Squabbles over a government contract may prevent low-income families from having easy access to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. At issue: The ability of low-income Americans on government assistance to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have to be equipped to accept the EBT cards. If markets are not able to operate devices that can handle EBT payments, vendors must use manual paper vouchers instead. Congress has approved $4 million each year so the USDA can provide EBT equipment to markets and farmers, the USDA said. It previously worked with a third-party technology company called Novo Dia. But in November 2017 their agreement ended and, as of this month, they won’t provide support to the markets that used their technology. “The Food and Nutrition Service was recently informed by a major provider of mobile EBT technology for farmers’ markets and farm stands that it will discontinue this service,” Brandon Lipps, the administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, which is part of the USDA, said in a statement. “With few providers in this marketplace, this is of great concern. Farmers’ markets play an important role in providing Americans with access to nutritious foods.”
WeWork is trying a new tactic in the push toward corporate sustainability by saying it was committed to being “a meat-free organization.” The global network of shared office spaces said in an email to employees last week that “moving forward, we will not serve or pay for meat at WeWork events and want to clarify that this includes poultry and pork, as well as red meat.” The company’s co-founder and chief culture officer, Miguel McKelvey, said the new policy was one way it could do more to become environmentally conscious. After the policy garnered headlines over the weekend, sustainability experts said it is rare — even as employers become more focused on showcasing their environmental friendliness — to see companies make a direct connection between meat and climate emissions. Such environmentally tied policies on employee behavior — such as tracking printing habits or financial rewards for public transit use — could be a sign of things to come, as employers seek to prove their environmental mettle with millennial workers attracted by such progressive policies.
upermarket executives seeing strong sales of products with claims and certifications that indicate better animal welfare, and are motivated to provide them with precious shelf space. However, supermarket decision-makers largely do not understand the differences between animal welfare claims and animal welfare certifications, according to a study co-authored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Technomic, summarizing the grocery retail landscape for products that bear animal welfare-related claims. The report, entitled "Understanding Retailers' Animal Welfare Priorities," found that most retailers already stock products with one or more claims around animal welfare; that almost half of retailers stock products with verified animal welfare certifications, compared to 71 percent stocking products with unverified "all natural" claims.
After centuries of a veritable monopoly, meat might have finally met its match. The challenger arises not from veggie burgers or tofu or seitan, but instead from labs where animal cells are being cultured and grown up into slabs that mimic (or, depending on whom you ask, mirror) meat. It currently goes by many names—in-vitro meat, cultured meat, lab-grown meat, clean meat—and it might soon be vying for a spot in the cold case next to more traditionally made fare. To put it bluntly: the kind that comes from living animals, slaughtered for food. In February, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrote a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking the government to ban cultured-meat companies from using the terms meat and beef at all. In response, a rival cattlemen’s association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, wrote a letter opposing the petition. Cultured-meat companies also opposed the petition, for probably obvious reasons. In May, the Missouri Senate passed an omnibus bill that included a provision that “prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” The fight over how to label these products gets wonky pretty fast, but you can boil the debate down to three main questions: Who is going to make the rules, who gets to use the word meat, and what else should the labeling language say?
The Food and Drug Administration held a public meeting Thursday on the safety and labeling of alternative “meat” proteins produced with animal cell culture technology. In a packed room, a series of FDA employees, industry stakeholders, and scientists discussed current trends in the controversial sector, which some imagine could reshape how Americans consume meat. As alternative meat products enter the market, their regulation has become a top issue for the food industry. The livestock industry has particularly pushed back on the arrival of these products, arguing that they falsely call themselves “meat” and should be held to higher regulatory standards. The FDA and the USDA have battled over which agency should regulate animal cell culture technology. Some saw Thursday’s meeting as a way for the FDA to expand its influence in the emerging sector.
Consuming dairy products such as milk and cheese could cut the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to a study that challenged the commonly held belief that dairy is harmful. Marcia Otto, lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology, human genetics and environmental sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health, said in a statement: "Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults." One fatty acid present in dairy was actually found to potentially lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke, she said.
Consumer Reports, published by the 7 million-member nonprofit Consumers Union, last week reported on survey results showing the public expects laboratory-produced meat from cultured animal cells to be clearly labeled. The results show the public favors different language that those pushing the new products. “By an overwhelming margin, our survey found that consumers want clear labels identifying meat produced in the lab from cultured animal cells,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports.“Federal regulators should ensure these emerging food products are clearly labeled so consumers can make informed choices for their families and easily distinguish them from conventional meat.”The Consumer Reports phone survey found that 49 percent said it should be labeled as “meat, but accompanied by an explanation about how it is produced,” while another 40 percent said it should be labeled as “something other than meat.”
I may have to start buying that grocery off brand since the kind carried at the gas station recently switched their labeling, marketing, and packaging to bombard consumers with misleading claims that I just can’t support and won’t purchase. Let’s break them down one by one, shall we? 1: Non-GMO. GMO or GE grains allow farmers to be more sustainable by growing more crop on less land while using less pesticides, tillage, etc. Furthermore, everything we eat has been modified in some way, so the term “GMO” is somewhat scientifically meaningless. GMOs do great things for farmers and the planet though, so this is just a marketing ploy used to mislead and sell a product which is generally worse for the earth. 2: Raised with no antibiotics ever. OK, that’s admirable and commonplace nowadays. However, antibiotics can play a very important role in animal health and shouldn’t really be demonized. Would you withhold medicine from a sick pet or child? No, and we shouldn’t be cruel to livestock either. Also, if antibiotics are used, the animal must go through a withdrawal period before they can legally go to market, so all meat is actually antibiotic free.3: Never fed animal by-products. Chickens are not vegetarian by nature (they are omnivoires). They’ll eat anything that crosses their path, and a majority of livestock receive a grass- or grain-fed diet regardless, so this is pretty much a moot point.4: Family owned and operated. Well, 99 percent of farms in the U.S. are family owned so … again, a moot point.
A uniform, national food ingredient disclosure solution was passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support. The law prevents the confusion and costly red tape associated with a 50-state patchwork of mandatory state labeling laws that could have raised the cost of food for families by up to $1,050 per year. The bipartisan law includes a consistent labeling standard will allow consumers to access more product information than ever before through tools such as SmartLabel TM, and will ensure that foods produced with genetically modified ingredients are not unnecessary stigmatized with an on-package label. However, the fight is not over. Federal regulators will now begin a long-term process to determine how the law is carried out across the country. Check back for more details about how you can stay engaged as this new law enters the rule-making process at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Enjoying full-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and butter is unlikely to send people to an early grave, according to new research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.The study, published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found no significant link between dairy fats and cause of death or, more specifically, heart disease and stroke -- two of the country's biggest killers often associated with a diet high in saturated fat. In fact, certain types of dairy fat may help guard against having a severe stroke, the researchers reported."Our findings not only support, but also significantly strengthen, the growing body of evidence which suggests that dairy fat, contrary to popular belief, does not increase risk of heart disease or overall mortality in older adults. In addition to not contributing to death, the results suggest that one fatty acid present in dairy may lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, particularly from stroke," said Marcia Otto, Ph.D., the study's first and corresponding author and assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health.