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Gluten-free foods may not be healthful, study warns

Medical News Today | Posted on May 11, 2017

As more and more people are adopting a gluten-free diet, a new study investigates the nutritional content of gluten-free products and finds them lacking.  The researchers evaluated the nutritional content of 654 gluten-free foods and compared them with 655 products that contained gluten.The study found that gluten-free products had a higher energy content than gluten-containing items. Additionally, foods with gluten contained up to three times more protein than their gluten-free counterparts.Bread, pasta, pizza, and flour all had a particularly high protein content. For children, passing up on this nutritional content may have a negative impact on their development, and the shortcomings of gluten-free products found in the study raise the risk of childhood obesity. The study also found that gluten-free breads contained considerably more lipids and saturated fats. Furthermore, gluten-free pasta was found to have less sugar than pasta with gluten, and gluten-free biscuits had considerably less protein and more lipids than their gluten-containing equivalent.

Raw milk and cheese cause 840 times more illnesses than pasteurized products

State News | Posted on May 11, 2017

Unpasteurized milk and cheeses made from it are responsible for nearly all foodborne illnesses caused by contaminated dairy products. And the growing popularity of and access to these products threaten to increase the number of disease outbreaks caused by these food items, a new study says. Unpasteurized dairy products cause 840 times more illnesses and 45 times more hospitalizations than pasteurized products do, according to the article, which will be published in the June issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. “Consumer demand for organic and natural foods … has been on the rise. However, in contrast to some perceptions, natural food products are not necessarily safer than conventional ones, as evidenced by higher rates of foodborne illnesses associated with unpasteurized dairy products,” wrote the authors, consultants for EpiX Analytics of Boulder, Colo.

Slower-growing broiler campaign summarized in 4 words

Watt Ag Net | Posted on May 8, 2017

As animal rights activists are actively campaigning to get the U.S. broiler industry to transition into slower-growing breeds, their strategy can be summarized in four words, attendees at the Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit were told.Numbers. “I think when we look at broilers in particular, there’s a numbers game here,” Salois said, pointing out that the amount of chickens in the U.S. and the amount it takes to feed people are larger than the numbers associated with cattle or pigs. Words. “Slow-growth” resonates. It’s simple. It gets headlines.” Brands. Activists are going after the companies and their brands in their push for slower-growing broilers.

Culver’s Kicks Off Second Year of #FarmingFridays

Dairy Herd | Posted on May 2, 2017

Following the success of last year’s #FarmingFridays social content series, Culver’s has again invited agricultural influencers to share photos and videos depicting their passion for and knowledge about agriculture.  #FarmingFridays is part of Culver’s Thank You Farmers initiative, which recognizes the hard work and commitment of the farmers who feed the nation. New for this year, #FarmingFridays will extend  throughout the spring, summer and fall seasons on five different Fridays, beginning on April 28 and ending on November 3.“Culver’s is committed to teaching our guests more about agriculture and the hard work of the people in this industry,” said Jessie Corning, senior marketing manager at Culver’s. “We’re excited to again provide a platform for agricultural leaders to share their stories and educate our guests.”

Which production attributes are most important to consumers?

Beef | Posted on April 28, 2017

A press release from UI detailed the study’s findings, which ranked the top seven specific on-farm practices in consumers’ purchasing decisions, including: 1. Animals were not administered growth hormones.
2. Genetically modified organisms were not used in the production of this product (non-GMO). 3. Animals were humanely raised.4. Animals were not administered antibiotics.5. Animals were raised in a free-range (or cage-free) environment.6. Animals were grass-fed (or raised on a vegetarian diet).
7. The product is certified organic. “The biggest surprise in the study is that ‘no growth hormones’ is the number one concern consumers have across the board on all of these products,” said U of I food economist and lead researcher Brenna Ellison, in the news release. “It’s odd because growth hormones are already prohibited for poultry products.”

Even the Hipster Organic Milk Craze Isn't Enough to End Glut

Bloomberg | Posted on April 28, 2017

It wasn’t that long ago that U.S. dairy farmers couldn’t keep up with the booming demand for organic milk. While everyone from hipsters to housewives is drinking more of the stuff than ever -- and paying twice as much as conventional milk -- the days of shortages are long gone. Production has surged so fast in the past two years that some of the surplus is being sold at a lower price without an organic label. A few dairies are just dumping what they can’t sell. The wave of new supplies reflect an expansion of cow herds by farmers seeking the hefty premiums and growing market share for organic products at a time when most Americans are drinking less milk. The organic surplus may reach 50 million gallons this year, according to Richard Mathews, executive director of the Western Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. In January, the USDA reported a “backlog” of new organic producers trying to secure processing contracts. Some farmers also are now subject to quotas, receiving a conventional price for any excess over a specified volume, the agency said in a March 10 report.

New study deems dairy “excellent” source of protein for children

University of Illinois | Posted on April 28, 2017

Stein and his team determined standardized ileal digestibility of crude protein and amino acids in eight sources of animal and plant protein: whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, skimmed milk powder, pea protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, soy flour, and whole-grain wheat. They derived DIAAS scores from those ileal digestibility values. They also calculated PDCAAS-like scores by applying the total tract digestibility of crude protein in the ingredients to all amino acids. All dairy proteins tested in the study met Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) standards as ”excellent/high”-quality sources of protein for people six months of age or older, with DIAAS values of 100 or greater. Soy protein isolate and soy flour qualified as ”good” sources of protein, with a score between 75 and 100. With scores below 75, pea protein concentrate and wheat did not qualify to make recommendations regarding protein quality."Compared with DIAAS, PDCAAS calculations tended to underestimate the protein value of high quality protein sources, and overestimate the value of lower quality sources," says Stein. "Thus, to better meet protein requirements of humans, especially for people consuming diets that are low or marginal in digestible

Consumer animal welfare concerns increase

Meat + Poultry | Posted on April 28, 2017

Animal welfare has become a concern for a growing number of consumers, according to Packaged Facts, which found 58 percent of shoppers may be seeking products with such claims as free-range, cage-free or humanely raised. “Consumer concern over animal welfare issues has reached critical mass in the meat and poultry industries, creating a new generation of challenges and opportunities,” said David Sprinkle, research director, Packaged Facts. Demand for humanely raised meat and poultry products is part of changing consumer perceptions of healthy eating. Preferences have shifted from so-called diet foods to products that are free of gluten, artificial or bioengineered ingredients, antibiotics and growth hormones, Packaged Facts said. Packaged Facts identified three ways in which food companies can capitalize on this growing trend. First, marketing animal-welfare related practices is essential to staying competitive as more companies demonstrate engagement in such issues through labeling, advertising and promotion, Packaged Facts said. Second, companies should leverage the inherent links between animal welfare and the healthfulness and sustainability of meat, poultry and dairy products. Packaged Facts research shows 53 percent of US adults said they believe humanely raised meat and poultry products are healthier. Third, companies should cater to the trend of flexitarian dieting, said Packaged Facts, which found that 21 percent of Americans report cutting back on red meat in the past few years and that 49 percent agree that consuming more vegetarian sources of protein is better for the environment.

Tyson launches sustainability, wage initiatives for plants, workers

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on April 28, 2017

Tyson Foods Inc. has announced separate programs that are expected to boost sustainable food production at its facilities and provide higher wages for workers at its poultry facilities in an effort to retain employees in a tightening labor market.  Tyson said the sustainability efforts will affect the more than 95,000 employees who work in its chicken, beef, pork and prepared foods operations

Feral hog slaughterhouse takes off in New Orleans

The Salt Lake Tribune | Posted on April 27, 2017

In a region that takes food seriously, feral hogs are despised as destructive, but their rich, dark meat is winning fans among Louisiana chefs. A small slaughterhouse is butchering the wild pigs , which cause the state $76 million-plus in annual damage, and selling sausage to grocery stores and meat to restaurants, where chefs are turning it into savory prosciutto, chorizo and meatballs."To me, it is the most interesting thing I have seen in years," said Rene Bajeux, executive chef for the Palace Cafe and three other Dickie Brennan & Co. restaurants in New Orleans. "It is good for everything — good for business, good for cooking, good for the ecology, good for everything. Those bad beasts are a good treat."Springfield Slaughter House 's main business is butchering wild boar, which otherwise would be gobbling crops, competing with local wildlife and ripping up levees, fragile wetlands and other green spaces.Feral hogs probably do more than $1.5 billion damage nationwide each year, according to the USDA, and the problem is only getting bigger: from 1982 to 2012, the invasive species spread from 17 states to 36. Owner Charlie Munford got into the wild hog business in 2015. He'd been working with farmers, slaughterhouses and chefs to provide local beef, lamb, pork and goat to restaurants when he bought the slaughterhouse about 40 miles northwest of New Orleans in 2014.Hunters have to bring the hogs, weighing in at 90 to 300 pounds, to Munford's slaughterhouse alive so they can be inspected before slaughtering. Munford estimates he's killed about 1,000 over the past year.But one small slaughterhouse can take only a bite out of the estimated 600,000 feral swine in Louisiana: Authorities say 70 percent of the population would have to be killed each year just to keep the numbers from growing.