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Prescription dog, cat foods face anti-trust lawsuit

Pet Food Industry | Posted on December 22, 2016

Plaintiffs allege that pet food companies fix prices of prescription dog and cat food formulations.The pet food lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Northern California (Case number 3:16-cv-7001). The plaintiffs claim that the pet food businesses charged consumers more than was justified for certain foods by making those foods available by prescription only. The plaintiffs allege that these prescription foods contain no drug or ingredients that are not found in conventional foods.

Maple Leaf takes aim to lower food insecurity in Canada

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 22, 2016

Maple Leaf Foods is establishing a new non-profit organization with the goal of reducing food insecurity in Canada, the Mississauga, Ont.-based company announced.  Maple Leaf plans to invest more than $10 million over the next five years to fund the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security in addition to donating more than $1.5 million in food products every year. Maple Leaf President and CEO Michael McCain also is making a personal commitment of providing $2.5 million to an endowment fund to support the organization’s work to reduce food insecurity in Canada by 50 percent by 2030, the company said.

If It's Not From A Cow, Can You Legally Call It Milk?

NPR | Posted on December 22, 2016

Beth Briczinski has been keeping a list of all the things companies are turning into products labeled as a kind of milk. "There's soy and almond and rice," she says. "Hemp, pistachio, macadamia nut, sunflower."  Briczinski is highly annoyed by these products. She's vice president for dairy foods and nutrition at the National Milk Producers Federation, which represents the original milk producers: dairy farmers.These other "milk" products, she says, are confusing consumers. She recalls a recent conversation in which one of her friends, who is trained as a food scientist, thought a plant-based product can be called milk "because it has the same nutrients" as milk.This is exactly what those companies want you to think, Briczinski says. It's why they label their products "milk" and place them in the dairy aisle at the supermarket. But the products are not the same at all. Some milk-like drinks contain very little protein or calcium.This week, a group of 32 members of Congress, many of them from big milk-producing states, came to Briczinski's aid. They wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration, calling on the FDA to order manufacturers of plant-based drinks to find some other name. Democratic Vermont Rep. Peter Welch, a co-author of the letter, points out that the FDA already has a legal definition of milk, and "the FDA regulation defines milk as something that comes from a mammary gland. So we're asking the FDA basically to enforce its own regulation."

Activists fail in court to stop USDA from inspecting foie gras production

Agri-Pulse | Posted on December 20, 2016

Several activist groups failed this week in a legal action to ban the USDA from inspecting and allowing foie gras to be sold on the commercial market. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, and Animal Protection and Rescue League sued USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service, claiming that when farmers make foie gras by force-feeding ducks, the process sickens the birds and produces diseased livers for human consumption. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II for the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, on Wednesday issued a summary decision, dismissing the case and ordering the plaintiffs to pay court costs.

The Science of Better-Tasting Milk

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on December 20, 2016

There’s no use crying over spilled milk, but you might well shed a tear or two over the taste of milk in the era of plastic cartons. Scientists at Virginia Tech report that, in blind tastings, the flavor of milk stored in a standard supermarket-style dairy cooler is significantly degraded by fluorescent light passing through translucent plastic containers. When LED bulbs were used instead, tasters rated the milk about the same as when it was packaged in a lightproof container—which is to say, a lot better. The widespread adoption of translucent plastic containers almost certainly changed the flavor of milk for the worse. By now, she says, consumers mistakenly believe that this is how milk is supposed to taste. “Changes occurred in milk that affected flavor and quality after as little as four hours of light exposure, which were noticeable to untrained consumer panelists,” the scientists write. How does fluorescent lighting affect milk? Scientists say that its higher ultraviolet energy, among other characteristics, triggers a process of oxidation that damages essential nutrients, especially riboflavin, resulting in inferior flavor as well as a less healthful beverage. Over longer time periods, LEDs can degrade milk flavor as well, though not as much. Notably, neither kind of light makes milk go sour any sooner.

Don't call it soy milk, Vermont congressman says

12 News | Posted on December 20, 2016

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., is asking the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the definition of "milk" — as in, a beverage that comes from cows — and require non-dairy drinks that currently market themselves as "milk" to find another name. Welch argues that plant-based products using the name "milk" are freeloading off milk ads paid for by dairy farmers, such as the "Got Milk?" campaign.“You have these other products that are basically free-riding on the advertising about milk and its specific, positive qualities," Welch said in a telephone interview.The non-dairy milk products are misleading to consumers, Welch says, at a time when dairy farmers are struggling to make ends meet.

Consumer views of food may have broader fallout

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 15, 2016

The way Americans view how food is created, prepared and consumed has the potential to affect the nation’s social, economic and political future, according to a new Pew Research Center report.  With public tastes shifting and polarizing in the last 20 years, the research center noted that how consumers view organic and genetically modified (GM) foods are demonstrated in key behaviors and attitudes on food in general.The Pew survey found that 55 percent of Americans believe that organically grown product is healthier than conventionally grown produce, with 41 percent saying that there is no difference. The survey also found that 40 percent of American consumers say that most (6 percent) or some (34 percent) of the food they eat is organic.

As GMO awareness grows, so does consumer concern

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on December 15, 2016

Consumers have become more informed about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in recent years, but that knowledge also has increased concerns about their safety in food products, new research from NPD Group finds. About a third of U.S. consumers now say they have little to no familiarity with GMOs, down from roughly half in 2013, according to the NPD report.Consumers increasingly recognize that GMOs have benefits in producing more resilient crops, NPD said. However, GMOs are also the fastest-growing food additive concern, the research shows.The consumers who are aware of and concerned about GMOs said their worries center around food safety and an interest in eating authentic, “real” foods. These consumers tend to make healthy choices when grocery shopping and shop at specialty grocers, produce stores and other retail channels in addition to traditional grocery stores.Only 11 percent of consumers said they were aware that a federal GMO labeling law was passed in 2016.The law, which goes into effect in 2018, gives m

ConAgra to pay $11.2M to settle tainted peanut butter case

The Washington Post | Posted on December 14, 2016

A ConAgra subsidiary pleaded guilty Tuesday and agreed to pay $11.2 million — including the largest criminal fine ever imposed for a foodborne illness in the United States — to resolve a decade-long criminal investigation into a nationwide salmonella outbreak blamed on tainted peanut butter. ConAgra admitted to a single misdemeanor count of shipping adulterated food. No individuals at the leading food conglomerate faced any charges in the 2006 outbreak, which sickened at least 625 people in 47 states.Disease detectives traced the salmonella to a plant in rural Sylvester, Georgia, that produced peanut butter for ConAgra under the Peter Pan label and the Great Value brand sold at Wal-Mart. In 2007 the company recalled all the peanut butter it had sold since 2004.

US antibiotic resistance levels in meat declining

World Poultry | Posted on December 11, 2016

Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence in US retail chicken continues to decline according to the 2014 Integrated National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) report released by the US Food and Drug Administration. Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence in retail chicken meat samples continue to decline, and both are at their lowest levels since NARMS testing began (9.1% and 33% respectively).Most (82%) of human Salmonella isolates tested were not resistant to any of the tested antibiotics.Ceftriaxone, an extended-spectrum cephalosporin critical to treating severe Salmonella infections, continues to be effective, and resistance to the antibiotic has decreased in non-typhoidal Salmonella and E. coli.Human Salmonella isolates resistant to at least ampicillin, chloramphenicol, streptomycin, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines (ACSSuT) are at the lowest level (3.1%) since NARMS testing began.Bacterial strains that are resistant to all, or all but 1, of the 9 antimicrobial classes tested in NARMS are defined as “extremely drug resistant” by the FDA. In 2014, no retail chicken isolates of either Salmonella or E. coli were found to be extremely drug resistant.