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Carolinas receive nearly $2 million in specialty crop grants

North and South Carolina farmers trying to combat pests and diseases attacking their blueberries, sweet potatoes and other specialty crops are getting help from the federal government. The U.S. Agriculture Department has provided nearly $ 2 million for a total of 35 programs in the Tar Heel and Palmetto states to research or promote home-grown fruits, vegetables and nursery plants.

The money will go to universities, local agencies and nonprofit organizations.SPECIALTY-GRANTS11213-SWEET-POTATOESGrowers of sweet potatoes, North Carolina’s number one produce crop, would benefit from a specialty crop grant project to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina. It’s part of a $ 118 million national effort funded by the farm bill approved earlier this year. Its goal is to boost specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. North Carolina received $ 1.175 million for 15 projects; South Carolina received about $ 602,000 for 20 projects.

North Carolina projects include assistance to specialty crop growers through a partnership with the Carolinas Farm Stewardship Association to develop a food-safety support program and to establish community-based, sustainable food-safety systems. And in a second project with the Farm Stewardship group, offer specialty crop producers seeking to take advantage of the high-value market for organic produce by helping them transition to certified-organic production.

Other North Carolina projects include a partnership with North Carolina State University to identify, collect, virus-test and propagate old and new cultivars in order to provide growers with a reliable source of productive muscadine grape plants and to establish baselines for an integrated pest management program to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina.

South Carolina projects include partnering with the South Carolina Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Association to increase the visibility of the state’s specialty crops by rebranding the association and refocusing its media presence. Also, in cooperation with Lowcountry Local First, to increase the number of consumers eating specialty crops and increase the number of specialty crop growers by promoting the Growing New Farmers program.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the South Carolina Watermelon Association, will seek to increase the consumption of watermelon by providing education regarding its health benefits while promoting the South Carolina watermelon industry to retailers, wholesalers and the public through an extensive industry spokesperson program. Also, in cooperation with Clemson University, to develop a larger peach by using a wide and diverse set of germ plasm to accumulate many traits together into a single cultivar and distribute these findings to producers.

Also, in cooperation with the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture will try to create a stronger rural economy by increasing the volume of specialty crops distributed through local food hubs and managing the greater number of specialty crop farmers participating in the food hubs.

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

Carolinas receive nearly $2 million in specialty crop grants

North and South Carolina farmers trying to combat pests and diseases attacking their blueberries, sweet potatoes and other specialty crops are getting help from the federal government. The U.S. Agriculture Department has provided nearly $ 2 million for a total of 35 programs in the Tar Heel and Palmetto states to research or promote home-grown fruits, vegetables and nursery plants.

The money will go to universities, local agencies and nonprofit organizations.SPECIALTY-GRANTS11213-SWEET-POTATOESGrowers of sweet potatoes, North Carolina’s number one produce crop, would benefit from a specialty crop grant project to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina. It’s part of a $ 118 million national effort funded by the farm bill approved earlier this year. Its goal is to boost specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture and nursery crops. North Carolina received $ 1.175 million for 15 projects; South Carolina received about $ 602,000 for 20 projects.

North Carolina projects include assistance to specialty crop growers through a partnership with the Carolinas Farm Stewardship Association to develop a food-safety support program and to establish community-based, sustainable food-safety systems. And in a second project with the Farm Stewardship group, offer specialty crop producers seeking to take advantage of the high-value market for organic produce by helping them transition to certified-organic production.

Other North Carolina projects include a partnership with North Carolina State University to identify, collect, virus-test and propagate old and new cultivars in order to provide growers with a reliable source of productive muscadine grape plants and to establish baselines for an integrated pest management program to eradicate the sweet potato weevil in North Carolina.

South Carolina projects include partnering with the South Carolina Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Association to increase the visibility of the state’s specialty crops by rebranding the association and refocusing its media presence. Also, in cooperation with Lowcountry Local First, to increase the number of consumers eating specialty crops and increase the number of specialty crop growers by promoting the Growing New Farmers program.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the South Carolina Watermelon Association, will seek to increase the consumption of watermelon by providing education regarding its health benefits while promoting the South Carolina watermelon industry to retailers, wholesalers and the public through an extensive industry spokesperson program. Also, in cooperation with Clemson University, to develop a larger peach by using a wide and diverse set of germ plasm to accumulate many traits together into a single cultivar and distribute these findings to producers.

Also, in cooperation with the Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Department of Agriculture will try to create a stronger rural economy by increasing the volume of specialty crops distributed through local food hubs and managing the greater number of specialty crop farmers participating in the food hubs.

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

GloriAnn contributes nearly $40,000 in charitable donations

As the holiday season approaches, GloriAnn Farms and partner Five Crowns Marketing are getting into the giving spirit. After two months of promotions, GloriAnn Farms announced this year’s charitable contributions totaled just shy of $ 40,000. For the third year in a row, donations were made to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.sweeco

In partnering with both of these organizations, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing have run promotions with retailers to draw attention to these important causes. For every case of sweet corn sold to participating retailers during the month of August, GloriAnn Farms made a donation to the IFHF — totaling almost $ 19,000.

“The IFHF is today addressing a critical need: helping service members suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions,” David Winters, president of IFHF, said in a press release. “The IFHF is addressing this need head-on by building a series of diagnosis and treatment centers to provide care for these wounded heroes. Thank you for your generous support and your concern for our wounded heroes in uniform and their families. Together we are helping to repay the debt all Americans owe them for their selfless service to our nation.”

Benefiting NBCF, the same was true for the Corn for the Cause campaign during the month of October. Through the sales of sweet corn to participating retailers, over $ 21,100 was donated to the NBCF. “For three years, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing’s support of our mission to help women now has impacted thousands facing a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Janelle Hail, NBCF co-founder and chief executive officer, said in the release. “The funds they’ve raised this October will help us provide life-saving early detection services for those in need in all 50 states.”

In addition to receiving thanks from the organizations themselves, consumers also shared their thoughts with GloriAnn Farms regarding support of such worthy causes. “We received some really positive feedback from people via our social media platforms and website this year,” said Katie Veenstra, director of marketing for GloriAnn Farms. “Many people are affected by breast cancer in one way or another and we all owe thanks to our Armed Forces, so these are two causes that most everyone can connect with and are happy to support.”

“GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing strongly believe in giving back to the community, and being able to make these donations to such worthy organizations is truly an honor. Year after year, we are proud to continue our partnerships with both IFHF and NBCF,” Mark Bacchetti, president of GloriAnn Farms, said in the release. “We hope these partnerships will thrive for years to come!”

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

GloriAnn contributes nearly $40,000 in charitable donations

As the holiday season approaches, GloriAnn Farms and partner Five Crowns Marketing are getting into the giving spirit. After two months of promotions, GloriAnn Farms announced this year’s charitable contributions totaled just shy of $ 40,000. For the third year in a row, donations were made to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.sweeco

In partnering with both of these organizations, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing have run promotions with retailers to draw attention to these important causes. For every case of sweet corn sold to participating retailers during the month of August, GloriAnn Farms made a donation to the IFHF — totaling almost $ 19,000.

“The IFHF is today addressing a critical need: helping service members suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions,” David Winters, president of IFHF, said in a press release. “The IFHF is addressing this need head-on by building a series of diagnosis and treatment centers to provide care for these wounded heroes. Thank you for your generous support and your concern for our wounded heroes in uniform and their families. Together we are helping to repay the debt all Americans owe them for their selfless service to our nation.”

Benefiting NBCF, the same was true for the Corn for the Cause campaign during the month of October. Through the sales of sweet corn to participating retailers, over $ 21,100 was donated to the NBCF. “For three years, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing’s support of our mission to help women now has impacted thousands facing a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Janelle Hail, NBCF co-founder and chief executive officer, said in the release. “The funds they’ve raised this October will help us provide life-saving early detection services for those in need in all 50 states.”

In addition to receiving thanks from the organizations themselves, consumers also shared their thoughts with GloriAnn Farms regarding support of such worthy causes. “We received some really positive feedback from people via our social media platforms and website this year,” said Katie Veenstra, director of marketing for GloriAnn Farms. “Many people are affected by breast cancer in one way or another and we all owe thanks to our Armed Forces, so these are two causes that most everyone can connect with and are happy to support.”

“GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing strongly believe in giving back to the community, and being able to make these donations to such worthy organizations is truly an honor. Year after year, we are proud to continue our partnerships with both IFHF and NBCF,” Mark Bacchetti, president of GloriAnn Farms, said in the release. “We hope these partnerships will thrive for years to come!”

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

GloriAnn contributes nearly $40,000 in charitable donations

As the holiday season approaches, GloriAnn Farms and partner Five Crowns Marketing are getting into the giving spirit. After two months of promotions, GloriAnn Farms announced this year’s charitable contributions totaled just shy of $ 40,000. For the third year in a row, donations were made to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.sweeco

In partnering with both of these organizations, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing have run promotions with retailers to draw attention to these important causes. For every case of sweet corn sold to participating retailers during the month of August, GloriAnn Farms made a donation to the IFHF — totaling almost $ 19,000.

“The IFHF is today addressing a critical need: helping service members suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions,” David Winters, president of IFHF, said in a press release. “The IFHF is addressing this need head-on by building a series of diagnosis and treatment centers to provide care for these wounded heroes. Thank you for your generous support and your concern for our wounded heroes in uniform and their families. Together we are helping to repay the debt all Americans owe them for their selfless service to our nation.”

Benefiting NBCF, the same was true for the Corn for the Cause campaign during the month of October. Through the sales of sweet corn to participating retailers, over $ 21,100 was donated to the NBCF. “For three years, GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing’s support of our mission to help women now has impacted thousands facing a diagnosis of breast cancer,” Janelle Hail, NBCF co-founder and chief executive officer, said in the release. “The funds they’ve raised this October will help us provide life-saving early detection services for those in need in all 50 states.”

In addition to receiving thanks from the organizations themselves, consumers also shared their thoughts with GloriAnn Farms regarding support of such worthy causes. “We received some really positive feedback from people via our social media platforms and website this year,” said Katie Veenstra, director of marketing for GloriAnn Farms. “Many people are affected by breast cancer in one way or another and we all owe thanks to our Armed Forces, so these are two causes that most everyone can connect with and are happy to support.”

“GloriAnn Farms and Five Crowns Marketing strongly believe in giving back to the community, and being able to make these donations to such worthy organizations is truly an honor. Year after year, we are proud to continue our partnerships with both IFHF and NBCF,” Mark Bacchetti, president of GloriAnn Farms, said in the release. “We hope these partnerships will thrive for years to come!”

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

North Carolina Firm Recalls Nearly 150 Food Products for Potential Listeria Contamination

SunBurst Foods of Goldsboro, NC, is recalling numerous food products sold under several brands because of the potential of contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. The recall includes the food services firm’s SunBurst, Fresh Bites and Private labeled products, which were sold in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.

This recall was initiated as a result of sampling and testing performed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
The recalled products include sandwiches, hamburgers, chili dogs, salads and a long list of other items, which can be found here.

All codes, all sell-by dates and sizes of SunBurst and Fresh Bites brands are being recalled. Products not manufactured but distributed by SunBurst such as cakes, burritos, and chips are not part of this recall.

Private label products are identified by the following brand names: River Edge Farms, CFW, Southern Zest, CJ’s Vending, Binford Street Deli, Middle Georgia Vendors, Roanoke Foods, Select Foods, and Jesse Jones (Double Chili Dogs).

Consumers who have purchased the affected products are urged to destroy them or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT at 1-919-778-2151.

Listeria cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. To date, SunBurst is unaware of any illnesses related to these products.

Food Safety News

Norovirus Suspected as Nearly 130 Children at Indiana School are Sickened

About 130 children were out sick for two days this past week at a northwest Indiana elementary school, and district officials said that Norovirus was most likely to blame.

“Twenty-seven percent of our population is significant, and it’s a concern,” Lake Central School Corporation Assistant Superintendent Al Gandolfi said about Peifer Elementary School in Schererville, IL. The school was being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized by a a large custodial crew.

“We were here into the late evening. We disinfected everything that a child touches, from a keyboard, to a doorknob, to every lunch table, to desks, to chairs,” Gandolfi said.

Officials believe that Norovirus may have spread from a child or teacher who came to school sick. The best way to prevent spreading the virus is to wash your hands vigorously with soap and water, they said.

Contaminated food or beverages at the school were initially suspected as the source since all those sickened had symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and fever. However, a check of lunch records showed that 39 percent of those who called in sick hadn’t eaten or drank anything from the school the previous day.

While officials with the Lake County Department of Public Health did not confirm that the illnesses came from Norovirus, they did say that the infections were not Enterovirus D68. Norovirus affects the gastrointestinal system and Enterovirus affected both respiratory and GI systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of Oct. 10, there were currently 691 people from 46 states and Washington, D.C., confirmed with respiratory illnesses caused by D68.

Norovirus easily spreads from person to person via contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated food. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Most people recover within one to three days.

Food Safety News

Overuse of Antibiotics Nearly Doubled Clostridium Difficile Infection Rate

The October issue of the American Journal of Infection Control reports on a new study about a topic nobody really wants to think about — deadly diarrhea.

It’s what happens when the otherwise harmless Clostridium difficile (C. difficile, or C. diff) digestive tract bacterium grows out of control, releasing toxins that attack the lining of the intestines and causing a condition called Clostridium difficile colitis.

The healthy human digestive tract is home to as many as 1,000 microorganisms, most harmless and some helpful. What makes C. difficile turn toxic? Hospitals.

C. difficile infections (CDI) in U.S. hospitals nearly doubled between 2001 and 2010 without any noticeable improvements in patient mortality rates or length of hospital stays.

The study reported in the journal, the official publication of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), looked at 2.2 million C. difficile infections.

Researchers from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy examined 10 years of discharge data and found that the C. difficile infection rate rose from 4.5 to 8.2 discharges of those with a history of the intestinal bug per 1,000 adults released from hospitals.

“Several factors may have contributed to the rise in CDI incidence in recent years,” said Kelly Reveles, lead author on the study. “Antibiotic exposure remains the most important risk factor for CDI.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), C. difficile is the most common bacteria responsible for healthcare-associated infections in U.S. hospitals and may account for 14,000 deaths each year.

Reducing the use of high-risk broad-spectrum antibiotics by 30 percent could lower CDI by 26 percent, according to CDC estimates. There’s been a call for better antibiotic stewardship from national groups, including the White House.

“It’s been estimated that up to half of antibiotic use in humans is unnecessary,” said APIC President Jennie Mayfield. “To make headway against CDI, hospitals and health facilities need to get serious about antibiotic stewardship.”

Most CDI victims are female (59 percent), white (86 percent) and older than 65 (70 percent). An APIC survey found that 60 percent of U.S. hospitals had implemented antibiotic stewardship programs by 2013, up from 52 percent in 2010.

Food Safety News

Australian Salmonella Cases Nearly Doubled Over Past 10 Years

The increasing incidence of Salmonella infections in Australia has prompted health officials Down Under to warn the public about the risks of consuming raw or undercooked eggs.

According to a story published Tuesday at Good Food.com.au, Salmonella cases in Australia have almost doubled in the past 10 years from about 7,000 cases in 2003 to nearly 13,000 cases last year.

The Department of Health in Victoria, a state-level agency, notes that, “Salmonella bacteria are found in humans and in wild, farm and pet animals and birds, particularly chickens. … As Salmonella infection of chickens is common, the bacteria can often be found in raw chicken meat and on eggs.”

The most recent Salmonella outbreaks in Australia are raw egg-related, particularly involving mayonnaise. In February 2014, more than 200 people were sickened after eating at a café in Torquay, a seaside area near Melbourne, and several others were sickened around the same time after dining at a hotel in St. Kilda, a Melbourne suburb.

Those two outbreaks were sourced to raw eggs produced at a Victoria farm, which has had its sales restricted until making operational changes such as washing all eggs for sale and improving cleanliness in laying sheds.

In Brisbane in 2013, 220 people became ill and one woman died following a luncheon, and another 140 people were sickened after eating in an Canberra restaurant on Mother’s Day.

Dr. Rosemary Lester, Victoria’s chief health officer, warned that certain foods and drinks containing raw or undercooked eggs have been linked to several previous Salmonella outbreaks in the area. These dishes include mayonnaise, aioli, mousse, eggnog and tiramisu.

“These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly and people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women,” she said, adding that eggs should be cooked “until they were hot all the way through” to make sure they are safe to consume.

Salmonella is caused by a bacterium and can affect anyone, but particularly susceptible are children younger than five, young adults, seniors and those with existing health problems. Symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea containing blood or mucus, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and headache.

Symptoms can take between six and 72 hours to show up after contact with the bacteria and can take several days to run their course. Hospitalization can occur, especially if the affected person becomes dehydrated. Salmonella can be transmitted from inadequately cooked food, cross-contamination or from person-to-person contact.

Food Safety News

Nearly 1,000 Retailers Listed in 9-Million-Pound Beef Recall

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s list of retailers which received about 8.7 million pounds of now-recalled meat from Rancho Feeding Corporation over the course of 2013 continues to expand.

The initial list posted on Feb. 12 consisted of neighborhood markets in California and Pastoral Plate, a meat retailer whose San Francisco Bay Area pick-up locations received some of the recalled product.

Since then, the list has expanded to include a handful of retailers in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. The number of California locations now tops 970.

There is still no indication of where the product was sold in Illinois or Texas, as indicated in the initial recall notice.

The full list of retailers can be found on the FSIS website.

Food Safety News

FDA Update: Nearly 600 Dogs Have Died, Thousands Sickened in Connection With Chinese Jerky Treats

Approximately 580 dogs have died and 3,600 have been sickened in a mysterious connection with consuming Chinese jerky treats, according to a new update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The problems date back as far as 2007, when FDA first began receiving a higher volume of reports of dogs exhibiting symptoms such as decreased appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. The apparent commonality was a diet including various brand-name jerky treats, all of which were manufactured in China.

Food Safety News reported on the issue in March 2012, speaking with several dog owners who said they lost their dogs to medical complications from days to years after they began eating the treats. The treats are commonly sold as “jerky tenders” or “jerky strips” and are primarily made with chicken, although combinations may also include duck, sweet potato, and dried fruit.

FDA has conducted more than 1,200 tests on various brand-name treats in an attempt to discover some type of common contamination, but those tests have not revealed any clear cause of the illnesses. The agency sent inspectors to China last year to investigate several jerky treat facilities in person.

Those tests included checking for a number of microbial contaminants, antibiotics, metals and pesticides. Some tests even examined DNA and nutritional composition. But nothing has yet stuck out to investigators as a likely cause.

“This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered,” said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, in a news release. “Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it.”

FDA is now asking pet owners and veterinarians to assist in the investigation by reporting any complaints linked to pet food.

In an open letter to veterinarians, the agency has requested samples and information regarding potential illnesses related to the treats be submitted to FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a network of diagnostic laboratories. The agency has also asked vets to distribute jerky treat fact sheets to pet owners and report any observations of pet illnesses related to jerky treats.

In some cases, reports have said dogs fell ill within hours of eating the treats. Other customers have said their dogs have eaten the treats for years without any ill effects.

In severe cases, dogs have suffered kidney failure, intestinal bleeding and a rare kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome. A smaller number of cases involved collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

Earlier this year, Purina and Milo’s Kitchen recalled several jerky treat brand names – including Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch – because they contained trace amount of antibiotics that are approved in China and Europe but not in the U.S.

FDA advises pet owners who observe symptoms after feeding jerky treats to dogs to stop serving the treats immediately, consider contacting a veterinarian, and saving the remaining treats and packaging for possible testing.

In July 2012, FDA released an unprecedented collection of data on the 285 tests it had conducted on jerky treats up to that time. In an interview with Food Safety News, author and microbiologist Phyllis Entis criticized the agency for what she viewed as a lack of a systematic approach to solving the problem, calling FDA’s efforts at the time “scattered” and saying that the agency was not investing sufficient resources into the investigation.

“To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings,” the latest FDA update read. “The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.”

Food Safety News

Case Count Nearly Doubles in Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Funeral

At least 67 attendees of a funeral held in Alabama last weekend are now known to have been sickened by Salmonella, up from the 36 illnesses state health officials reported Wednesday.

The Alabama Department of Health confirmed Friday that Salmonella was indeed the cause of the illnesses, and identified the strain as Salmonella Heidelberg. Specimens isolated from five patients who attended the funeral have tested positive for S. Heidelberg.

The outbreak was detected after a local hospital reported a spike in patients reporting fever, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Funeral attendees who fell ill are now known to have been hospitalized in 10 states.

“Several people continue to be hospitalized, some in serious condition,” reported ADPH in a press release Friday.

According to the Department, at least 100 people attended the funeral, which was held at Eastern Star Baptist Church in York, AL July 6.

While the investigation into the source of the bacteria is ongoing, preliminary findings show that it was introduced via cross-contamination during meal preparation.

“If you attended this event and are ill, please contact your physician,” advised Dr. Mary McIntyre, Assistant State Health Officer for Disease Control and Prevention.

Food Safety News