recalls. Fourteen of the 19 recalls involved diseases.Foreign Objects Are a Less Common Cause. There were four recalls generated by detecting foreign objects, although two of the four were from the same incidence. A single recall stemmed from a supply of thyme containing lead.All of these numbers represent a sharp improvement. By this time last year, there were almost double the number of vegetable recalls due to disease. The hard work growers are putting into keeping their produce safe is obviously paying off.

JBS pork plant in Louisville agrees to new fines

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 17, 2017

The JBS Louisville pork processing facility has agreed to pay the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District $60,000 in penalties resulting from records-keeping omissions and an inspection that found faulty equipment handling.

Organic and Conventional Crops —Brought to You by Modern Agriculture

Huffington Post | Posted on August 17, 2017

As a pioneer of genetically modified crop technology, I often get questions about what I really think about organic farming…or if I personally buy organic produce. My thoughts and answers might surprise you – number one, that being “pro-GMO” does not make me “anti-organic.” Allow me to explain.I believe that a real strength of our agricultural production system in the U.S. is the successful co-existence of conventional, biotech and organic farms to meet the different market opportunities and consumer product interests. We should all celebrate the fact that we get to enjoy incredible choice and the safest and most affordable food supply in the world!

What Does 'Clean Eating' Mean, Anyway?

Food Network | Posted on August 17, 2017

While the term “clean eating” is one of the hottest eating-style trends of the past few years, it’s leaving consumers, the media, and dietitians alike confused about what the term really means and the benefits it conveys on health.The core definition of clean eating that most of its advocates agree on is choosing whole foods as they are closest to nature, or in their least-processed state. From there, different interpretations abound, from Paleo to dairy-free, grain- or gluten-free and vegan. But Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, MA, RD, author of Eat Clean Stay Lean defining the term as such: “Clean eating is about taking steps toward real, wholesome, simpler, minimally-processed foods more often (not absolute or always) and away from highly processed foods.” Let’s take a deeper dive into the science behind this healthy food trend. Most foods undergo at least some processing. Clean eating advocates question how exactly was the product altered. Foods that have certain components, and with them nutrients, removed or have undesirable ingredients added is where processing can turn food away from healthfulness.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains Why The Term “GMO” Is Misleading

Food and Wine | Posted on August 15, 2017

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a man of many interests. Besides his fascination with how the universe operates, he’s actually quite interested in both food and wine. When it comes to food, though, there is one topic that Tyson is constantly addressing: GMOs. Most recently, he discussed genetically modified organisms with Dr. Pamela Ronald, a plant pathologist, geneticist, and professor at UC Davis, on his StarTalk podcast. While the entire episode is certainly worth a listen, the video segment published by Mashable provides a concise look at GMOs from a food science perspective and why both Tyson and Ronald don’t necessarily agree with the arguments surrounding GMOs.“We’ve been modifying organisms ever since the dawn of agriculture,” says Tyson in the clip. “There are no herds of wild milk cows wandering the countryside. We cultivated, or genetically changed, corn from whatever cavemen ate to these big ol’ sticks of corn that we now munch on. This is essentially true for every food in the grocery store.”  The big issue that the two scientists agree on is that the blanket term "GMO" has been politicized over the years and is too often associated with “genetically engineered” food, which has only been present for the past 40 years or so. Specifically, from Ronald’s perspective, “It’s not that we need so-called 'GMOs,' but we need to advance sustainable agriculture. Within those, we need ecologically-based farming practices, but we also need seed.”According to Tyson and Ronald, all seed at this point has been modified through either selective breeding or crossing strains and the bigger problem facing American consumers might actually be ingesting pesticides (sprayed onto crops or sometimes even engineered into seeds) rather than genetically modified foods.

Impossible Foods seeks to assure public its vegetarian burger is safe

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

Impossible Foods, maker of the plant-based Impossible Burger, issued a news release to assure the public of the safety of its product after the New York Times published documents that reveal Food and Drug Administration concerns about a key ingredient, including whether it is an allergen.   The much-promoted burger uses soybean leghemoglobin protein extracted from soybean roots as part of its proprietary process and formula that extracts heme (also found in blood) from plants to give its burger an appearance similar to ground beef.The company is asking the FDA to grant the protein GRAS (generally recognized as safe) status. In a document obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by ETC Group and shared with the New York Times, agency officials stated, “Although proteins are a part of the human food supply, not all proteins are safe. Information addressing the safe use of modified soy protein does not adequately address safe use of soybean leghemoglobin protein from the roots of the soybean plant in food.”    

USDA report raises concerns about Canadian inspection system

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

A recent USDA report questioning the system used by Canadian food inspectors for meat, poultry and eggs is expected to lead to another review of procedures as Canadian officials address proposed corrective actions. The report stems from a series of “onsite equivalence verification” audits by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last September at seven slaughter and processing plants and other Canadian offices and facilities. FSIS also verified that Canada’s Central Competent Authority (CCA) took the corrective actions offered by the U.S. agency after a 2014 audit, the report noted.

BPI attorney: Disney likely funding $177 million of settlement out of pocket

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 15, 2017

Walt Disney Co., parent of ABC News, is likely funding $177 million of its settlement with Beef Products Inc. in the processor’s libel and defamation suit against the network, while Disney’s insurers cover the remainder of the cost, a BPI attorney told Meatingplace in an emailed statement. South Dakota-based BPI sued ABC for $1.9 billion over its 2012 coverage of lean finely textured beef, including its use of the term “pink slime” to describe the product. Under South Dakota law, such a claim may be trebled. Terms of the settlement, reached in June, were not announced.

First genetically engineered salmon sold in Canada

Nature | Posted on August 15, 2017

Genetically engineered salmon has reached the dinner table. AquaBounty Technologies, the company in Maynard, Massachusetts, that developed the fish, announced on 4 August that it has sold some 4.5 tonnes of its hotly debated product to customers in Canada. The sale marks the first time that a genetically engineered animal has been sold for food on the open market. It took AquaBounty more than 25 years to get to this point.The fish, a variety of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), is engineered to grow faster than its non-genetically modified counterpart, reaching market size in roughly half the time — about 18 months. AquaBounty sold its first commercial batch at market price: US$5.30 per pound ($11.70 per kilogram), says Ron Stotish, the company’s chief executive. He would not disclose who bought it.

Dutch authorities begin testing chicken meat as contaminated eggs scandal widens

Independent | Posted on August 15, 2017

Dutch authorities have reportedly started testing chicken meat originating from farms found to have produced eggs contaminated with insecticide. “We are currently testing chicken meat in the poultry farms where eggs were infected to determine whether the meat is contaminated as well,” Tjitte Mastenbroek, spokesperson for food security agency NVWA, told the AFP news agency. Mr Mastenbroek said the probe centres on “a few dozen” farms that produce both eggs and chicken meat. Scientists are testing the meat for fipronil, a pesticide which can be harmful to humans if ingested.