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Sessions clears way for food companies to ignore FDA guidance

Food Safety News | Posted on February 13, 2018

Those guidance documents the Food and Drug Administration hands out to food manufacturers and others don’t mean as much as they once did. The Department of Justice has changed its policy so government lawyers will no longer rely on guidance documents to establish civil law infractions. In his memo on the subject, Sessions said the DOJ would no longer engage in the practice. Actions by an associate AG on Jan. 25 made the policy change official. In the future, DOJ’s civil litigators won’t be able “convert agency guidance documents into binding rules.” And more importantly, noncompliance with any guidance document cannot be used to prove violations involving federal civil enforcement actions.Megan E. Grossman, who chairs the life sciences practice group for the law firm of Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney in Philadelphia, is an expert on the policy change. She says FDA “routinely issues guidance documents for all areas under its control, including food, cosmetics, veterinary products, drugs, medical devices, and vaccines, blood, and biologics, among others.”Grossman expects the new DOJ policy “will likely have an effect on the amount of governmental actions” brought against FDA-regulated companies. She thinks DOJ’s civil attorneys will be under instructions that FDA guidance documents cannot be used to prove violations of affirmative civil enforcement actions…”

Kraft Heinz Made Its Factories Really Efficient. Now It Has to Sell Bologna

Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 13, 2018

For decades, Kraft Foods Group produced Oscar Mayer cold cuts out of a six-story, former slaughterhouse built in 1872.The systems seemed out of another era. Workers drove forklifts loaded with giant vats of ham, turkey and chicken parts on and off freight elevators to different processing points. A typical turkey breast required four rides between floors to get from raw meat to packaged slices. Breakdowns could slow production to a crawl. The inefficiency was easy to spot for 3G Capital LLC, the acquisitive Brazilian investment giant, which took over Kraft in 2015. The outdated plant—workers called it the world’s biggest bologna maker—immediately landed on a list of seven facilities to close when the 3G-run H.J. Heinz finalized the $49 billion deal, one part of a plan to extract nearly $2 billion in savings by applying 3G’s cost-cutting mantra to operations.Over the past 2½ years, thousands of workers lost their jobs, and iconic Kraft buildings, including the original Oscar Mayer headquarters in Madison, Wis., have been shuttered and sold. The cost-cutting project is now wrapping up, giving Kraft HeinzCothe highest operating profit margin among its peers in the U.S. food industry. That success, however, has unveiled a new, tougher challenge, one that is outside 3G’s traditional area of expertise. Kraft Heinz commands a smaller share of a shrinking overall market for processed meats, hit by consumers’ desire for fresher, more natural foods. And while 3G is expert at taking over iconic American brands and squeezing out costs, it is less known for building sales—especially for a product out of sync with consumer tastes.

Cow, Soy or Almond: Which 'Milk' Is Best for You?

Health Day | Posted on February 13, 2018

Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk may all offer lactose-free alternatives to cow's milk, but new research suggests that the dairy version remains the most nutritious option. The finding stems from a Canadian analysis that assessed the nutritional value of a single serving of the four most popular plant-based milks relative to cow's milk."We thought that a review was much overdue in understanding the nutritional information of various plant-based milks," explained study author Sai Kranthi Kumar Vanga.And ultimately, "we were surprised that many of these milks do not have the nutritional density of cow's milk, both in terms of micro and macro nutrients."Nutritionally speaking, cow's milk is still the go-to beverage that has a balanced profile," said Vanga, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of bioresource engineering with the faculty of agriculture and environmental sciences at McGill University in Quebec.

Leftover food bypasses garbage to fill nutritional goals

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on February 13, 2018

One afternoon last week at Fort Lincoln Elementary School in Mandan, kindergartner Traven Hanning placed a red apple on a cart parked in the middle of the cafeteria.The portable cart, dubbed the "share table," allows students like Hanning to return unwanted food to the table, and it gives them an option to take an extra helping."I can't eat my apple because I might break my tooth," said Hanning, who indicated his front tooth was loose. Instead, he prefers milk and crackers, which he has taken before from the share table.

How Stonyfield Could Have Gotten It Right on GMOs

Biotech-now | Posted on February 12, 2018

The uproar following yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm’s recent Facebook video ad featuring elementary school-aged girls perpetuating GMO myths was widespread. Within hours, hundreds of consumers, farmers and scientists condemned the brand for spreading misinformation and fearmongering.  Here’s what a company SHOULD do:Lead with science & facts.Don’t exploit consumer knowledge gaps. GMOs are safe!Inform consumers, don’t fearmonger.The Stonyfield video ended with the statement, “It’s important to know what’s in your food.” That’s correct. So rather than exploiting their knowledge gaps, food companies have an opportunity to help educate, using science-based information and facts.Be open to skeptics & open dialogue.Whether discussing organic, conventional or GMO foods, it’s important to acknowledge consumers’ concerns and communicate with fact-based, open dialogue — banning adverse, but constructive feedback isn’t the answer.

Is Organic Really Better? 4 Food Myths Debunked By Science

Futurism | Posted on February 12, 2018

For some consumers, the mere act of shopping at the supermarket can be full of overwhelming decisions. After extended debate in the grocery aisle, after attempts to parse through the misleading packaging, you might end up choosing the organic tomatoes over the conventional ones. They’re twice the price, so they’ve got to be better, right? But it’s not so simple. Celebrities, anti-GMO groups, and food trends have spread misleading information and myths about the food we chose to eat every day. Do foods labeled “organic” actually make us healthier? Are they free of pesticides? Should we be afraid of pesticides in the first place?  Recently, singer/actress Zooey Deschanel misleadingly claimed that people should eliminate the 12 vegetables and fruits most likely to have the highest amounts of pesticide residues in order to keep healthy. That claim isn’t in line with the consensus of the scientific community, however. Toxicologists have long discredited any ill effects of eating foods that happen to be on that list — 79 percent of the members of the Society of Toxicology said that the EWG “overstated the health risks of chemicals,” according to a 2009 survey by George Mason University. In 2016, the Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit that represents organic and conventional farmers, repeated calls for the EWG to consider the USDA guidelines before renewing its “dirty dozen” list, arguing that the produce on it has repeatedly been shown to have no negative health impacts.Even more concerning, Deschanel urges consumers to “strictly buy organic” foods to avoid pesticides. That’s bad advice backed by faulty reasoning. Many studies have shown that just because a food is labeled “organic,” that doesn’t mean it was grown without pesticides (more on that later). In any case, scientists note that limiting the consumption of fruits and vegetables for fear of pesticide use could be much worse for consumers’ health than inadvertently consuming a little bit of pesticide.

Non-GMO feed a growing factor for meat, dairy consumers

Watt Ag Net | Posted on February 8, 2018

The “non-GMO” label is no longer something that some consumers seek for only plant-based products. That label is now also being sought for animal-based products such as meat, poultry and dairy foods. She showed a picture of one milk carton on which the label promoted the message that GMO feeds were not used for their cattle, and that milk product was not found at a higher-end grocery store that focuses on “natural” foods. Instead, it was seen on the Walmart shelves.“What’s most interesting about this is that milk is from Wal-Mart, so this isn’t just products that are sold at a significant price premium, but ones that are everyday value for everyday consumers,” Dornblaser said.Similar labels are also seen appearing in many other grocery stores as well, she added.

Listeria found in NY raw milk; state urges public to throw it out

Food Safety News | Posted on February 8, 2018

New York officials again today warned the public to immediately dispose of unpasteurized Breese Hollow Dairy raw milk because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The state has issued Listeria alerts for the dairy’s raw milk at least three other times since 2007.  The David Phippen Farm, which operates under the Breese Hollow name, suspended operations on Feb. 2, when state agriculture officials informed the owners that a routine test sample showed preliminary positive results for Listeria monocytogenes.

Federal judge tosses artisanal butter lawsuit, sides with Wisconsin over butter law

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on February 7, 2018

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit brought against Wisconsin officials last year by an Ohio dairy no longer allowed to sell its butter in Wisconsin unless it complies with a state law requiring it to be graded.U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote Monday that a state law requiring that butter sold in Wisconsin be state or federally graded does not violate the constitutional rights of Minerva Dairy, of Minerva, Ohio. The dairy had sold artisanal butter in Wisconsin until February 2017, when state inspectors discovered, after receiving an anonymous complaint, that the butter was ungraded and ordered the company to comply with the law.

'Clean eating' has become such a sham that fast food chains are pushing it

NBC | Posted on February 7, 2018

None of the aggressive, judgmental pitches of the movement have ever been proven. The power of its association with the economic elite has, though. Fast food marketing itself as “clean eating” has got to be one of the more curious phenomena of our brave new world. A descendant of the American organic movement from the 1970s, it is now being sold with particular gusto by “fast casuals” like Panera and Chipotle as a way for consumers to forego factory foods, which are increasingly seen unhealthy, undesirable “poor people’s” food.