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The raging legal battle over what makes a food ‘natural’

The Washington Post | Posted on September 5, 2017

More than a year after the Food and Drug Administration signaled that it would soon nail down exactly what the word “natural” means, the agency has yet to provide any guidance — and baffled consumers are suing. They’ve sued Sargento, the dairy giant, because the cows behind its “natural” cheeses are given genetically modified feed.They’ve sued Walmart over its “all-natural” pita chips, which contain thiamine mononitrate and folic acid — both B vitamins that are made synthetically. Since January,  court filings show that there’s been an uptick in lawsuits against food companies regarding “all-natural” and “natural” claims — and some lawyers say the FDA’s continued silence is to blame.Nineteen all-natural class actions have been filed this year, as of July 2017. There were 27 such suits for the entire year of 2016.


FDA Releases Sixth Chapter of Draft Guidance for the PC-Human Food Rule

FDA | Posted on August 31, 2017

Today, the FDA announced the availability of guidance for food facilities that explains how to establish and implement a heat treatment, such as baking or cooking, to prevent contamination by disease-causing bacteria. This is the sixth chapter of the draft guidance, entitled “Draft Guidance for Industry: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food,” designed to help food facilities comply with the preventive controls for human food rule, mandated by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.The final rule, entitled “Current Good Manufacturing Practices, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food,” published on September 17, 2015, builds on previous food safety requirements and introduces others that together establish a more modern, preventive, and risk-based approach to food safety.This draft guidance is intended to help food facilities comply with specific requirements of the rule, such as developing a written food safety plan, establishing preventive controls, and taking corrective actions. The FDA intends to publish at least 14 chapters of the guidance and will continue to announce the availability of each chapter as it becomes available.   A compliance date is approaching on September 18, 2017 for small businesses (those with fewer than 500 full-time employees) that are required to comply with the preventive controls for human food rule.


HSUS pushing new farm animal ballot initiative in California

San Francisco Chronicle | Posted on August 31, 2017

On Tuesday, the Humane Society of the United States introduced a ballot initiative called the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, which calls for a requirement that all pork and veal sold in California be produced without restrictive crates, and that all eggs produced and sold in the state be cage-free. It would make California the only state other than Massachusetts, which passed similar legislation last year, to have such regulations on farm animal welfare. The biggest potential impact of the initiative could be on pork. California does not have a large pork industry, and most of the pork sold here comes from out-of-state producers who would have to comply with the regulations when selling their product here.The next step is for organizers to get more than 365,000 signatures within 180 days in order for the initiative to be placed on the statewide ballot in November 2018.


Commission seeks more oversight, surveillance on antibiotic use in food animals

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 31, 2017

A new commission supported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has issued a report calling for more surveillance, oversight and restriction of antibiotic use in food animals.  


Broiler welfare: Who is behind Global Animal Partnership?

Watt Ag Net | Posted on August 31, 2017

Foodservice and restaurant companies following the recent trend of adopting broiler welfare standards have typically been pledging to adopt standards set by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) by 2024.GAP standards call for the following:Using broiler breeds scientifically proven to have markedly improved welfare outcomes,Providing chickens with more space (maximum stocking density of 6 lbs./sq. ft.) and improved environments, including lighting, litter and enrichments. Eliminating live shackling and dumping and ensuring birds are rendered unconscious through multistep controlled atmospheric stunning. But other questions commonly asked are what is GAP and who are the people that make decisions on behalf of the GAP? GAP is presently governed by a seven-member board. None of the board members are involved in broiler production, although one is involved in pork production and another is involved in beef production. Also present on the board is a Whole Foods Market representative and leaders from four animal rights or animal welfare organizations, including Wayne Pacelle, head of HSUS.


Food Leaders Take Notice: How Millennials Are Changing The Way We Eat

Forbes | Posted on August 30, 2017

Millennials, by and large, are credited for being the ones who are out to “change the world.” They’re the most in tune with technology. They’re the most likely to go out to eat. And most importantly, they’re the ones who’ve changed the idea of value. However, what if all these things could be synthesized into one? While it’s true that the world of food isn’t being disrupted overnight, millennials are certainly leading the change in the food revolution. From fast casual to farm-to-table, it seems as though every other month we hear about this generation finding something new to sink their teeth into. But there’s a bigger picture at play, and it’s one that’s not going away anytime soon. 


Do you know the facts about modified foods?

Knowridge | Posted on August 30, 2017

Farmers have been selectively breeding plants for thousands of years. They have done so to make them tastier, bigger, or hardier. Technology has moved part of this process out of the farmer’s field and into the scientist’s lab. Now plants like corn and soybeans can be changed by changing certain genes.Like many people, you may wonder if these foods are safe to eat. A recent report looked closely at the scientific evidence to date. Read on to learn the facts about these foods.

 


Americans Are Confused About Food And Don't Know Where to Turn For Answers

Science Alert | Posted on August 30, 2017

More than one-third of Americans do not know that foods with no genetically modified ingredients contain genes, according to the new nationally representative Food Literacy and Engagement Poll  recently conducted at Michigan State University. For the record, all foods contain genes, and so do all people. The majority of respondents who answered this question incorrectly were young and affluent, and also more likely than their peers to describe themselves as having a higher-than-average understanding of the global food system.The full survey revealed that much of the US public remains disengaged or misinformed about food. These findings are problematic because food shapes our lives on a personal level, while consumer choices and agricultural practices set the course for our collective future in a number of ways, from food production impacts to public health. When it comes to food, many Americans do not trust experts. Just 59 percent of respondents in our survey said that they trusted information from academic scientists on nutrition and food safety.Less than half (49 percent) trusted government scientists, and only one-third (33 percent) trusted industry scientists.Instead, consumers wade through conflicting recommendations from friends, relatives and celebrities that compete with fake news online for attention.


Washington state halts salmon farm permits after fish escape

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on August 29, 2017

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has directed the Department of Ecology to put on hold any new permits for net pens after thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound earlier this month from a damaged salmon farm.State officials also announced Saturday the formation of a response team comprised of the departments of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, and Ecology. The team also includes the Office of the Governor and state Emergency Management Division.It's not yet clear how many non-native Atlantic salmon escaped into Puget Sound from Canada-based Cooke Aquaculture's salmon farm off Cypress Island. Officials say the pens held about 305,000 fish.


McDonald's developing species specific policies

Meat + Poultry | Posted on August 24, 2017

 McDonald’s Corp. plans to develop species- specific policies and timelines for its suppliers to provide chicken, beef, pork, eggs and dairy sourced from animals not treated with “highest priority critically important” antibiotics.  The chain outlined its goals for antibiotic stewardship in the company’s Global Vision for Antibiotic Stewardship in Food Animals (VAS). “…McDonald’s is committed to reducing the need for antibiotics, and has a preference for raw materials (beef, poultry, pork, dairy cows and laying hens and defined as “Food Animals”) supplied through progressive farming practices including the Responsible Use of Antibiotics,” the company said. “As one of the world’s largest food companies, we will seize the opportunity to use its scale for good, to influence industry change on the issue of Responsible Use of Antibiotics.”


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