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Food News

“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  The draft guidance has two comment periods on different sections.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.

Time to end the fight over GMO labeling

Time to end the fight over GMO labeling | Posted on May 26, 2016

Once again, the debate over labeling foods commonly called “GMO” has reached a fevered pitch. Some states continue to attempt to pass (or have already passed) local labeling laws.   At the Federal level legislation has been introduced that would label one GMO product – salmon - but not others, while a new legislative attempt to prohibit any labeling of GMOs until and unless the Federal government agrees to a uniform, nationwide labeling law has failed.  Much of the confusion stems from a widespread and basic misunderstanding of both the historic purpose of food labels and of modern GMO technology. Federal food labels have a clear and focused purpose: to provide nutritional and safety information to consumers. This includes things that can be measured – calories, fats, vitamins, mineral content, potential allergens – and methods of preparation that can impact these measurable ingredients. A second role of government in labeling is to ensure truth in advertising. Labels identifying products as Organic, Kosher, or Halal, fall into the second category: industry developed, but overseen by government agencies to ensure truthfulness and accuracy. So how would a GMO label fit in this regulatory scheme?

First and foremost, "GMO" is not an ingredient. "It" is not in your food. It is a process by which some hybrids are developed, for the same reasons traditional crops or animals are cross-bred: to improve a desired quality, be it taste, nutrition, resistance to disease or improved economics of growth. But it is more exact, faster and more flexible. So if GMOs are labeled by government statute, several problems are created.

Cargill juggles customer’s GMO food preferences

Financial Times | Posted on May 26, 2016

Changing customer preferences have big impact for world’s largest commodities trader.  The world’s biggest agricultural commodities trader is taking steps to “de-commoditise”. That was the term invoked by a Cargill senior executive as he described how shifting food preferences were changing the Minneapolis-based company.  The term was jarring because Cargill for a century and a half has been known as a quintessential commodity merchant, handling rivers of grain, oilseeds, sugar and other foodstuffs.  But as a growing bloc of consumers demand "natural food" which lacks certain traits such as bioengineered genes, or food grown according to certain social or environmental standards, Cargill has tweaked aspects of its bulk supply chain.

The company created a GMO free corn syrup in response to changes at a confectionery customer, its annual report said. Marcel Smits, Cargill’s chief financial officer, explained in New York last week that to do so Cargill dedicated one plant to make it, representing 10 per cent of its volume in the sweetener. He also cited customer demand for yoghurt that was non-GMO, which reaches into the supply of grain used for cow feed.

FDA update: Jerky treats sickened 6,200 dogs, killed 1,140

Pet Food Industry | Posted on May 22, 2016

More than 1,140 dogs have died after eating jerky pet treats, out of 6,200 cases of jerky-related canine illness reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2007 to December 31, 2015.  In that same time span, FDA received approximately 5,200 complaints of illness associated with consumption of chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats. The illness reports also involved 26 cats and three people. Most cases involved products imported from China, but some resulted from treats labeled as US made.