Companies like Whole Foods are betting customers will pay more for unhurried maturing of birds.The U.S. chicken industry has spent decades figuring out how to grow its birds fast. Now, some of its customers are looking for producers willing to slow things down.A typical commercial chicken has been bred to grow to twice the size of birds from 50 years ago, in around half the time. The faster pace has meant big savings and fatter profits for the meatpackers that raise them. But companies such as Whole Foods Market Inc. and Starbucks Corp. now are betting their customers are willing to pay more for chicken raised at a more leisurely rate.
Growing demand for meat from animals raised more slowly reflects a broader shift in consumer tastes for food and farm practices regarded as more humane and natural. The debate over how food should be raised has powered a flood of changes by meat companies that for decades have worked to drive down costs and scale-up production.
An investigation has been set in motion by the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) into Dole Food Co. over a Listeria outbreak linked to packaged salads. The outbreak sickened 33 in the U.S. and Canada, and four people died.
The legal case focuses on chemicals used in the farming process.
PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats is facing a potential class-action lawsuit that alleges the food brand’s claims it is “100% Natural” are deceptive.
The lawsuit specifically alleges that Quaker Oats claims its oats are grown using “eco-friendly” methods but that the brand contains the chemical glyphosate, which is purportedly sprayed on the oats as a drying agent shortly before harvest. Glyphosate notably generated headlines last year after the World Health Organization declared the chemical “probably” causes cancer in people.
Patrons at soup kitchens and food pantries probably don’t realize it, but depending on the day, they may be dining on some of the region’s most expensively produced fare—meat and vegetables from Dan Colen, a Hudson Valley farmer who donates his entire output to several local food banks.
Mr. Colen, a New York artist better known for his big-ticket paintings and sculptures, spent $215,000 last year operating his spread, putting out 10,000 pounds of meat, chicken and eggs, along with 14,500 pounds of fruit and vegetables.
While the beef and pork costs a lot more to produce than the carrots and beets, the overall average production cost is $8.75 a pound. If he donated that $215,000, those dollars might buy a lot more food.
The levels of multidrug resistant strains of salmonella in raw chicken and turkey products that consumers purchase at the grocery store have declined since 2011, the FDA said Thursday in a report based on samples taken from January 2014 to June 2015. Twenty percent of the chicken the agency tested contained salmonella resistant to more than one antibiotic, compared to 45 percent in 2011, while the rate of antibiotic resistant bacteria in turkey has fallen from 50 percent to 36 percent during the same time frame. Overall, prevalence of salmonella in retail poultry is at its lowest level since testing began in 2002.
A federal judge in California has dismissed, with prejudice, a lawsuit filed against Whole Foods by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, alleging that the high-end “natural” and organic food retailer is deceiving consumers with its claims of “humane” treatment of the animals from which Whole Foods derives its meat products.
According to court documents, the U.S. District Court judge in San Jose granted Whole Foods’ motion for dismissal, saying that PETA and its co-plaintiffs had failed to back up its allegations with affirmative examples or any demonstration that information omitted from Whole Foods’ marketing claims had compromised consumer safety in any way.
Advocates of mandatory GMO labeling claim they are simply fighting for consumers’ right to decide for themselves. This is misleading. Consumers who really care can already “decide for themselves.” Simple instructions on avoiding GMOs are available from many sources, such as Whole Food’s website. And there are at least 10 apps designed to inform consumers on which foods contain GMOs and which do not.
Plus, GMO labels already exist for concerned consumers. The non-profit Non-gmo project has begun certifying and labeling foods that contain little to no genetically modified ingredients. The Non-GMO Project’s label is now “the fastest growing label in the natural products industry.”
They’re probably doing a better job at labeling than the FDA or USDA could. A 2010 Inspector General study found that the USDA’s organic certification requirements have been poorly enforced. The same problems would likely arise if the USDA were given control over GMO labeling requirements.
Despite what anti-GMO activists want you to believe, there is no scientific justification for GMO labeling. Eighty-eight percent of scientists at the American Association for the Advancement of Science agree that GMOs are safe, higher than the percentage of AAAS scientists who think climate change is human-caused.
The Chef Ann Foundation provides tools that help schools serve children healthy and delicious scratch-cooked meals made with fresh, whole food. To that end, the foundation, in partnership with Skoop, is accepting applications for Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools, a program that aims to expand students’ palates and encourage increased consumption of and exposure to fresh produce.
Grants of up $2,500 will be awarded to school districts for programs that engage students in lunchroom education activities that encourage students to taste new vegetables and fruits offered either in a dish, cooked, or raw. Grant funds must be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to support each school's planned Project Produce programming. In addition, the majority of the produce must be locally accessible and at a price point affordable to all households.
Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted by the school district's food-service director. Districts may apply for up to ten schools at $2,500 per school.
Taste, safety and price remained consumers’ most important values when purchasing food this month, according to Oklahoma State University’s April “Food Demand Survey” (FooDS). FooDS, a monthly online survey with a sample size of at least 1,000 individuals, tracks consumer preferences and sentiment on the safety, quality and price of food consumed at home and away from home, with a particular focus on meat demand.
The April report shows that consumers’ food values remained similar to those in past months, with slight decreases in perceived values of price and nutrition and increases in perceived values of fairness and convenience.
Similar to previous months, consumers reported that their main challenge was finding affordable foods that fit within their budget; the challenge experiencing the largest percentage increase was "finding foods my children will eat."
In April, 6.21% of participants reported having food poisoning, a 10% decrease from the previous month.
The Egg Industry Center Issues Forum in Chicago April 20-21, brought together egg producers, trade association representatives, some researchers and even a few activists and representatives from McDonald’s, and, as expected, the hot topic was cage-free egg purchase pledges. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) representative at the forum was the only person who was smiling throughout the two days of presentations and discussions.
Egg producers aren’t happy because they are facing what could be a cumulative $6-10 billion capital outlay to convert an industry that still has around 90 percent of its birds in cages to cage-free. Lenders aren’t happy, according to Jeff Coit, vice presdient, Farm Credit Services of America, because of the uncertainty over what actual consumer acceptance will be of cage-free eggs and whether or not the price that egg producers receive will be consistent and high enough to pay off the loans for the new systems. Just to make the financing of cage-free a little more interesting, you have to consider that houses with cages aren’t as good for loan collateral as they once were since we don’t know how long their useful life will be, Coit reported.
Even activists groups, like World Wildlife Federation, represented by one of its vice presidents, Carlos Saviani, aren’t happy about the cage-free movement, because it puts a subjective evaluation of bird welfare in the driver’s seat ahead of environmental sustainability measures. Simply put, cage housing has a smaller environmental footprint than does cage-free, so more resources to produce eggs means less land for wildlife.