For as tasty a reputation as it may have, raw milk may equally be the bane of public health officials everywhere. Over the weekend, local and state Colorado health officials jointly announced that an outbreak of the foodborne illness campylobacteriosis had so far affected 20 people. The source of the outbreak was traced to the Larga Vista Ranch in Pueblo County, CO, with all the sufferers having drank raw unpasteurized milk during their visit there. The latest case was found on September 16, while the outbreak is currently thought to have began in early August.
There’s a new food category that is gaining popularity with shoppers, but that’s also becoming an enemy of farmers — both of the conventional and organic persuasion. The Chronicle reported that Clover Stornetta Farms of Petaluma would be adding non-GMO certification to its conventional milk in early 2017, meaning it would require dairy farmers use GMO-free feed with its conventional herds. Milk is not genetically engineered, and neither are dairy cows. Most conventional milk comes from cows given supplemental feed from genetically engineered corn and soy. “Non-GMO milk” is shorthand for milk from cows that do not consume such feed — which is also true of organic milk. “The whole GMO labeling movement has really put a damper on the organics movement,” said author Rebecca Thistlethwaite…. “There are a lot of consumers who falsely believe that when they buy non-GMO it’s meeting certain value standards that they have around sustainability, but without the organic price tag.”
When Massachusetts voters head to the polls in November, supporters of a pro-farm animal ballot question want them to have one question in their minds: What would it feel like to spend their entire lives without enough room to stand up, turn around, stretch their arms and legs and lay down again. Opponents hope voters will have their eyes on their wallets instead, arguing that approving the ballot question will drive up the costs of eggs and meat. The proposal — Question 3 on the ballot — is aimed at improving the living conditions of farm animals, not just in Massachusetts but at any farm that wants to sell eggs and meat in the state.
Liberals and conservatives don’t only disagree on presidential candidates; they also differ on their views about food, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2016 Food and Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes Toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health. The survey shows while more liberals (38 percent) name pesticides as their top food safety concern, more conservatives (40 percent) are most concerned about cancer-causing chemicals in food. “Foodborne illness from bacteria” ranked first among both liberals and conservatives (55 percent and 58 percent respectively). However, liberals are far more likely to cite “pesticides” as a top food safety issue (38 percent vs. 24 percent), while conservatives are twice as likely to cite “carcinogens or cancer-causing chemicals in food” (40 percent vs. 20 percent). Those who identify as somewhat liberal (12 percent) are twice as likely as those who are somewhat conservative (6 percent) to cite “food additives and ingredients” as a top food safety issue.
Adams Farm Slaughterhouse, LLC, an Athol, Mass., establishment, is recalling beef, veal, and Bison products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
A few weeks ago, Stefan Jansson, a Swedish plant biologist, sat down to a plate of pasta with cabbage harvested from his garden. This cabbage was like none any human had eaten before; its DNA had been edited via a much-hyped new gene-editing technique called CRISPR. Jansson’s meal was the first time anyone anywhere had professed to eating CRISPR-modified food—an entirely new category of GMOs. But far from being some bizarre “frankenfood,” the cabbage looked almost exactly the same as unedited cabbage. Scientists had deleted only a single gene, which made it grow a little slower. What might be confusing though is that Jansson’s cabbage, Brassica oleracea, did not look like or taste like cabbage—and it had not looked liked or tasted like cabbage even before scientists took CRISPR to its DNA. “It tastes like broccoli,” says Jansson, “and the leaves look like broccoli’s.” And that’s because humans have been breeding the species B. oleracea for centuries, and this single species now comprises dozens of varieties more commonly known as kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, collard greens, savoy cabbage, etc. They all descend from wild cabbage, and they technically all belong to one species. The exact variety Jansson grew is not farmed, so he called it “cabbage” out of convenience. Against this awesome diversity of cabbages, the deletion of one gene in Jansson’s cabbage seems almost puny in comparison. Yet CRISPR has been hyped as a world-changing innovation because it allows scientists to easily edit the genomes of nearly any species in the world: plant, animal, or even human. And CRISPR could be an opportunity to reintroduce genetic engineering to the world—to get beyond poisoned names like “GMO” and Monsanto.” To make products that exciting and novel and cooler. Way cooler than slower growing cabbage anyway.
There are new reports of aflatoxin in corn and deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat in the U.S., according toNeogen’s Mycotoxin Report on September 19. Diplodia ear rot also has been reported in corn in Michigan and Ohio.
Eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores, which typically come from larger flocks that are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This news comes from researchers from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. That conclusion—which flies in the face of conventional wisdom that eggs from backyard poultry and small local enterprises are safer to eat than "commercially produced" eggs—was drawn from a first-of-its kind, six-month study done last year in Pennsylvania. Researchers collected and tested more than 6,000 eggs from more than 200 selling points across the state.
Whole Foods Market says it has launched a series of new environmental efforts related to certain hazardous waste after announcing a settlement deal with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said it fined the organic foods giant $3.5 million after finding about a year ago that it wasn’t properly documenting and disposing of returned items of hand sanitizer, vitamins and other products in several states, including Texas. Since that time, Whole Foods and the EPA located in Region 6 — which comprises the states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico — have drawn up new plans on how the retailer will log and dispose of such items, which also includes perfumes and nail polish.
FIGHT has erupted over the health claims behind the A2 protein in milk. The a2 Milk Company’s claim that its product is easier to digest because it contains only the A2 protein will be tested in court after it lodged a “misleading and deceptive” case against Lion Group in June for advertising on packaging that Pura and Dairy Farmers-branded milk “naturally contains A2 protein”. Lion launched a cross-claim last month alleging a2 had engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct” and that its claims that consuming milk with only the A2 protein was beneficial “cannot be substantiated”. The case had its first day in court last week. The a2 Milk Company has managed to corner 10 per cent of the fresh milk market based on the claim the A1 protein can cause problems with digestion, eczema, allergies and even autism.