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Calling food healthy doesn't really mean anything

Popular Science | Posted on October 12, 2016

At the end of September, the agency announced that it would begin the process of redefining its official meaning of healthy, and would take into consideration public opinion. However, nutritional and medical experts as well as public health policy specialists say that the real root of the problem may actually be the word itself. They argue that defining healthy should not, and perhaps cannot be done.  In September, a paper published in JAMA revealed that in the 1960s, as research started coming out that linked sugar and fat to a host of health conditions, sugar interest groups began funding and publicizing research that focused only on the latter link. Diet fads came to capitalize on that data, and turned “fat” into a four-letter word. The end result of having more and more publicized research on fat, reiterated ad nauseum by dietary trends, was that sugar came to fly under the radar. This has long been reflected by the FDA’s guidelines for “healthy” labels, whose inflexible stance on fat led KIND, a brand of granola bars, to make a complaint that it couldn’t label its product “healthy,’ but fat-free pudding and sugary breakfast cereals could.

ABC Tries to Slide Out of Pink Slime Lawsuit

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on October 12, 2016

ABC network, along with employees Diane Sawyer and Jim Avila, are asking a judge to dismiss a $1.2 billion defamation lawsuit regarding the network’s reporting on lean, finely textured, beef products. ABC had nicknamed the product “pink slime,” which Beef Products, Inc. claims led to significant losses. BPI filed the lawsuit in 2012 claiming the reporting led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs. However, in the request for dismissal, ABC argues that the number of reports was driven primarily by questions from viewers.

Tyson Foods, a meat leader, invests in protein alternatives

NY Times | Posted on October 12, 2016

Tyson Foods appears to be the first big meat company to invest in a business that, among other things, aims to reduce consumption of chicken, beef and pork by replacing it with plant proteins.  Tyson, the country’s largest meat processor, announced last week that it was investing an undisclosed amount for a 5 percent stake in Beyond Meat, a company based in El Segundo, Calif., that makes “meats” from protein sources like soy and peas. Beyond Meat this year began selling the Beyond Burger, for instance, a plant-protein burger sold fresh that sizzles and oozes fats while cooking on a griddle. The venture capital arm of General Mills, 301 Inc., also has invested in Beyond Meat, as well as in Kite Hill, which uses nuts and other plant proteins to replace dairy products in cheese and other dairy items.

Listeria recalls prompt another look at control efforts

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 11, 2016

So far this year USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has reported more listeria-related recalls than the agency reported in 2013, 2014 and 2015 — combined. Although more robust testing surely is a factor in the increase, notably several recalls also represented the intersection of FSIS- and FDA-regulated companies. In none of those three recalls involving both sides were the products that meat processors make contaminated with Lm, which on the one hand speaks to the general success that meat processors have had in keeping that pathogen off their products. On the other, as value-added products become the rule, wherein meat processors partner with other food makers to make easy meals for consumers, recent recalls are a fresh reminder for meat processors to remain vigilant not only in controlling Lm on products though rigorous means of sanitation but also attacking it in the environment prior to product contamination.

Why GMOs Are a Necessity

Biotech-now | Posted on October 11, 2016

After 20 years, the data are in:  Genetic modification boosts crop yields by 21 percent and cuts pesticides by 37 percent.  What have been the effects of this technology? In May a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine completed a two-year review, “Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects.” The committee, which examined about 900 studies, painted a highly positive picture. The academies’ report found “no differences that would implicate a higher risk to human health from eating GE foods than from eating their non-GE counterparts.” It also “found little evidence to connect GE crops and their associated technologies with adverse agronomic or environmental problems.” In some cases, the review said, “planting Bt crops has tended to result in higher insect biodiversity,” by reducing pesticide use.

Taste for high-fat food 'in our genes' | Posted on October 11, 2016

The University of Cambridge team offered 54 volunteers unlimited portions of chicken korma, followed by an Eton mess-style dessert. Some of the meals were packed with fat while others were low-fat versions. Those with a gene already linked to obesity showed a preference for the high-fat food and ate more of it. The gene in question is called MC4R.  It is thought about one in every 1,000 people carries a defective version of this gene which controls hunger and appetite as well as how well we burn off calories. Although there was no overall difference in the amount of food the individuals ate, the 14 people with defective MC4R unwittingly ate significantly more of the high-fat korma than did the 20 lean individuals and the 20 obese people in the study who were included for comparison.

Explaining the U.S. food surplus

Des Moines Register | Posted on October 11, 2016

Warehouses, distribution centers and grocery stores are overflowing with some food staples, such as milk, eggs and frozen fruits and vegetables, the result of increased production and decreased exports. Take dairy, for example: With the most milk ever produced in the U.S. — about 24 billion gallons — that means there are record amounts of butter and cheese. The glut of food means lower prices for consumers. Here's a short explanation of how the surplus came about and where it all goes: Two years ago, high prices for milk, pork, poultry and eggs encouraged farmers to expand livestock operations. Plus, U.S. consumers were opening their wallets and trade partners were willing to keep buying our products. Add to that the cheap cost of animal feed that encouraged farmers to boost livestock's weight before taking them to market. But agriculture is a cyclical business: The relative high value of the dollar makes U.S. products more expensive to importers, so they've slowed their buying. Last year's bird flu crisis also caused many trade partners to stop taking eggs and turkey and chicken meat, and while production of eggs has returned, demand isn't fully restored. Those factors and others have suppressed demand, but the cows keep pumping out milk and veggies continue to grow, resulting in a surplus of certain types of food.

How difficult is it to export internationally? Here’s one California business’ experience

Mercury News | Posted on October 4, 2016

In the cutthroat competition for supermarket shelf space, rivals had edged his high-protein, gluten-free, California-made nutrition bars out of a major American grocery chain.  Dorf’s company, PureFit, had just three employees and under $10 million in sales, “but we didn’t curl up in a ball,” he recalled. “We kept fighting. We realized, there’s a lot more opportunity outside the U.S.”  Today, PureFit exports to 20 countries from Switzerland to Singapore. Foreign sales rose 53 percent in two years, accounting for a quarter of revenue and making up for domestic losses.  “International business saved my company,” said Dorf, 48, an avid cyclist who launched his brand 15 years ago because “most nutrition bars were dressed-up candy bars.”  Foreign trade is in the news. President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to approve a massive trade deal with 12 nations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And the broader question of whether trade agreements create or destroy jobs has become a hot-button issue in presidential and congressional campaigns.  For exporters such as Dorf, trade deals can mean fewer tariffs on their goods. And that could be good news for Southern California, which, with its massive ports, ethnically mixed population and diversified industries, is an export powerhouse. Los Angeles County produced a quarter of California’s $165 billion in merchandise exports in 2015. Orange County, with $19 billion, made up 11 percent, and the Inland Empire, with $9 billion, accounted for 5.4 percent.

Survey explores food perceptions of two biggest consumer groups

| Posted on October 3, 2016


The two largest U.S. consumer populations — baby boomers and millennials — view food differently and have different priorities when it comes to buying food. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation dug deep into what baby boomers think about food and nutrition in the 2016 Food and Health Survey.  When it comes to perceptions of healthfulness, baby boomers are more likely than millennials to rate whole grains (80 percent vs. 70 percent), protein from plant sources (75 percent vs. 63 percent), and omega-3 fatty acids (71 percent vs. 59 percent) as healthy. Boomers are more likely than millennials to be interested in health benefits associated with foods such as weight management, cardiovascular health and digestive health. Millennials are more likely to be interested in benefits such as mental health, muscle health and immunity associated with foods.

China suspends poultry meat imports from JBS, others

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 3, 2016

JBS S.A. said China suspended poultry meat purchases from two of the company's plants in Brazil, due to sanitary irregularities.