Lab-grown food products intended to replace conventionally-raised meat and poultry have been generating buzz lately due to increasing efforts by activist groups such as ‘The Good Food Institute’ – one of the new kids on the block. These products aren’t really a concern in and of themselves. They offer choices to consumers in the marketplace, which is always a good thing. Given the forecasts that food production will need to double by 2050, lab grown meat can also be an additional way to help meet that demand. The fact that meat industry players like Cargill and Tyson have invested in meat alternative startups should reflect that the meat industry isn’t exactly running scared.As always, the devil is in the marketing with activist groups pushing the moniker of “clean meat” in place of “lab grown” or “cultured.” This term is clearly an attempt to first imply that conventionally produced meat is “dirty” by comparison and second to distance the product from the technology used to produce it (since we know from the GMO debate that consumer reactions to technology in food production are mixed at best).
China has delayed enforcing sweeping new controls on food imports following complaints by the United States, Europe and other trading partners that they would disrupt billions of dollars in trade. Rules requiring each food shipment to have an inspection certificate from a foreign government were due to take effect Sunday. But Beijing has decided to grant a transitional period of two years following comments by other governments, according to a document submitted to the World Trade Organization. It gave no details, but the delay might help avert concerns that shipments of meat, fruit, dairy and other products could be disrupted, hurting thousands of farmers and food processors who look to China as a key growth market.The dispute added to trade tensions with the United States and Europe, which complain that low-priced exports of Chinese steel and aluminum are hurting foreign competitors and threatening jobs.
Cereal maker Post Holdings announced it will acquire Bob Evans Farms Inc. in a $1.5 billion deal to gain a presence in the breakfast sausage category and strengthen its position overall in the higher-growth packaged foods market.
Popular alternatives to cow’s milk such as soya or almond milk may leave consumers at risk of iodine deficiency, a study has found. UK researchers examined the iodine contents of 47 milk-alternative drinks including soya, almond, coconut, oat, rice, hazelnut and hemp, but excluding those marketed specifically at infants and children, and compared them with that of cows’ milk.Popular alternatives to cow’s milk such as soya or almond milk may leave consumers at risk of iodine deficiency, a study has found.
Some of the world’s largest consumer goods companies including Kellogg Co and Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Wednesday they will simplify food expiration labels in an effort to eliminate confusion that contributes to food waste. Standardized labeling will use a single expiration date on perishable items and a single quality indicator for non-perishable items, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) announced.Confusion over expiration labels costs families up to $29 billion annually in the United States alone, according to CGF, which represents some 400 of the world’s largest retailers and manufacturers from 70 countries.
The deadline for compliance with the new-look Nutrition Facts panel is likely to be early 2020, 18 months after the original July 26, 2018, compliance date, according to FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
A recent article in Forbes highlighted the consumer response to Triscuit’s Non-GMO label, after the cracker brand announced its new Non-GMO Project label last month. Hundreds of consumers commented, criticizing the brand for pandering to “ignorance and fear.” “Another cynical business trying to cash in on fear and scientific illiteracy surrounding a technology that could do a lot of good,” writes one critic. “So long and thanks for all the crackers.” The comment mirrors several that point out that “GMO” technology is a tool, not an end product that can be boxed and sold. GMO, which stands for “Genetically Modified Organism,” has no tangible meaning but has become shorthand for any organism with traits created with modern molecular genetic engineering (GE) techniques.
Of all the cartons of organic eggs sold in the United States, more than 1 in 10 originates from a complex here that houses more than 1.6 million hens. They’re sold under the Eggland’s Best label.“The entire process is organic,” Greg Herbruck, president of Herbruck's Poultry Ranch says in a promotional video. The USDA allows Herbruck's and other large operations to sell their eggs as organic because officials have interpreted the word “outdoors” in such a way that farms that confine their hens to barns but add “porches” are deemed eligible for the valuable “USDA Organic” label. The porches are typically walled-in areas with a roof, hard floors and screening on one side.As for how densely organic livestock may live, the USDA rules do not set an explicit minimum of space per bird, although the regulations do say henhouses should accommodate the “natural behavior” of the animals. And like other large organic egg producers that use porches, Herbruck said the hens are confined to the barns and the porches for their own good.“The use of organic porches reflects Herbruck’s commitment to the hen health and food safety that our customers and consumers demand,” Herbruck said in a statement. “Porches keep the hens safe, allowing them to be outdoors while protecting them from wild birds like ducks and geese, and predators like vermin that spread disease and can hurt or kill hens.”
Bogus “organic” products may be reaching the United States because of lax enforcement at U.S. ports, according to a new audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, a finding that helps explain previous reports that millions of pounds of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans had reached American ports. The USDA lacks procedures to check that a shipment meets organic standards, the report found.The USDA “was unable to provide reasonable assurance that … required documents were reviewed at U.S. ports of entry to verify that imported agricultural products labeled as organic were from certified organic foreign farms,” according to the report released Monday. "The lack of controls at U.S. ports of entry increases the risk that nonorganic products may be imported as organic into the United States and could create an unfair economic environment for U.S. organic producers.” The inspector general's report adds that the confusion at the ports is so deep that some “organic” shipments — legitimate or not — are fumigated after arrival with pesticides prohibited under USDA organic rules. The investigators visited seven U.S. ports and discovered, through documents and interviews, that if an organic shipment shows evidence of a pest or disease and “the shipment’s owner elects to treat the organic agricultural products, they are treated using the same methods and substances used for conventional products. There are no special treatment methods for organic products. This practice results in the exposure of organic agricultural products to” prohibited substances.The report from the inspector general comes as the USDA faces growing doubts about whether food granted the "USDA Organic" label actually meets organic standards.
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 we 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 U.S. 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.