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Food News

A meat scandal in Brazil damages two of its biggest firms

The Economist | Posted on March 28, 2017

Even amid Brazil’s pungent stew of recent big corporate scandals, the latest is particularly stomach-turning. On Friday March 17th, in time for a traditional weekend churrasco, or barbecue, the federal police accused some of the country’s biggest meat producers of bribing health inspectors to turn a blind eye to grubby practices. These include repackaging beef past its sell-by date, making turkey ham out of soyabeans rather than actual birds and overuse of potentially harmful additives. The police operation, dubbed Weak Flesh, could reduce Brazil’s meat exports, worth $13bn a year, and damage its two big global meat producers, JBS and BRF.  Two days later the president, Michel Temer, treated 27 diplomats from the country’s main export markets to prime Brazilian cuts at a steakhouse (pictured) in the capital, Brasília. Nevertheless, straight after that China, the European Union (EU), Chile and South Korea, which together consume a third of Brazilian meat sold abroad, said they would ban some or all imports from Brazil until it can allay misgivings about its inspection regime. The reactions from China and Chile provoked particular anguish. Unlike the EU, which has restricted products only from the 21 plants that are under investigation, they have barred all Brazilian meat from crossing their borders until further notice.

Hawaii food hubs could feed farming success

The Garden Island | Posted on March 28, 2017

As agriculture enters a new era, farmers on Kauai’s North Shore want to weave technology and food hubs into their daily routines. And Kilauea Ag Park has applied for a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to try and make it happen. “Why food hubs? Because the only thing that will drive the success of farming is demand,” said Yoshito L’Hote, director of Kauai’s non-profit ‘Aina Ho’okupu O Kilauea. USDA food hubs are a business model where various ag producers team up for things like distribution and marketing, and work together to access larger-volume markets.

If migrant labor for U.S. agriculture is cut off, we’ll all be importing food instead

Idaho Statesman | Posted on March 23, 2017

Eno came by the other day to visit. He leaned against his pickup in the driveway as he talked. He and his family had worked on our farm, starting in the 1990s and up until a few years ago. Both Eno and his wife studied and memorized all kinds of facts related to U.S. history, presidents and the Constitution in order to become citizens. Even Eno’s old papa, Philemon, after two tries, managed to make it to citizenship.Today, Eno is no longer our farm foreman and he’s nearing retirement, but his daughter and son-in-law own a trucking firm, his other daughter is in law school at University of Idaho, and his son Carlos, is just beginning college. Anyway you cut it, they are a success story of immigrants come to America.Our current leadership in Washington would like us to believe that immigrants and immigration are a problem to be solved. But from our farming perspective, they are instead a solution. We’re thankful for all that Eno and his family did for our farm, moving irrigation pipes, driving trucks, hoeing fields, picking tare off potato diggers. They worked long, hard hours. Most Idaho farmers and dairymen rely on immigrant labor and frankly, the only real problem we see is how to acquire the workers we need in an efficient and legal manner.




Blue Apron buys Niman’s BN Ranch

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on March 23, 2017

Meal kit maker Blue Apron has bought Bill Niman’s BN Ranch, a provider of sustainable, responsibly raised beef, lamb, and poultry in the United States, the company said in a news release. Niman will join the Blue April executive team as president and founder of BN Ranch.

Deep South freeze means fewer blueberries and peaches

ABC News | Posted on March 22, 2017

Last week's deep freeze in the Southeast appears to have nearly wiped out Georgia's blueberries and South Carolina's peaches and seriously damaged a number of other crops like strawberries and apples. In South Carolina, 85 percent of the state's peach crop is gone while the small pink blooms remain on the trees, according to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.Up to 80 percent of south Georgia's blueberry crop is gone, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said after touring the state late last week.Between the two states, crop losses from the freeze could approach $1 billion, officials said.

How can you get a millennial to change their mind?

Watt Ag Net | Posted on March 22, 2017

You have likely heard a statement like, “Millennials care where their food comes from.” I have always been skeptical of broad statements like this. I actually think it is more accurate to say, “Millennials think they are supposed to care where there food comes from.” I think this is an important distinction, because the first statement implies a firmly held value and the latter implies just following the herd. I asked Richard Kottmeyer, vice president of agriculture and food at Luxoft, who is an expert in analyzing big data to predict trends, about millennials and their interest in how food is raised and prepared. He said it is possible to come up with general statements that typify what the typical millennial consumer might have regarding food. But, he said something else that I found a lot more interesting. Kottmeyer said that from studying how the typical millennial consumer gets their information from various sources -- which for this generation is primarily online -- he has figured out how millennials change their mind on a topic. He even offered to demonstrate the process for getting a millennial to change their mind: He said that all we have to do is give him the topic about which we want to change the millennials’ mind.

The Future of Food Production Will Look A Lot Like Brewing Beer

Fortune | Posted on March 22, 2017

The latest new buzzword in food tech? Fermentation. And we’re not talking about the kimchi or kombucha kind.  Rather, it’s a process increasingly used by food companies to answer a ballooning demand for natural ingredients that are hard to come by. Instead of sourcing these ingredients from nature, food scientists are creating them through an industrial method that they describe as similar to brewing beer. Here’s how it works: Scientists identify the desired genes in a plant or animal and insert them into a host such as yeast. The yeast is fed sugars and nutrients to stimulate fermentation. Then the yeast and its genes are filtered off, and the desired ingredient is purified out of the remaining broth.

Nation’s best cheesemakers compete in Wisconsin

Capital Press | Posted on March 21, 2017

The national cheese spotlight this week turns to Wisconsin — where else? — as judges get ready to sniff, taste and touch thousands of samples in the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.  The national contest alternates each year with the world cheese-off. Judging is Tuesday and Wednesday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, with winners announced Thursday. Entries for the national competition are up 22 percent, to a record 2,303, as cheesemakers recognize the marketing value of winning big competitions.

Maize engineered to silence deadly toxins in poisonous mold

New Scientist | Posted on March 21, 2017

It’s a silent killer lurking in common foods. A carcinogenic toxin made by mould kills thousands around the world and forces millions of tonnes of infected crops to be discarded each year.  But a new approach could turn off production of the poison even when mould does grow on the crops.Maize plants have been genetically modified to deliver strands of so-called interfering RNA that silence toxin-producing genes in a fungus that commonly grows on the crop.This GM corn can police the Aspergillus fungus on its own cobs and stop it producing poisonous aflatoxin that causes liver disease and cancer. The maize was engineered to express the gene-silencing RNA molecules by Monica Schmidt at the University of Arizona and colleagues. Her team then exposed this GM maize, along with a non-GM variety, to the fungal spores as they grew for a month. The fungus grew on both, but while high levels of toxin were found on the non-GM maize, the toxins were undetectable on the GM plants.

With people dying from eating cheese, the US raw-milk movement faces a serious setback

Quartz | Posted on March 19, 2017

A recent bout of listeria infection potentially caused by cheese has reignited the fierce debate around raw milk.  On March 9, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that two people had died in Vermont and Connecticut and four others had fallen ill after eating soft, raw-milk cheese from Vulto Creamery, an artisanal cheesemaker based in upstate New York. All six people had been infected with listeria. Vulto has recalled all of their raw-milk cheeses and—while the investigation into the outbreak is ongoing—the creamery is now being sued by the widow of one of the men who died.While raw-milk cheese has long been common in Europe, the sale and legality of such products varies state by state in the United States. While advocates of raw-milk products say that the process of pasteurizing milk kills some of the flavor of cheese, the US Food and Drug Administration says “raw milk can harbor dangerous microorganisms that can pose serious health risks to you and your family.” However, the deaths have caused concern amongst some stores that stock artisanal raw-milk cheese. Since the recall there have been discussions of the issue amongst storeowners. Since the recall, some stores have made a point of announcing that they do not carry any Vulto Creamery cheeses, while others have defended raw-milk cheese.