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Recipe for Better Seafood Safety Opened to Public Comments

Seafood safety, legal fishing, and proper labeling of fish might all benefit from presidential task force recommendations now open to public comments. Scheduled for publication on Dec. 18 in the Federal Register, the “Recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud” cover four general themes:

  • International: Combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood fraud at the international level;
  • Enforcement: Strengthen enforcement and enhance enforcement tools to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud;
  • Partnerships: Create and expand partnerships with state and local governments, industry, and non-governmental organizations to identify and eliminate seafood fraud and the sale of IUU seafood in U.S. commerce, and,
  • Traceability: Create a risk-based traceability program to track seafood from harvest to entry into U.S. commerce to prevent entry of illegal product into the supply chain and better inform retailers and consumers.

“One of the biggest global threats to the sustainable management of the world’s fisheries is illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing,” states the task force report. “IUU fishing occurs both within nations’ waters and on the high seas and undermines the biological and economic sustainability of fisheries both domestically and abroad. IUU fishing in other parts of the world can cause problems in places where there are strong rules managing fisheries, such as the United States.”

The task force report was filed Tuesday by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a unit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which, in turn, is a branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

President Obama established the task force in June at the global Our Ocean conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Federal agencies were directed to work together for six months to develop recommendations to combat seafood fraud and illegal fishing.

“While not necessarily related to IUU fishing, seafood fraud (whereby fish is mislabeled with respect to its species or country of origin, quantity, or quality) has the potential to undermine the economic viability of U.S. and global fisheries as well as the ability of consumers to make informed purchasing choices, “ the task force report continued.

“Seafood fraud can occur at any point along the seafood supply chain from harvest to market. It can be driven by diverse motives, from covering up IUU fishing to avoiding duties, to increasing a profit margin through species substitution or falsification of the country of origin. While it is difficult to know the extent of seafood fraud, the frequency of seafood fraud incidents has received increasing attention in peer-reviewed journals, government reports and private sector reports. Seafood fraud threatens consumer confidence, serving to further undermine the reputation and market competitiveness of law-abiding fishers and businesses in the seafood industry,” it states.

Seafood fraud is all too common. In February 2013, Oceana, a U.S.-based group working to improve oceans worldwide, reported that 33 percent of more than 1,200 fish samples purchased at retail and tested were mislabeled, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.

Fish fraud is typically practiced to fool consumers into paying more, not to necessarily put them at risk from a food safety perspective, although unsafe food can result from fraudulent practices. To help improve the situation, Oceana advocates for “full chain traceability” from “boat to plate.”

In a statement released Tuesday, Oceana said the presidential task force recommendations are “a real step forward in fighting illegal fishing and seafood fraud in the U.S. and around the world.” The group says the recommendations will help carry out the president’s “commitment to stop those crimes that provide profits to pirate fishermen, rip off consumers, and hinder ocean conservation.”

Beth Lowell, senior campaign director for Oceana, called the task force recommendations a “historic opportunity to ensure that the seafood sold in the U.S. is safe, legally caught and honestly labeled.”

The organization is calling on Obama to implement the recommendations “swiftly and to their fullest extent.”

Comments on the task force recommendations must be received within 30 days of their publication in the Federal Register. Instructions on how to comment electronically or by mail are on the second page of this document.

Food Safety News

Produce for Better Health awards grant recipients

In support of Produce for Better Health Foundation’s long-standing support of supermarkets, coupled with the close work PBH has done with supermarket dietitians over the last few years, PBH is awarding its second round of grants totaling $ 32,000 to support grocery store dietetics. Since 1991, the organization has worked to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health, and these grants will facilitate that effort.

The following university programs will use the funds to deliver grocery store tours by trained nutrition and dietetic interns, enabling enhanced collaboration between supermarkets and university nutrition and dietetic programs: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC; Benedictine University in Lisle, IL; Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA; Illinois State University in Normal, IL; Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL; Texas State University in San Marcos, TX; University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR; and University of Texas-Health Science Center at Houston.

“The store tour dietetic training grant program has, and continues, to gain momentum and garner interest,” Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in a press release. “We received 20 grant proposals for this current funding period, which is quite impressive given it is only the second award period since the commencement of the program earlier this year.  I am looking forward to highlighting and sharing notable results of the program, along with some of our grantees, during our 2015 Annual Conference.”

PBH’s 2015 Annual Conference: The Consumer Connection will be held March 16-18 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ. Early-bird registration is available through Dec. 31, 2014.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Produce for Better Health awards grant recipients

In support of Produce for Better Health Foundation’s long-standing support of supermarkets, coupled with the close work PBH has done with supermarket dietitians over the last few years, PBH is awarding its second round of grants totaling $ 32,000 to support grocery store dietetics. Since 1991, the organization has worked to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health, and these grants will facilitate that effort.

The following university programs will use the funds to deliver grocery store tours by trained nutrition and dietetic interns, enabling enhanced collaboration between supermarkets and university nutrition and dietetic programs: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC; Benedictine University in Lisle, IL; Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA; Illinois State University in Normal, IL; Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL; Texas State University in San Marcos, TX; University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR; and University of Texas-Health Science Center at Houston.

“The store tour dietetic training grant program has, and continues, to gain momentum and garner interest,” Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in a press release. “We received 20 grant proposals for this current funding period, which is quite impressive given it is only the second award period since the commencement of the program earlier this year.  I am looking forward to highlighting and sharing notable results of the program, along with some of our grantees, during our 2015 Annual Conference.”

PBH’s 2015 Annual Conference: The Consumer Connection will be held March 16-18 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ. Early-bird registration is available through Dec. 31, 2014.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Produce for Better Health awards grant recipients

In support of Produce for Better Health Foundation’s long-standing support of supermarkets, coupled with the close work PBH has done with supermarket dietitians over the last few years, PBH is awarding its second round of grants totaling $ 32,000 to support grocery store dietetics. Since 1991, the organization has worked to motivate people to eat more fruits and vegetables to improve public health, and these grants will facilitate that effort.

The following university programs will use the funds to deliver grocery store tours by trained nutrition and dietetic interns, enabling enhanced collaboration between supermarkets and university nutrition and dietetic programs: Appalachian State University in Boone, NC; Benedictine University in Lisle, IL; Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, PA; Illinois State University in Normal, IL; Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL; Texas State University in San Marcos, TX; University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR; and University of Texas-Health Science Center at Houston.

“The store tour dietetic training grant program has, and continues, to gain momentum and garner interest,” Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in a press release. “We received 20 grant proposals for this current funding period, which is quite impressive given it is only the second award period since the commencement of the program earlier this year.  I am looking forward to highlighting and sharing notable results of the program, along with some of our grantees, during our 2015 Annual Conference.”

PBH’s 2015 Annual Conference: The Consumer Connection will be held March 16-18 at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ. Early-bird registration is available through Dec. 31, 2014.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Better benefits and less smell from slurry with new technologies

Usability and hygienic status of slurry can be considerably improved with new aeration based technologies, new study shows.

Research Scientist Anni Alitalo from Agrifood Research Finland has developed methods of improving the recycling of manure nutrients, the hygienic status as well as methods of reducing the odor of slurry. The studies are part of Alitalo’s thesis.

“A significant share of all manure consists of the slurry. In a global scale, however, only 20 to 40% of the nitrogen content of manure can be recycled. The recycling percentage of other nutrients is even lower,” Alitalo says.

Less than 50% of the manure nutrients recycled

Globally, livestock excretes about 100 megatons of nitrogen annually. Less than 50% is recovered and applied to crops. Therefore, the remainder is dissipated into the environment. Manure contains about 1.5 times more phosphorus and three times the amount of potassium compared with mineral fertilizers, but only a fraction of them can be recycled efficiently.

In Alitalo’s studies, the usability of slurry was improved by separating and recovering the primary nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen.

“We were able to proof that phosphorus can be separated with the solids of the slurry. However, it is far more complicated to separate nitrogen from slurry, but that is possible too. In my studies, nitrogen was separated from the liquid fraction by ammonia stripping after biological treatment,” Alitalo describes her methods.

In her studies, Alitalo developed a pilot scale sequential treatment process, where manure was first treated with biological aeration in a reactor system especially planned for the process. After the biological treatment, ammonia was separated from the manure by ammonia stripping. During the biological treatment, the pH value of the slurry rose. Therefore, the partial separation of nitrogen without chemicals was facilitated.

“The study shows that the amount of chemicals used in the efficient stripping can be considerably reduced. Furthermore, ammonia stripping can be carried out without a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide,” Alitalo concludes.

Non-smelly slurry?

Biological treatment was aimed to reduce the odor of slurry and to improve its hygienic status. Slurry from pigs and cattle was treated in aerated tanks, which were filled with microbial seeding material. The dry matter content of the slurry was reduced to 1-2% before the treatment.

After four days, slurry was odorless, or only a slight odor could be detected. “The reactor system we developed in this study proofed to be stable and efficient,” Alitalo says.

The treatment managed to improve the hygienic status of slurry. The amount of fecal bacteria was reduced even more than 90%.

Basic research and technological development combined

The system described in Alitalo’s thesis cannot readily be applied on farms. The research tested basic mechanisms, which can be used in further development of processes suitable for the farm scale. To bring the technology to the farm scale has required remarkable R & D. The treatment for pig slurry is ready for farm use, but the marketing of the technology is depending on the decisions of the investment subsidies of the next EU programming period.

“When new innovations are developed in environmental technology, a profound understanding about the basic mechanisms is required, as well as the combination of excellence from different fields of research. In this study, the excellence of microbiology, chemistry, physical chemistry and technology were combined,” Alitalo says.

Alitalo has her scientific background in environmental soil chemistry. She has studied the utilization and reactions of nitrogen from both manure and mineral fertilizers as well as management of nitrogen use in farms. Her choice of thesis study was greatly influenced by professor Erkki Aura, the grand old man of agricultural sciences in Finland.

“Aura’s enthusiasm as well as his wide expertise in science and his way of searching concrete solutions for problems were probably the reasons that brought me to study solutions for the use of slurry, defender of the new thesis,” Anni Alitalo recalls.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Makin’ (Better) Bacon

Nov 4, 2014 By Mark Hamstra

If chicken sausages can make it in the heart of traditional bratwurst country, they can make it anywhere. Earlier this year Skogen’s Festival Foods, an 18-store operator in Wisconsin, promoted a 100-calorie bratwurst made with chicken that was a hit with customers. “I was hesitant because I’m a very traditional bratwurst gal, but it was very good,” said Tanja Gilray, perishables buyer at Skogen’s. The product exemplifies a trend in the processed-meat case for …

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Supermarket News

Chile looking forward to better year for fruit exports

ANAHEIM, CA — An early-October freeze in fruit-growing regions in Chile is not expected to have a significant impact on export volume, according to officials at the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association and the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, known commonly by the acronym ASOEX.

Meeting with The Produce News during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition, here, Ronald Bown, chairman of ASOEX, said he expects a full recovery after last year’s challenging season, when a freeze severely limited export volume and strikes at Chilean ports further exacerbated difficulties in the fruit trade.ChileRonald Bown, chairman of ASOEX, with U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Edward Avalos, at the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association booth.

“We expect a much better year this year,” said Bown. “Every year it is something, but the recent freeze was not as bad as last year, and we don’t expect the same difficulties with the strikes at the ports.”

The freeze last year was the biggest in 50 years, according to Bown, and it was the main factor in the 11.4 percent decrease in fruit exports, affecting mostly grapes, kiwifruit, stone fruit and cherries. Bown believes Chilean growers can make up for last year by virtue of the planned 5-15 percent increase in production.

Further, he said, “We are working very hard with the [Chilean] government to analyze problems in the past related to the port strike, and we expect to solve those problems, which were mostly labor issues.”

ASOEX is ramping up its efforts to reach additional markets, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Bown. It also wants to ship more product to Russia and other European markets. But he said the North American market remains a key destination for fruit exports.

“Global markets are increasingly more important for us, but the North American market remains the largest by far,” he said. For example, “70 percent of our blueberries go to North America.”

For its part, ASOEX does a good deal of outreach to maintain its preferred status among retailers in North America.

“Reliability and consistency are the key aspects that retailers seek,” said Bown. “Chile has been working with the trade for many years to establish solid relationships, and it has paid off. One of our strengths is that we have an excellent marketing staff to reach out to our customers. We meet with retailers of all sizes — from 10-store chains to 1,000-store chains — and they appreciate that we can offer the quality and volume they need.”

Prior to the wide acceptance of fruit from Chile, Bown recalled that there was pushback when shipments began to increase.

“But as we gained acceptance in the marketplace, people came to realize that more fruit on the market had the positive benefit of offering an opportunity to increase consumption,” he said. “Also, we offer a wide range of products that spans the entire fruit category, not just one or two items.”

Growth potential for kiwifruit

One area of focus for Chilean fruit exports this season is kiwifruit, according to Carlos Cruzat, president of the Comité del Kiwi, which promotes Chilean kiwifruit. His main quest is to offer preconditioned fruit that is sweet, flavorful and ready to eat.

“Growers and importers need to work together to give consumers a good eating experience so they come back to buy more,” he said. “It is important that consumers receive fruit that is ready to eat within one to two days.”

He cited a decline in consumption of green kiwifruit, as many countries have switched to gold-flesh fruit to meet the rising demand, especially in the Asian markets.

“Global volume of green kiwi is declining and will continue to do so,” he said. “So we have a challenge of maintaining that business, and to do that we need to add value, not just increase production. Offering preconditioned fruit is one way to add value.”

He said that it is important to please consumers in order to increase the category.

“We see big potential for green kiwi, but we need everyone to be on the same page,” said Cruzat. “We have been convincing growers that they should invest in green kiwi again, since it is not as labor-intensive and can be stored for a while, so the season can be extended. Virtually no other country is planting new green acreage. While it is not the most profitable item, it is good overall for the category and is a stable product for the entire ‘fruit basket.’“

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.