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Potato movement good, but transportation a concern for Red River Valley shippers

Ted Kreis, marketing director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, said “movement is going well.” USDA figures show “for the week ending Dec. 6 that 124,000 hundredweight of Red River Valley potatoes had been shipped. “This is up 18 percent this year over the previous year. And it’s more than 2012 and 2011 too,” Kreis added.

For 2014 as a whole volume is up despite the fact that the crop started two weeks later than in 2013. “We’ve made up the difference in the late start,” he said.2008-9-8-1620-red-harvest-conveyorDespite a later start than 2013, volume is up for Red River Valley potatoes.

The Red River Valley produced somewhat fewer yellow potatoes than last year, but Kreis said these are “insignificant” numbers. Red potato production was up somewhat.

“The quality was much better” in the 2014 crop, he noted. “We had more potatoes and better quality.” In December the stocks on hand were the same volume “but there will be less shrink” in the pack-out.

“We were late planting, which cut into the yields, which were average.” Yields overall in the valley were spotty, with some growers having greater yield and others less than a year ago. “Overall it evened out.”

David Moquist, a potato grower-packer-shipper and secretary-treasurer of Crystal, ND-based O.C. Schulz, is pleased by movement into December.

Paul Dolan, manager of Associated Potato Growers Inc., based in Grand Forks, ND, did not see “a lot of Christmas boost” for his potato crop. He added that Associated’s potatoes “are storing and keeping well. There are no frost issues.”

Dolan noted that Associated’s total potato volume is down from a year ago, but the saleable volume is up because of high packouts due to excellent quality.

Small-sized Russet potatoes produced in Idaho and Washington in 2014 have brought down the market and created competition for Red River Valley red potatoes. “This has hurt prices,” Dolan said. He expected the market will improve in January because Wisconsin shippers will have finished most of their shipping and Florida’s spring growers are not expected to have the volume produced a year ago.

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UF Survey: Floridians Rank Food Safety Top Concern After Economy, Health Care

Food safety was topped only by the economy and health care in a recent survey of 510 Floridians by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

The UF/IFAS Center for Public Interest Education (PIE) found that food safety ranked third out of 15 identified issues of concern. Genetically modified food was ranked separately and came in at 14.

Florida residents are “really concerned about food safety,” said PIE’s Joy Rumble. ‘That was a really important issue for them.”

Tracy Irani, director of the Center for PIE, indicated that food safety plays a big role in the lives of the state’s residents.

“Food is personally relevant to folks, “she said. “It’s one of those things we care about and have more emotion and concern about than other kinds of issues in agriculture and natural resources.”

The Florida survey did find consumers are not exactly clear about food safety risks. More identified growth hormones, additives and preservatives as health risks than bacteria, which can fairly quickly cause major foodborne diseases.

More also thought fresh produce is safer than canned produce, when in reality it is just the opposite. Floridians were high on local, organic and all-natural foods and concerned about antibiotic and pesticide residues.

And, while they are moderately worried about GMO food, a majority indicated they would support genetic engineering to save Florida’s $ 9-billion citrus crop from greening disease.

Food Safety News

Listeria Concern Prompts Hummus Recall in Oregon, Washington

A Washington state-based company is recalling some of its hummus products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Penny’s Salsa of Auburn, WA initiated a recall of certain hummus products Sunday after two types of the spread tested positive for Listeria, according to the Oregonian.

The hummus was sold at QFC locations in Oregon, and was also sold in Washington state, but the retail locations at which it was sold there were unknown as of Sunday.

The recalled hummus products are marked with use-by dates of July 13 through August 25, 2013.

They are sold under the Penny’s Hummus brand.

No illnesses have been linked to the recalled hummus to date.

Symptoms of listeriosis (the disease caused by Listeria infection) include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. Illness can be more serious in older adults and pregnant woman, among whom the condition can lead to stillbirth or miscarriage. Symptoms in pregnant women include fever, fatigue and general aches.

If you think you may have contracted listeriosis, contact your healthcare provider or your local health department.



Food Safety News