Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its intent to regulate lab-grown meat—a declaration that provides some clues about how the federal government will treat a new technology that upends some notions about food and agriculture. In some ways, it’s unremarkable that lab-grown meat would fall under FDA’s purview. It’s the federal agency that’s already in charge of ensuring the safety of most foods, from Hot Pockets to baby carrots and coconut water. What is surprising, though, is FDA’s signaling that it wants domain over a meat product. That’s always been the responsibility of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In theory, USDA regulates meat, poultry, and most “egg products,” like pourable egg whites, and FDA regulates everything else. In practice, the relationship between the two agencies is byzantine. A jurisdictional disagreement over mislabeled egg rolls led to a protracted regulatory standoff last year; FDA is responsible for closed-faced sandwiches, while USDA regulates their open-faced counterparts. This announcement suggests more confusion. While USDA will continue to regulate meat from animals, FDA wants to oversee cell-cultured meat grown in labs.
The Food and Drug Administration has been flooded this month with sour comments about its plan to require honey, maple syrup and cranberry products to include “added sugars” on nutrition labels.Remarks from New England maple syrup makers have been particularly bitter. They say they don’t “add” sugar to their naturally sugary product. “The only thing the producers do is evaporate water from the sap of this liquid gold,” one commented.The FDA counters that consumers should know how much “added sugar” maple syrup adds to pancakes. Judging by the flavor of the 2,900 comments submitted online, the reasoning has not been persuasive. “You have to be kidding,” a woman remarked. “You think someone pouring pure 100 percent maple syrup from a jug onto a pile of pancakes doesn’t know they are adding sugar to their breakfast?”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a July 12 meeting to discuss issues around the production and regulation of foods created from culturing animal cells. The meeting comes as more companies seek ways to develop “meat” and other foods without conventional farming practices, and as even traditional meat processors invest more in such companies. The trend has launched a debate about what can be defined as meat, how “cultured” products can be marketed and how they will be regulated.
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue meanwhile is rolling out the new rules for labeling genetically engineered foods. The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS) as adopted by Congress requires food manufacturers to label food for retail sales to include information about bioengineered (BE) food and food ingredients. According to a 114-page economic analysis, additional costs for the initial year of labeling is going to cost the food industry and ultimately consumers $600 million to $3.5 billion. That is potentially more than both USDA and FDA spend annually on food safety. The ongoing costs, though, would be less at $114 million to $225 million each year.
A Texas couple claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that burdensome state regulations have put them in a pickle because they’re prevented from supplementing their income by selling more of their produce at farmers’ markets. Jim and Anita McHaney argue in their lawsuit filed against the Texas Department of State Health Services that the so-called cottage food law only permits them to sell one pickled item: cucumbers.The law governs the sale of produce, pies and other goods at places like markets and fairs. It also requires that sales don’t exceed $50,000 a year.The McHaneys say “value-added products” such as pickled okra, beets or carrots generate more revenue in their retirement and are important to help sustain their Berry Ridge Farm in Hearne, in Robertson County, according to one of their attorneys, Nate Bilhartz.Pickling also allows them to reduce the amount of aging produce that’s tossed to a neighbor’s cows for feed, Bilhartz said. If the state loosened its regulations, then the couple could take the produce that doesn’t sell at market, pickle it and sell it at a value-added price — generating added revenue to cover farm costs, he said.
Online whole animal butcher shop and delivery service Porter Road said it has secured $3.7 million in seed funding from multiple investors. Chefs/butchers Chris Carter and James Peisker founded the company as a brick-and-mortar butcher shop in Nashville in 2011 and, after developing a cult following, launched the online business in February 2018.
A multistate salmonella outbreak has been linked to cut melons, and most of the illnesses have been reported in Michigan and Indiana. Most people who have been infected with this strain of salmonella bought pre-cut melon at Walmart or Kroger stores, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.If you've purchased pre-cut melon from Walmart or Kroger, including fruit salad mixes with melon, you should throw it away.Both stores have removed all cut melon associated with this outbreak, Michigan health officials say.
The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) announced four more people have died as a result of the Yuma, AZ-linked E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, bringing the total to five.
Officials have warned Tennessee consumers to throw out any raw milk from French Broad Farm after more than 10 children, all under the age of 4, became sick with infections from E. coli in the last few weeks. Most of the children drank raw milk from the farm before becoming sick, Food Safety News reports. The Knox County Health Department has said that the dairy farm has stopped distributing milk, but warns people to still avoid milk from the farm for the time being. "KCHD continues to advise the public not to consume raw milk or any other unpasteurized products they may have from the farm; this includes disposing of all raw milk and unpasteurized products they may have from this farm." Per the CDC's website, "Raw milk is milk from any animal that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. While it is possible to get food-borne illnesses from many different foods, raw milk is one of the riskiest of all."
Per capita red meat and poultry disappearance (the amount used in domestic markets, including fresh and processed meat sold through grocery stores and used in restaurants) is expected to reach record highs in 2018, eclipsing the previous high in 2007. Based on USDA forecasts, in 2018, Americans will have access to 222.4 pounds of red meat and poultry on a per capita retail weight basis. Average annual per capita disappearance of beef decreased 0.3 percent annually from 2000 to 2015 but has increased since 2016 and is expected to grow by 3.7 percent in 2018. Per capita disappearance of pork is forecasted to grow by 4.2 percent in 2018, well above its average annual growth rate of 0.1 percent since 2000. Per capita disappearance of broilers (young chickens), however, is expected to grow just 1.1 percent in 2018, slightly below its 10-year average. Rising meat demand in the U.S. has been supported by sustained economic growth since the 2009 Great Recession and stable to declining retail prices brought about by low animal feed costs.