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Food News

FDA warns Whole Foods over ‘serious violations’ in prepared foods

Market Watch | Posted on June 15, 2016

Whole Foods Market Inc. has until the end of June to remedy “serious violations” discovered by federal regulators during a February inspection of a Massachusetts plant that supplies ready-to-eat products across the Northeast.  On a long list of problems, FDA inspectors said they found foods like pesto pasta and mushroom quesadillas being prepared or stored in places where condensation was dripping from ceilings, a doorway and a fan. It said the company kept dirty dishes near food, didn’t supply hot water at some hand-washing sinks and allowed high-pressure hoses used for cleaning to spray into areas where foods like couscous and salad dressing were being prepared.

New Labels Warn That A Tender Steak Could Be A Little Dangerous

NPR | Posted on June 15, 2016

A new label on some of the steaks in your grocery store highlights a production process you may never have heard of: mechanical tenderizing.  This means the beef has been punctured with blades or needles to break down the muscle fibers and make it easier to chew. But it also means the meat has a greater chance of being contaminated and making you sick. The labels are a requirement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that went into effect this week.

Keeping Chickens and Consumers Happy

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on June 15, 2016

When I die, I want to come back as an organic chicken. Okay, not really, since I do not believe in reincarnation, but you have to admit the life of an organic chicken, as proposed by the USDA, is a darn site better than the living conditions of many people today.   According to the rules laid out in the proposed USDA organic livestock rule, the lifestyle of an organic chicken will be comfortable, enjoyable, intellectually stimulating, and stress free.  This lifestyle comes at a price, however, but a price that will be paid by the producer and the consumer. Working hand-in-hand with organic producers and animal rights activists, the micromanaging bureaucrats at the USDA crafted a new set of standards for certified organic livestock operations. The opinion of USDA and of many in the organic industry is that the current rules are too general and that more specific and restrictive guidelines are needed.  This is because, when you put organic chicken in the meat case or organic eggs in the cooler alongside conventionally produced products that are half the price of the organic items, you can’t tell them apart by looks, taste, or almost any other means.  The USDA admits in its proposed rule that the standards are a marketing ploy.According to the proposed rule, organic poultry will live a short but idyllic life,It even call for farmers to provide incentives to get the birds to take advantage of the outdoor life.

Cage-free egg pledges continue in May

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 15, 2016

The number of grocery stores, restaurant chains, foodservice companies, food processors and travel companies to commit to a 100-percent cage-free egg supply has continued to grow.  Since an infographic listing the companies that in 2016 committed to commit to use, serve and sell only cage-free eggs was published on WATTAgNet in April 27, 30 more companies have announced similar commitments.  The infographic has been updated to include all companies to make cage-free pledges so far in 2016.

Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods

USDA - Amber Waves | Posted on June 13, 2016

ERS research in 2005-06 found that organic premiums ranged from about 15 percent for onions and carrots to about 109 percent for skim milk. A recent ERS study set out to determine what price premiums consumers are paying for organic foods and whether those premiums are declining over time. In estimating the retail price difference between 17 organic products and their nonorganic counterparts from 2004 to 2010, the researchers found that all organic products were more costly than their nonorganic counterparts and that the premium was above 20 percent for all but spinach. Most premiums did not steadily increase or decrease during the 7 years studied, but fluctuated. Of the 17 products examined, only 4—spinach, canned beans, granola, and coffee—saw premiums generally decline. Only strained baby food’s and yogurt’s price premiums generally increased. Product-specific supply and demand factors help explain some of the differences among the estimated organic price premiums for the 17 products.

U.S. cheese among world's best

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 7, 2016

Earlier this spring, the U.S. won a large majority of the medals awarded at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, proving that it can compete with the world’s best cheeses. Expert judges from 16 different countries critiqued 2,959 cheeses from 23 countries. Only 330 cheeses, or 11%, won medals, and three out of four medal winners were from the U.S.   For the first time since 1988, the top award in the contest went to a U.S. cheese — a smear-ripened hard cheese from Emmi Roth USA, located in south-central Wisconsin.  The World Championship Cheese Contest is held on an every-other-year basis. Based on medals, the U.S. cheese is good and getting even better. In 2012, the U.S. took home 65.9% of the medals; in 2014, 69.3%, and in 2016, 74.8%.

Chicken Council seeks mandatory labeling on frozen chicken products

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 7, 2016

In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) for mandatory labeling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready to eat (RTE). These raw chicken products, typically sold frozen, include items such as breaded, pre-browned chicken cordon bleu, chicken Kiev and chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese

“Voluntary” FDA Sodium Targets May Bind Food Companies

OFW law | Posted on June 3, 2016

FDA yesterday released so-called “voluntary” targets for sodium reduction for 150 categories of foods.  A spreadsheet issued by the agency details baseline sodium content for each of the categories and lists short-term and long-term targets. The agency says it "recognizes the important role of sodium in food for microbial safety, stability, and other functions . . . This guidance is not intended to undermine these functions, but to provide measurable voluntary draft short-term (2 year) and long-term (10 year) goals for sodium content."  The draft guidance has two comment periods on different sections. One is for 90 days and the other for 150 days. Different food categories have different sodium targets, and some products will have more room for reductions than others. The agency singled out salad dressing as an example, saying the amount of sodium ranges from 150 mg per hundred grams to more than 2,000. Wheat bread ranges from 220 mg to 671 mg.

Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Billion In 2015

Growing Produce | Posted on June 2, 2016

Organic sales have grown 11% from 2014 to 2015’s total of $43.3 billion.  Nearly 5% of all the food sold in the U.S. in 2015 was organic.  The demand for fresh organic was most evident in the continued growth of “fresh juices and drinks,” which saw explosive growth of 33.5% in 2015, making it the fastest-growing of all the organic subcategories.

Genetically modified salmon approved for sale as food in Canada

CBC News | Posted on June 2, 2016

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon has been approved for sale as food in Canada. AquaBounty said it will be at least a year before the salmon will be available in stores.  A final round of thorough and rigorous Canadian scientific reviews found that AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon. The same conclusion was reached by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, but it took until November 2015 for the agency to approve the fish for sale as food in that country.