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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.

Urban Outfitters Recalls Margo Taper Candle Holders Due to Fire Hazard

February 24, 2021 - from CPSC in conjunction with Healthy Canadians:

Margo Taper Candle Holders have been recalled because the candle holders can catch on fire if they come in contact with the candle’s flame, posing a fire hazard.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled candle holders and return them to any Urban Outfitters store for a full refund. Customers can also contact Urban Outfitters to receive a prepaid return label to return the candle holders by mail. Urban Outfitters is contacting online purchasers by email.

Sold At: Exclusively at Urban Outfitters stores nationwide and online at www.urbanoutfitters.com from August 2020 through November 2020 for between $18 and $30.

Consumer Contact: Urban Outfitters at 800-282-2200 24 hours a day, email at recall@urbn.com, or online at www.urbanoutfitters.com/recall or www.urbanoutfitters.com and click on “Product Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1152

COVID-19 Update: USDA, FDA Underscore Current Epidemiologic and Scientific Information Indicating No Transmission of COVID-19 Through Food or Food Packaging

February 18, 2021 - from FDA:

After more than a year since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19.

It’s particularly important to note that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food. While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus’ genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of virus resulting in human infection. Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be very small and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.

The USDA and the FDA are sharing this update based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging. For example, a recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF)External Link Disclaimer, stated: “Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.” Additional literature reviewsExternal Link Disclaimer and analysesExternal Link Disclaimer from other countries agree.

n addition, considering the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19, we have not seen epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging as the source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to humans. Furthermore, transmission has not been attributed to food products or packaging through national and international surveillance systems. Food business operations continue to produce a steady supply of safe food following current Good Manufacturing Practices and preventive controls, focusing on good hygiene practices and keeping workers safe.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1151

National Presto Recalls Smokers Due to Electric Shock Hazard

February 17, 2021 - from CPSC :

Presto Indoor Electric Smoker has been recalled because the heating element/wiring on the smoker is defective, posing an electric shock hazard to consumers.

This recall involves all units of the Presto Indoor Electric Smokers with Model No. 0601304 or 0601405. The model number is displayed on a sticker located on the underside of the smoker. “Presto” appears on the top of the digital display on the side of each unit. The smokers were sold in black stainless steel and camouflage finishes. The smokers prepare smoked meat, fish and vegetables. UPC codes 075741060132 and 075741060149 are located on the packaging.

Consumers should immediately stop using the Presto Indoor Electric Smokers and contact the firm to receive return instructions, or return the product to the store where it was purchased for a refund.

Sold At: Shopko, Sears, Kmart, Belk, Veterans Canteen Store and other home appliance stores nationwide and online at Amazon.com, Wayfair.com, Kohls.com and Walmart.com and other online sites from June 2018 through December 2020 for between $70 and $110.

Consumer Contact: National Presto toll-free at 833-909-1524 between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT Monday through Friday or online at www.gopresto.com/recall or www.gopresto.com and click “Recall Alert” to complete the on-line registration form to apply for the refund and receive a shipping label.

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1150

Future Meat Technologies makes cell-based chicken costing $7.50 and gets $26.75M funding

February 1, 2021 FoodDive:

"After Mosa Meat showed off the world's first hamburger made from cell-based meat in 2013 — a process that took two years and cost the equivalent of $325,000 — people believed that real meat could be made without slaughtering an animal."

"Then came the next challenge: producing cell-based meat less expensively, let alone at a price affordable to a consumer."

"The price has been steadily dropping thanks to more players in the game, scientific advancements, new plant-based growth media, and partnerships across different scientific disciplines. Most recently, Israel-based Future Meat Technologies has gotten the price to produce a cell-based chicken breast down to about $7.50."

"In addition to the lower cost of a chicken breast, Future Meat Technologies also announced $26.75 million in new funding. This latest round, in the form of a convertible note, involved both new and old investors in the company, and it more than doubles its existing funds. Existing investors Tyson Foods, Archer Daniels Midland, S2G Ventures, Manta Ray Investors, Emerald Technology Ventures and Bits x Bites all participated in this round. Joining them as first-time funders are German dairy producer Müller Group, U.S.-based CPG and foodservice products maker Rich Products Corp. and investment firm ADM Capital (not affiliated with the ingredients and grain company)."

"Future Meat has built robotic analytical systems that break down the chemical composition of different plants and proteins. And they have found some food ingredients that work well for cultured meat growth."

"The company's bioreactors also have a system that can clean the growth medium. This means that impurities are removed and the growth medium can actually be reused."

"The system Future Meat uses is also unique in the way it can quickly produce a lot of cells. The company has always used fast-growing cells, but Nahmias said it is in the process of building out what would be one of the most efficient biomanufacturing facilities in the world. In this 800-liter facility, about 36% of the bioreactor will become biomass, which he said is 10 times more efficient than many others existing today — and more efficient than what had been predicted for the cultured meat industry. "

"The $7.50 chicken breast does blend cell-based chicken with some plant proteins, which is something the company has long planned to do for its first products to get the cost down."

"The company is also focusing on getting regulatory approval for its products, and is working closely with the FDA in the United States and with regulators in its home country in Israel. Nahmias said there are active discussions with some regulatory agencies in Asia."

"While the drop in manufacturing cost and new funding are both big deals for Future Meat Technologies, Nahmias said they're just the first two announcements in what he thinks will be a very exciting year for the company. Future Meat currently has a target of getting products on the market in 2022, but Nahmias said it could be sooner if regulators give their approval faster."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1149

Aleph Farms, Technion produce first slaughter-free ribeye

February 9, 2021 from Meatingplace:

"The world’s first slaughter-free ribeye steak made of animal cells — with no genetic engineering or immortalization — has officially been plated."

"A partnership between Aleph Farms Ltd. and biomedical engineering faculty at The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has produced this cut of cell-cultured meat using three-dimensional bioprinting that Aleph said it will be able to use to produce any type of steak."

"Aleph has produced a thin-cut steak using 3D printing, but the bioprinting technique enables the company to print live cells that “are then incubated to grow, differentiate and interact, in order to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1148

Senator to USDA: Make Food Aid Kosher

February 5, 2021 from Food Processing:

"A U.S. Senator is asking the USDA to ensure that food boxes provided to needy families during the pandemic contains options for kosher and halal foods."

"Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) sent the USDA a letter dated Feb. 3 in which she pointed out that there are half a million people in New York City living in poor or near-poor Jewish families."

"'During the beginning rounds of this program, when there were separate boxes for each food category, it was more accessible for kosher and halal families to use this program,” Gillebrand’s letter states. “However, in late summer the boxes were designed to be exclusively mixed packages, eliminating them as an option for these families.'"

"Gillibrand has long been an advocate for inclusion of kosher and halal products in food aid. She had previously sent a similar letter to then-USDA secretary Sonny Perdue, and had advocated for the USDA to label kosher and halal products in school lunch programs."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1147

High levels of toxic heavy metals found in some baby food: U.S. report

AFebruary 4, 2021 - from Reuters:

"U.S. congressional investigators found 'dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals' in certain baby foods that could cause neurological damage, a House Oversight subcommittee said in a report released on Thursday in calling for new standards and testing requirements."

"The panel examined products made by Nurture Inc, Hain Celestial Group Inc, Beech-Nut Nutrition and Gerber, a unit of Nestle, it said, adding that it was “greatly concerned” that Walmart Inc, Campbell Soup Co and Sprout Organic Foods refused to cooperate with the investigation. The U.S. baby food market was worth an estimated $8 billion in 2020, according to Euromonitor."

"The report said internal company standards 'permit dangerously high levels of toxic heavy metals, and documents revealed that the manufacturers have often sold foods that exceeded those levels.'"

"The report urged U.S. regulators to set maximum levels of toxic heavy metals permitted in baby foods and require manufacturers to test finished products for heavy metals, not just ingredients, while baby food companies said they were working to reducing levels of metals that occur naturally in food products."

"A Food and Drug Administration (FDA) spokesman said the agency was reviewing the report."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1146

Ruling Brings Kosher Slaughterhouse New Business, Old Fears

January 28, 2021 - from Hamodia:

Quality Poultry in Csengele, Hungary is a "3 1/2-year-old slaughterhouse that supplies nearly 40% of Europe’s kosher poultry market and a large portion of the foie gras sold in Israel."

"Companies like Quality Poultry have found new export markets since the European Union’s highest court last month upheld a law in Belgium’s Flanders region that prohibited slaughtering animals without first stunning them into unconsciousness. But the European Court of Justice ruling also has provoked fears of eventual EU-wide prohibitions on ritual slaughter, and aroused memories of periods when Europe’s Jews faced cruel persecution."

"The EU has required the pre-stunning of animals since 1979, but allows member states to make religion-based exceptions. Most do, but along with Flanders and the Wallonia region of Belgium, Slovenia, Denmark and Sweden, as well as non-EU members Switzerland, Iceland and Norway, have done away with religious exemptions, meaning kosher and halal meat must be imported."

"Laws requiring the pre-slaughter stunning of animals appeared in some European countries as early as the late 19th century. Adolf Hitler mandated the practice in 1933 just after becoming chancellor of Germany, one of the first laws imposed by the Nazis."

"Jewish and Muslim groups challenged the Flanders law in Belgium’s Constitutional Court, which referred it to the European Court of Justice for a ruling on its compatibility with EU law."

"The Court of Justice’s advocate general advised the court to strike the Flanders law down, arguing it violated the rights of certain faiths to preserve their essential religious rites. But the court disagreed, finding the law 'allow(s) a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion.'"

"The animal welfare minister for the Brussels region of Belgium, where stunning is not mandatory, said the ruling would breathe new life into the mandatory stunning debate there. The Brussels chapter of the New Flemish Alliance, a center-right party whose members led the push for the law in Flanders, said it would now submit a proposal for an ordinance to ban slaughter without stunning in the capital region."

"The Hungarian government helped finance the slaughterhouse in Csengele, and Prime Minister Viktor Orban joined Jewish groups in condemning the court’s decision as an assault on religious freedom. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1145

Biden issues an executive order to boost SNAP benefits

January 22, 2021: from the The Counter:

"Though intended to send additional food aid to families most impacted by the pandemic, the order could lead to a permanent expansion of the amount of money people receive each month."

"President Biden on Friday will sign an Executive Order directing the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to find ways to provide additional food aid to families that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and free school lunch."

"These changes are meant to supplement the extra 15 percent in across-the-board benefits authorized by December’s stimulus package, which will run out at the end of June. They include boosting payments made to parents of schoolchildren through the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program and instructing USDA to find a way to increase SNAP payments to the lowest-income families. Perhaps most significant in the long run, Biden’s administration has also directed the agency to revise the calculation that determines how much money people receive through SNAP. (This revision was mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill but has yet to materialize.)"

"USDA said in a press release on Friday that it would also immediately increase payments to families whose children receive free school lunch. Last spring, Congress created PEBT, a program intended to make up for the loss of school meals by providing parents with pre-loaded debit cards that maxed out at $5.86 per child per day. As Politico reported in late December, the program worked well in the spring and summer but was stymied by Congressional inaction and delays at USDA in the fall, leading to a gap in benefits for many children. The new executive order increases the per-day benefits by 15 percent, or about 88 cents per child per day. "

"The agency is also consulting with the Department of Justice to see if it can increase SNAP benefits for the lowest-income families. In normal times, SNAP is distributed on a sliding scale: people making the least money receive the maximum allotment, or about $680 for a family of four, and that allotment decreases as income goes up, bottoming out at $15 per month for the highest-paid single person who still qualifies. "

"In the spring, Congress allowed states to start sending every SNAP participant the maximum allotment. The policy didn’t provide any boost for the lowest-income people in the program—those who were already receiving the maximum benefit, an estimated 37 percent of participants. The stimulus package passed in December will increase benefits for everyone by about 15 percent, and the intent of the executive order is to find ways to further increase benefits for the lowest-income families. "

"The executive order also instructs USDA to immediately begin the process of revising the Thrifty Food Plan. This plan forms the basis for the government’s calculation of how much it costs to eat. Its assumptions about what people eat are, as it stands, quite weird. Developed in the 1970s, the diet suggests an adult woman may need to drink three cups of milk per day to meet her nutritional needs with the money allotted. (In 2019, the plan budgeted a maximum of $38.50 per week for women ages 19 to 50.) "

"It has other, more serious shortcomings: A recent USDA analysis found that model grocery baskets purchased under the financial constraints of the plan resulted in foods that exceeded the Dietary Guidelines for sodium and were deficient in Vitamin E and potassium. That said, adjusting the underlying assumptions in the Thrifty Food plan could increase SNAP allotments across the board, making it easier for people to purchase healthy groceries. There’s a wide gap between the current SNAP allotment and independent estimates of the cost of food: While SNAP maxes out at $204 for a single person, MIT’s living wage calculator estimates a single person living in New York City needs to spend $290 for food each month. "

"Biden will need help from Congress to enact more substantial change. "

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1144

American Airlines to Launch New Direct Flights Between New York and Israel

January 24, 2021: from the Algemeiner:

"American Airlines is scheduled to begin a new direct flight this spring between New York and Israel, traveling to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport and Ben-Gurion International Airport."

"While the new direct route was announced in July, the date for the new launch (May 6) and the date for ticket sales (Jan. 25) are new."

"Flights will feature kosher food available for pre-order and kosher wine for passengers, regardless of their seating."

"Additionally, a direct American Airlines route between Dallas and Tel Aviv is scheduled to begin in September."

"American Airlines previously operated flights between Philadelphia and Tel Aviv; that route ended in 2015."

The previous item can be cited with the URL: https://www.kashrut.com/News/?alert=W1143
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