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Food News

A look at PETA’s tips for going vegan

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 19, 2016

The publication makes the usual three-part argument about why we should all stop eating meat – animal welfare (“why not stop killing animals for the fleeting taste of their flesh?”), nutrition (“why not stop clogging our arteries with saturated fat and cholesterol?”), and the environment (“why not stop supporting water and air pollution and the waste of resources caused by factory farms?”).  The kit also gives tips for going to parties, suggesting that if other guests seem annoyed by conversation about being vegan, it is just “a reflection of an otherwise kind person’s conflicted feelings about eating animals.”  How presumptuous to assume that the person has “conflicted feelings” – and not that they just aren’t really interested in discussing your new diet. It’s of course PETA’s goal to produce those “conflicted feelings”

Two-thirds of U.S. flock must be cage free to meet demand

Watt Ag Net | Posted on October 18, 2016

Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. layer flock will need to be housed in cage-free system by 2025 to meet anticipated demand, according to figures published by United Egg Producers. On October 7, the egg farmer cooperative published an updated report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Analytics Division estimating 213.8 million cage-free hens, about 74 percent of the 276 million layers in the U.S., will need to be cage free by 2026.  Currently, there are 16.6 million non-organic, cage-free layers in the U.S. The flock must increase by more than 1,000 percent in a decade to serve the retailers, restaurants and foodservice companies committed to serve only cage-free eggs by or around 2025. “USDA’s figures … indicate a shortage of nearly 200 million hens to meet the growing demand over the next 10 years,” the newsletter said.

First Brazilian beef shipment to U.S. arrives in Philly

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on October 17, 2016

The first shipment of beef from Brazil to the U.S. in nearly two decades arrived Thursday in the Port of Philadelphia, according to a notice posted by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.  Sao Paulo-based JBS S.A.’s shipment of fresh beef is the first since the U.S.officially opened to Brazilian beef in August after 17 years of negotiations between the two countries. That decision followed USDA’s recent finding that the Brazil’s food safety system is equivalent to that of the U.S.

Government Food Programs Can Actually Help Poor Families Eat Healthier

Huffington Post | Posted on October 17, 2016

The government’s nutrition assistance programs don’t tend to get a good rap. The programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits typically referred to as “food stamps,” are often criticized by lawmakers and some nutritionists for allowing its low-income recipients to purchase unhealthy foods through the program.  Conservative leaders like Newt Gingrich and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump have pejoratively dubbed President Barack Obama the “food stamp president.” At the same time, some lawmakers have called for SNAP benefits to be cut dramatically.  But these criticisms often fail to acknowledge the growing evidence showing how SNAP and similar programs are already succeeding, or could be tweaked to address many of their critics’ concerns.  A paper published this month in the Preventive Medicine journal found that such a tweak to make the food packages offered to participants in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, resulted in participants making healthier food and beverage purchases with their own money overall.

Fake Trials, Brought to You by the Anti-GMO Movement

National Review | Posted on October 14, 2016

 The eco-warriors are getting increasingly desperate in their histrionic attacks on science. A group of environmental activists will host a faux tribunal in The Hague to pretend to prosecute Monsanto for crimes against humanity. The Missouri-based company sells both genetically engineered seeds and pesticides, which makes them Enemy No. 1 of the socialist Luddites who lead the global environmental movement.


GMOs and beer calories? When labeling backfires

Chicago Tribune | Posted on October 14, 2016

The lesson so far is lost on most lawmakers and regulators. In July, President Barack Obama signed a bill requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such. It's an outwardly innocuous requirement that is supposed to leave consumers better informed but will actually cause many to be misled. The implication of the mandate is that there is some important difference between foods that contain GMOs and foods that don't. But there isn't. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that genetically engineered food is safe for humans, animals and the environment.This scientific reality is at odds with public opinion. A June poll by ABC News showed that only one-third of Americans think genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Federally required labels will encourage them to persist in that delusion. The government says tomato sauce may contain trace amounts of maggots. But it would not make sense to make companies publicize that ingredient because the disclosure would raise false fears.There are other ways in which labeling requirements can be harmful. Starting next year, the Food and Drug Administration will require chain restaurants to publish the calorie count of each beer on their menus.But there's scant evidence this sort of information makes much difference. Julie Downs, a scholar at Carnegie Mellon University, says that "putting calorie labels on menus really has little or no effect on people's ordering behaviors at all."

College students helping Idaho cheese plant expand offerings

Capital Press | Posted on October 14, 2016

A group of mechanical engineering students at Brigham Young University-Idaho are helping the owners of a local cheese plant renovate existing equipment to produce new products.  The five students, working under Alan Dutson, the university’s mechanical engineering academic outcomes and assessment director, are working to upgrade the Nelson-Ricks Creamery for their “capstone” project — which offers a real-world challenge in lieu of writing a thesis. It’s among several projects either in the works or in planning to increase the old cheese plant’s profitability, production and visibility within the Eastern Idaho community.

Judge rules religious rites trump animal rights

Capital Press | Posted on October 14, 2016

Just as the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur began Tuesday night, a federal judge lifted a temporary restraining order against a California synagogue performing a ritual where chickens are twirled in the air before they’re slaughtered.  Judge Andre Birotte Jr. had granted the order last week at the request of an animal rights group called United Poultry Concerns, and he scheduled a hearing for Thursday. But that would have meant Yom Kippur would be over by the time he ruled, so Birotte moved up the hearing to Tuesday.  The ritual known as Kaporos is typically performed in the run-up to Yom Kippur, which began Tuesday evening and ends Wednesday evening. It was not clear whether Chabad Irvine would perform it this year at all in spite of the decision.  But its attorneys praised the lifting of the order as a victory nonetheless.

Food prices are dropping. Restaurant prices aren’t.

The Washington Post | Posted on October 13, 2016

The United States is awash in pork, beef, eggs, milk and bountiful harvests. U.S. meat companies are producing nearly 5 percent more beef than in 2015, thanks in part to plentiful feed supplies. In turn, the big food producers like Cargill, are seeing profits rise. The Minnesota conglomerate recently reported a 66 percent jump in profits because of demand for its steaks and hamburgers.  And yet the boom in supply is driving down prices at the grocery store, pinching retailer profits. The pressure may build with this week’s news that online retailer is opening a string of brick-and-mortar stores for its Fresh line of groceries. But while food price deflation may be good news for grocery shoppers, it’s having a boomerang effect on the restaurant industry, which is seeing other costs rise at the very time demand is flattening because folks are opting to cook at home instead of hitting the local steakhouse or fast-casual restaurant. Even demand for McDonald’s venerable gut-buster Big Mac is wheezing.

Calling food healthy doesn't really mean anything

Popular Science | Posted on October 12, 2016

At the end of September, the agency announced that it would begin the process of redefining its official meaning of healthy, and would take into consideration public opinion. However, nutritional and medical experts as well as public health policy specialists say that the real root of the problem may actually be the word itself. They argue that defining healthy should not, and perhaps cannot be done.  In September, a paper published in JAMA revealed that in the 1960s, as research started coming out that linked sugar and fat to a host of health conditions, sugar interest groups began funding and publicizing research that focused only on the latter link. Diet fads came to capitalize on that data, and turned “fat” into a four-letter word. The end result of having more and more publicized research on fat, reiterated ad nauseum by dietary trends, was that sugar came to fly under the radar. This has long been reflected by the FDA’s guidelines for “healthy” labels, whose inflexible stance on fat led KIND, a brand of granola bars, to make a complaint that it couldn’t label its product “healthy,’ but fat-free pudding and sugary breakfast cereals could.