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Food News

Only half of Americans who think they have food allergies actually do

The Takeout | Posted on January 9, 2019

About one in five Americans think they have a food allergy, while the actual prevalence of food allergies is closer to one in 10. That’s the major finding of a new large-scale study published in the JAMA Network Open and led by Dr. Ruchi Gupta from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University. Gupta’s survey of more than 40,000 American adults found that while nearly 19 percent believe they’re food allergic, only about 10.8 percent, or 26 million Americans, were food allergic at the time of the study. “While we found that one in 10 adults have food allergy, nearly twice as many adults think that they are allergic to foods, while their symptoms may suggest food intolerance or other food related conditions,” Gupta said. “It is important to see a physician for appropriate testing and diagnosis before completely eliminating foods from the diet.” The study stresses that people with suspected food allergies undergo testing for confirmation to avoid eliminating potentially healthful foods from their diet and impacting their quality of life. 

Federal Court rules that almond milk is milk

Veg News | Posted on January 8, 2019

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently dismissed a class-action lawsuit against California-based Blue Diamond Growers, the producer of Blue Diamond almond milk, ruling that its “milk” label does not violate federal law. In Painter v. Blue Diamond Growers, the plaintiffs alleged that Blue Diamond’s almond milk products should be labeled “imitation milk” because they “substitute for and resemble dairy milk but are nutritionally inferior to it.” The court determined that under the “reasonable consumer” standard that governs these claims, the plaintiffs must show that members of the public are “likely to be deceived” by Blue Diamond’s labeling and advertising practices. “Notwithstanding any resemblance to dairy milk, almond milk is not a ‘substitute’ for dairy milk as contemplated by [federal law] because almond milk does not involve literally substituting inferior ingredients for those in dairy milk,” the court found. Last year, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sought input from the public on its understanding of terms such as “milk,” “cheese,” and “yogurt” when included in the names of plant-based products. The information it gathers will inform the FDA’s decision as to whether plant-based milk products need special labeling rules.

It’s time to start eating roadkill

High Country News | Posted on January 3, 2019

My mother texts me four photos of a dead moose the week I leave Alaska. It is freshly hit. The animal will not go to waste. For the past 50 years, Alaska has been the only state where virtually every piece of large roadkill is eaten. Every year, between 600 and 800 moose are killed in Alaska by cars, leaving up to 250,000 pounds of organic, free-range meat on the road. State troopers who respond to these collisions keep a list of charities and families who have agreed to drive to the scene of an accident at any time, in any weather, to haul away and butcher the body. During a recent trip to Fairbanks, my hometown, I asked locals why Alaska’s roadkill program has been so successful for so long. “It goes back to the traditions of Alaskans: We’re really good at using our resources,” Alaska State Trooper David Lorring told me. Everyone I talked to — biologists, law enforcement, hunters and roadkill harvesters — agreed: It would be embarrassing to waste the meat. In the past few years, a handful of states, including Washington, Oregon and Montana, have started to adopt the attitude that Alaskans have always had toward eating roadkill. A loosening of class stigma and the questionable ethics and economics of leaving dinner to rot by the side of the road have driven acceptance of the practice in the Lower 48.

Snap enrollment as a percent of county population

Daily Yonder | Posted on January 3, 2019

Rural counties and small metropolitan areas crowd the top of the list of U.S. counties that rely most on help from the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program, the USDA program formerly known as Food Stamps. Of the top 100 counties ranked by the share of population that participates in SNAP, 85 are rural, according to 2015 Census data. And the few metropolitan counties that did make the top-100 list are predominately in smaller metro areas.

Georgia beating Trump admin on tightening food stamp requirements

The Grio | Posted on January 3, 2019

The state has found a way to beat even the White House on reducing the number of people there who are eligible for food stamps. Since October 2017 through March 2018, the state agency dropped some 356 people on average per month from the food stamp rolls for not meeting the work requirements for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program.From April through October of 2018, that number increased to nearly 8,000 a month, according to the newspaper.Able-bodied adults in Georgia account for 8 percent of the population who are food stamps recipients while some 71 percent of people constitute those classified as families with dependent children, according to reports. A third of recipients are made up of disabled and elderly population.

Trump team makes controversial change to allow chicken plants to operate at faster speeds

Washington Post | Posted on January 3, 2019

he Trump administration is now allowing more chicken-processing plants to operate at faster speeds, a controversial move that some fear will hurt workers and chicken consumers by lowering safety standards. Plants that receive a waiver from the Trump administration will be able to process up to 175 birds per minute, up from the old limit of 140 birds per minute. The administration recently published new criteria spelling out what it would take to get a waiver.


FDA weighs legalizing interstate sales of cannabis-based CBD in food and drinks

CNBC | Posted on January 3, 2019

The Food and Drug Administration signaled a potential softening of its stance on cannabis-based food and drink sales. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency is looking for “pathways” that would legalize the sale of CBD oil and other cannabis-derived compounds in food, beverages and supplements.

IBM and Walmart suggest a way to achieve timely traceback of contaminated produce from farm to store

Ag Policy | Posted on January 2, 2019

Anyone who walked through the produce section of their local grocery in the week before Thanksgiving could not help but be aware that all romaine lettuce and salad mixes that contained romaine lettuce had been removed from the shelves. The stores took this action in response to a November 20, 2018 warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a multi-state outbreak of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (STEC) had been traced to the eating of romaine lettuce. As in most cases of a multi-state food borne illness, it took a period of time between the first reported illness and the identification of the food product responsible for the outbreak. The common link in the illnesses was romaine lettuce. The traceback process is tedious and takes a considerable amount to time to track the contaminated lettuce from the store where it was purchased, to the distribution center that supplied the store, and eventually the farm where it was grown and harvested. A standardized identifier for each lot of produce grown would shorten the traceback time considerably and could prevent additional illnesses.IBM Food Trust has developed a computerizes system to track the many links in the chain of transactions from farm to fork. Their system “uses blockchain technology to create unprecedented visibility and accountability in the food supply chain. It is the only network of its kind, connecting growers, processors, distributors, and retailers through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of food system data”

Lean finely textured beef reclassified as ‘ground beef’

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on January 2, 2019

he ultra-lean beef product made primarily by Beef Products Inc., which has been called out on labels on a voluntary basis since 2012 as “lean finely textured beef,” has been reclassified by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service as simply “ground beef.” “We're not producing LFTB anymore. We're producing ground beef from this point on,” said Craig Letch, BPI’s vice president of sales and marketing, in an interview with Meatingplace about the agency’s move. “Even our traditional customer base, whom we've been supplying lean meat to, they now will be receiving ground beef from us rather than ‘LFTB’.” The decision comes at the end of a six- to nine-month review by FSIS across multiple departments, said Letch and Nick Roth, BPI’s vice president of engineering. The process included a consumer panel comparing samples of BPI’s lean beef product alone to commercially available ground beef purchased at retail.

Burgers Must Be Meat, Ranchers Say

Pew Trust | Posted on December 24, 2018

Food labels such as “veggie burgers” and “Tofurky” prompted a new Missouri law making it illegal to stick meat-like names on products that aren’t made from meat — pitting cattlemen against vegetarians in a food fight poised to spread across the country. The battle is heating up as new foods flood the market, from vegetarian items that emulate animal proteins to soon-to-come lab-produced meat that never saw the inside of a barn and makes ranchers fear for their livelihoods.Even though the Missouri law is being challenged in court, a handful of other cattle-raising states, including Iowa and Montana, see it as a precedent they may want to follow. And there is precedent for state food-labeling laws leading the way for U.S. regulations. A Vermont law requiring labeling of genetically modified foods took effect in 2016, and several other states followed suit. But Congress overrode Vermont’s requirements by passing a nationwide GMO labeling law, which critics argue is weaker than the state law.