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Organic supply might not keep up with demand

Because of difficulty in finding suitable land, one of the biggest obstacles for suppliers of organic produce is meeting demand.

That theme was top of mind during a breakout session featuring suppliers at the recent Organic Produce Summit, held in Monterey, CA. Titled “Organic Produce Innovation: Next Generation, Next Geography,” a trio of speakers and moderator Nate Lewis of the Organic Trade Association explored the topic. The OTA executive began the discussion asking the group what the biggest challenge is with organic produce.

“Available ground is the biggest challenge,” said Jerrett Stoffel, vice president of operations for Taylor Farms in Salinas, CA. He noted that most of the conventional ground that is relatively easy to transition to organic production has already been converted. Taylor Farms continues to look for new ground but it is difficult to find, and much more expensive to convert.

Greg Holzman, founder of Purity Organics, said he travels extensively and continually tries to convince growers all over the world to switch to organic production. As such the company sources extensively from Central America and South America for its eponymous juices. Purity Organics only has an organic option that it offers to its customers, so it really can’t help growers market their transitional product.

Soren Bjorn, executive vice president of Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc. in Watsonville, CA, said that is not the case with his firm. Because of some very conservative residue standards by some export buyers, he said transitional fruit is a good match for Driscoll’s export sales, which does help the company “sell” the concept of organic production to its growers. However, Driscoll’s relies on growers all over the world for its output and each of those growers must make their own business decision about growing organic berries. The company does have an aggressive program, especially in Mexico, to help new growers get started, which may help alleviate some supply issues in the future.

Lewis of OTA noted that the trade association is working with the federal government on standards that will allow for the marketing of transitional fruit as growers move their production from conventional to organic. While this may convince some growers to transition from conventional to organic, he said this idea has detractors as some practitioners do not want to cannibalize organic sales nor create an “organic light” category.

Bjorn believes genetics, technology and geography will play important roles in increasing the supply of organic berries. He said genetic research resulting in new varieties could allow production on marginal land, and should help increase yields as well. He also said that advancements in the use of bio-pesticides will help organic berries deal with pest pressures. Advancements in technology, Bjorn said, could help growers move the crop out of the soil and into potted production, which may allow a version of factory farming and greatly increase the supply of available land. The company is also continually exploring new regions of the world where strawberry production, including organic production, may take root.

Stoffel said that organic spinach is having a very difficult time because of disease problems for which there is no solution for organic production. At this point in time, he said “organic spinach is probably not a sustainable crop.”

The suppliers also talked about climate change and discussed its impact on both conventional and organic production. Lewis said warming temperatures have allowed the state of Washington to have a crop landscape that rivals California. While a warming trend in more northern locations may open up land for fruit and vegetable production of all kinds, other areas are getting too warm to grow some traditional crops. Even in Oxnard, CA, Bjorn said there are fields that no longer get much ocean cooling and so they are no longer suitable for strawberry production.

Stoffel said moving to areas that are now warmer may offer some opportunities, but generally those crop windows are shorter and require a lot more planning.

The three panelists took a much different view of the direction each of their individual companies will be taking in the near and distant future. Bjorn said Driscoll’s is concentrating on its four berry crops — strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries — with no plans to diversify. Holzman said Purity Organics is always looking to add to its stable of operations and added that the firm’s papaya production is on the rise. Stoffel indicated that Taylor Farms will basically grow anything it can sell. “We are driven by consumer tastes,” he said.

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

USDA Tips to Help Keep Your Holidays Illness-Free

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous.

To help keep your holiday season healthy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations on how to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.

If you have specific food-safety questions this holiday season, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food-safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  • Buy cold foods last.
  • Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items such as vegetables or bread.
  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure that they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to make sure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a three-minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F; ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees F, and all poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Fool-proof tips when cooking for groups:

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 degrees F, and cold items should remain below 40 degrees F.
  • Use several small plates when serving food.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for two hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees F, the roast is safe to eat.
  • Remember that all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three-minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

Food Safety News

USDA Tips to Help Keep Your Holidays Illness-Free

As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook, a first-time party host, or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, the holidays can make even the most confident chefs nervous.

To help keep your holiday season healthy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing food safety recommendations on how to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness.

If you have specific food-safety questions this holiday season, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food-safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.

Steps to follow during holiday grocery shopping:

  • Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood away from other foods in your grocery cart.
  • Buy cold foods last.
  • Ask the cashier to place your raw meat, poultry and seafood in a separate bag.

Steps to follow during food preparation:

  • Use separate cutting boards for raw meat and ready-to-eat items such as vegetables or bread.
  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes requiring raw meat to reduce cross-contamination. Store them out of the way while preparing meat dishes to ensure that they don’t become contaminated after preparation.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of dishes to make sure they are fully cooked and safe to eat. Fresh beef, pork, veal, and lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a three-minute rest time; fish should be cooked to 145 degrees F; ground beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees F; egg dishes should be cooked to 160 degrees F, and all poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.

Fool-proof tips when cooking for groups:

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold by using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 degrees F, and cold items should remain below 40 degrees F.
  • Use several small plates when serving food.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for two hours or more.

Steps to follow when cooking a holiday roast:

  • Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils for raw roasts and cooked roasts to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Wash items such as cutting boards that have touched raw meat with warm water and soap, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • To ensure the juiciest possible roast this holiday, use a meat thermometer. Once it has reached the USDA recommended internal temperature of 145 degrees F, the roast is safe to eat.
  • Remember that all cuts of pork, beef, veal, and lamb need a three-minute rest time before cutting or consuming.

Food Safety News

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Keep Your Family Safe Through the Holidays

For some, the biggest benefit of Thanksgiving is the leftovers. That’s especially true for the cooks of the family, who know that the leftovers from Thursday’s dinner will give them a break from the kitchen on Friday.

But before you dig in to the refrigerated turkey and mashed potatoes, consider some food safety advice from us at Food Safety News.

First, ask yourself a few questions before you heat up those leftovers:

  • Has everything been kept out of the “danger zone”?
  • Was everything cooled rapidly?
  • Was everything stored safely?
  • How can I reheat everything to be sure it’s safe?

The Danger Zone

Hot foods need to be refrigerated within two hours of exposure to room temperature to minimize the amount of time they’re held within the danger zone, the range of temperatures at which bacteria easily grow.

Bacteria grow most easily between 40 and 140 degrees F (4.5 to 60 degrees C). Make sure that all of your leftovers have been taken out of that range within two hours by either refrigerating them or hot-holding them above 140 F. Throw away anything that’s been held at room temperature for more than two hours.

Cool and Store Foods Safely

Once in the fridge, your food needs to cool below 40 degrees F rapidly, and that usually requires dividing food into shallow containers. The smaller the portion size, the faster it will cool in the fridge, and you’ll avoid having the centers of food portions linger in the danger zone for hours.

Pay attention to how long foods have been stored in the fridge and freezer. According to foodsafety.gov’s handy chart for safe storage times, cooked poultry is good for 3-4 days in the fridge and 2-6 months in the freezers.

Reheating and Thawing

You should reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F. When in doubt, stick a food thermometer into the center of the food to check.

Soups, sauces and gravies should be brought to a boil.

When possible, stir foods during the reheating process. Let foods stand for a few minutes after taking them out of the microwave so that heat can continue to redistribute.

Frozen leftovers can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. The refrigerator is the safest way, but it’s also the slowest.

When thawing leftovers in cold water, place them in a leak-proof package or plastic bag and change out the water every 30 minutes to speed up the thawing process.

Find more specific tips in our sidebar on the right-hand side of this article, and enjoy those leftovers.

Food Safety News

Fruit Attraction: Nine innovations in fruit and vegetables to keep an eye out for

Pasarela Innova 2014
Fruit Attraction: Nine innovations in fruit and vegetables to keep an eye out for

The fruit and vegetables sector continues launching new ideas into the market. New formats, packaging or varieties aim to find a place on the shelves, focusing on values ​​such as convenience, health or ecology. 

The Pasarela Innova will be an interesting opportunity to see the fruit and vegetable varieties marketed over the past two years. 

The event will be held from 15 to 17 October at Halls 3 and 5 of IFEMA, as part of the fair Fruit Attraction. Visitors will be able learn more about innovative proposals such as Easyqs, of the company Agroiris; a new cucumber format, of smaller size, for consumption in a single use.

For its part, Caparros Nature will showcase its pear cherry vine tomato Lobello; it stands out for its deep red colour and very sweet taste. It is sold in three kilo boxes and convenient 250 gram cups.

Endinava’s most surprising product is a tricolour hydroponic lettuce; a very attractive product consisting of three types of lettuce (Lollo rosa, Lollo Bionda and Red oak leaf), grown and packed together, so they appear to be a single lettuce. They are sold with roots included and they are thus living products, considerably extending their shelf life.

In the most innovative fruit and vegetable market there is also room for new vegetables like Bimi, a natural hybrid between broccoli and Chinese cabbage, supplied by the company Sakata Seed Ibérica, or Natural Crunch’s crunchy oranges, with a surprising texture.

As for cooked dishes, the most noteworthy are the recipes made ​​from fresh vegetables offered by the brand El Huertico Gourmet, of Huerta de Peralta, as well as the cooked mushrooms from Neofungi, ready to heat and eat.

But not everything presented are product innovations, there is also room for on-line tools like FruitBull; a website that provides data on prices of over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables, greatly facilitating buying and selling in the fruit and vegetable market, and which the company constantly updates in real time.

Additionally, Pasarela Innova will also be a stage for the presentation of a new fruit and vegetable exhibitor created by Smurfit Kappa Spain and Portugal, which is intended to promote the consumption of these foods in supermarkets.

Publication date: 10/10/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Defense Secret: How to Keep ‘Jack’ DeCoster Out of Jail

America’s former egg king is not going to jail, according to his defense attorneys from Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C.

Attorney Frank R. Volpe has filed a motion on behalf of Austin (Jack) DeCoster in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa, with a mostly secret legal argument claiming that, if the 71-year-old defendant is incarcerated or confined, it would violate the U.S Constitution. The motion “requests that this Court rule that a sentence of incarceration, including intermittent, community, or home confinement, or restriction on liberty other than probation, would violate Mr. DeCoster’s due process right under the U.S. Constitution.”

Jack Decoster, left, and his son, Peter DeCoster (right).

This basic move Volpe took to keep his client out of jail comes as no surprise. The defense team announced in June that they planned to raise constitutional arguments to keep DeCoster unconfined.

However, the legal case they are making is just as murky now as it was in June. That’s because, so far, U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett has allowed DeCoster’s attorneys to keep their legal theories secret. Bennett plans to make Volpe’s “Memo in Support of Unconstitutional Confinement” public on Oct. 15 unless the defense attorney can persuade the judge to again keep it under seal.

From his motion, it is expected that Volpe will say that DeCoster’s offense is based on strict liability and therefore is itself of uncertain constitutionality. With the absence of mens rea (meaning “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”), he argues, “the only appropriate sentence in this case is a fine/and or term of probation.”

DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, 51, are currently free while they await sentencing. They both pleaded guilty on June 3 to one federal misdemeanor count each of adulteration or misbranding.

Quality Egg LLC, a DeCoster family trust, pleaded guilty to two of the misdemeanor counts and to one federal felony of bribing a public official. All the charges stem from an investigation into the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that brought the recall of a half-billion eggs from two DeCoster-owned egg-production facilities in Iowa.

Both men and the trust have plea bargains with the government, which, at a minimum, require Bennett’s signoff at sentencing. The defendants have agreed to fines totaling $ 7 million, with the majority — $ 6.8 million — to be paid from the trust.

But getting to sentencing has turned complicated. In addition to the constitutional arguments, the defendants and the government are disputing contents of the Presentence Investigative Reports, which are also sealed.

The government has suggested consolidating the sentencing hearings for the three defendants so any testimony heard would not have to be repeated. While defense attorneys for Peter DeCoster have no problem with that, Jack DeCoster’s team objects. They are getting to make their arguments, also under seal.

USA v. Quality Egg LLC et al, Pending Counts Disposition

18:201(b)(1) BRIBERY OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND WITNESSES with Forfeiture Allegation
(1)
21:331(a) and 333(a)(2) ADULTERATION OR MISBRANDING OF ANY FOOD, DRUG
(2)
21:333(a)(1) and 331(a) – VIOLATION OF SEC. 331 OF THIS TITLE
(3)

Food Safety News

Defense Secret: How to Keep ‘Jack’ DeCoster Out of Jail

America’s former egg king is not going to jail, according to his defense attorneys from Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, D.C.

Attorney Frank R. Volpe has filed a motion on behalf of Austin (Jack) DeCoster in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa, with a mostly secret legal argument claiming that, if the 71-year-old defendant is incarcerated or confined, it would violate the U.S Constitution. The motion “requests that this Court rule that a sentence of incarceration, including intermittent, community, or home confinement, or restriction on liberty other than probation, would violate Mr. DeCoster’s due process right under the U.S. Constitution.”

Jack Decoster, left, and his son, Peter DeCoster (right).

This basic move Volpe took to keep his client out of jail comes as no surprise. The defense team announced in June that they planned to raise constitutional arguments to keep DeCoster unconfined.

However, the legal case they are making is just as murky now as it was in June. That’s because, so far, U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett has allowed DeCoster’s attorneys to keep their legal theories secret. Bennett plans to make Volpe’s “Memo in Support of Unconstitutional Confinement” public on Oct. 15 unless the defense attorney can persuade the judge to again keep it under seal.

From his motion, it is expected that Volpe will say that DeCoster’s offense is based on strict liability and therefore is itself of uncertain constitutionality. With the absence of mens rea (meaning “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”), he argues, “the only appropriate sentence in this case is a fine/and or term of probation.”

DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, 51, are currently free while they await sentencing. They both pleaded guilty on June 3 to one federal misdemeanor count each of adulteration or misbranding.

Quality Egg LLC, a DeCoster family trust, pleaded guilty to two of the misdemeanor counts and to one federal felony of bribing a public official. All the charges stem from an investigation into the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that brought the recall of a half-billion eggs from two DeCoster-owned egg-production facilities in Iowa.

Both men and the trust have plea bargains with the government, which, at a minimum, require Bennett’s signoff at sentencing. The defendants have agreed to fines totaling $ 7 million, with the majority — $ 6.8 million — to be paid from the trust.

But getting to sentencing has turned complicated. In addition to the constitutional arguments, the defendants and the government are disputing contents of the Presentence Investigative Reports, which are also sealed.

The government has suggested consolidating the sentencing hearings for the three defendants so any testimony heard would not have to be repeated. While defense attorneys for Peter DeCoster have no problem with that, Jack DeCoster’s team objects. They are getting to make their arguments, also under seal.

USA v. Quality Egg LLC et al, Pending Counts Disposition

18:201(b)(1) BRIBERY OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND WITNESSES with Forfeiture Allegation
(1)
21:331(a) and 333(a)(2) ADULTERATION OR MISBRANDING OF ANY FOOD, DRUG
(2)
21:333(a)(1) and 331(a) – VIOLATION OF SEC. 331 OF THIS TITLE
(3)

Food Safety News

Opiates: How to Keep Diners Coming Back for Chinese Noodles

Drugged food is yet another safety concern to watch out for in China.

A restaurant owner in Shaanxi Province has admitted to secretly infusing his noodles with poppy shells (from which opium is made) in order to keep diners coming back. The plan was reportedly working until he got caught.

Police began their investigation after one repeat customer tested positive for opiates in a routine urine test and landed in prison for drug use. The doses the restaurant owner used were high enough to addict consumers over a long period of time.

But this isn’t an isolated event. Restaurants all over China have been found to use morphine, codeine and narceine — all obtained from opium — as the “secret ingredient” in their foods.

Food Safety News

“We can overcome and succeed as long as we keep our standards as high as our heels.”

Lynette Ntuli – PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa
“We can overcome and succeed as long as we keep our standards as high as our heels.”

Last week’s PMA Fresh Connections Southern Africa, enjoyed the participation of Lynette Ntuli, founding director and executive lead consultant at the property asset and infrastructure development solutions firm Innate Investment Solutions. Lynette spoke at the Woman’s Fresh Perspective Breakfast, held in honour of Woman’s Week.

Lynette was the first South African woman to become GM of a super-regional shopping centre; she is CEO of the Durban Business Enhancement Initiative and founding director and chairman of IgniteSA.com. Lynette is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Founding Curator of a South African hub.

“We appreciate being able to come together and discuss an industry that is so critical to the growth of economies, not just in this country, but globally. It is important for us to connect, which is why we are all here at this Fresh Summit,” affirms Lynette.

Lynette assures that the event takes place at an important time for South Africa, not only because “it falls within woman’s month, but also because South Africa’s debate on land reform is firmly back on the table and agriculture and the future of food security are very much in the mind of political leaders around the world.”

She explains that the conflict on the ownership of land in South Africa is very much historically linked to what comes out of that land. “South Africa’s wealth has been built on gold and minerals, but today, food security has risen to the top of our national agendas, meaning that land continues to be important.”

South Africa’s president stated that agriculture has become a key economic driver for employment and prosperity, and that the target is to create one million jobs in the sector by 2030. According to Lynette, “20 years ago, we had about 120,000 commercial farmers in South Africa; in 2014, this figure has dropped to 57,000. Additionally, in the last few years nearly half a million people have lost their jobs.”
It has been estimated that 73% of the land in South Africa is not used correctly by the agricultural sector, “and there in itself lies a significant opportunity for the acceleration of our economy and for that of the communities around that land,” says Lynette.

“Our real opportunity as entrepreneurs lies in the areas where nobody has been before; in the areas where people are waiting for change. As a company, we looked at how we could combine property, ethics, infrastructure, retail and many competing marketing forces and factors to create turn-key solutions that would make a difference and have an impact in our country.”

Regarding the participation of women in the sector, Lynette explains that “incidentally, we have bumped into the agricultural industry quite a lot; we have come across women who have started cooperatives, but have no market access and no knowledge about value chain in this specific sector. Supply management and retail are thus areas we’ve had to be concerned about.”

“I also believe that the opportunity exists for the creation of equal systems that will not only empower and enrich, but also sustain brand new markets and communities in our country. At the core of our business is the unwavering belief that if people know what property, land and infrastructure mean and what they can provide for them, they can tap into economically and socially transformative tools.”

“How then can we cultivate a better value chain? It is up to us, those who are already in service and delivering products, to begin to provide supportive structures and solutions to change lives and ensure that we support the areas of need, not just economically, but within our sector in itself.”

“We, women, who are often responsible for the food security of our families on a daily basis, who often approach agriculture as a way to feed and support a family in a country like South Africa, we are perhaps the most poised to begin to play a very active role in this particular sector.”

“Let us use our pool of resources to start working towards some of the small stuff that we know will turn into big things in the future, because nothing is set in stone and certainly nothing is fixed on the ground. Business needs our prowess and insights, and we can perhaps respond the fastest to most of society’s needs. We can overcome and succeed as long as we keep our standards as high as our heels.”

Publication date: 8/25/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Keep Food Penalty-Free at Your World Cup Party

Whether you’re rooting for Argentina or Germany in the World Cup final on Sunday, make sure that your match-viewing is penalty-free by following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety advice. The agency has even made the eye-catching graphic below to help you out.

Unless you are the goal keeper, using your hands is not permitted in soccer. The same goes for food handling in order to keep everything safe. Before and after preparing or handling food, always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Use clean platters to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.

Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats separate from other foods. Make sure raw meats do not come in contact with other foods on the buffet. Never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has been first washed in hot, soapy water.

Always use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked to the right temperature. Color and texture are not indicators of doneness. Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees F, poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F and steaks should reach a 145 degrees F, with a three-minute rest time.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Do not keep food on the buffet at room temperature for more than two hours. Hot foods need to have a heat source to keep them out of the danger zone, and cold foods need to be nestled in ice to remain safe for guests. When in doubt, throw it out. Replenish with fresh servings.

As USDA says, when it comes to food safety, there are no yellow cards, only red ones.

If you have any burning questions concerning food safety, USDA’s virtual representative, “Ask Karen,” is available at AskKaren.gov. Food safety experts are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

Food Safety News

Keep Food Penalty-Free at Your World Cup Party

Whether you’re rooting for Argentina or Germany in the World Cup final on Sunday, make sure that your match-viewing is penalty-free by following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety advice. The agency has even made the eye-catching graphic below to help you out.

Unless you are the goal keeper, using your hands is not permitted in soccer. The same goes for food handling in order to keep everything safe. Before and after preparing or handling food, always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Use clean platters to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.

Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats separate from other foods. Make sure raw meats do not come in contact with other foods on the buffet. Never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has been first washed in hot, soapy water.

Always use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked to the right temperature. Color and texture are not indicators of doneness. Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees F, poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F and steaks should reach a 145 degrees F, with a three-minute rest time.

Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Do not keep food on the buffet at room temperature for more than two hours. Hot foods need to have a heat source to keep them out of the danger zone, and cold foods need to be nestled in ice to remain safe for guests. When in doubt, throw it out. Replenish with fresh servings.

As USDA says, when it comes to food safety, there are no yellow cards, only red ones.

If you have any burning questions concerning food safety, USDA’s virtual representative, “Ask Karen,” is available at AskKaren.gov. Food safety experts are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT at the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

Food Safety News

Letter From the Editor: Keep the Libraries Open!

The Rogue River counties of Jackson and Josephine in Oregon were for years what they called “timber counties,” running their local public services with federal money paid “in lieu” of taxes. Drastic reductions in federal timber harvests were occurring about the time the whole economy tanked.

So, Jackson and Josephine counties closed all their public libraries. A population that does not know much and loses its access to free information was ripe for last month’s votes to ban genetically modified crops. As soon as I heard about this one, I suspected it had to be an urban scare campaign, as neither of these two counties has enough going in either agriculture or organic agriculture for it to have been a “rural thing.”

Not that the target of this voter-imposed destruction isn’t going to fall entirely on the rural population, which woke up on the losing side of the organic industry’s most recent campaign for more Lebensraum.

The state’s biggest newspaper, The Oregonian, captured that with the story of 51-year old Bruce Schultz, who says that his family’s fourth-generation, 250-acre farm will likely go bust if they have to plow under its genetically engineered alfalfa.

It’s not often that local voters freely commit economic suicide, but that’s what might have occurred in these two Oregon counties. Start with the fact that they were barely making it before the vote, if, as it appears, they’ve done enormous economic damage to a majority of their farmers and the Jackson/Josephine futures market doesn’t look so good.

The irony is that it’s such an unlikely place to call in this kind of destruction.

Jackson County contains 1,793,280 acres and Josephine County holds 1,050,880 acres, but less than 12 percent of Jackson and less than 3 percent of Josephine is dedicated to agriculture. Half the land is locked up by the federal government and pays nothing for local services unless federal timber is cut.

The just-published U.S. Census of Agriculture containing 2012 data showing farming on 214,674 acres in Jackson County and on 28,256 acres in Josephine County. Only 1,722 farms are located in Jackson County and just 617 in Josephine County.

Most are small farms like the one owned by Mr. Schultz. But there is not enough farming to really call the Rogue River country farm country. Farmers are part of the economy of these California border counties, but this is not Iowa.

Indeed, it’s unlikely there was any dispute occurring between GMO and non-GMO farmers over contamination issues or whatever. No tort claims pending. Pretty much the same thing a USDA task force concluded — at the local level, farmers get along and work things out with their neighbors.

There does not appear to be any statistical evidence of big rifts down on the farm in these counties that the voters would have needed to work out by executing one side or the other. The new U.S. Census of Agriculture says there are only 31 Jackson County farms enlisted in USDA’s National Organic Program, and only 26 in Josephine County.

Another 11 farms in Jackson and an additional 12 farms in Josephine are involved in organic production that is exempt from certification. And there are 12 farms in Jackson and three in Josephine that were transitioning acres to organic production in 2012.

In other words, the latest data suggest about 4 percent of the 2,339 farms in the two Oregon countries are organic. Now I know there are farms that are not organic but that do use GMO seeds. And while I don’t know what that number is in the two counties, there does not appear to be much sign of conflict between the various farming practices.

Commercial fertilizers were being used on 466 farms in Jackson County and 185 in Josephine County, another sign of the dominance of non-organic in the two counties. Farmers of all kinds, of course, are a minority when it comes to various voting blocks. These two counties — there are about 200,000 people in Jackson and about 82,000 in Josephine — voted to shut down the agricultural practices used by most of their farmers.

It should be noted that only Jackson County, which got its ballot question going earlier, is exempt from a new Oregon law asserting statewide jurisdiction over seeds. Perhaps Josephine, without enough money to keep its libraries going, can do as Vermont is doing by raising money with a tin cup for the inevitable lawsuits.

The organic industry succeeded in voting conventional agricultural “off the island” with the usual scare tactics about GMOs aimed at city voters, not because of any “tipping point” occurring in local farming. In fact, it does not appear the farms had anything to do with it.

We shouldn’t be surprised, however. Back in the day when they closed the libraries, the dark ages followed.

Food Safety News

Stewart Parnell Wants to Keep One Particular Email Under Court Seal

Defense attorneys have long known that damaging email traffic from their clients could be very useful to the prosecution in the upcoming criminal trial involving former executives of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).

But there is one particular email, now under seal, that Stewart Parnell has managed to keep from the public for most of the past year and that he now wants to keep from the jury. Defense attorneys and government prosecutors have decided to draw their lines in the sand over this one email that Parnell says “is highly prejudicial” to his case.

Parnell wants this email kept under seal by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia and away from the jury in the coming trial of PCA executives.

The former president of the now-defunct peanut processing company and two other defendants are scheduled for a July 14 jury trial. They are charged with a total of 76 federal felonies, including fraud and conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce.

Federal prosecutors want to use the email as evidence at trial, and, in a recent “response in opposition,” they say that Parnell has not come up with a good reason to keep the email away from the public.

“Defendant Stewart Parnell has failed to show good cause why the document should be sealed,” argues K. Alan Dasher, assistant U.S. District Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “The courts have consistently held that it is presumed that court proceedings and judicial documents should be open and accessible to the public.”

Dasher also quotes from findings of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that a “public right of access” is critical to the operation of the federal courts. Just as civil and criminal cases should be tried in public, Dasher says there is a common law right of access to the court’s public records.

While accepting that right of access is not absolute, Dasher says the “desire” of a party to seal documents “is immaterial.” Sealing documents, he adds, requires a “showing of good cause.”

“Defendant Stewart Parnell asserts as the sole ground for sealing the document that it is highly prejudicial,” Dasher writes. “That is an insufficient reason to overcome the strong presumption in favor of public access.”

The sealed email is known as 404(b) evidence, defined in the Federal Rules of Evidence as that which involves a crime, wrong or other act that may have never resulted in an arrest, prosecution, or conviction and may not even be criminal. Among the reasons 404(b) evidence may be admissible are: motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, and absence of mistake or accident.

Parnell’s many caustic emails were one of the early ways the public came to learn about how PCA’s business practices might have contributed to the 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak that was linked to the company’s products.

His “turn them loose” email was first disclosed five years ago by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. A staffer’s email had asked Parnell what to do with peanut products initially found to be contaminated, and that was his reply.

Another email Parnell might like to keep under seal was his response to his 2007 quality assurance manager, who emailed the boss to ask for permission to purchase from overseas a $ 600 piece of used equipment for PCA’s lab for microbiological testing.

“Can you guarantee it will work and we will not get screwed — GET IT, ” Parnell’s reply email stated. “These lab tests and COA’s are fucking breaking me/us.” (COAs are Certificates of Analysis used by PCA to guarantee customer requirements were being met.)

In addition to wanting to keep the one email sealed, attorneys for Parnell have asked federal Judge W. Louis Sands to ban any mention of illnesses or deaths resulting from the Salmonella outbreak and allow an expert witness to testify at trial that their client suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Parnell is being tried with his brother Michael, former PCA vice president and peanut broker, and Mary Wilkerson, who was the company’s quality assurance manager. About 700 illnesses and nine deaths were blamed on the outbreak by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food Safety News

Government Wants to Keep Argument Going Over Parnell’s Expert Witness

Knowledge is a powerful thing, especially where it comes into play in a federal criminal case.

A new dispute has erupted between government and defense lawyers in the pre-trial proceedings involving former Peanut Corporation of America chief executive Stewart Parnell’s all-over knowledge.

Government prosecutors say Parnell’s defense attorneys have misstated the law regarding whether knowledge is an essential element of any of the offenses charged, and that they should get a “surreply” or sort of a legal do-over, in their arguments against allowing an expert witness at trial.

Defense attorneys say that a surreply is not necessary and point to nearly seven hours of testimony, a 197-page hearing transcript and 193 pages of exhibits as enough.

“In total, the government, not the defendant, has created 433 pages of argument and evidence on this issue for the defendant and this court to review,” E. Scott Austin, Parnell’s lead attorney says. “If the government has not yet had the opportunity to make its argument on this issue clear, then one would be hard-pressed to imagine a scenario where the government could make its argument,” he added.

The pre-trial issue is whether Dr. Joseph C. Conley, Jr., the neuropsychologist who claims Parnell suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) should be allowed to testify as an expert at trial. That  jury trial, scheduled to get underway this summer, is supposed to decide whether Parnell is guilty or not guilty of 72 federal felony charges stemming from an investigation into the 2008-2009 Salmonella outbreak involving peanut butter and peanut paste from PCA plants in Georgia and Texas.

Charges include conspiracy, introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, introduction of misbranded food into instate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead, instate shipments fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

The outbreak involved 700 illnesses and nine deaths.

Government attorneys want to make additional arguments over the expert witness issues because they claim Parnell’s attorneys committed a “misstatement of law” by saying for the first time that “knowledge is not an essential element” of any of the offenses charged against Parnell. They filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands asking to brief the issue because it had not been raised earlier by the defense. The motion states that knowledge is a required element for most of the crimes of which Parnell stands accused.

In response to the government motion, Austin says that prosecutors are  incorrect and take arguments on Parnell’s behalf “out of context of the overarching legal and factual setting ….”

Austin states, “Parnell’s defense is not that he was incapable or unable to obtain the knowledge required to commit a criminal offense (including conspiracy), but rather that he never formed the intent required to be guilty of a criminal offense. And, as stated in his Reply, knowledge as an essential element of a crime is significantly different that factual knowledge that may make it more likely or not that a defendant formed a criminal intent, the issue surrounding Dr. Conley’s testimony.”

Parnell and three other former executives of the peanut processing company were indicted in February 2013 on a total of 76 federal felony counts. All four defendants are free on bail and to assist in their own defense.

Stewart Parnell’s brother, Michael Parnell, PCAs former vice president and peanut broker; Samuel Lightsey, PCA’s Georgia plant manager, and Mary Wilkerson, the quality control manger, are the other three defendants. The three have been on the sidelines while Sands, the trial judge, conducted pre-trial “Daubert” proceedings over Conley’s status.

Expert witness proceedings are named for “Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals,” a precedent-setting case on expert witnesses.

Other important dates leading up to the trial include:

April: Hearing for other pre-trial motions is April 30.

May: Deadline of May 20 for government and defense attorneys to file any start-of-trial motions known as “in limine.”

June: Responses to motions in limine will be due June 9, and replies must be turned in by June 19. A June 24 pre-trial hearing will be held for Sands to hear arguments on the start-of-trial motions. Sands wants the attorneys to meet regarding exhibits on June 25.

July: Attorneys must propose voir dire questions for the jury and jury instructions by July 7. If all of this stays on the tracks, the jury trial will begin on July 14.

Food Safety News

Keep Food Safety Out of AIB, Kansas State Proposal

(This was posted April 10, 2014, at barfblog.com and is reposted here by permission.)

A former colleague at Kansas State University asked me yesterday if I would deliver my annual talk with summer public health students despite being unceremoniously dumped last year.

I said, “Sure, I’ll always talk with students: they shouldn’t have to suffer from administration incompetence.” (I pre-record the talk, send a bunch of background material and then Skype in for discussion; it works for most of the world, just not Kansas administrators).

But I also had to wonder when Kansas State announced they were proposing a $ 60-million partnership with AIB International (that’s the American Institute of Baking, also in Manhattan, KS) to create a Global Center for Grain-Based Foods.

What marketing geniuses come up with these names?

“We are looking at our shared expertise to help enable the grain-based food industry, both from a learning/technical application, and from a food safety perspective,” said Andre Biane, president and CEO of AIB International.

Having AIB and food safety in the same sentence should shock anyone.

AIB is the third-party auditor that approved Salmonella-tainted peanut paste that killed nine and sickened 600, gave DeCoster egg operations a “superior” rating and “recognition of achievement” in June 2010, just as thousands of Americans began barfing from Salmonella in DeCoster eggs, and a big thumbs-up to Veggie Booty before Salmonella started making people sick.

As has been documented, although AIB considered the Peanut Corporation of America plant “Superior,” Nestlé twice inspected PCA plants and chose not to take on PCA as a supplier because it didn’t meet Nestlé’s food-safety standards, according to Nestlé’s audit reports in 2002 and 2006.

I also wonder when the KState administration goes on about its Australian ties and clearly knows nothing about the culture here, even with two former KState profs sitting here.

Keep believing your own press releases: it’s what universities are good at.

Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety

30.aug.12

Food Control

D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713512004409?v=s5

Abstract

Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food, including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Food Safety News

Wheat: Genetic discovery to keep crops disease-free

According to John Curtin Distinguished Professor Richard Oliver, Director of the Australian Centre for Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens (ACNFP) at Curtin, farmers can lose more than 0.35 tonnes per hectare in wheat yields to Yellow Spot, even after applying fungicide.

For an average-sized farm of 4000 hectares, this could mean an almost $ 500,000 loss to disease per year — or about $ 212 million worth of damage to the wider Australian agricultural industry.

Funded by the Grains Research & Development Corporation, Professor Oliver and his team, in conjunction with independent research provider Kalyx Australia, have demonstrated that by taking away disease-sensitivity genes from the wheat germplasm, pathogens find it difficult to latch onto wheat and cause damage.

“Our finding will help breeders produce crops in which disease losses are 60 to 80 per cent lower, and would be a real win for farmers — they will often be able to avoid using foliar fungicides,” Professor Oliver said.

“Before now, breeding for resistance to Yellow (Tan) Spot and Septoria Nodorum Blotch was very time-consuming — no molecular markers were in use. The key has been to supply breeders with specific proteins (we call them effectors) that the fungi use to cause disease.

“For the first time, our technology allows for a steady and sustained improvement in disease resistance without affecting the farmer’s pocket.

“Furthermore, breeders are able to devote more time and resources to breeding for yield, as well as for rust and frost resistance.”

Using large wheat variety trials provided by Kalyx Australia, the team looked at yield loss of different cultivars (plants chosen for breeding because of desirable characteristics) when subjected to natural disease and stress pressures in the WA wheatbelt.

They compared cultivars with disease-sensitivity genes to cultivars that lacked these particular genes, and were able to show that the cultivars lacking the gene showed no yield loss and in some instances increased yields in the presence of disease.

From this, the team were able to conclude if a sensitivity gene was eliminated, there would be minimal associated risks and it would be a safe and straightforward strategy for improving disease resistance.

Professor Oliver said this research had never been done before as direct mapping for disease resistance had not led to useful molecular markers.

“Previously geneticists would infect plants that were progeny of crosses between relatively resistant and relatively susceptible parents before doing the QTL (quantitative disease-resistance gene) mapping. But as disease resistance is multifactorial due to the several effector reactions, the QTL mapping was always a bit fuzzy and was therefore never passed on,” Professor Oliver said.

“Our research looks directly at the loci that recognise the pathogens, which can be readily identified using a process we developed earlier, thereby bypassing the need for QTL mapping.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Curtin University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

GE Salmon, Apples Keep Genetic Labeling On Legislative Menu in Olympia

Usually the Washington Legislature will steer clear – at least for a while – of a topic voters have settled in a recent initiative. That unwritten rule might ordinarily keep bills for labeling genetically modified food off the table for a while since voters narrowly nixed that idea in deciding against Initiative 522.

House Bill (HB) 2143, calling for labeling genetically engineered salmon, may be an exception to that rule. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling on an application for a fast-growing GMO salmon is expected later this year.

State Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee), a sponsor of HB 2143, says that since Washington state already requires labeling salmon as either “farmed” or “fresh,” it only makes sense to also label “transgenic” fish. The bill also prohibits raising GMO fish with fins in state waters.

The state’s aquaculture and biotech industries oppose HB 2143. In testimony this past Friday in Olympia, industry representatives charged that the bill was introduced to stigmatize genetic technology and generate fear.

They also said that the bill is unnecessary and claimed state law already prohibits transgenic fish in aquaculture. And they reminded a committee hearing on Friday that state voters have already spoken in their 51-49 percent rejection of I-522 last November.

Proponents said the state has to protect Washington’s native salmon population, and they claimed those fish stocks would be threatened by FDA approval of the first GMO animal approved for human consumption. FDA is reviewing comments on the issue and has not promised a delivery date for a decision. The application under consideration is from Aqua Bounty Technologies.

Testing is also now under way in Washington state and New York, both apple-growing regions, of two varieties of the non-browning Arctic Apple. The Arctic Apple is being developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., of British Columbia.

The Yakima-based Northwest Horticultural Council, representing the region’s fruit industry, wants USDA to reject the GMO apple to avoid marketing confusion for traditional and organic apples. The council says it has no concerns over food safety.

Another bill in Olympia could apply to the Arctic Apple. A USDA decision on the Arctic Apple could come this year.

Food Safety News

Back to School? Keep Kid’s Lunches Clean, Cooked and Cool

September is here, and with it comes a new morning routine. A lot of kids are heading back to school this week, so instead of packing the car to go to the pool or the beach, it’s time to pack lunches.

Coincidentally, September is also Food Safety Education Month (be sure to check out our website for upcoming events). This is a great reminder that it’s important to prepare and store those school lunches safely. Food safety may not be on the radar for most kids (they’ve already got schoolwork and growing up to worry about), but simply practicing safe cooking and food preparation can go a long way in helping your kids avoid foodborne illness. Busy parents will be glad to know that practicing proper food safety is as easy as “clean, separate, cook and chill”:

Clean

  • Be sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables under running tap water, then blot dry with a paper towel before adding them to the lunch bag. Don’t forget to also wash any produce with an inedible peel or rind such as bananas and avocados. Sly bacteria from the outer peel can be transferred to your child’s hands and then onto the edible part of the fruit.
  • Remind your kids to throw out all perishable leftovers and disposable food packaging.

Separate

  • To avoid cross-contamination, never reuse food packaging.

Cook

  • Use insulated bottles to keep hot food out of the temperature “danger zone.” Carefully pour boiling water into an insulated bottle, then empty the bottle and fill it with hot food. Leave the lid on the bottle until it’s time for lunch.
  • When making lunches using cooked meats (such as chicken salad), be sure to thoroughly cook all poultry, eggs and meat. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat.

Chill

  • If you prepare lunch the night before, keep it cool in the fridge overnight.
  • Choose an insulated lunch bag and use freezable gel packs to keep food cool until lunchtime. These products are usually quite inexpensive, and this small investment can go a long way in helping to prevent foodborne illness.
  • Encourage your child to store his/her lunch in a refrigerator (if available).

Print out these tips so that both you and your kids have a reminder to clean, separate, cook and chill. You can also visit the “Fight BAC!” website for more free educational materials on food safety. Follow these simple steps, and your school year will be off to a healthy and safe start!

For additional resources or information, check out foodinsight.org.

“Back to School? Keep Kid’s Lunches Clean, Cooked and Cool,” by Liz Sanders, MPH, student at UNC-Chapel Hill and IFIC Intern, first appeared on the International Food Information Council Foundation’s Food Insight Blog on Aug. 23, 2013. Republished with permission.  

Food Safety News

In the Trenches: Keep a sharp eye on the e-commerce grocery business

In earlier days, small neighborhood grocery stores were situated on every corner while supermarkets were expanding rapidly. Competition wasn’t so fierce then and the little family-owned neighborhood stores, which focused on offering good service, never marketed themselves in newspaper ads or by any other means except word of mouth.

One of the best services neighborhood grocery stores offered was home delivery. A customer would call the store and read a list of items over the phone to the clerk. The store would select all the items and then deliver the groceries to the customer’s house in a wagon, and the process would repeat itself the following week. This was a convenience for the customers and saved them time and the need to travel to the store having to do it themselves.

Home delivery of groceries is alive and well in 2013 and it is growing more popular by the day. The difference today lies within the technology that is rapidly advancing the program to the next level in grocery shopping.

Byron Bellows, produce merchandiser for Coleman’s supermarket chain in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada said, “Coleman’s has been doing home delivery for years dating back to the original days of Arthur James Coleman delivering groceries to his customers with a horse and buggy. Today is much different, but in some ways has not changed much. Our customers call, fax or go online and place orders. They build a grocery list that remains in their personal file for reordering.  Groceries are selected at each store location and delivered directly to the homes. Many long-standing customers have come to enjoy this service, which has been a successful part of the Coleman business since 1934. You might say we are the pioneers of home shopping.”

Some early ventures into online grocery shopping were not very successful. One of the earlier start-up companies, Webvan, soon learned that unbearable costs in product storage and delivery were too much to handle.

Heidi Chapnick, e-commerce expert and chief executive officer of Channalysis LLC in White Plains, NY, who is also an associate of FreshXperts LLC, headquartered in Kansas City, MO, said, “Current online grocery shopping endures many challenges and because of the razor-thin profit margin in delivery of grocery/fresh, companies often suffer huge losses on an annual basis. Delivery has been a main downfall for many online grocers. When I helped start Peapod on the East Coast, there were two competitors. We became the leader because we nailed down the operational issues with delivery costs. We built slowly, zip by zip, to keep costs down. Building density carefully will lower delivery costs unless the grocer has begun to opt for a UPS-type situation of outsourcing their deliveries.”

Amazon has been testing online food deliveries in the Seattle area since 2007 and is now expanding into Los Angeles. Other locations, such as San Francisco, are in the planning stages.

Walmart is also cautiously testing online groceries/general merchandise in the San Francisco area. It may have an advantage in logistics because it can ship orders directly from the chain’s many store locations. However, testing is the guideline and determining factor for a successful program.

Derrell Kelso, owner and president of Onions Etc. in Stockton, CA,  discussed the threats supermarket brick-and-mortar operations could face from online grocers.

“In my opinion, the threat is not to recognize the fight for stomach space and not to compete for it,” he said. “The biggest threat in the 1980s was fast food. Now, it looks like online grocery shopping could be entering the picture, though the biggest challenge will be in the shipping costs.”

Maintaining the integrity of fresh items is a huge challenge in the online shopping business. Some companies use refrigerated trucks, while others use dry ice and chill packs to control product temperature.

“Proper packing is intrinsic to maintaining the integrity of food, and training is imperative as well, not only in picking produce properly but packing,” said Chapnick. “Some produce needs to be refrigerated, while other produce can’t be.”

Customers demand convenience and convenience dictates choice. Choice dictates that there are different channels of sales, hence the ability to go to the store one day and to order online or with a mobile device the next day — or consumers will go somewhere else where they can do what is easiest on any given day.

Brick-and-mortar supermarkets have had a difficult time trying to meet the online grocery shopping challenges. It’s a changing trend in consumer shopping.

“Even if you are at break even, you have to offer online shopping in this day and age,” said Chapnick. “Erosion is occurring at a very rapid rate with respect to brick-and-mortar grocers who do not offer online shopping. In one large company, they are eroding at a half a percent each year due to online competition. Online shopping is the cost of doing business today. Brick-and-mortar will continue to erode as enterprises that offer online shopping and delivery encroach on their territories rapidly.”

The reawakening of home delivery grocery shopping is generating new interest these days. This could be another battle in the works for that “fight for stomach space,” Kelso added.

Let the competition begin.

Ron Pelger is the president and CEO of RonProCon, a consulting firm for the produce industry, and the chairperson of FreshXperts LLC, a consortium of produce professionals. He can be reached by phone at 775/853-7056 or by email at ronprocon@gmail.com, or check his details on freshxperts.com for more information.

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