Americans are clamoring for organic food, but U.S. farmers are no longer growing a significant portion of what customers are buying. Despite close to $40 billion in organic food sales in 2015, less than 1 percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic, with the bulk of raw ingredients for organic processed foods and animal feed coming from places like Romania and Turkey.
Federal health officials are investigating a listeria outbreak in several states that has been tied to at least two deaths and may be linked to cheese. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday that six people, including a newborn, have been infected with listeria since September. All of them were hospitalized and two of them have died. The source of the outbreak appears to be Vulto Creamery, a New York-based facility that makes soft raw milk cheese and distributes products nationwide, officials said. The company recalled the cheeses Tuesday. Vulto Creamery said in a statement to TIME that it is "very busy working on this recall with FDA and our customers."
I've worked in agricultural marketing for 25 years and have done a lot of work on branding, including developing logos. Logos have a great deal of power and there are many good ones — think Tim Hortons. But one logo seen on some food products infuriates me — that of the Non-GMO Project. According to their website, “The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization committed to preserving and building the non-GMO food supply, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices. We believe that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified organisms.” While that description is fine for the most part, the problem lies in the wording 'informed choice.' Labelling these products has absolutely nothing to do with providing information on genetically-modified products. What's scary is that this group has verified more than 35,000 products worth in excess of $16 billion in sales across North America. They do this by completely ignoring what a genetically modified organism (GMO) product actually is. Some of their approved products include, bizarrely enough, everything from water, maple syrup, coffee, honey and organic rose petal spread to pure vitamins (iron, B12, C, etc.), kitty litter, pink Himalayan rock salt, equine shampoo, toilet paper and, my favourite, condoms.
Vulto Creamery, based in New York has recalled all of its soft, raw milk cheeses in response to a listeria outbreak that has led to six hospitalizations and two deaths nationwide. All lots of Vulto Creamery's Ouleout, Miranda, Heinennellie, and Willowemoc soft wash-rind raw milk cheeses are included in the recall. The products were distributed nationwide, including at retail locations in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states, California, Chicago, Portland and Washington, DC.
Consumers today do not understand agriculture: where their food comes from and how it is produced. The agricultural sector expends a good deal of energy trying to bridge this gap, a task that has been made more important and more difficult in recent years. But teaching consumers how their food is produced will not bring them any closer to understanding farmers.
Egg cartons in the United States are not required by federal regulations to bear labels which identify the living conditions of the hens. Two animal rights non-profit organizations and six individuals sought to change that by filing petitions with four different federal agencies under the apparent strategy of not putting all their eggs in one basket. Each petition sought the promulgation of regulations that would require egg cartons to identify the hens’ living conditions during the production process. After each agency denied these scattershot efforts, petitioners filed suit in the Northern District of California under the Administrative Procedure Act. However, this seemingly favorable jurisdiction (often referred to as the “Food Court”) proved to be a tough egg to crack as the district court judge granted summary judgment in favor of each agency.
Is "fake milk" spoiling the dairy industry's image? Dairy producers are calling for a crackdown on the almond, soy and rice "milks" they say are masquerading as the real thing and cloud the meaning of milk. A group that advocates for plant-based products, the Good Food Institute, countered this week by asking the Food and Drug Administration to say terms such as "milk" and "sausage" can be used as long as they're modified to make clear what's in them. It's the latest dispute about what makes a food authentic, many of them stemming from developments in manufacturing practices and specialized diets. DiGiorno's frozen chicken "wyngz" were fodder for comedian Stephen Colbert. An eggless spread provoked the ire of egg producers by calling itself "mayo." And as far back as the 1880s, margarine was dismissed as "counterfeit butter" by a Wisconsin lawmaker. The U.S. actually spells out the required characteristics for a range of products such as French dressing, canned peas and raisin bread. It's these federal standards of identity that often trigger the food fights.
Few topics in agriculture are as controversial in the public eye as GMOs. For more than two years, the labeling of GMO ingredients on food packaging has been a hot topic. As consumers continue to buy more non-GMO products, one major food company has become a champion of the need for labeling: Campbell Soup Company. “We decided to embrace it,” says Kelly Johnston, the company’s vice president of government affairs, who spoke from the mainstage at the 2017 Top Producer Seminar. Campbell’s research shows a majority of consumers are concerned about GMO labeling, even though they rank other food-related concerns higher. The company’s position developed against a backdrop of changing state laws. In 2014, Vermont became the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling law. Connecticut and Maine enacted laws at the same time because of previously passed trigger bills, Johnston says. Regulatory Uncertainty. It’s unclear whether GMO labels will be required by federal law going forward. A compromise bill approved by Congress in 2016 requires mandatory disclosure of GMOs on food packaging, Johnston says. It also instructed USDA to conduct a consumer study and finalize regulations. This January, President Donald Trump issued an executive order mandating agencies to get rid of two existing regulations for every new regulation added. That could prevent USDA from meeting its 2018 deadline given by Congress.
At the food pantry she founded in poor, rural Quitman County, Mississippi, Angie Crawford spends her days teaching food stamp recipients how to shop, cook and eat healthy on a tight budget. Then, at the grocery store, she sees people using food stamps to buy junk food, like big bags of potato chips in bulk. It troubles her. As a nutrition educator for the federal Food Stamp Program — Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — Crawford is one of many public health officials across the country who say there should be more rules about how food stamp money is spent. Twenty-three cents of every food stamp dollar is used to buy candy, desserts, salty snacks, sugar and sweetened beverages, according to a November report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that for the first time revealed purchasing habits under the program in detail. The report, along with the election of President Donald Trump, who may be more inclined to tighten welfare rules, has reignited a long-standing debate on whether the government should allow people to use food stamps to buy unhealthy food. Lawmakers in at least five states — Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico and Tennessee — introduced bills this year to ask the USDA for permission to ban the purchase of certain kinds of food or drinks, such as candy and soda, with food stamps. Since the USDA administers the program, states can’t create their own restrictions. But the department can give a state permission to conduct a pilot to test new ideas — something it has so far been unwilling to do.
A new study looking at dairy consumption and its relationship with metabolic health has delivered some promising results for the dairy industry. The study examined the impact of dairy foods on markers of fatness and metabolic health. Cheese consumption was not associated with body fatness or LDL cholesterol.