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Illegal marijuana grows threaten fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada

June 27, 2013 — Rat poison used on illegal marijuana grows is killing fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, according to a recent study conducted by a team of scientists from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), University of California, Davis, University of California, Berkeley, and the Integral Ecology Research Center.

A previous study published last summer by the research team documented that rodenticides were being found in the tissues of the cat-sized, weasel-like critters which live in rugged portions of the southern Sierra Nevada. The authors speculated that the most likely source of the poisons was the illegal marijuana grows found throughout the Sierra Nevada. This new study solidifies that link, documenting that female fishers who live in areas with a higher number of marijuana sites had more exposure to rodenticides, and subsequently had lower survival rates. The findings concern scientists because the fisher is a candidate for listing under federal, Oregon, and California endangered species acts, and is considered a sensitive species in the western United States by the U.S. Forest Service.

The researchers deduced that illegal marijuana grows are a likely source of the poison, because the fishers in this study were radio-tracked and many were not observed venturing into rural, urban or agricultural areas where rodenticides are often used legally. Illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands is widespread, and some growers apply large quantities of numerous pesticides to deter a wide range of animals and insects from encroaching on their crops. While the exposure of wildlife to rodenticides and insecticides near agricultural fields is not uncommon, the amount and variety of poisons found at the illegal marijuana plots is a new threat.

According to co-author PSW wildlife biologist Dr. Kathryn Purcell, “exposure of wildlife to pesticides has been widely documented, but this is a fundamentally different scenario.

“In marijuana cultivation sites, regulations regarding proper use of pesticides are completely ignored and multiple compounds are used to target any and all threats to the crop, including compounds illegal in the U.S.,” she says.

While some fishers have died from either directly consuming flavored rodenticides or by consuming prey that had recently ingested the poisons, exposure may also predispose animals to dying from other causes. Exposure to lower doses — or to combinations — of the poisons, results in slower reflexes, reduced ability to heal from injuries, and neurological impairment. Consequently, this leads to death from other sources, such as predation or road kill.

Fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada are highly susceptible to pesticide exposure because, unlike their larger bodied relatives in other parts of the country that eat larger prey, their diet consists of small mammals, birds, carrion, insects, fungi, and other plant material. In the vicinity of illegal marijuana sites, numerous dead or dying insects and small mammals are often found. In this study, scientists reported on the amount of poisons found at over 300 illegal plots and compared the locations of these sites with the home ranges and survival of 46 adult female fishers.

The conservation implications of this study are far-reaching.

“By increasing the number of animals that die from supposedly natural causes, these pesticides may be tipping the balance of recovery for fishers” says Dr. Craig Thompson, a PSW wildlife ecologist and the study’s lead author.

This new threat may also impact other species already facing declining populations, including the wolverine, marten, great gray owl, California spotted owl, and Sierra Nevada red fox, which may also be exposed to the poisons, say the scientists.

The full report can be found at

Headquartered in Albany, Calif., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawai’i and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Kroger grows profits, market share in Q3

Kroger cranked out a 21% increase in profit in the third quarter ending Nov. 8 compared with the same period last year. Net earnings for the quarter were $ 362 million, and identical store sales were excluding fuel were up 5.6%.

In a call with analysts, CEO Rodney McMullen said this was the 44th quarter with positive identical store sales. 

Kroger reported $ 25 billion in total sales for the third quarter, an 11.2% increase from the same quarter last year. Private label brand performance stayed steady, bringing in 25.8% of sales during the quarter and 27.3% of sales volume.

“Clearly our rebranded opening price point and Kroger banner brands are a hit with customers. Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic continue to earn double-digit unit and sales growth,” said president and COO Mike Ellis, referring to the company’s natural and organic lines.

Harris Teeter, acquired earlier this year, is performing as expected, according to a company official, who noted that Kroger made price investments at the banner.

Looking toward the future, Kroger predicts that the identical store sales will grow within a range of 5% and 6% next quarter. For the 2015 fiscal year, if fuel prices rise, Kroger is projecting an 8% to 11% increase in profit.


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Ellis called attention to “customer first innovation” at Kroger’s dairy processing plant in Denver, which kicked off milk production in August. The plant, Ellis said, uses new technologies to keep milk fresher, longer, and package “long-shelf-life products.”

“We are the first dairy in the U.S. to deploy robotic technology that enables us to pack cases and pick and palletize orders entirely by automation,” he said.

At the end of the Thursday call with investors, McMullen wished David Dillon well in the future as he steps down as chairman of the board. Dillon led Kroger for 11 years as CEO.

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New SunSelect greenhouse grows California peppers year-round


SunSelect, a leading Canadian greenhouse grower, will ship its first-ever California-grown tomatoes this week. This historic shipment marks the beginning of a new era for the British Columbia-based grower, as the doors to its brand new 32-acre greenhouse officially open to fresh opportunities.

Along with cocktail and traditional tomatoes-on-the-vine, SunSelect’s high tech, state-of-the-art facility, located in Tehachapi, CA, will produce sweet Bell peppers year-round. Notably, this makes SunSelect one of the only large-scale greenhouse growers in the Golden State to produce peppers in the winter, enabling attractive programs for retailers seeking California sweet Bells during the colder months of the year and beyond.

SunSelect’s expansion into California has also deepened its long-term partnership with The Oppenheimer Group, an investor in the new facility. And even as SunSelect prepares to ship its first product from the new greenhouse, construction of a second facility is already under way in Tehachapi.

“We have started building an additional 32 acres, which will double our current size and significantly increase our year-round pepper volume,” Len Krahn, SunSelect co-owner, said in a press release. Peppers grown in this second phase will be available in late 2015.

“We chose Tehachapi for a few reasons, including the high light levels to promote uniform plant growth, the plentiful water and low humidity,” said Len’s brother and SunSelect co-owner Victor Krahn. “And because the temperature in this valley is lower than surrounding areas, it is naturally free of many pests.”

Inside the fully sealed greenhouse, SunSelect has employed the latest technology to assure an optimal growing environment where sustainable practices are undertaken. From water recycling to re-introduction of waste CO2 as fertilizer to natural air heating, cooling and re-circulation systems, SunSelect extends the commitment to sustainable growing it pioneered in British Columbia to its new California greenhouse.

“We are serious about growing the best tomatoes and peppers in the most sustainable manner we can,” Victor Krahn said.

SunSelect tomatoes-on-the vine will be available at the end of October, and peppers will follow about a week later. While product will ship throughout the U.S., part of the sustainability strategy includes a focus on the local California market.

“We are launching a new series of packaging that emphasizes the California origin of our new items,” he said, noting that the iconic California bear is featured on the packs. “We anticipate that a considerable amount of our early product will be sold here, and we are eager to build a local following.”

Aaron Quon, greenhouse and vegetable category director for The Oppenheimer Group ― SunSelect’s marketing partner ― points to the significant impact the new facility could have: “This is an important step in the evolution of the North American greenhouse category,” he said. “With SunSelect, we will be the first to offer U.S.-grown greenhouse sweet Bell peppers year round. And with the addition of TOVs and cocktail tomatoes―combined with SunSelect’s BC production of peppers and cucumbers―we can deliver a full basket of high-demand items to our customers from SunSelect any day of the year.”

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

Love Beets unveils new branding as beet trend grows

lovebeetsLove Beets, a line of premium, all-natural, ready-to-eat beets, announced a company-wide rebranding campaign, featuring a fresh new look that more accurately reflects the brand’s whimsical approach to preparing and eating beets. Its new, state-of-the-art packaging better aligns with its commitment to providing consumers with the best-tasting, highest-quality products. The new branding will hit shelves this month and will continue to roll out nationwide through the end of the year.

Love Beets’ aesthetic shines a spotlight on both the brand’s upbeat, cheeky personality and the beet itself, and challenges age-old stereotypes around eating this notoriously intimidating vegetable. The brand’s logo, vibrant color pallet and signature smiley faces found on the front of its packages make beets approachable and remind consumers why they should incorporate this trending superfood into their daily diet.

“The creative evolution of Love Beets really brings to life the idea that beets are modern, fun and can be enjoyed by consumers of all ages,” George Shropshire, vice president of Love Beets, said in a press release. “We’re excited to reveal a whole new look and technology that make beets a hassle-free experience and even easier to snack on whenever, wherever.”

Updated packaging for Love Beets products also adds greater visibility and accessibility for consumers on shelf and at home. Innovations include the following:

  • Marinated Baby Beets in five flavors: New packs feature state-of-the-art peel-and-seal technology to keep each beet fresher for longer and allow for easier portioning and storage across meals, snacks and recipes. The packs now stand upright and may be opened and closed several times.
  • Vacuum-Packed Cooked Beets (two varieties):  A new and improved seal keeps beet juices locked in and reduces the risk of refrigerator messes.
  • Beet Juices (three flavors): Beet Juice, Super Tasty and a new Organic Beet Juice boast new, sleek container designs and sizes. Consumers will now be able to choose a 14-ounce re-usable glass bottle or a larger 20-ounce plastic bottle, all available in late November.
  • Club Pack (two varieties): Labels have also been re-imagined with a series of delicious recipes and directions for how to prepare beets.

Love Beets’ newly designed website and social platforms feature highly interactive and responsive sections, rich imagery and a lifestyle blog that will highlight health benefits of beets and their many uses — from salads and entrees to smoothies and desserts.

Love Beets’ products are available in more than 6,500 retailers nationwide and in Canada.

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

CPMA grows while retaining boutique feel

Calgary sees change to Tuesday-Thursday format
CPMA grows while retaining boutique feel

Held from April 2-4 in Vancouver, this year’s CPMA trade show had 237 companies exhibiting in 450 booths. With preregistration numbers at 95 percent of target attendance, CPMA’s President Ron Lemaire described this year’s event as a success. But even with swelling attendance numbers, the event continues to have the boutique feel that attracts international companies and regional distributors alike.

Click here for the photo report

“We’ve had more exhibitors than we had last time we were here,” said Ron. “We don’t have an official figure for attendance yet, but we’re very, very happy with the strength of representation from the regional market and international group that continues to support us.” The rotating nature of the event, which moves from eastern venues to western venues on a four-year cycle, helps connect regional players, who might not normally travel across the country for the show, with the national and international contingent that is a mainstay at all events. That mix of representation from the industry lends the convention a unique feel that appeals to exhibitors and attendees.

Click here for a photo report of the novelties

“CPMA is known for its boutique-style model,” said Ron. “So we don’t want to be a massive show. If we can keep the number of exhibitors between 450 and 530, that’s a good-sized show where you have time to network, develop business relationships and go outside of the exhibit in a social environment.”

Tuesday-Thursday format
While Ron emphasized the importance of keeping the character of the event, he also noted that there’s a steering committee which will look to improve on the show. One of the changes they’re finalizing is moving the dates of the event from a Thursday through Friday slot to one that goes Tuesday through Thursday.

Click here for the photo report

“People are time-starved and weekends are a scarce commodity, so starting with our 2016 show in Calgary we’re changing it to a Tuesday-Thursday format,” said Ron. “This is part of our mission, seeking continuous improvement but also maintaining the culture while enhancing business opportunities.”

Jack Sparrow at Welcome Reception
There was a very nice Welcome Reception in the Vancouver Aquarium with a Pirate theme. Guests were welcomed by Pirates and some of the Royal Family while enjoying good food and the wonders of nature, there was also a special guest: Jack Sparrow. But who was Jack Sparrow?

“Jack Sparrow and who Jack Sparrow was, is still a mystery and I think that may stay in Davy Jones locker.”

Click here for photos of the Welcome Reception

Publication date: 4/7/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot

Inverness Transport grows against the flow

Inverness Transport grows against the flow

Where many companies are dragging themselves through the economic crisis with difficulty, Inverness Transport BV is, strikingly, making a profit. Over the last few years the company from Zevenaar has even grown against the flow. Manager Richard van den Dolder is proud of Inverness Transport’s tempestuous growth. Nine years ago he was the foundations of the logistics company. Starting out as a self employed company, Inverness Transport now has four employees and transports countless agrarian products throughout the whole of Europe. “The emphasis in our work is on the agrarian transport of mainly potatoes, onions and carrots. Our assortment is growing gradually. We also know what to do with vegetables, fruit, cacao, coffee, nuts, sugar and grains.”

Inverness Transport fills the positions of a bridge between customer and buyer. Distinctive character is the personal service offered. Den Dolder: “It sounds so simple, but it isn’t. We distinguish ourselves from many other colleagues with the extra personal attention that we offer our customers. It’s unusual in our branch. Basically, we make sure that the product is transported safely from A to B. But in the meantime we also take away all the hassle that surrounds transport and the customer. We take care of it completely. The customer doesn’t have to worry about it at all. We make sure that the transport is done well and that the customer is satisfied. This is why, as a manager, I often travel through Europe to personally meet my customers and chat. This extra attention on all sides is important.” Inverness Transport is able to transship truck on location in Zevenaar. For instance to collect multiple shipments and send them by truck. “This increases speed and saves costs.”

The whole of Europe
The Inverness Transport specialists already know their way throughout Europe. There is close contact with the responsibilities at loading and unloading areas and the agrarian products are packaged and transported with care. They collaborate with various transporters from all over Europe for this. “This way we can switch very flexibly if a customer wants to receive a shipment sooner, for instance, Any transport is possible, such as tautliners, cooling and bulk trucks, hopper barges, walking floors and kippers.”

The countries Inverness Transport operates in include France, Belgium, Germany, England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy and, of course, the Netherlands. “We don’t really have borders. Whether it’s full loads or loose pallets, we have a solution for everything. The customer can hand it over to us with trust.”

For more information:
Richard van den Dolder
Inverness Transport BV
Tel: +31 (0)26-3195170
Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 4/2/2014

Pouch-based packaging grows up

SN identifies six emerging trends with the potential to grow sales at retail

“The trend toward adult food in pouches is being driven by younger, environmentally aware consumers.” —SCOTT OWEN, PCC Natural Markets

Baby food sold in resealable pouches has been a hit — why not adult food in pouches? That’s the reasoning of Scott Owen, grocery merchandiser at PCC Natural Markets, Seattle, who said he is seeing an increasing number of food items for adults become available in this format. Single-serve pouches emerged a few years ago in the baby food category, “and now dominate it,” he said. “Young moms like the take-and-go convenience and safety of a non-breakable, usually …

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Supermarket News

Pouch-based packaging grows up

SN identifies six emerging trends with the potential to grow sales at retail

“The trend toward adult food in pouches is being driven by younger, environmentally aware consumers.” —SCOTT OWEN, PCC Natural Markets

Baby food sold in resealable pouches has been a hit — why not adult food in pouches? That’s the reasoning of Scott Owen, grocery merchandiser at PCC Natural Markets, Seattle, who said he is seeing an increasing number of food items for adults become available in this format. Single-serve pouches emerged a few years ago in the baby food category, “and now dominate it,” he said. “Young moms like the take-and-go convenience and safety of a non-breakable, usually …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Pouch-based packaging grows up. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

Attention Paid Print Subscribers:  While you have already been granted free access to SN we ask that you register now. We promise it will only take a few minutes! Or visit your profile and add your print magazine account number and zip code.

Already registered? here.

Supermarket News

Pouch-based packaging grows up

SN identifies six emerging trends with the potential to grow sales at retail

“The trend toward adult food in pouches is being driven by younger, environmentally aware consumers.” —SCOTT OWEN, PCC Natural Markets

Baby food sold in resealable pouches has been a hit — why not adult food in pouches? That’s the reasoning of Scott Owen, grocery merchandiser at PCC Natural Markets, Seattle, who said he is seeing an increasing number of food items for adults become available in this format. Single-serve pouches emerged a few years ago in the baby food category, “and now dominate it,” he said. “Young moms like the take-and-go convenience and safety of a non-breakable, usually …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Pouch-based packaging grows up. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

Click here to read the FAQ page if you have any questions (opens in a new window)

Attention Paid Print Subscribers:  While you have already been granted free access to SN we ask that you register now. We promise it will only take a few minutes! Or visit your profile and add your print magazine account number and zip code.

Already registered? here.

Supermarket News

Baloian Farms expands sales staff, grows Nogales location

Baloian Farms recently expanded its sales staff with the hiring of Marcel Corella to accommodate recent growth and expansion of the Nogales sales and procurement office.

Effective Dec. 16, Corella assumed the role of the newly created position of sales assistant. Corella’s primary responsibility will be to assist with the day-to-day activities within the sales department. His other key duties include managing packing materials for Mexico and assisting with quality assurance as needed.

Baloian MarcelMarcel CorellaCorella’s future plans are to assist with the expansion of the Baloian Farms Nogales operation and facilitate its Mexican program, of which he has already been spending time updating growers and planning the 2014-15 season.

“Marcel’s easy way with growers and his understanding of the culture is a real asset to our grower development program,” Jeremy Lane, sales manager of Baloian Farms, said in a press release. “Marcel continues to prove his value as we strengthen and grow our Mexican program.”

Prior to Baloian Farms, Corella gained relatable experience in marketing, administration and customer service in the mortgage-lending industry, and his educational background is in agribusiness economics and management.

“Baloian Farms might be a different direction from the mortgage industry, but not so different than our family business in the cattle industry,” Corella said in the release. “It’s rewarding to be part of a family business that shows so much dedication to forward progress, while never losing sight of who they are.”

Baloian Farms has maintained a Mexican grower program for two years and has had offices in Nogales for one year, which are headed up by Luis Corella, sales and procurement, Mexico operations.

Baloian Farms is a fourth-generation, vertically integrated family farm, with year-round operations specializing in peppers and mixed vegetables grown in California and Mexico.

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

Baby food grows up at Expo West

I’m a working mom to a 15 month old who likes to exert her independence at mealtime. She wants to feed herself, and there is no telling if the meal she gobbled up last week, will end up on the floor this week. Because she’s so picky, deciding what to make for meals and snacks is a source of anxiety.

It wasn’t so bad when she was smaller and her diet consisted of baby food and formula, which you could easily find in the baby aisle. But since her teeth have sprouted, she’s graduate to table food and shopping for a well-balanced and nutritious diet is even more of a challenge. Judging by the baby, toddler and kids foods debuting on the show floor of this year’s Expo West, that could get a little easier.

Doctors recommend whole milk yogurt for toddlers, but organic whole fat versions continue to elude me, even at retailers who merchandise endless yogurt SKUs like Trader Joe’s. Happy Family is helping fill the dearth with a new line of refrigerated yogurt pouches co-branded with Stonyfield organic yogurt in YoBaby, YoTot and YoKids versions.

When you’re a picky eater, like most toddlers tend to be, a variety of healthy snacks are essential to offering satiety and nutrition in between those barely touched meals. Plum Organics is offering a new solution in its Mighty 4 for Tots toddler snack line. Just when I thought my daughter had outgrown food pouches, the brand is offering blends representing each of the four food groups in pouch and bars that are especially designed for this age group.

Retailers who group nutritious, convenient and seemingly appetizing solutions like these in age appropriate sections within the baby (and dairy) aisle, will not just grow the loyalty of a lucrative customer base, but keep little ones in this high margin category a little longer.

Supermarket News

Debate Grows Over Poultry Worker Safety Under Proposed HIMP Regulations

Last week, organizations representing consumers and farm workers convened in Washington, D.C., to speak with members of Congress and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials about the threat they feel new poultry plant regulations pose to both plant worker safety and food safety as a whole.

The USDA regulations of concern are part of HIMP, or the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HACCP stands for Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Points). HIMP has been in practice since 1999, when a select number of poultry and hog plants began operating pilot programs under a new set of inspection rules intended to improve the microbial food safety. Today, HIMP pilot programs are taking place in 20 chicken plants, five hog plants and five turkey plants.

One major point of contention brought up by the groups in D.C. centers on line speeds. As part of the HIMP program, chicken plants have been permitted to increase the speed of their evisceration lines from 140 to 175 birds per minute.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and other congressional leaders joined a coalition of poultry plant workers on Thursday to urge USDA to not allow for increased line speeds when the HIMP rules are extended to all poultry plants sometime in the future. Increased line speeds increase the risk of worker injuries, they argued, as many injuries in the plant involve accidents on the line.

While there is no timeline for when, or if, HIMP and its related poultry regulation will be expanded beyond the 30 pilot plants, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this week that the Obama administration’s budget for fiscal 2015 provides less funding for the Food Safety and Inspection Service because of changes that will eliminate some poultry inspection jobs.

Meanwhile, poultry industry representatives have argued that the speed of the evisceration line has not been shown to have an impact on worker safety. In fact, the evisceration line – the second of three processing lines in a poultry plant – is mostly automated through the use of machines. The speed of the second processing line, which involves the majority of  therefore do not put workers at a heightened level of risk, said Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council.

According to data taken from the first 15 years of HIMP pilot programs, there is no evidence that line speeds for slaughter or evisceration of chicken increase the number of worker injuries that occur in the plant, Super said. Most manual labor, he said, is concentrated on the second processing line, where workers are cutting and deboning chicken for retail packaging, and which will not be subjected to increased line speeds.

“Worker safety is a very high priority for the industry,” Super told Food Safety News. “People are certainly our most important asset. We would never support any proposal that we thought would be detrimental to our workforce.”

But the groups representing worker interests are worried about increasing the speed of any lines. While the rate of worker injury rates for poultry plants has dramatically dropped in the past 20 years (from 22.7 injuries per 100 workers in 1994 down to 4.9 injuries in 2013), poultry plant injuries still rank slightly higher than the average factory worker injury rate (4.3 injuries per 100 workers in 2013).

The central source of injuries and complaints from poultry plant workers is the speed at which they have to work, said Tom Fritzsche, staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of several groups campaigning against increased line speeds.

“These people have jobs where they’re doing astronomically high numbers of repetitive motions – some of them requiring significant force,” Fritzche said. “These motions can cause long-term injuries that can make it impossible to work another job, or possibly even move in basic ways.”

Fritzsche said that his organization brought in a number of poultry plant workers to discuss injuries they sustained on the job. A woman working at a plant in Alabama developed debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome after 17 years of deboning chickens and was fired. Another woman in Mississippi developed arthritis in her shoulder after just three years on the job due to the rapid repetitive motions she performed for hours at a time, Fritzsche said.

“I think the USDA is absolutely in denial of the effect the speed of the line has on workers’ health,” he added.

The industry has a track record of continually improving worker safety, said the National Chicken Council’s Super. The 15 years of data from the HIMP pilot program prove that speeds of 175 birds per minute do not impact worker safety, he said, and, in fact, some European countries have maintained safe work environments with line speeds approaching 200 birds per minute.

The advocacy groups arguing against higher line speeds also say the act of increasing line speeds takes another jab at a workforce that is already exploited and vulnerable. That workforce is disproportionately composed of Latino and African-American workers, many of them immigrants who run up against language barrier problems, said Catherine Singley, manager of employment policy projects at the National Council of La Raza.

“We’re looking at this through a civil rights lens,” Singley said.

Fritzsche also voiced concern that, under HIMP rules, plant employees would be given more responsibility to monitor the quality of the birds, while inspectors would be moving more to roles that involve looking at microbial safety.

One of the most common complaints among a survey of poultry workers in Alabama, he said, was the fear of retaliation for bringing up problems in the plant. Workers reported not feeling comfortable stopping the line for quality concerns because they feared negative reactions from upper management for slowing production, Fritzsche said. One worker, he said, even reported once getting physically caught on the line and later being punished for using the emergency stop button to free himself.

“We’re concerned that if some workers are responsible for pointing out a carcass with feces on it, for instance, they may feel like they’re under pressure not to slow down the line to take care of the problem,” he said.

As far as the new employee roles affecting food safety inspection, they don’t, according to Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the National Chicken Council.

Inspectors will still be required on every poultry processing line looking at every bird, she said. It’s true that inspectors will be turning their focus more toward microbial testing, but it’s still the law to have an inspector reviewing each bird.

Asked if the increased line speeds for slaughter and evisceration would create a bottleneck on the second processing line where the speeds will remain the same, Peterson said that plants may add additional second processing lines to account for the faster slaughter and evisceration, but workers are not asked to work faster on the second processing line.

Super added that the speed of the lines will ultimately be determined by economics. Plants will process as many birds as consumers will eat, and plants are not required to operate lines at 175 birds per minute.

Ultimately, Super said, the industry and USDA had both workers and consumers in mind when making the new rules, which are the first update to those created in the 1950s, when the industry looked nothing like it does today.

“I don’t think the USDA would put forth a proposal that they thought would be detrimental to the workforce, much less consumers,” Super said.

Food Safety News

U.S. apple category volume grows in November

Consumers switching to newer varieties
U.S. apple category volume grows in November

Supermarket performance data for November shows apple volume in supermarkets increased by 2.5%. Volume gains were supported by falling retail prices, which for the full apple category declined by 6.5%.

According to data released by Nielsen Perishables Group, newer varieties like Gala and Honeycrisp are driving growth, while older varieties like Red and Golden Delicious are losing ground.

For the four week period ending 11/23/2013, Gala was the largest volume apple in U.S. supermarkets, increasing by 3% over the same period last year. Honeycrisp was the 2nd highest volume apple, jumping by 14%.

Steve Lutz, Vice President of Marketing for CMI said, “More consumers are selecting newer variety apples like Gala, Honeycrisp and Fuji at the expense of some traditional favorites.” He added, “This is beginning to impact performance of legacy varieties like Red Delicious and Golden Delicious and even established varieties like Braeburn. For the four week period, Red volume dropped by almost 12% while Golden volume declined by about 8%.”

According to Lutz, shoppers are increasingly seeking out apples believed to be high in flavor. “Consumers are more willing to pay high prices for apples like Fuji and Honeycrisp. But we’re seeing even stronger gains in high-flavor varieties like Pink Lady and Ambrosia. For the period, among the top 10 apple varieties nationally, Pink Lady and Ambrosia had the strongest percentage gains in volume”, said Lutz. “Pink Lady volume jumped by 44% while Ambrosia volume increased by 22%, despite supermarket shelf prices substantially higher than the category average.”

“The apple category continues to become more complex,” said Lutz. “Increasingly, for retailers success hinges not only on knowing which apple varieties to put on the shelf, but also knowing which apples to emphasize in merchandising and which varieties should be dropped.”

For More information, contact
Steve Lutz
Tel: +1 509.888.3401

Publication date: 1/2/2014

Availability of food increases as countries’ dependence on food trade grows

Dec. 19, 2013 — Sufficient food is available for increasing numbers of people, but at the same time, the dependence of countries on international trade in foodstuffs has increased considerably in 40 years. The proportion of the population who get enough food (more than 2,500 calories a day) has nearly doubled to 61 per cent. Those living on a critically low food supply (less than 2,000 calories a day) have shrunk from 51 to three per cent.

The figures come out in a study made at Aalto University in Finland examining developments in food availability and food self-sufficiency in 1965-2005. Researchers of Aalto University examined the development of food availability in recent decades for the first time.

Food availability has improved especially in the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, China, and Southeast Asia. Although food availability has increased on the global level, food self-sufficiency has remained relatively low.

“In the 1960s and 1970s, insufficient food production in a country amounted to food shortage, but nowadays the production deficit is increasingly balanced through food imports,” says Aalto University researcher Miina Porkka.

The proportion of people living in countries that are significant net importers of food has more than tripled during the period under examination. The countries of North Africa and the Middle East, for instance, have become increasingly dependent on imported food. In these countries, food availability has increased from low to a very high level, even though domestic food production has remained inadequate.

Brazil, on the other hand, has become one of the world’s most important producers of food for export. In the 1960s, food supply in the country was still inadequate, but in the past decades Brazilian food production has grown exponentially and food consumption is now more than sufficient.

The study also examined dietary changes that have taken place in different countries. The proportion of people consuming large amounts (more than 15 per cent of energy intake) of animal-based nutrition has increased from 33 per cent to more than 50 per cent. This together with over consumption of calories in many countries is putting an increased pressure on the planet’s limited natural resources. At the same time, however, over a third of the world’s population is still living with insufficient food supply.

This study was published in PLOS ONE journal. The study was conducted by the researchers from Aalto University in Finland and University of Bonn in Germany. The research was financed by Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry., the Academy of Finland and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Italy: Export grows but it could do better

The analysis of the Cso presented by Elisa Macchi in Ferrara
Italy: Export grows but it could do better

During the final conference of the AGER Inoovapero project, held on 18th October 2013 in Ferrara, Elisa Macchi (in the photo), director of the CSO, presented an analysis on the productive and economic situation of pear cultivation.

Based on the 2008-2011 average, the global pear production is 22.5 million tons, 21 million tons of which are produced in the Northern hemisphere.

Southern hemisphere

The remaining share is grown in the Southern hemisphere, where production grew until 2005/06 and then diminished progressively. Today, supply is below 1.5 million tons. At a variety level, William B.C. (37%), Packam’s (32%) and Forelle (6%) prevail.

Argentina increased the supply, going from 500,000 tons in 2000 to 750,000 in 2005/06. At the moment, it is stable at 700,000 tons. South Africa is increasing its supply from 300,000 tons to 350-360,000.

Northern hemisphere
China represents around 70% of the total, with a supply that grew from 8.5 million tons to 16 million tons from 2000 to 2011. If we exclude this country, production in the Northern hemisphere is stable at 6 million tons.

The main productive areas are North America with 835,000 tons (13%), US with 830,000, North Africa with 360,000 tons (3%) and Algeria (210,000 tons). Europe (EU and extra-EU) reaches 3.2 million tons, 50% of the total.

Asia produces 17.2 tons of pears. Excluding China, this is 1,970,000 tons, 30% of the total divided between Turkey (385,000 tons), South Korea (340,0000), India (290,000) and Japan (200,000).

There is a slight decrease in the US supply, and cultivars are distributed in a different way than in Europe – Anjou 47%, William BC 29%, Bosc 15%, etc.

In the European Union, pear production seems stable at 2.5 million tons. 2,236,000 tons are expected in 2013, 18% more than in 2012 but 8% less than the 2008-2011 average.

If we compare the average between 2000-2002 and 2009-2011, we can see an increase in Holland (6 to 13%), Belgium (5 to 12%) and Portugal (5 to 8%), whereas Spain (23 to 19%) and France (9 to 8%) decreased. Italy remained constant at 33-34%.

As regards varieties at a Community level, only three varieties have become more popular between 2000 and 2012 – Conference, Abate and Rocha.

Despite some fluctuations and the drops in production in the last two years, Italy appears constant at around 830,000 ton. Expectations for 2013 are 741,000 tons, 14% more than 2011 and 8% less than 2008-2011.

At a variety level, Abate increased between 2000-2002 and 2010-12 (29 to 38%) whereas William (21-22%) and Kaiser (6%) remained constant. The other cultivars decreased.

At a commercial level, Elisa Macchi explained how domestic consumption has been dropping from 460,000 ton to 350,000 (-23%) (see chart below).

Retail purchases of Italian families (Source: CSO based on GFK Italia data)


National quantities destined abroad are increasing (despite fluctuations due to availability). If in the early 2000s they remained below 140,000 ton, recently they have reached 200,000 ton with a good increase in value. Imports seem stable (100,000 ton).

The share of produce sent abroad is therefore growing. In the early 2000s, exports represented 15% of the production, whereas currently it represents 22%.

Destinations of Italian exports: EU is green, extra-EU is red, Africa is yellow and other destinations are purple. (Source: CSO based on Istat data)

Quantities shipped within the EU diminished (95 to 88%), whereas African countries went from very small volumes to 5% in the last two campaigns. The market of extra-EU European markets represents around 6%.

As regards exports within the EU, Italy ships to all countries within the Community, and mainly to Germany (little more than 60,000 tons) and France (25-26,000 tons). Exports to countries like Austria and Eastern European countries increase, especially during very productive years. Those to the UK are decreasing instead.

There are various destinations outside of the EU, but the main countries in terms of volumes are Libya and Russia. Switzerland remains constant.

The main competitors for Italian pears
All the main European exporters are on the rise. Belgium and Holland export a lot of the product they sell. 

The main competitors for Italian exports (blue): Holland is yellow, Belgium is red, Portugal is green. (Source: CSO based on Eurostat data)

Germany is the main destination market for Dutch pears, as currently 80,000 tons of pears are shipped there on average, 25% of the total. Great Britain follows with 45,000 tons (15%) and after that Russia (20%) and France (9%). After a big increase in the early 2000s, quantities shipped to the Russian market are now fluctuating.

Russia is the main destination for Belgium, with 120,000 ton on average (44%), followed by France with 25,000 ton (10%), UK (10%) and Spain with 20,000 ton (8%). Quantities to Russia and the UK have increased, whereas they have decreased for Germany and France remains constant.

In 2011/12, Portugal exported 46,000 tons of pears, 40% of the total, to Brasil, 20,000 tons to the UK (21%) and 17,000 ton (20%) to France. All destinations are on the rise.

The director of the Cso stressed how the domestic consumption of pears is decreasing despite a stable production, hence the need to export. Countries like Belgium, Holland and Portugal – which are naturally inclined towards exports – increased their productive potential in the last few years, but destination markets remain the same. It is therefore essential to access new markets.

The opening of the US market to Italian pears was very successful – 10 containers have been shipped so far. Additional produce should be sent there between the second and the third week of November, but it is important to work on other projects too: the pear dossier was sent to Japan, China and South Korea in 2007.

It is therefore essential to work together, just as was done for the US market – the Ministry, the Region, the Plant Protection Service, technicians from POs, embassies and the Cso collaborated to achieve such result.

According to Elisa Macchi, the birth of the OI Pera (interbranch organisation), which includes Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, will be a useful instrument to reach these objectives. Among its many activities, the organisation also aims at developing initiatives to enter new international markets and promote pears, especially the Abate variety, by working with the characteristics that make this pear unique.

Publication date: 10/22/2013

Salmonella Outreak Linked to Foster Farms Grows to 338 Cases

At least 338 in 20 states and Puerto Rico have been found to be ill with Salmonella in connection to an outbreak from chicken produced by Foster Farms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number is up 21 illnesses from the last reported number of 317.

At least 40 percent of victims have been hospitalized, and 75 percent reside in California.

Foster Farms has not initiated a recall, instead opting to comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture requests to mitigate issues at three central California facilities tied to the outbreak.

Kroger Co. stores, which also include Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers and others, pulled implicated packages of Foster Farms chicken from their shelves earlier this month.

The products involved in the outbreak are identified by one of three USDA mark of inspection numbers: P6137, P6137A and P7632.

On Thursday, Costco stores expanded an earlier recall of rotisserie chickens from one stores in South San Francisco, Calif., in connection to the outbreak.

Persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg, by State as of October 17, 2013

Persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium, by date of illness onset as of October 17, 2013

Food Safety News

Cyclospora Outbreak in Midwestern States Grows to 267 with More Cases in Iowa

Iowa state officials on Tuesday said they have received reports of nine more cases of Cyclospora infections, bringing the total number affected by the outbreak in the state to 127 and to 267 total in six Midwestern states, according to the latest count by Food Safety News.

A source has still not been identified for the outbreak, which centers in Iowa, Nebraska and Texas, but also involves a handful of victims in Wisconson, Illinois, and Kansas. The most recent case count, based on a tally from officials in each state is as follows: Iowa (127 illnesses), Nebraska (68), Texas (65), Wisconsin (4), Illinois (2), Kansas (1). The Iowa Department of Public Health said Tuesday that that the number of cases reported is decreasing and that the state plans to release another case count Wednesday at approximately 10 a.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the official outbreak count at 250 cases, but said “it is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.”

According to CDC, the cases in Kansas and Illinois may have been acquired out of state and “additional cases are currently under investigation and will be included on this page as states confirm them.” In all, at least 10 people have been hospitalized.

Cyclospora is a parasite and it could have been passed onto fresh food via contaminated water, but officials have not named any particular food, but have said they do believe it was foodborne and that it likely not a fruit but a fresh vegetable.

“This is a very good indication the food which was the source of the outbreak has already been consumed or discarded, since fresh vegetables have a limited shelf life,” IDPH said in its most recent update. “At no time was an Iowa-grown fruit of vegetable suspected to be the cause of the outbreak.

IDPH also said it recommended eating fresh fruits and vegetables, but suggested washing produce “thoroughly” before eating.

Cyclospora infection causes a watery diarrhea that lasts an average of 57 days, if untreated, according to IDPH. Most of the illnesses in the current outbreak began in mid to late June. Many people report still being ill and some have had relapses, according to the update.

Anyone experiencing diarrhea, or have recently had a long bout with diarrhea, should contact their health care provider and see if they should be tested for Cyclospora infection.

Photo courtesy of flickr Creative Commons.

Food Safety News