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Food News


THIS SECTION IS FOR NEWS AND INTERESTING STORIES RELATED TO FOOD, NUTRITION AND FOOD PROCESSING. THEY ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO KOSHER BUT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO THE KOSHER CONSUMER, MANUFACTURER OR MASHGIACH.

Chicago Considers a Ban on Foam Takeout Boxes for Restaurants

January 16, 2020 - from The Spoon:

"Wegmans Food Markets plans to pull single-use plastic bags from all of its 47 New York stores on Jan. 27."

"Chicago introduced an ordinance this week that would ban restaurants from using polystyrene (aka foam) to-go containers and also limit the amount of disposable plastics they use."

"The 'Plastic-Free Water” ordinance' calls for a total ban of polystyrene packaging that would go into effect on January 1, 2021. Restaurants would have to substitute with reusable dishes for dine-in orders and recyclable or compostable ones for takeout and delivery orders.

"The ordinance also calls for a limit — though not a total ban — on single-use plastics like to-go cutlery. Restaurants would give these items out if requested or have them available at self-service stations, rather than packaging them with each order by default. Additionally, customers would be able to bring their own reusable cups."

"Restaurants that do not have the space to wash dishes and can’t contract out that work (think food trucks or mall kiosks) would be able to request a full or partial waiver."

"Providing restaurants with a list of available alternatives to polystyrene is an important step in the industry, as one of the issues businesses face when making the switch to sustainable to-go packaging is even knowing what else is out there. Whether these alternatives will actually be realistically affordable, especially for smaller, independent restaurants, remains in question. "


Plastic To-Go Containers Are Bad, but Are the Alternatives Any Better?

January 14, 2020 - from Civil Eats:

"On January 1, Berkeley, California rang in the New Year by putting a new rule in place requiring all cafés and restaurants to start charging 25 cents for disposable cups. The cups, in addition to lids, utensils, straws, and clamshells, must also now be certified compostable. This summer, eateries that offer on-site dining will also be required to serve customers using reusable plates, cups, and cutlery."

"Berkeley’s ordinance—one of the strongest in the country—seeks to do away with single-use plastics. And it’s one of a slew of new laws that aim to do so. Towns, states, even entire countries, have been moving to ban everything from plastic checkout bags and plastic straws, to plastic food containers and take-away serviceware."

"Many municipalities are also requiring restaurants and coffee shops to switch to plant-based compostables for takeout meals. They’re joining several other cities, including San Francisco and Seattle, which pioneered such requirements years ago. Even in areas where they aren’t the law, so-called bio-plastics are a booming business, and some food and beverage companies and restaurants have voluntarily made the switch as part of their sustainability plans."

"While many have pinned their hopes on these alternatives, some researchers and recyclers caution that an over-reliance on compostable tableware and packaging may not be the solution it’s cracked up to be. In life cycle assessments, it turns out, compostables don’t necessarily outshine plastics when it comes to environmental benefits. And an increase in compostables in the waste stream could, in fact, bungle up the composting process, create more trash, and continue consumers’ addiction to single-use items, detracting from the most environmentally beneficial practices: reducing and reusing."

"The recycling quandary has led to an even more urgent search for solutions; thus the turn to bio-plastics. Compostable food serviceware—made from plants such as corn, sugarcane, and bamboo—is also sometimes called “biodegradable,” but that’s a misnomer. It doesn’t decompose in backyard compost bins and needs to be processed at industrial facilities. Currently, only a few hundred of the roughly 4,000 composting facilities in the U.S. have the ability to accept food scraps and a much smaller subset can accept bio-plastics." "a 2018 analysis by the Oregon DEQ showed that “compostability is a poor indicator for determining the environmental benefits and burdens of packaging and food serviceware items” and that compostables introduces a set of trade-offs. Instead of just looking at the final result—does it generate waste?—the study used a complete life-cycle analysis, which evaluates the raw materials used, the manufacturing process, the transportation system, and what happens to the waste."

"In the case of compostables, the Oregon DEQ reviewed 18 years of life-cycle assessments, including over 1,200 comparisons involving compostable packaging and over 360 comparisons for food serviceware. In most of these comparisons, the production and use of compostable materials (and composting them) was found to result in higher environmental impacts than that of either non-compostable materials, or compostable materials treated via recycling, landfilling, or incineration."

"While many people focus on the impacts of disposal, the environmental impacts of producing materials generally can be 10, 50, or 100 times higher than the impacts of disposal, depending on the source materials, packaging, and production process, Allaway said. He added that some compostable items are low-impact while others high impact, but the industry does not provide detailed information on the particulars so consumers can make a choice."

"And while food waste produces rich compost that restores soil fertility and helps store soil carbon, some compostable packaging doesn’t produce much compost at all. When it degrades in a composting facility, corn-based PLA—polyactic acid—just turns into carbon dioxide and water."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W989

FCF confirmed as successful bidder for Bumble Bee

January 21, 2020 from Undercurrent News:

"A filing to a US bankruptcy court for the district of Delaware has confirmed the "stalking horse" bid by Taiwanese tuna trader FCF Co for Bumble Bee Foods has been successful."

"The filing states the auction for Bumble Bee has been cancelled, and that the stalking horse bid has been successful."

"FCF has agreed to pay the $17m outstanding from the $25m fine from the DOJ as part of its $925.6m offer for Bumble Bee. However, the DOJ was set to get a total of $81.5m if Lion Capital sold the company within five years, so $56.5m more. No mention of this is made in the documents and Undercurrent understands it won’t be paid, if the sale goes ahead as proposed."

"FCF supplies Bumble Bee with "nearly all" of its albacore tuna and a "substantial majority" of the skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna it uses for light meat canned tuna. "


Former Bumble Bee CEO convicted of tuna price-fixing scheme

December 4, 2019 - from Fooddive:

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W929

Suppliers Continue to Fight CA Foie Gras Ban

February 7, 2019 - from Specialty Food News and Food and Wine:

"The battle continues over the foie gras ban in California, reports Food & Wine. This week, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled again to uphold the ban originally established back in 2012. However, the Catskill Foie Gras Collection, a consortium of duck farmers from New York and Canada are working to overturn it."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W988

Prestigious Kosher Winery Spills 1,000 Gallons of Boutique Wines in Tithing Ceremony

January 19, 2020 - from Jewish Press:

"The Or Haganuz boutique winery on Sunday held a festive ceremony for tithing their annual product – winner of countless international tasting competitions – which involved spilling about 4,000 liters (1,056 gallons) of the winery’s fine wine. In the time of the Temple, this wine would have been sent to Jerusalem for the use of the Cohanim (priests), but since this cannot be done nowadays, the thithed amount is forbidden to use by its owner or any layman, Kikar Hashabbat reported."

"he ceremony was attended by the rabbis of the Badatz—the rabbinical court of the Haredi community in Jerusalem which also supervises the kashrut of the winery. "

"Or HaGanuz is a Haredi cooperative settlement near the grave-site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the eastern Upper Galilee, in northern Israel, about 3.5 miles northwest of Tsfat. In 2018 it had a population of 548. The winery is managed by the community, which encourages a lifestyle of work alongside studying the internal light of the Torah. All the winery employees are residents of the community."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W987

NJ Expands Terrorism Law In Response To Kosher Market Attack

January 16, 2020 - from Vos Is Neias:

"New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Wednesday expanding the definition of terrorism under state law in response to last month’s fatal attack on a kosher market in Jersey City."

"The new law says terrorism includes crimes aimed at inciting terror against people based on their religion, race or national origin, among other factors."

"Previous law said someone was guilty of terrorism if the person committed crimes aimed at promoting terror, terrorizing five or more people, influencing government policy through terror or impairing public transportation, communication, or other public services."

"Murphy also signed a bill that sets aside $1 million for security grants for nonprofits."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W986

EU court ruling leaves sour taste for Italian balsamic vinegar producers

December 4, 2019 - from the The Guardian:

"German company allowed to use words ‘aceto balsamico’ to market its vinegar products."

"Italian producers of balsamic vinegar have lambasted the EU’s top court after losing a legal challenge to prevent a German company from using the names “aceto” or “aceto balsamico” to market its vinegar products."

"The Consortium for Balsamic Vinegar of Modena sued the company, Balema, on the premise that it had violated the use of the geographical food designation term aceto balsamico di Modena (balsamic vinegar of Modena), which has been in place since 2009 and can only be used by producers in Modena and the Emilia-Romagna region."

"The German firm, based in Baden, had been labelling its products with the terms “balsamico” and “Deutscher balsamico” (German balsamico)."

"The court determined that the name aceto is common and that balsamico is an adjective commonly used as a reference to a vinegar with a bitter-sweet flavour. Therefore, while the trademark aceto balsamico di Modena can only be used by producers within a specific geographical area, there are no such restrictions on aceto balsamico alone."

"There are two further geographically-protected varieties of balsamic vinegar: the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Reggio Emilia. The traditional methods use a reduction of pressed grape varieties including trebbiano, sangiovese and lambrusco and the resulting thick syrup, called mosto cotto, is aged for a minimum of 12 years, sometimes for more than 100, in cherrywood, chestnut or ash barrels. Bottles can cost up to €300 (£260)."

"The less expensive Balsamic Vinegar of Modena can be blended with up to 80% wine vinegar by volume and must be aged in wooden containers for a minimum of 60 days."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W985

Boston Warehouse Trading Corp. Recalls Holiday Travel Mugs Due to Fire Hazard; Sold Exclusively at Meijer Stores

January 9, 2020 - from the CPSC:

Holiday Travel Mugs are mislabeled as microwave safe. If microwaved, the metallic print on the mug can spark, posing a fire hazard.

This recall involves Holiday Travel mugs with lids. They have a decal with "Let it Snow" or "Merry and Bright" in gold metallic lettering. The bottom portion of the mugs is red or green and the top half portion is white. The lids are black. They measure 7 inches tall. "Microwave safe" is written on the backstamp under the glaze and on the wrap band.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled mugs and return them to place of purchase for a full refund or contact Boston Warehouse Trading Corp.

Sold exclusively at Meijer stores nationwide from October 2019 through November 2019 for about $10.

Consumer Contact: Boston Warehouse Trading Corp. toll-free at 888-923-2982 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, email customer.service@bwtc.com, or online at www.bwtc.com and click on recall at the top of the page for more information.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W984

Libbey Glass Recalls Milk Bottles Due to Laceration Hazard

January 9, 2020 - from the CPSC:

Libby 33.5 oz. Milk Bottles have been recalled because the bottles can break unexpectedly during use, posing a laceration hazard.

This recall involves the Libbey Glass 33.5 oz. Milk Bottles. They are clear colorless glass bottles with no markings that measure about 8.5 inches in height by 3.25 inches in width at the base. The recalled bottles can be identified by their original packaging. Bottle cartons with item number 92129 and manufacturing dates of either August 15, 2019 or August 31, 2019. If your establishment received these bottles after August 15, 2019, contact your distributor to determine if you received affected bottles.

Remedy: Foodservice establishments and customers should immediately stop using the recalled milk bottles and contact the firm to receive a refund in the form of a credit voucher or a free replacement bottle

Remedy: Foodservice establishments and customers should immediately stop using the recalled milk bottles and contact the firm to receive a refund in the form of a credit voucher or a free replacement bottle

Consumer Contact: Libbey Glass at 800-982-7063 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.libbey.com and click on "Product Recall" for more information.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W983

Israel is experiencing a butter shortage that won’t end anytime soon

January 8, 2020 - from JTA:

"The land of milk and honey has been short of one of the most commonly used dairy products: butter."

"Since early 2019, butter has become such a scarce commodity that Israelis have taken to sharing rare sightings of it on social media."

"While butter, both domestic and imported, has been trickling back onto shelves in recent weeks, leading some consumers to loudly declare that the problem has been solved, a spokesperson for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture told JTA that 'a shortage of local butter is also expected in 2020.'"

"The problem, explained Ayal Kimhi, professor of agricultural economics at Hebrew University and the vice president of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, is that while Israel is for the most part a capitalist society, 'the dairy market is officially regulated in terms of quantity and prices.'"

"Like in the Soviet Union of old, Israel’s contemporary dairy sector is a 'planned' one in which prices are set based on demand forecasts and which works to protect local manufacturers from competition from foreign imports."

"In recent years, domestic demand for butter has increased, and in order to produce more, Israel’s dairies have required more milk fat, which is unavailable in the necessary quantities because local milk cows have been bred for years 'to produce as much milk as possible but not necessarily as much fat as possible.'"

"One possible solution would be to import foreign butter (which has itself increased in cost significantly), which would require a government quota exemption. Early efforts to alleviate the shortage by allowing more imports fizzled, Israeli business daily Globes reported in April, due to a decision to apply local price controls to the foreign products."

"The price for butter is set by a joint committee comprised of representatives of the ministries of finance and agriculture, which recommended more than a year ago to raise prices in order to make importation and local manufacture more fiscally attractive for the big firms that control the market. "

"But despite some modest improvements, the Ministry of Agriculture has said that it believes the shortage will last into the new year. "


Israel: Kahlon Increases Imports to Cover Butter Shortage

November 26, 2019 - from Jewish Press:

"Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced Tuesday that Israel will increase imports of butter, for both household and industrial purposes, in order to compensate for the ongoing shortage of the Israeli baking and household dairy necessity."

"Kahlon signed a directive that raised the household butter imports to 2,750 tons and industrial imports of butter for factories to 3,500 tons. The move increases imports by 13 and 24 percent, respectively, which Kahlon said would “increase the butter supply in the market and end the shortages in stores. "

"Butter in Israel is produced by the country’s largest manufacturer, Tnuva, and by the second-largest manufacturer, Tara. There has been a shortage of the milk-fat product for months. "


Shortage? In Toronto, Tnuva Butter Is Cheap and Plentiful

November 18, 2019 - from Haretz:

"Israelis are up in arms after a Facebook user published a photo of Tnuva-brand butter being sold in Canada for less than its price in Israel, while Israelis have been facing butter shortages for the past year."

"Tnuva is Israel’s largest dairy manufacturer. It has argued that the shortage of butter is due to a shortage of milk fat. Others speculate that Tnuva, along with Israel’s other dairies, are limiting their butter production in order to pressure the government to raise dairy prices, or to use the raw ingredient — butterfat — to make items with higher profit margins. Butter is one of several dairy items subject to government price controls. "

"Tnuva butter is likely being exported and sold in locations beyond Toronto, where it was photographed over the weekend being sold for 0.97 Canadian dollars per 100-gram bar (U.S. $0.73). Another Facebook user photographed Tnuva butter on supermarket shelves in Miami, being sold for $3.09 per 100-gram bar. Others said it was available in Montreal as well. "

"Tnuva butter is thought to sell for $2.39-$3.99 per 100-gram bar in the United States."

"In Israel, Tnuva butter is sold for 3.94 shekels per 100 grams ($1.13), a price set by the government."

"For nearly a year, Israelis have been facing butter shortages, with supermarket shelves frequently devoid of butter. The dairy industry has said the shortage is only going to worsen over the next year."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W967

Wegmans to phase out single-use plastic bags in New York

January 6, 2020 - from The Spoon:

"Wegmans Food Markets plans to pull single-use plastic bags from all of its 47 New York stores on Jan. 27."

"Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans said Monday that the move follows a pilot launched in July in which the plastic bags were removed at two stores in Corning and Ithaca, N.Y. The retailer noted that it’s phasing out the bags before a New York state ban goes into effect on March 1."

"At stores where the county or municipality hasn’t already implemented a 5-cent fee for paper bags, Wegmans will charge 5 cents per paper bag. The amount collected from the paper bag charge will be donated to the local food bank serving each region."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: http://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W982
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