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Food News

Amazon gives food retailers another reason to worry

Supermarket Guru | Posted on August 25, 2016

Amazon’s secret Project X, along with supporting photos and site blueprints, appears to no longer be a secret. Last week Geekwire reported on the construction in Seattle of what it believes to be a new grocery concept where shoppers can pre-order online, or from a tablet in-store, and pick up their groceries at this brick and mortar store. This follows reports of simialr facilities being built in the Bay Area. Few food retailers admit they are not carefully watching Amazon’s foray into grocery, whose total annual e-commerce sales have reached $99 billion (eMarketer says e-commerce in the U.S. will hit $396.72 billion in 2016, or 8.2% of total retail sales). Published reports indicate that Amazon’s current share of U.S. grocery sales is less than 1%, and while some may doubt the company can break through, a new surveyfrom Cowen reports that the number of people who participated in their survey who shop for groceries and other consumable goods via Amazon increased 18% in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period in 2015. Can Project X be the added service that becomes Amazon’s tipping point to give it a stronghold in this industry?

Purina must face low-bacon Beggin Strips claim

Meat + Poultry | Posted on August 25, 2016

A US District Court judge denied a motion by St. Louis-based Nestle Purina Petcare Company Inc. to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company deceptively marketed the company’s “Beggin’ Strips bacon flavor” pet treats as being made mostly out of bacon. The plaintiff, Paul Kacocha of Duchess County, New York, said in court documents that Purina’s commercials promoting Beggin’ Strips suggest that the products “are made primarily of bacon and have bacon as their main ingredient, when, in actuality, the real main ingredients are “nonmeat fillers,” specifically, “ground wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, water, ground yellow corn, sugar, glycerin, soybean meal, and hydrogenated corn syrup, plus at least five artificial preservatives.” Kacocha also argued that product packaging reinforces the impression that the pet treats are mostly made out of bacon. Kacocha said he paid premium prices for the pet treats that he would not have paid had he known the pet treats weren’t mostly made from bacon.

FDA delays salt guidelines

The Hill | Posted on August 24, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is delaying new salt guidelines. In an effort to reduce sodium consumption in America, the FDA issued draft guidelines in June that would encourage food manufacturers and restaurants to use less salt. But the agency is now extending the comment period on the guidelines to give industry more time to respond. The public will now have until Oct. 17 to comment on the short-term sodium reduction plan that aims to reduce the average American’s salt consumption to 3,000 milligrams each day. While the public has until Dec. 2 to comment on the 10-year plan to further reduce salt intake to 2,300 milligrams per day. The delay comes at the request of various food industry groups. The FDA will consider these comments before issuing a final guidance.

An Unconventional Cardiologist Promotes a High-Fat Diet

New York Times | Posted on August 24, 2016

British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra is among a small but increasingly vocal group of doctors in the United States and Britain who are challenging the medical and nutritional orthodoxy around fat, carbohydrates and calories. He has been leading a campaign to change the public opinion about fats, sugar and what constitutes a health diet.

To open first Chicago restaurant, Sweetgreen had to first find farms

Chicago Tribune | Posted on August 23, 2016

Sweetgreen has 11 locations in Washington, D.C, where it got its start, 33 other stores along the East Coast and five in California. For its first store in the Midwest the salad chain, which is committed to locally grown foods and sustainable farming, had to develop a new farm supply and distribution system from scratch. It's a rare path in the restaurant industry and virtually unheard of in fast food, but the method has become status quo for Sweetgreen. Founded in 2007 by three Georgetown University students, Sweetgreen bases its menu on seasonal produce that varies depending on location. The menu changes five times a year and features salad and grain bowls with house-made dressings that range from about $9 to $12. Beverages also are made daily in-store.

How To Create Sustainable Seafood

NPR | Posted on August 22, 2016

Well, farming fish is already here to stay. We're about equal right now in terms of how much farmed fish we eat versus how much wild fish we eat. I think it's the greatest opportunity ahead of us right now. You know, we're in a situation where we're constantly sort of under the anxiety of whether or not we live in a world managed for abundance or one managed for scarcity.  And as we run out of fresh water, as we, you know, are being run out of arable land as populations rise, where are we going to get food? Well, hey, how about 70 percent of the planet that we don't currently use much of? And aquaculture just presents so much untapped potential. And, you know, we're getting so smart about it, too. And, you know, a lot of the bad press that agriculture has gotten - yeah, hey, I mean, it was deserved. There were some pretty bad abuses, you know - levied upon ecosystems. You know, the farmed salmon industry, for example, you know, sort of the poster fish of all that's bad - that industry really as a global industry is only just under 50 years old. Industries evolve, and farming of fish has evolved very rapidly and is now at a point where by a host of different methods, we are now producing very high quality, very necessary, very healthful food.

England Orders Food Industry to Slash Added Sugars by 20 Percent

Grubland | Posted on August 22, 2016

England is adding moe teeth to am already serious to an  effort aimed at curbing the country’s hefty sugar consumption. On top of a tax that’s about to be levied on soft drinks (one similar to Mexico's), the government announced today that it also wants the entire food industry to cut one-fifth of the added sugars from nine types of food. On its list: cereal, breakfast foods like pastries, yogurt, cookies, cakes, candy, desserts, ice cream, and “spreads”. The goal is a 20 percent reduction after four years. 

Message To Food Companies: Food Activists Are Your New Brand Managers

Forbes | Posted on August 22, 2016

Food industry marketers no longer have the sole power to shape consumer tastes and fuel demand for their products. That power has been largely hijacked by new influencers—public health activists, celebrity nutritionists, politicians, food bloggers—who have their own agendas and can influence public sentiment as never before. Their megaphone is sympathetic media, especially online: social media, consumer websites, and an exploding number of alternative news outlets. Only the food companies that recognize this shift have a hope of maintaining or regaining consumer trust and loyalty.  Signs that food companies have lost control over their brand images and reputations are everywhere. You can see them in the national, well-organized campaigns for new restrictions: taxes on large-sized sugary drinks; forced labeling of products containing GMOs; calls for restrictions on candy at the checkout aisle. Outside influencers, both well-meaning experts and articulate novices, are scrambling corporate communications and often spreading their own uninformed interpretations about food ingredients, working conditions, fair trade, and other concerns. Using social media to amplify and spread those messages quickly, activists, lawmakers, and others have captured the public’s attention, even when the charges are reckless.

Should you worry about food animals causing drug resistance in people? No. Should you worry about raw milk? Definitely.

Pork Network | Posted on August 18, 2016

a recently released report once more finds no conclusive evidence of a link between the use of antibiotics in food animals and the emergence of drug-resistant Campylobacter.  The article began, “As controversy continues…” but in truth, “controversy” surrounding disease resistance caused by antibiotic use in food animals primarily exists because of misinformation and misinterpretation of research. Here is what the report actually stated. “A team of interdisciplinary scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Charleston VA Medical Center Research Service reviewed published literature for evidence of a relationship between antibiotic use in agricultural animals and drug-resistant  foodborne Campylobacter infections in humans, commonly known as campylobacteriosis,” the article stated. Some people infected with Campylobacter can develop severe arthritis; while others may develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), one of the leading causes of acute paralysis in the U.S.   “According to the 2013 CDC Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report, two of the eighteen pathogens that are of concern in the United States may have a direct link to agriculture – one of them being Campylobacter,” reported the newswire.

Beyond Spam, Hormels Secret Weapon for the future of food

Bloomberg | Posted on August 17, 2016

Spam, more than any other product, defines Hormel. Through its 125-year history, the company’s strategy has been simple: protein, preferably with a long shelf life. Its other brands—Dinty Moore beef stew, Mary Kitchen hash, Real Bacon toppings, Herb-Ox bouillon cubes and its eponymous chili—sound like the shopping list for a Cold War fallout shelter.   But around 2007, Hormel quietly embarked on a venture that would take it deeper than it had ever been into the cupboards and kitchens of Americans, many of them immigrants, many of them young. It led to a series of acquisitions and a blitz of research and development that helped round out its pantry of products and inoculate it against the fickle modern food trends of a kale-and-quinoa world.  One of the first things it did was hire an anthropologist.