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Food News

Providing Insights Into U.S. Food Demand and Food Assistance Programs

USDA | Posted on August 24, 2017

An analysis of data from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS) found that SNAP benefits accounted for over 60 percent of the average SNAP household’s food-at-home expenditures. SNAP benefits played a strong role in the food budgets of households with children and those in deep poverty.FoodAPS data revealed that more than 20 percent of the time that food was acquired, it was acquired for free.


Vegetarian men more likely to get depressed: study

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on August 24, 2017

Vegetarian men showed more symptoms of depression than non-vegetarians, possibly due to nutritional deficiencies, a University of Bristol study said. Researchers analyzed data from 9,668 men in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children in southwest England, of which 350 identified themselves as vegetarians. Those who were vegetarian for a longer period of time tended to have higher depression scores.


US beef struggles in China

Journal Gazette | Posted on August 21, 2017

At the Sam's Club store in Beijing's Shijingshan district, the chilled beef on offer is so dominated by Australian cuts – such as marbled rib-eye steaks and fatty oxtail chunks – that many customers are oblivious to the few packs of U.S. meat available. “I haven't noticed the U.S. beef here,” said Hui Xue, who was shopping for steaks that he cooks once a week. Even if he had spotted the produce, it probably wouldn't have gone into his cart. The American meat – back in China after 14 years as part of a trade deal hailed by the Donald Trump administration – was only available in little strips meant to be stir-fried rather than in larger hunks that can be sizzled on a cast-iron skillet.Viveca Zhang, another shopper at the store, also bypassed the American supply. “I would like to try the U.S. beef, but there are only a few options to choose from,” she said.Their reluctance emphasizes the barriers that U.S. beef faces on its re-entry into the world's second-biggest consumer after being barred in 2003 due to concerns over mad cow disease.While the return prompted fanfare from the Trump administration and promises that shiploads of meat would start arriving at China's shores, producers may have to endure a long slog back into the market. That's because rivals from nations including Australia and Brazil rushed in to dominate sales when the Americans were shut out.“Trade will grow gradually, but I don't think it will increase to the extent that would affect China's beef market, because of its limited supply,” Chenjun Pan, an analyst at Rabobank International, said of the U.S. meat.


FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on August 21, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years. Ultra-filtered milk is fresh farm milk run through a filter to reduce the amount of water and lactose and concentrate the natural proteins.“FDA’s announcement is an important win for Wisconsin and other great cheese-making states,” John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association said in a  statement.Umhoefer said the FDA’s decision will allow cheese-makers to use the concentrated form of milk with flexible labeling restrictions. “There’s been an oversupply of milk in the U.S. for over a year, causing real financial stress for dairy farm families. This decision can lead to more production of … ultra-filtered milk and find new markets for our abundant milk supplies,” Umhoefer said.


How safe is chicken imported from China?

The Conversation | Posted on August 21, 2017

Cooked poultry is considered to be a processed food item, so it is excluded from country of origin labeling requirements which would apply to raw chicken. This means that U.S. consumers will not know they are consuming chicken grown and processed in China. Restaurants also are excluded from country of origin labeling, so the cooked poultry could be sold to restaurants without consumers knowing. The first Chinese exporter did not specify the name brand that its cooked chicken is being sold under. The key issue is cost competitiveness. If China can sell cooked poultry at a competitive price point, there will most likely be a U.S. market for it. At this point, though, the Chinese poultry industry is not as integrated (that is, organized so that one company owns breeder birds, hatcheries, grow-out farms and processing plants) or technologically advanced as the U.S. poultry industry. In the short run this makes it difficult for China to compete with the U.S. poultry industry at any appreciable level, even though Chinese labor costs are lower.


FDA Clarifies Sanitary Transportation Rule Waiver for Retail Food Establishments

The Coastal Bend Chronicle | Posted on August 17, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued guidance to clarify that a waiver to the Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food final rule (Sanitary Transportation rule) covers retail food establishments that sell food for humans, including those that sell both human and animal food, but does not apply to establishments that only sell food for animals. The Sanitary Transportation rule  established a process by which FDA may waive any of the rule’s requirements for certain classes of persons, vehicles, or types of food  if doing so will not result in the transportation of food under conditions that would be unsafe for human or animal health, or contrary to the public interest.  


FDA eases restrictions on ultra-filtered milk for cheese-making

Wisconsin State Farmer | Posted on August 17, 2017

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says ultra-filtered cow’s milk can now be used to make all types of natural cheeses, a move that Wisconsin cheese-makers have sought for nearly 20 years. Ultra-filtered milk is fresh farm milk run through a filter to reduce the amount of water and lactose and concentrate the natural proteins.“FDA’s announcement is an important win for Wisconsin and other great cheese-making states,” John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association said in a statement.Umhoefer said the FDA’s decision will allow cheese-makers to use the concentrated form of milk with flexible labeling restrictions.“There’s been an oversupply of milk in the U.S. for over a year, causing real financial stress for dairy farm families. This decision can lead to more production of … ultra-filtered milk and find new markets for our abundant milk supplies,” Umhoefer said.For years, the dairy industry has worked with the FDA to allow the use of ultra-filtered milk in cheeses with a federal standard of identity — such as cheddar, mozzarella, Colby and brick.The agency has allowed the use of the concentrated milk in standardized cheeses if the filtration took place at the factory where natural cheese was made.


Opinion: FDA overreach on FSMA Produce Safety needs to be addressed

Agri-Pulse | Posted on August 17, 2017

The Food and Drug Administration will soon be micromanaging a wide range of farming-related activities for many farms. In 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, which impacts numerous areas of the food supply, including produce safety.The FDA finalized a FSMA produce safety rule in 2015, with most of the major requirements kicking in over the next several years.  The rule doesn’t require a commodity to be connected to a foodborne illness outbreak in order to be regulated, or even to be similar to the small number of produce commodities that are connected to outbreaks. The FDA has taken the view that because an outbreak is possible, regardless of the likelihood, that’s sufficient.    As explained by the FDA, “it is likely that at least some commodities that currently have never been implicated in an outbreak have a positive probability of being implicated in a future outbreak.”By this logic, except for the limited exceptions that exist in the rule, no produce is safe from the regulatory reach of the FDA. The FDA isn’t taking a broad interpretation of FSMA’s language; instead, it is ignoring FSMA’s language and doing the exact opposite of what Congress intended.By regulating more fruits and vegetable, the FDA has also given itself the ability to enforce its produce safety rule requirements on a far greater number of farmers.  These standards cover a wide range of issues that address potential on-farm sources of contamination from water quality and testing to sanitation of equipment, tools, and buildings.


Fear on the farm: what will America eat when Trump throws out migrant labor?

Pacific Standard | Posted on August 17, 2017

 "A lot of people in this country think of immigrants based on what they hear on television or read in the news or Internet," Wood says. "We want people to know that, every day, they eat or drink something an immigrant helps produce: wine, or a glass of milk, or cheese, or the hotel bed they sleep in."In 2013, Wood's family hired Pedro, a short, mustachioed man of 47 with a thick head of black hair. He has been in the U.S. for 13 years, leaving behind a large family in Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico coast, where he raised cows. Wood says he hired the two other workers in a "kind of underground" system "through a friend of a friend.""We needed people and tried to get Americans," he says, "but they wouldn't do it."Pedro (not his real name), who speaks little English, says he is treated well by his farm family, and Vermonters, for the most part, are kind. "But now, the laws are different with the police, and we can feel that," he says. "I am afraid to go to public places. And it makes me sad."  The Wood family laughs when they hear the president talk brashly about their Mexican workers as "bad hombres" and say they hope immigration reform comes soon."If these guys were drug dealers or bad guys, they wouldn't be coming to a farm to work," Loren Wood says."If we didn't have them, I'd have to cut our numbers. If we lost the help, we'd have to sell the cows," he continues. "If all the immigrants on the farms are deported, what is the country going to eat?"


Can we feed the world with farmed fish?

NPR | Posted on August 17, 2017

For years, scientists and activists have sounded the alarm that humans' appetite for seafood is outpacing what fishermen can sustainably catch. But new research suggests there is space on the open ocean for farming essentially all the seafood humans can eat. A team of scientists led by Rebecca Gentry, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that widescale aquaculture utilizing much of the ocean's coastal waters could outproduce the global demand for seafood by a staggering 100 times.Their paper, published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, could have significant implications for a planet whose human population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Nearly every coastal country has the potential to meet its own domestic demand for seafood, "typically using only a minute fraction of its ocean territory," write the authors.In their research, the scientists analyzed the potential of virtually every square mile of the ocean's surface for producing 120 different species of fish and 60 species of bivalves – that is, mussels, clams, oysters and scallops. They immediately eliminated ocean waters deeper than about 650 feet, since ocean aquaculture generally requires anchoring floating pens and cages to the seafloor. They sought out areas rich in dissolved oxygen and phytoplankton – essential for bivalves, which filter microscopic food from the water. The researchers also excluded marine protected areas and regions where floating pens and cages might block shipping lanes and port entries or interfere with oil extraction.They calculated that marine aquaculture could produce 16.5 billion tons of fish per year, or about 4,000 pounds per person."And we were being very, very conservative in our calculations," says co-author Halley Froehlich, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Barbara.


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