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FDA Releases Guide on Pet Food Diets Intended to Treat Diseases

FDA | Posted on April 29, 2016

U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) that explains the criteria FDA will consider when determining whether to take enforcement action regarding dog and cat food diets intended to treat a disease.

Pet food diets labeled with therapeutic claims are specially formulated to address specific diseases (for example, urinary tract disease in cats). In the past, these diets were sold through and used under the direction of licensed veterinarians. However, FDA has observed an increase in marketing of these diets directly to pet owners over the internet and in retail stores. This shift toward direct marketing, without veterinary direction or involvement, concerns FDA because these diets are formulated for specific health needs and may not be suitable for all pets.

In the interest of animal safety, dog and cat food diets labeled with therapeutic claims (e.g., renal failure, diabetes) should be available only through licensed veterinarians or through retailers and internet sellers under the direction of a veterinarian. In addition, comprehensive labeling information and other manufacturer communications for these diets should be made available only through licensed veterinarians.


Can food hubs boost rural farming economies?

High Country News | Posted on April 29, 2016

Nationally, the demand for local food is far outpacing the supply farmers can provide. As the general public becomes more aware of how distant we are from the farmers who grow what we eat, more organizations are emphasizing local food production as a means to support rural economies. But much of the increased access has been in urban areas; food hubs are one way for rural communities to have access to local food, too. To make it work, however, farmers have to shift growing practices and cooperate with local organizations, and governments may need to provide the physical infrastructure, if local organizations can’t afford to lease on their own like the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers did.

To help these rural food systems grow, the Department of Agriculture is putting more resources into food hub funding and research, building on older local food initiatives. In the 1990s, it tracked farmers market development, which increased in the 2000s with the agency’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative. By 2008, Congress had provided over $10 million to fund direct farmer-to-consumer sales like agrotourism and food cooperatives; and in 2014, amendments to the Farm Bill focused more on local food promotion, aggregation, and distribution. From 2009 to 2015, the department put about $1 billion into 40,000 local food infrastructure projects across the country.


Wal-Mart to drop its organic brand, Wild Oats,

Market Watch | Posted on April 29, 2016

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is phasing out its Wild Oats organic food brand, according to people familiar with the matter, dropping a line of products introduced two years ago to bring inexpensive organics to the masses.

The world’s largest retailer has unwound a complicated deal with private-equity firm Yucaipa Cos. that allowed it to sell Wild Oats pasta sauces, cereals and other shelf stable products, the people said. The products will disappear from Wal-Mart shelves in coming months.

Now Wal-Mart is switching tactics, hoping to add organic products to shelves in other ways, including selling more fresh produce and going it alone by adding more organic food to its existing store brand, Great Value.


Osteopaths’ study damning meat is ‘weak’: NAMI

meatingplace.com | Posted on April 28, 2016

A review of large-scale studies involving more than 1.5 million people, calls out meat for its connection to a host of mortality causes, but is based on “weak correlation data,” said Betsy Booren, vice president of scientific affairs for the North American Meat Institute.

The review was conducted by physicians from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and is titled, "Is Meat Killing Us?"

The authors analyzed six studies that evaluated the effects of meat and vegetarian diets on mortality with a goal of giving primary care physicians evidence-based guidance about whether they should discourage patients from eating meat. Their recommendation: Physicians should advise patients to limit animal products when possible and consume more plants than meat.

But, the study is “another example of taking weak correlation data from a few studies and trying to make a broader conclusion from it,” Booren said. “The authors do not provide any reasoning for why they chose the studies included in their analysis, and they left out studies that contradicted their findings. It is also unfortunate that the authors chose not to include extensive research on the nutrition and health benefits of meat as well as potential health deficiencies from vegetarian diets, which the same authors documented in another paper.


How the World Health Organization's cancer agency confuses consumers

Reuters | Posted on April 25, 2016

Processed meat, such as bacon, ranks alongside plutonium as a carcinogen, according to an arm of the WHO. Here’s how such assessments happen – and what they mean.

Thanks to scientists working under the auspices of the World Health Organization, you can be fairly sure your toothbrush won’t give you cancer. Over four decades, a WHO research agency has assessed 989 substances and activities, ranging from arsenic to hairdressing, and found only one was “probably not” likely to cause cancer in humans. It was an ingredient in nylon used in stretchy yoga pants and toothbrush bristles.

All the other 988 substances, however, pose some level of risk or need further research, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is an arm of the WHO. Some things in IARC’s top category of carcinogens are pretty obvious nasties, such as plutonium, mustard gas and smoking tobacco. Others are more surprising: Also ranked as “Group 1 Carcinogens” are wood dust and Chinese salted fish.


Judge Says Lawsuit Accusing Chipotle of Deception Over GMOs Can Go Forward

Wall Street Journal | Posted on April 25, 2016

The case, filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida in September and seeking class action status, claims that Chipotle misled consumers in ads saying its food is GMO-free. Chipotle’s meat and dairy products come from animals that consume genetically modified feed, the suit alleges. A Miami judge rejected Chipotle’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. A trial date is set for November.


Whole Food Effect: When Small Food Makers Get the Call to Go Big

New York Times | Posted on April 25, 2016

Companies have learned that the wxcitement of the Whole FOods effect can quickly turn to fear as they face producing and distributing their reciped at larger volumes while maintaining quality and consistency. 


Legal defeat only emboldens 'food sovereignty' soldiers

Connecticut Post | Posted on April 25, 2016

The farm is a way of life Heather Retberg said needs to be protected from an aggressive regulatory structure that keeps small farms from getting food to local people. State legislators' pushback against "food sovereignty" advocates like Retberg, in Maine and elsewhere in the country, has only emboldened her.   "It's my right, as an individual, to grow the food I eat, she said."

The Retbergs, like the food sovereignty movement they are a part of, aren't going anywhere. The movement consists of a loose collection of farmers and activists who want to exempt local food producers from federal and state regulations, arguing they work in favor of big food producers and trample on the little guy.

Sedgwick was the first town in Maine to approve an ordinance declaring local control of food production, and supporters believe it was the first of its kind in the country. Sixteen other Maine towns have followed.

A bill calling for the amendment, proposed by organic farmer and Democratic state Rep.Craig Hickman, would have declared the right to food as "inalienable" in Maine. The amendment, if also approved by state voters, would have made it impossible to infringe upon residents' ability to hunt, gather or farm for whatever food they choose, or to prevent them from buying from others who produce food they want.

Backers saw it as a way to prevent government from intruding in local farm production and sales, and to take food production back from corporate control. But the Maine Senate shot down the proposed amendment, after the House approved it by a two-thirds majority.


How Chick-fil-A’s famously cute ad campaign hurts beef sales

Meatingplace | Posted on April 25, 2016

Back in 1995, an innovative PR firm or in-house marketing genius invented the famous “save the cow” marketing strategy for Chick-fil-A.  For twenty-one years now, this award-winning ad campaign has helped the Chick-fil-A brand differentiate itself from the crowded beef burger landscape.  Kudos to them for their competitive creativity.  If only it didn’t come at the beef industry’s expense.

Negative ad campaigns seem to be the only way to win political elections in current times, but are they the best way to promote food brands?  I guess it’s really not too different from the strategy employed by many in the organic industry where they differentiate their organic items by throwing rocks at traditional agriculture. We all get why that happens; because it works.  The makers of many organic brands have convinced millions of mostly millennials that GMOs are bad, traditionally raised fruits and vegetables are bad, and pretty much anything other than “organic” and “GMO-free” is downright dangerous.  Let’s throw traditional agriculture under the bus to make our stuff sell more.  Similarly, Chick-fil-A has inadvertently brainwashed an entire generation into thinking that eating bird-brained chickens is morally superior to eating those clever, ever-so-adorable Holsteins.  


UF/IFAS study finds better way to keep shrimp juicy, tasty

University of Florida | Posted on April 25, 2016

When you eat a shrimp, you probably want it to be juicy. That’s why University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to find alternatives to phosphates to lock in that texture and savory flavor.

Normally, phosphate or table salt is used to retain moisture in meat and seafood, said Paul Sarnoski, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition. But adding salt to the food puts more salt in a person’s diet, and that’s unhealthy, Sarnoski said. Additionally, phosphates are relatively expensive, he said.  In a study in the Journal of Food Science, Sarnoski and his UF/IFAS colleagues found that phosphate alternatives such as polysaccharides – a type of carbohydrate often used as a food additive – can help retain water in shrimp. UF/IFAS scientists tested the shrimp using phosphates and polysaccharides. They boiled, froze and dried the crustaceans to see how much water the shrimp lost.  For this study, UF/IFAS researchers tested Atlantic white shrimp, which, in addition to being tasty and nutritious, are a vital component to the United States economy. In 2012, 118 million pounds of the shrimp were harvested.


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