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Investigating Retail Price Premiums for Organic Foods

USDA - Amber Waves | Posted on June 13, 2016

ERS research in 2005-06 found that organic premiums ranged from about 15 percent for onions and carrots to about 109 percent for skim milk. A recent ERS study set out to determine what price premiums consumers are paying for organic foods and whether those premiums are declining over time. In estimating the retail price difference between 17 organic products and their nonorganic counterparts from 2004 to 2010, the researchers found that all organic products were more costly than their nonorganic counterparts and that the premium was above 20 percent for all but spinach. Most premiums did not steadily increase or decrease during the 7 years studied, but fluctuated. Of the 17 products examined, only 4—spinach, canned beans, granola, and coffee—saw premiums generally decline. Only strained baby food’s and yogurt’s price premiums generally increased. Product-specific supply and demand factors help explain some of the differences among the estimated organic price premiums for the 17 products.

U.S. cheese among world's best

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 7, 2016

Earlier this spring, the U.S. won a large majority of the medals awarded at the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, proving that it can compete with the world’s best cheeses. Expert judges from 16 different countries critiqued 2,959 cheeses from 23 countries. Only 330 cheeses, or 11%, won medals, and three out of four medal winners were from the U.S.   For the first time since 1988, the top award in the contest went to a U.S. cheese — a smear-ripened hard cheese from Emmi Roth USA, located in south-central Wisconsin.  The World Championship Cheese Contest is held on an every-other-year basis. Based on medals, the U.S. cheese is good and getting even better. In 2012, the U.S. took home 65.9% of the medals; in 2014, 69.3%, and in 2016, 74.8%.

Chicken Council seeks mandatory labeling on frozen chicken products

Feedstuffs | Posted on June 7, 2016

In an effort to ensure safe eating experiences and address potential consumer confusion, the National Chicken Council (NCC) petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) for mandatory labeling of raw, stuffed chicken products that may appear cooked and ready to eat (RTE). These raw chicken products, typically sold frozen, include items such as breaded, pre-browned chicken cordon bleu, chicken Kiev and chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese

“Voluntary” FDA Sodium Targets May Bind Food Companies

OFW law | Posted on June 3, 2016

FDA yesterday released so-called “voluntary” targets for sodium reduction for 150 categories of foods.  A spreadsheet issued by the agency details baseline sodium content for each of the categories and lists short-term and long-term targets. The agency says it "recognizes the important role of sodium in food for microbial safety, stability, and other functions . . . This guidance is not intended to undermine these functions, but to provide measurable voluntary draft short-term (2 year) and long-term (10 year) goals for sodium content."  The draft guidance has two comment periods on different sections. One is for 90 days and the other for 150 days. Different food categories have different sodium targets, and some products will have more room for reductions than others. The agency singled out salad dressing as an example, saying the amount of sodium ranges from 150 mg per hundred grams to more than 2,000. Wheat bread ranges from 220 mg to 671 mg.

Organic Food Sales Hit Record $43.3 Billion In 2015

Growing Produce | Posted on June 2, 2016

Organic sales have grown 11% from 2014 to 2015’s total of $43.3 billion.  Nearly 5% of all the food sold in the U.S. in 2015 was organic.  The demand for fresh organic was most evident in the continued growth of “fresh juices and drinks,” which saw explosive growth of 33.5% in 2015, making it the fastest-growing of all the organic subcategories.

Genetically modified salmon approved for sale as food in Canada

CBC News | Posted on June 2, 2016

Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced AquaBounty's genetically modified salmon has been approved for sale as food in Canada. AquaBounty said it will be at least a year before the salmon will be available in stores.  A final round of thorough and rigorous Canadian scientific reviews found that AquAdvantage Salmon is as safe and nutritious as conventional salmon. The same conclusion was reached by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010, but it took until November 2015 for the agency to approve the fish for sale as food in that country.

Healthy eating gets no boost after corner store interventions

EurekAlert | Posted on June 2, 2016

A lack of access to healthy food is often blamed for poor eating habits in low-income urban areas, but a recent Drexel University study found that simply adding healthier stock to a local convenience store may not actually have any effect.  By upgrading local corner stores in East Los Angeles through adding fresh fruits and vegetables, improved shelving, training and social media marketing, a team of researchers led by Alex Ortega, PhD, professor in Drexel's Dornsife School of Public Health, poured more resources into a healthy eating intervention than are usually available -- and very little seemed to change. "Given the financial and technical support that we were able to provide to stores, it is quite disheartening that we saw no real changes in food purchasing or diet at the community level," said Ortega, who also serves as the chair of the school's Department of Health Management and Policy. "This does not bode well for interventions that are able to provide fewer resources to stores."

Organic Pastures Raw Dairy Recalled Again for Salmonella

Food Poisoning | Posted on June 1, 2016

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is recalling raw milk and cream produced by Organic Pastures Dairy of Fresno County again. This time the recall is for possible Salmonella contamination. Testing confirmed the presence of the pathogenic bacteria in raw whole milk and raw skim milk. No illnesses have been reported at this time.

These 7 Foods Cause the Most Pet Deaths

Live Science | Posted on June 1, 2016

"Several foods that are perfectly suitable for human consumption can be toxic to dogs and cats," the researchers wrote in their review, published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science. "The poisoning episodes are generally due to lack of public knowledge of the serious health threat to dogs and cats that can be posed by these products."  The researchers found that, in the past decade, reported cases of pet poisoning have involved chocolate and chocolate-based products, plant foods in the Allium genus (including onions, garlic, leeks and chives), macadamia nuts, Vitis vinifera fruits (including grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants), foods sweetened with xylitol ethanol in alcoholic beverages, and unbaked bread dough.

Study Finds Gap on GMO Food Knowledge

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 31, 2016

A new study from the University of Florida finds that consumers are aware of genetically modified crops and food, but their knowledge level is limited and often does not match up with the facts. Brandon McFadden published the study showing that scientific fact often does not change consumer impressions on GMO foods. The study came about because consumer polls are often cited in the GMO debate, especially as it relates to labeling. The results led McFadden to find that consumers do not know as much about genetically modified crops and foods as they may think they do. For example, 84 percent of the respondents support mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods. However, 80 percent of respondents also support a mandatory label for all foods containing DNA. That would result in the labeling of almost all foods available for consumer consumption.