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Food News


For Safety’s Sake, Handle Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Safely

August 5, 2022 - from the Food Safety News:

"Meat may dominate the grill, but the market for plant-based meat alternatives is growing. That growth is due, in part, to a belief that plant-based products are less susceptible to pathogens like E. coli and Salmonella.

"'Many consumers believe that plant-based foods are minimally processed, more healthful, and nutritionally superior to otherwise similar animal-based counterparts,” said John Luchansky, lead scientist at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Research unit in Wyndmoor, PA.

"Luchansky said that while there have been improvements in the quality of plant-based meat, there are little to no data on the safety of such foods as it relates to microbial pathogens.

"Consumers generally, and correctly, consider meat burgers to be raw and to require cooking prior to consumption. On the other hand, many consumers view plant-based burgers as not raw because they contain plant material and some plants can be eaten raw.

"'In reality, plants can sometimes harbor high levels of foodborne pathogens and, as such, plant-based burgers should be considered and handled just like, for example, raw ground beef,” said Luchansky’s research partner, Anna Porto-Fett, a microbiologist.

"'If you follow the ‘Four C’s of Food Safety,’ which are Cook (160º F), Clean, don’t Cross contaminate, and Chill, you can appreciably lower—but not eliminate—your risk of foodborne illness,” Porto-Fett said."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1299

USDA wants to reinstate organic welfare standards; could benefit food safety

August 8, 2022 - from the Food Safety News:

"Celebrating the USDA’s move on Aug. 5 to reinstate organic animal welfare standards, organic advocates are hailing this as a “resounding victory” for organic farmers, their livestock, and organic consumers.

"As such, it reverses the withdrawal by the Trump Administration in 2018 of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry rule.

"The 2017 rule, which took 10 years to develop, governed the living conditions, transport and slaughter of organic livestock.

"The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) proposes to amend the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expanding and clarifying existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.

"The proposed rule:
"The proposed rule would update the USDA organic regulations for livestock production. The proposed changes would address a range of topics related to the care of organic livestock, including:

"Go here https://public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2022-16980.pdf) to learn more about the rule.

"A listening session: USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will host a virtual listening session on Aug. 19 from noon to approximately 2 p.m. EDT to hear comments regarding this proposed rule. The deadline to register for oral comment is 11:59 p.m. EDT, Aug. 15. Access information will be published on the AMS website prior to the listening session at https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/listening-session-organic-livestock-and-poultry-standards."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1298

Ben & Jerry’s Escalates Dispute With Unilever Over Israel Business

August 3, 2022 - from the Wall Street Journal

"Ben & Jerry’s ratcheted up its war of words with Unilever PLC, UL 0.52%▲ saying it had sued its parent company because it feared that left unchecked, the consumer-goods giant would undermine the ice-cream brand’s reputation and business.

"Ben & Jerry’s filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan in July, seeking to block Unilever’s sale of the ice-cream maker’s Israeli business to a licensee. Unilever’s move followed a rift over Ben & Jerry’s decision last year to end sales of its products in Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem.

"On Wednesday, Ben & Jerry’s said its grievance with Unilever was about more than just the Israel issue, in a statement explaining its rationale for the lawsuit.

"Ben & Jerry’s said in its statement that Unilever had frozen the board’s compensation as a “pressure tactic” before a recent mediation between the two sides. Those talks ended unsuccessfully last week. A hearing on Ben & Jerry’s request for a temporary injunction to block Unilever’s sale of the brand’s Israel business is scheduled for Monday."

Ben & Jerry’s Sues Unilever Over Sale of Ice Cream Business in Israel

June 30, 2022 - from the Wall Street Journal

"Ben & Jerry’s is suing parent company Unilever to block the sale of its Israeli business to a licensee, the latest twist in a rift over the ice cream maker’s decision to end sales in Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested East Jerusalem.

"In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday, Ben & Jerry’s said Unilever’s decision to sell the business in Israel last week was done without the approval of Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors.

"The board held a special meeting on Friday in response to Unilever’s decision and voted 5-2 to file a lawsuit against its parent company, according to the complaint. Two Unilever appointees on the board were the dissenting votes, the lawsuit said."

Ben & Jerry’s Israel, Unilever reach deal to end settlement boycott

June 29, 2022 - from Times of Israel

"The Foreign and Economy ministries issue a joint statement welcoming an agreement reached between Ben & Jerry’s Israel and its parent company Unilever under which the former will be able to sell its ice cream in the West Bank.

"The agreement is the result of a settlement reached in a federal US lawsuit filed on behalf of Ben & Jerry’s Israel owner Avi Zinger by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

"As a result of the deal, Unilever has sold all of its business interests in Israel to Zinger, who will now be allowed to sell the ice cream on both sides of the Green Line, though no longer under the auspices of Unilever and the original Ben & Jerry’s, which made the decision to boycott.

"The Israeli branch will also sell its ice cream using Hebrew and Arabic labeling, as it no longer will be allowed to use Ben & Jerry’s original English branding."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1286

France Decides You Can Use ‘Meat’ on Label for Vegan Foods After All

June 30, 2022 - from The Beet:

"Just weeks after France banned the use of the word 'meat' on vegan food products, the country's higher court overturned the decision after pressure from plant-based companies and consumers who fought the new labeling law

"The French court determined that the ban failed to give plant-based companies appropriate time to comply with the new restrictions. Several plant-based organizations lobbied against the decision including ProVeg International and Proteines France – a consortium of businesses aiming to enhance France’s plant-based industry.

"This ruling is an interim order, meaning that it is unclear how the courts and governments will adapt or disband the labeling restrictions. PrvoVeg international welcomed the suspension, revealing that the court expressed “serious doubts” about the ban’s legal standing."

UPDATE 1-Don't call it meat if it's made with plants, France says

June 30, 2022 - from Reuters:

"France will ban from October the use of meat names like 'steak' and 'sausage' on plant-based protein food, according to a decree published on Thursday, in a bid to avoid confusion over the trendy meat alternatives.

France is the first country in the European Union to impose such a restriction. In 2020, EU lawmakers rejected a similar proposal, backed by farmers.

"The market for plant-based meat-like food has surged, attracting major investment from global agrifood groups hoping to capitalise on a trend towards healthy eating, including less red meat.

"The regulation only applies to products made in France, and the country’s largest farm lobby FNSEA said it did not go far enough as it left the door open to imports.

"French meat industry association Interbev welcomed the implementation of the law initially adopted in 2020, just after the end of the pandemic lockdown.

"Terms like 'milk', 'butter' and 'cheese' are already banned at the European level on products that are not of animal origin.

"The word “burger” used by many brands including U.S. firms Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods and Restaurant Brands International Inc’s Burger King to attract consumers, would still be allowed as it does not specifically refer to meat, an Interbev spokesperson said.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1291

FDA Webinar on Food Facility Registration, Biennial Renewal and Unique Facility Identifiers

July 26, 2022 - from the FDA:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is launching a Webinar on August 11, 2022, at 1pm ET to discuss the biennial food facility registration renewal period, the requirement for facilities to have a unique facility identifier (UFI), and general information and guidance on how to register with the FDA.

U.S. and foreign human and animal food facilities that are required to register with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must renew their registration this year between October 1 and December 31, 2022.

Nicole Shokatz and Robert Spear from the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Compliance will lead the webinar and answer your questions submitted during registration.

Register by August 10 here.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1296

Food expiration dates don’t have much science behind them – a food safety researcher explains another way to know what’s too old to eat

July 21, 2022 - from The Conversation:

"Florida’s outbreak of listeria has so far led to at least one death, 22 hospitalizations and an ice cream recall since January. Humans get sick with listeria infections, or listeriosis, from eating soil-contaminated food, undercooked meat or dairy products that are raw, or unpasteurized. Listeria can cause convulsions, coma, miscarriage and birth defects. And it’s the third leading cause of food poisoning deaths in the U.S.

"Avoiding unseen food hazards is the reason people often check the dates on food packaging. And printed with the month and year is often one of a dizzying array of phrases: “best by,” “use by,” “best if used before,” “best if used by,” “guaranteed fresh until,” “freeze by” and even a “born on” label applied to some beer.

"People think of them as expiration dates, or the date at which a food should go in the trash. But the dates have little to do with when food expires, or becomes less safe to eat. I am a microbiologist and public health researcher, and I have used molecular epidemiology to study the spread of bacteria in food. A more science-based product dating system could make it easier for people to differentiate foods they can safely eat from those that could be hazardous.

"The dates on those food packages, however, are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Rather, they come from food producers. And they may not be based on food safety science.

"A joint study by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the National Resources Defense Council recommends the elimination of dates aimed at consumers, citing potential confusion and waste. Instead, the research suggests manufacturers and distributors use “production” or “pack” dates, along with “sell-by” dates, aimed at supermarkets and other retailers. The dates would indicate to retailers the amount of time a product will remain at high quality.

"The FDA considers some products “potentially hazardous foods” if they have characteristics that allow microbes to flourish, like moisture and an abundance of nutrients that feed microbes. These foods include chicken, milk and sliced tomatoes, all of which have been linked to serious foodborne outbreaks. But there is currently no difference between the date labeling used on these foods and that used on more stable food items. A plastic bag of precooked, stuffed pasta lies with its label face up, reading 'Use by 22 November' and 'keep refrigerated.'

"But in the absence of a uniform food dating system, consumers could rely on their eyes and noses, deciding to discard the fuzzy bread, green cheese or off-smelling bag of salad. People also might pay close attention to the dates for more perishable foods, like cold cuts, in which microbes grow easily. They can also find guidance at FoodSafety.gov."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1295

Plant-Based Meat Now Cheaper Than Animal Meat in Netherlands

July 25, 2022 - from NPR:

"Plant-based meat alternatives have suddenly become cheaper than their conventional counterparts, according to new figures. Compiled by supermarket researcher Questionmark on behalf of the Dutch branch of food awareness organization ProVeg International, the data shows how inflation and high raw material prices have caused animal meat prices to skyrocket in comparison with plant-based alt meats.

"ProVeg and Questionmark systematically mapped the price differences between animal products and plant-based substitutes for the first time in February this year. They then mapped the differences again in June this year and discovered that a lot has changed, including the following price developments:

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1294

A distillery is fighting invasive crabs by turning them into whiskey

July 11, 2022 - from NPR:

"Green crabs are the invasive pests that have plagued North America's marine ecosystems for more than 200 years. A New Hampshire distillery is taking on the problem by using them to make green crab-flavored whiskey. Green crabs are so abundant that it's going to take a lot more than whiskey to curb the population, but some hope bringing awareness to the issue will lead to creative solutions.

"Tamworth Distilling's Crab Trapper whiskey gets some of its flavor from green crabs caught off the coast of New Hampshire. The crabs hitched a ride to the United States on ships coming from Europe around the 1800s. Here, they eat tons of shellfish and destroy estuaries and fish habitats.

"Will Robinson, the product developer at Tamworth Distilling who had the idea for the project, said the crabs were cleaned and prepared just like any other crab you might order at a restaurant.

"First, they make a crab stock. Then, they distill it using a vacuum still — a glass machine that allows for precise temperature control.

"Each bottle of whiskey uses about a pound of green crabs."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1293

Plant-Based Cheese Production and Sales Facing Unprecedented Ban in Turkey

July 7, 2022 - from Vegconomist:

"Vegan cheese producers and consumers in Turkey are facing a government ban on sales and production following an unprecedented law by the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The Vegan Association of Turkey has now filed a lawsuit against the ministry looking to overturn the latest in a line of plant-based censorship rulings.

"According to the Vegan Association of Turkey, article 9/3 added to the Turkish Food Codex Regulation writes that: “Products giving the impression of [dairy] cheese cannot be produced using vegetable/plant-based oil or other food ingredients.” The pretense behind the ban is “to prevent adulteration”, but any product that is considered to resemble conventional cheese, but does not even contain the word cheese in its name or marketing, can be sanctioned.

"egan cheese producers in Turkey are reported to have fallen foul of the laws already, receiving some high fines which they are now fighting in court. According to the new Turkish food regulations, even vacuum packaging is evocative of conventional dairy cheese and could be misleading for consumers. In its lawsuit, the Vegan Association of Turkey maintains that proprietary rights of manufacturers and fundamental legal principles of law are in clear violation."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1292

Israel: Bread Prices Expected to Rise by 20%

July 13, 2022 - from i24 News:

"The price of bread in Israel is expected to increase by 20 percent starting Sunday as a result of a global rise in wheat prices, Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai announced today.

"This increase comes on top of the price of eggs, which rose by 6.5 percent last Friday. As a result, a large egg now costs six cents more and the price of a tray of a dozen eggs costs 75 cents more, for a total of almost $4.

"A 9.6 percent increase in the price of electricity is expected for August as well."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1290
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