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Food News

USDA, FDA tackle labeling challenges at cell-based meat meeting

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 25, 2018

USDA and FDA officials said truthfulness and transparency in labeling were top of mind as the agencies gather comments on how to best label cell-based meat and poultry products. "Today's focus is … on labeling of cell-cultured meat and poultry products and making sure these products are identified according to customer expectations," said Paul Kiecker, Acting FSIS Administrator, "and that the label doesn't [present] any type of advantage or disadvantage with other products that might be in competition with them."Throughout the final day of the meeting, FDA and USDA labeling experts presented overviews detailing how each agency currently approaches labeling requirements for regulated food products, including statement of identity, net quantity of contents, and ingredient list content and order.

The truth about organic food and cancer

Popular Science | Posted on October 25, 2018

There’s a lot we don’t know about organic food. But one thing we do know? That being a person who both can afford to buy organic and chooses to do so generally means you’re a healthier person. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean organic food makes you a healthier person. That’s the central issue at the heart of a recent study published in JAMA that’s making headlines for purportedly showing that eating organic reduces your risk of cancer. Like so many studies claiming that any specific lifestyle choice will prevent cancer, there’s a lot more to this story.This is a classic case of association: French researchers asked 68,946 adults, also all French, to report how frequently they consumed organic food. They also asked everyone to report whether they had cancer, and at a five-year follow-up, asked again about any cancer diagnoses. On top of that data, the researchers collected information like whether the participant smoked, how much money they earned, how heavily they drank, and how much they exercised. Based on all that, they found a correlation between a lowered overall cancer risk and eating more organic food.What’s getting slightly less attention in the media is what happened when the researchers broke down cancer risk into specific kinds of cancer. Eating organic food had no impact on participants’ risk for premenopausal breast cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, or skin cancer. It was only associated with a reduced risk for postmenopausal breast cancer, lymphomas, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.otential confounding factors—like high income or physical activity level—are especially important when studying the health benefits of organic food, because eating organic is associated with lots of things that also help you live a longer, healthier life. In other words, people who regularly eat organic food tend to have other lifestyle factors and habits that could easily lower cancer risk as well. 

The more money you make, the more fast food you eat

Vox | Posted on October 25, 2018

The stereotype is that poor people eat more fast food than rich people, who virtuously eat only organic salads and cows with names. One problem with this assumption: It isn’t true. According to a new report about American fast food consumption from the Centers for Disease Control, people actually eat more fast food as their income levels go up.The brief is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which uses a combination of interviews and physical examinations to assess the state of American health. Of the roughly 10,000 adults surveyed, just over a third eat some kind of fast food — meaning something they classified as “restaurant fast food/pizza” — on any given day.

Herbicide found in Cheerios reignites debate on food safety

Star Tribune | Posted on October 25, 2018

A national environmental research and advocacy group issued a second report documenting traces of herbicides like Roundup in popular oat cereals such as Cheerios, saying that its presence in food creates an unnecessary cancer risk to children. It is the latest development in a raging controversy over glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide in the world, which most government regulators and food industry leaders say poses no health risk in the amounts that people get in their food. "No question, our foods are safe," said Michael Siemienas, spokesman for General Mills, the maker of Cheerios.Scientists at EWG say the amounts it found are higher than the level they believe is safe for children — 160 parts per billion per serving. But that level is much lower than other recommendations in the United States, including the one set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Why General Mills Is Turning to 'Throwback' Farming to Fight Climate Change

Fortune | Posted on October 25, 2018

To fight climate change, General Mills is looking to its past. The 152-year-old food company is turning to “a throwback of classic, old farming practices” combined with new methods to contribute to a more sustainable future for the food industry, according to Carla Vernón, president of its natural and organic operating unit. That means expanding its organic acreage and implementing regenerative farming practices with perennial grains, cover crops, and pollinator habitats.

Why cows are getting a bad rap in lab-grown meat debate

The Conversation | Posted on October 25, 2018

A battle royal is brewing over what to call animal cells grown in cell culture for food. Should it be in-vitro meat, cellular meat, cultured meat or fermented meat? What about animal-free meat, slaughter-free meat, artificial meat, synthetic meat, zombie meat, lab-grown meat, non-meat or artificial muscle proteins? Then there is the polarizing “fake” versus “clean” meat framing that boils this complex topic down to a simple good versus bad dichotomy. The opposite of fake is of course the ambiguous but desirous “natural.” And modeled after “clean” energy, “clean” meat is by inference superior to its alternative, which must logically be “dirty” meat. I research how biotechnology can improve livestock production, and while it is true that conventional meat production has a large environmental footprint, the problem with this dichotomous framing is that it overlooks the rest of the story.Cattle produce more than just hamburgers for well-off consumers, and they typically do so by utilizing rain-fed forage growing on non-arable land. Additionally, cellular hamburger patties are themselves not an environmental impact-free lunch, especially from the perspective of energy use.Cultured meat requires the initial collection of stem cells from living animals and then greatly expanding their numbers in a bioreactor, a device for carrying out chemical processes. These living cells must be provided with nutrients in a suitable growth medium containing food-grade components that must be effective and efficient in supporting and promoting muscle cell growth. A typical growth medium contains an energy source such as glucose, synthetic amino acids, antibiotics, fetal bovine serum, horse serum and chicken embryo extract.

FDA Removes 7 Synthetic Flavoring Substances from Food Additives List

FDA | Posted on October 18, 2018

The FDA is amending its food additive regulations in response to two food additive petitions, to no longer allow for the use of a total of 7 synthetic flavoring substances and flavor enhancers (adjuvants). The FDA determined that the data presented in one of the petitions submitted to the FDA by Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumers Union, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Improving Kids’ Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Mr. James Huff show that 6 of these synthetic substances caused cancer in laboratory animals under the conditions of the studies. The seventh synthetic flavor is being de-listed because it is no longer used by industry.The 6 flavoring substances include synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (methyl eugenol), myrcene, pulegone, and pyridine. These substances are being removed from the food additive regulations under the Delaney Clause of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (section 409(c)(3) of the FD&C Act). This clause, enacted in 1958, requires that the FDA cannot find as safe; i.e., cannot approve, the use of any food additive that has been found to induce cancer in humans or animals at any dose.

Beyond Meat vegan food company taps investment banks for IPO

CNBC | Posted on October 18, 2018

Beyond Meat has hired J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse for an initial public offering, people familiar with the matter tell CNBC. The IPO will be the first public stock offering for one of the slew of new companies that make vegetarian meat products that also appeal to carnivores.It's current investors include Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio Jack & Suzy Welch, Kleiner Perkins and Tyson Foods.

Homeland security dog intercepts roasted pig head at international airport

ABC | Posted on October 17, 2018

A passenger traveling from Ecuador was relieved of leftovers when an intrepid beagle found a roasted pig's head in baggage at the world's busiest airport. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection says the Agriculture Detector dog named Hardy alerted to the baggage at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Oct. 11. CBP agriculture specialists then discovered a 2-pound cooked pig's head, which was seized and destroyed.

Natural Resource Defense Council fails most fast food chains on antibiotics

Eco Watch | Posted on October 17, 2018

Right now, many burger chains are putting burger lovers in a bind. If they want to eat meat raised with responsible antibiotic use practices, chicken is the best choice at many mainstream chains. But if we are to make headway on antibiotic resistance crisis, the beef (and pork) industry must be part of the solution.