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Caramel Apple-Linked Listeria Outbreak and Recalls: What You Need to Know

On Dec. 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes linked to commercially produced and prepackaged caramel apples that has sickened — and hospitalized — at least 29 people in 10 states.

Until further notice, CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are advising consumers not to purchase or eat any commercially produced caramel apples whatsoever. That includes any caramel apples covered in nuts, candy or other toppings.

This outbreak has not been connected to any non-caramel apples. There are no current advisories or warnings against conventional apples.

While the CDC’s initial outbreak announcement did not include a comprehensive list of caramel apple brands implicated in the outbreak, a number of companies and brands have announced recalls or have been tied to the outbreak in the days following the first announcement.

One of the recalled brands, Happy Apple Company, said that one of its apple suppliers, Bidart Bros. of Bakersfield, CA, may have supplied apples connected to the outbreak.

Brands that have issued recalls:

In addition, CDC cited two more brands as being associated with the outbreak, but the companies have not issued recalls:

  • Carnival
  • Kitchen Cravings

Illnesses have occurred in the following states:

Arizona (4 illnesses), California (1), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), New Mexico (5), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3)

A California man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against grocery retailer Safeway, claiming that a contaminated caramel apple sold at a local Safeway store sickened his wife and lead to her death. That man has been retained by foodborne illness law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News.

A number of retailers, including Safeway, have reported removing caramel apple products from store shelves.

Known illnesses began occurring in mid-October and were still appearing in late November. CDC has not declared an end to this outbreak, and it’s possible that more illnesses will be counted in the coming weeks.

The following are CDC graphics showing the geographical and temporal distributions of the outbreak:

Food Safety News

California Giant event helps Salvation Army, families in need

For the fifth year in a row, California Giant Berry Farms has participated in the local NBC Affiliate KSBW holiday event called ‘Share Your Holiday.’ Each year the station has a telethon-style event throughout the central coast of California over an eight-hour time period encouraging the community to donate food, clothing, toys and cash to support the local chapters of the Salvation Army.IMG 4385Bill Moncovich, president and CEO of California Giant, with Santa and KSBW TV anchor Brittany Neilsen.

During the Dec. 12 event, California Giant employees — along with TV Anchor Brittany Nielsen — greeted hundreds of locals in the community as they dropped off more than 900 toys, hundreds of pounds of canned food, blankets, clothing and cash donations. In addition to sponsoring the drop location, California Giant donated 100 toys for kids in need to ensure they had something under the tree from Santa and 500 frozen turkeys to make sure each family had Christmas dinner.

As a whole, the event (held at five different locations) raised more than $ 162,000, which is 30 percent over the previous year’s record. The event also raised 10,704 pounds in non-perishable food; 1,753 pounds of clothes; and 9,928 toys (a 16 percent increase over last year).

“The staff was proud to participate again and be part of such a positive program to support our local community,” Bill Moncovich, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “It was inspirational to see so many people come out to our cooler in Watsonville to donate and share in the spirit of giving” says . (pictured above with TV Anchor Brittany Neilsen/KSBW and Santa)

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

Food Lion Feeds launches campaign to help feed families in need

This holiday season, Food Lion is partnering with customers in its more than 1,100 stores, Nov. 19-Dec. 23, to help solve hunger through its Food Lion Feeds “Holidays Without Hunger” campaign.

Through the campaign, customers can purchase and donate a specially marked “Holidays Without Hunger” food box for $ 5, while supplies last, or make a cash donation at checkout. All of the cash donations benefit Feeding America, one of the largest domestic hunger relief charities, and its network of local food banks. Food boxes are donated directly to a local hunger relief food bank or agency.

Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is working to create a better tomorrow by uniting with customers and partners to help eliminate the difficult choices many families are forced to make when they are struggling with hunger. Working toward its commitment to provide 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion Feeds has already donated approximately 40 million meals through in-store campaigns, like “Holidays Without Hunger,” its food donation program and local donations and volunteerism.

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

Revised FSMA Provisions Need More Tweaks

The public is generally pleased with the revised provisions of four rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), but the public comments at the Food and Drug Administration’s public meeting Thursday suggest that the agency may have more tweaking to do.

Certain aspects of the rules for produce safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) have been modified to provide more flexibility to producers and suppliers.

A change in the definition of farms allows people to pack and hold their own and others’ raw agricultural commodities without being subject to the preventive controls rules because these activities are already covered in the produce safety rule. Several people commented Thursday that the definition did not extend far enough.

“Designations based on location or ownership are not risk-based designations, and they overlook an important reality about the majority of American farms: many farms consist of multiple parcels, buildings, and structures that may or may not be contiguous,” said Sophia Kruszewski, a policy specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

“We’ve heard that from a lot of different folks and expect to get a lot of comment on that and are considering ourselves,” noted Rebecca Buckner, co-lead for preventive controls in FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

In the supplemental proposals, FDA decided to define a “very small business” producing human food as one with less than $ 1 million in annual sales and a small business as producing animal food as one with less than $ 2.5 million in annual sales. Several commenters expressed opposition to the $ 1 million threshold, arguing that it conflicts with the statutory framework of the legislation by expanding exemptions beyond what Congress had intended.

Patricia Buck, director of outreach and education for the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, explained that the Tester Amendment — which exempts food producers that sell the majority of their food directly to consumers within the state and have less than $ 500,000 per year in sales – was critical for moving the FSMA bill through Congress.

“We are concerned that this proposed very small business definition upsets the delicate balance struck by legislators when they created this exemption provision: they wanted to minimize the regulatory burden on small operations and, at the same time, minimize any resulting harm to public health,” explained Sandra Eskin, director of food safety for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Eskin, Buck and others also expressed their frustration that FDA proposed a process for reinstating an exemption after a qualified facility or grower has lost the status.

“We fear that, by creating a right to reinstatement, FDA will encourage food processors [and growers] that initially qualify for the exemption to sell contaminated products, knowing that they will be able to quickly fix a problem and regain an exemption,” Eskin explained.

Worrisome manure changes

Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Buck gave some of the most impassioned comments when they spoke about the changes to raw manure and compost intervals.

The original proposal set a nine-month minimum between the application of raw manure and harvest and a the 45-day minimum application interval for compost. The supplemental language eliminated these minimums deferring a decision on an appropriate interval until it conducts more research.

Although this was considered a “huge win” for organic farmers, to DeWaal it was a failure to protect public health.

“It is not good science, nor appropriate for public health, for FDA to simply walk away from its responsibility to set standards for this important but highly risky agricultural input,” she said in her prepared statement. “The agency claims that it can develop a more scientific standard for the application of raw manure and compost in five to 10 years. This is clearly too long to leave consumers unprotected.”

She and others called on FDA to adopt interim standards for raw manure and compost use and suggested codifying the National Organic Program’s (NOP) standards for conventional produce growers while the agency considers alternatives.

“Going from nine months to zero is not science-based and we challenge the agency to do better than that,” DeWaal said during the Q&A session.

Samir Assar, director of the produce safety staff within FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said that FDA had studied the NOP standards and didn’t feel the science was strong enough to indicate whether they were the appropriate standards for public health protection.

Following DeWaal in the Q&A, Buck asked the panelists what level of assurance the agency could provide that its manure research efforts would be completed in a timely fashion. “Waiting ten years is not appropriate,” she said.

Assar responded that FDA is committed to moving forward “as quickly as possible” to develop the risk assessment and transition producers to less-risky composting practices. “We’re thinking five to 10 years, but we’re hoping it will be more towards the five years,” he said.

“But that’s not helpful,” Buck shot back. “If it’s going to take you ten years — hopefully five — you need the interim standard now.”

Where things stand

FDA’s Buckner said that the agency was aware of and working to address many of the issues raised at Thursday’s meeting, adding that it’s important for stakeholders to submit detailed comments.

With regards to the other three FSMA rules that have not seen reproposed language, ”we are aware that we have requests for supplemental proposals on those and we are considering those,” Buckner said.

The final day to submit written comments on the revised rules is Dec. 15.

Food Safety News

Insights into plant growth could curb need for fertilizers

New insights into how plants regulate their absorption of an essential nutrient could help avoid pollution caused by excess use of fertilizer.

The findings could lead to the development of crop varieties that need less of the primary nutrient — nitrogen — than conventional crops. It could also inform how much nitrogen should be added to plant feed.

This would allow optimum plant growth without producing excess nitrogen in run-off from fields, which is a major source of water pollution.

Agricultural fertilizers typically contain high levels of nitrogen that boost plant growth and yield even on poor soils. This helps plants avoid the typical characteristics of nitrogen deficiency — stunted growth and pale or yellow leaves.

The study, by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Campinas in Brazil, examined how nitrogen is absorbed and converted into cellular building blocks in plants.

They found that when nitrogen is absorbed, plant cells produce nitric oxide, which acts as a signalling molecule. This nitric oxide fine-tunes how much nitrogen is used for growth, by signalling to the plant’s cells when to limit its uptake.

The scientists say that because nitric oxide plays important roles in shaping the development of plants, and how plants respond to environmental stress, these insights highlight key considerations of how nitrogen-based fertilisers should be used in agriculture.

Their study, published in Nature Communications, was funded by the Royal Society and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Steven Spoel of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “Understanding nitrogen absorption better will ultimately allow us to breed crop varieties that need less fertiliser, and therefore are better for the environment.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Food Lion bagged apples to help provide 1 million meals to families in need

Food Lion is partnering with its customers to help solve hunger by launching specially marked Food Lion Feeds bagged apples for sale in its stores. The effort will help provide 1 million meals to feed families facing hunger in local communities across the grocer’s 10-state footprint.

With the sale of each bag through Oct. 7, or while supplies last, Food Lion will donate five meals to local food banks, in partnership with Feeding America. The bags will maintain an MVP Sale price of $ 2.99 throughout the campaign, just in time for parents to pick up healthy snacks for children back in school.

Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is uniting with customers and partners to help eliminate the difficult choices many families are forced to make when they are struggling with hunger. The specially marked bagged apples are the second of three in-store Food Lion Feeds campaigns in 2014.

Through the sale of special Food Lion Feeds reusable bags made available earlier this year, Food Lion will provide 1 million meals to local food banks in partnership with its customers. The specially marked apples are anticipated to provide an additional 1 million meals.

The in-store campaigns support Food Lion’s work toward its goal of providing 500 million meals to families in need in its local communities by the end of 2020.

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

Why today’s supermarkets need to sell food-for-now as well as food-for-later

In this market, the only way to grow at more than 1% or 2% is to take business from someone else.

One area where food retailers are stealing share is from what we’ve traditionally called foodservice, i.e. the restaurant business. We see the distinction between food retail and foodservice blurring as busy, time-starved shoppers buy food-for-now and food-for-later in the same place — and the retailers who are serving them are generating new sales growth. Some shoppers are moving online where they can order meals and meal solutions for home delivery from Blue Apron, Plated, HelloFresh, etc.

Selling fully prepared meals and/or fully assembled meal ingredients may not be a brand new idea — after all, retailers like Wegmans have been doing it for years — but I believe now is the time to make it a part of redefining the modern supermarket offering.

You can see this play out at the Village ShopRite near Morristown, N.J., where the broad array of prepared foods ranges from Italian to barbecue for carryout. There’s also a comfortable eat-in seating area. Now customers have a whole new set of reasons to visit the store.

Mariano’s in Chicagoland offers something similar. There, it isn’t unusual to see customers go to the store to get something to eat and do their grocery shopping afterwards.

Blending foodservice with food retail takes work, but if this is where shoppers are headed, food retailers need to decide if they want to go with them — and if not, ask themselves how they’ll offset the dollars that shoppers are diverting to prepared and assembled meals.

Where have you seen food retailers succeed with a food-for-now and food-for-later offering? What do you think holds others back?

Suggested Categories More from Supermarketnews

Supermarket News

Russian importers need to look for other sources

Russian importers need to look for other sources

Today Russia announced it will ban all fruit and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway for one year. This ban is a reaction on the sanctions imposed on Russia by these countries.

Now the question is what will be the affects on all parties? Larissa Khachikyan from Russian importer Friend Fruits said they are hoping it will be only for a short time. “We now have to look for imports from South Africa, Latin America and China.” The difficulties to source for example apples out of China, is that they have different products. “We will stay in contact with our good relations in Western Europe and hope it will be solved very soon.”

Europe
According to IHS, Russia is the largest export market for fruit and vegetables from the EU, at €2billion a year. Belgium exported last year €490 million in food exports, primarily fruit, to Russia. The Netherlands export approximately €600 million a year to Russia.

United States
Russia is a big market for U.S. specialty crops. In 2013, Russia imported $ 138 million in almonds, $ 31 million in pistachios, $ 13 million in fresh apples, $ 12 million in pears and $ 2.7 million in grapes, reported the Packer. The total amount of Russian food imports are $ 1.6 billion out of the United States.

Countries that benefit
China, South Africa, Serbia, Azerbeijan, Turkey and Latin American countries have to fill the gaps in the local market in Russia. Whether consumer prices in Russia will go up is something that only time will tell, but Medvedev warned against possible attempts to use the situation to drive up prices.

Click here to read more about Russia

Publication date: 8/7/2014
Author: Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Wolverine Packing Recall: What Consumers Need to Know

You may have heard about the FSIS announcement this week that the Wolverine Packing Company in Detroit, MI, was recalling 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. This recall is linked to 11 patients in four states. I wanted to provide an update on what FSIS is doing based on the evidence available.

FSIS was notified of the first illness on May 8 and immediately began working with our partners at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find the source of these illnesses. Based on the initial findings in the investigations, FSIS and CDC were able to establish a direct link to ground beef products supplied by Wolverine Packing Company.

As these investigations are initiated, it would be natural for one to assume that the scope of a recall would be limited to the amount of contaminated products that were produced within a specific time frame, or a production lot, to use an industry term. However, it is not uncommon during the course of an investigation to identify additional products that should be included in a recall.

In general, there are several reasons why the amount of product would increase as the agency considers whether to conduct a recall, and, if so, what product is involved:

  • A company cleans its processing equipment at the end of the day, instead of between production lots. If this is the case, there is no basis to distinguish between production lots, and a day’s worth of production effectively becomes one lot. In this situation, FSIS would assume that the entire day’s production was contaminated and subject to a recall.
  • Some plants use multiple lines that converge into common mixers. If contaminated product is being produced by one line, the product from the other lines would become contaminated once it enters the common mixer.
  • Detailed distribution records allow FSIS to narrow the scope of a recall. In the absence of such records, FSIS must take into account the possibility that contaminated product was comingled with other products. Therefore, FSIS would include all the products in question in the scope of a recall to protect public health.

The illnesses associated with this particular recall involve a very rare strain of E. coli O157:H7, so if there are additional illnesses, it may be easier for FSIS to establish a direct link to product from this facility; it also will be possible that any additional illnesses will be linked to product that is already subject to the recall. If any additional illnesses are linked to different production dates that are not covered in the initial recall, then the recall would be expanded.

So far, we have no evidence to suggest that the recall should be expanded, but the investigation is still very active. We continue to look for additional sources either from Wolverine or a common supplier and will certainly pursue those leads if the investigation uncovers them. If warranted, the new information also may result in an expanded recall.

For consumers, we advise all consumers to safely prepare raw ground beef products by cooking them to 160 degrees F. When dining out, this is equivalent to ordering your burger well-done. At the grocery store, check ground beef product labels that bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” with a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”

Industry’s responsibility during any recall follows a consistent pattern. In this situation, Wolverine is responsible for notifying the distributors who received its product to return the product to Wolverine. In turn, the distributor is responsible for alerting any retail outlets or restaurants to which it delivered the recalled product. Retailers and restaurants are expected to pull the product from their shelves or storage area and return it to Wolverine.

As the FSIS press release indicated, the recalled products were shipped to distributors for restaurant use in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, and Ohio. If you are a restaurant owner in these states and are wondering if you have received this recalled product, you should receive notification from your distributor that they were supplied recalled products from Wolverine that were sent to you. Or, you can check product labels that bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” with a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD 14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”

As always, if you have additional questions, do not hesitate to “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative that is available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. Or you can call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), which is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. You also can access our online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System 24 hours a day at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

Food Safety News

Safeway seen in need of help

Wall Street analysts said they are expecting big things from Safeway — but not until after its merger with Albertsons later this year. Most saw the company’s first-quarter results as disappointing. “Safeway’s merger with Albertsons may be an issue of strategic necessity,” Ajay Jain, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, New York, said, “[and] Cerberus may have its work cut out. “Safeway’s operating margin of around 70 basis points in the first …

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Supermarket News

FDA Cites Need to Coordinate with Marketing Agreements on Food Safety

(This blog post by Scott Horsfall was published May 2, 2014, on the California Leafy Greens Products Handler Marketing Agreement site and is posted here with permission.)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released its Operational Strategy for Implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The document lays out the agency’s broad strategy for overseeing implementation of FSMA’s new rules for food safety on farms and in facilities. The release of this report begins to answer the questions many in the produce industry have had about just how the FSMA rules will be implemented and verified.

In the document, FDA acknowledges the “burgeoning scale and complexity of the food system,” and the agency stresses the need to coordinate and collaborate with “multiple public and private sources, including FDA and partner agencies, USDA audits, marketing agreements and private audits.” The agency also recognizes that it is unlikely to have the resources available to “make routine on-farm inspection a major source of accountability for compliance.”

Once again, the leafy greens farming communities of California and Arizona find themselves in agreement with FDA’s approach to food safety, and we are pleased to see the inclusion of marketing agreements in the list of groups with which the agency will work on implementation.

As we have many times over the past two years, the industry offers solutions to many of the implementation challenges facing FDA. Through the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements (LGMA), growers and handlers who produce 90 percent of the nation’s lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens have invited government oversight of food safety programs on to their farms. For seven years, regular and random government audits have been verifying that industry members are following science-based practices designed to protect public health. The LGMA requirements align closely with the goals of the proposed food safety rules under FSMA. This is the kind of accountability FDA is looking for under FSMA.

The LGMA has proposed that FDA work closely with existing government food safety programs like the LGMAs when it comes to verifying compliance with the new rules under FSMA, once those rules are finalized. Doing so will allow FDA to confidently ensure that the leafy greens industry is in compliance with the federal rules, and, since the LGMA programs are industry-funded, this can be accomplished without any additional cost to taxpayers or to the agency.

Food Safety News

HAB survey reveals need to educate consumers about dietary fats

TGF-FruitImageDespite years of effort by numerous organizations to help the public understand the pros and cons of consuming different types of dietary fats, a new survey by the Hass Avocado Board reveals that most Americans are still unclear about the definition and role of “good” and “bad” fats.

In the HAB survey of more than 1,000 adults, nearly half (42 percent) of people incorrectly thought that all fats play a role in increased cholesterol levels, and if the “don’t know/unsure” responses are included, the number increases to 51 percent of people.

In addition, over one-third of people responded inaccurately that monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are bad and should be reduced or eliminated from the diet.

“It is clear from the survey that more consumer education is needed on the differences between good and bad fats, and the role they play in people’s diets,” Penny Kris-Etherton, a research scientist at Penn State University, said in a press release. “The different types of fats can be confusing to consumers, but all fats are not created equal and the impact on one’s health can be significant.”

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, saturated and trans fats raise LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Dietary cholesterol also contributes to heart disease. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, do not raise LDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.

Therefore, it is advisable to choose foods that contain naturally good fats and that are low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol as part of a healthful diet.__

Additional findings include:

• Less than one-third responded that they feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid. Perhaps even more concerning, one-quarter (26 percent) say they do not really pay attention to this type of information.

• Eighteen percent of people mistakenly think that trans fats are good fats. The number increases to 30 percent among African Americans.

• Less than four in 10 correctly identified monounsaturated fats (39 percent) and polyunsaturated fats (37 percent) as good fats.

• People mistakenly think the following foods contain good fats: spinach (79 percent), sweet potatoes (71 percent) and kale (62 percent).

• Women (76 percent) try harder than men (67 percent) to make some effort or a strong effort to eat more foods high in good fats.

• More women (87%) know that avocados are a source of good fat than men (80%).

“Good fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important part of a balanced diet,” Harley Pasternak, celebrity fitness trainer and nutrition expert, added in the press release. “Protein, fiber and fats, like the naturally good fats found in avocados, are a good way to keep you full between meals.”

Pasternak is working with HAB on its “Love One Today” campaign promoting awareness of the benefits of eating fresh avocados.

According to the dietary guidelines, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, unsaturated fats can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Foods containing naturally good fats include avocados, nuts and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

More than 75 percent of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated, making it a great substitute for foods high in saturated fats. Avocados are virtually the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat. In addition, avocados are cholesterol free.

“It is a misconception that you should not eat avocados because they are high in fat,” Kris-Etherton added in the press release. “Avocados can fit into a wide range of healthy eating plans.”

Avocado consumers already know a bit about healthy eating, as they more closely adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans than those who do not eat avocados, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index, according to the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey released in 2013.

For more information on good fats and avocado recipes, visit LoveOneToday.com/whygoodfats.

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

HAB survey reveals need to educate consumers about dietary fats

Despite years of effort by numerous organizations to help the public understand the pros and cons of consuming different types of dietary fats, a new survey by the Hass Avocado Board reveals that most Americans are still unclear about the definition and role of “good” and “bad” fats.

In the HAB survey of more than 1,000 adults, nearly half (42 percent) of people incorrectly thought that all fats play a role in increased cholesterol levels, and if the “don’t know/unsure” responses are included, the number increases to 51 percent of people.

In addition, over one-third of people responded inaccurately that monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are bad and should be reduced or eliminated from the diet.

“It is clear from the survey that more consumer education is needed on the differences between good and bad fats, and the role they play in people’s diets,” Penny Kris-Etherton, a research scientist at Penn State University, said in a press release. “The different types of fats can be confusing to consumers, but all fats are not created equal and the impact on one’s health can be significant.”

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, saturated and trans fats raise LDL (or ‘bad’) cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. Dietary cholesterol also contributes to heart disease. Unsaturated fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, do not raise LDL cholesterol and are beneficial when consumed in moderation.

Therefore, it is advisable to choose foods that contain naturally good fats and that are low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol as part of a healthful diet.__

Additional findings include:

• Less than one-third responded that they feel more educated today about which foods to eat and which to avoid. Perhaps even more concerning, one-quarter (26 percent) say they do not really pay attention to this type of information.

• Eighteen percent of people mistakenly think that trans fats are good fats. The number increases to 30 percent among African Americans.

• Less than four in 10 correctly identified monounsaturated fats (39 percent) and polyunsaturated fats (37 percent) as good fats.

• People mistakenly think the following foods contain good fats: spinach (79 percent), sweet potatoes (71 percent) and kale (62 percent).

• Women (76 percent) try harder than men (67 percent) to make some effort or a strong effort to eat more foods high in good fats.

• More women (87%) know that avocados are a source of good fat than men (80%).  

“Good fats, like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, are an important part of a balanced diet,” Harley Pasternak, celebrity fitness trainer and nutrition expert, added in the press release. “Protein, fiber and fats, like the naturally good fats found in avocados, are a good way to keep you full between meals.”

Pasternak is working with HAB on its “Love One Today” campaign promoting awareness of the benefits of eating fresh avocados.

According to the dietary guidelines, when eaten in moderation and used to replace saturated or trans fats, unsaturated fats can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Foods containing naturally good fats include avocados, nuts and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids.

More than 75 percent of the fat in an avocado is unsaturated, making it a great substitute for foods high in saturated fats. Avocados are virtually the only fruit that has monounsaturated fat. In addition, avocados are cholesterol free.

“It is a misconception that you should not eat avocados because they are high in fat,” Kris-Etherton added in the press release. “Avocados can fit into a wide range of healthy eating plans.”

Avocado consumers already know a bit about healthy eating, as they more closely adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans than those who do not eat avocados, as measured by the Healthy Eating Index, according to the National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey released in 2013.

For more information on good fats and avocado recipes, visit LoveOneToday.com/whygoodfats.

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

NEJM Article: Supplements Need Review Before They Can Do Damage, Not Afterward

Nearly 100 severe hepatitis and liver failure illnesses — nearly half requiring hospitalization, including three transplants and one death — are raising new questions about the nation’s $ 32-billion-a-year supplements industry.

This comes only three months after the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine found that all those vitamin and mineral supplements peddled by the industry are worthless if taken for preventing the occurrence or progression of chronic diseases.

All the recent liver damage was caused by a supplement called “OxyELITE Pro” sold by Texas-based USPlabs LLC, according to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC).

The supplement was recalled after it started crashing livers last May. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was then able to get two substances, aegeline and 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), that were linked both to the illnesses and the fatality removed from the market, that’s about all FDA could do.

“The dietary supplement was recalled, but nothing has been done to prevent another supplement from causing organ failure or death,” Dr. Pieter Cohen writes in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Nor have any changes been made to improve the FDA’s ability to detect dangerous supplements.”

Cohen says FDA’s action on the liver-damaging supplement was a “delayed response” with “life-threatening consequences” because of “woefully inadequate” monitoring of the supplements.

Indeed, the most effective regulation of the supplements industry often comes not from FDA, but from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the claims supplement companies make that cannot be justified by science. FTC, with jurisdiction over marketing, often forces supplement marketers to stop making outrageous claims about diet miracles or easy muscle building. FTC settlements often entirely remove brands from the market, but typically they come back in short order under another name.

Cohen says that, unlike drugs, which require FDA approval before they can be sold, “anything labeled as a dietary supplement is assumed to be safe until proven otherwise.” He says there are currently 85,000 different combinations of vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids, probiotics and other supplement ingredients out there, and that the 20-year old federal law on supplements shields the industry from more effective oversight.

“The FDA is charged with the unenviable task of identifying and removing dangerous supplements only after they have caused harm,” Cohen says.

And he claims FDA has its work cut out for it because dangerous supplements are widely available. More than 500 supplements have already been found to be adulterated with drugs, stimulants, steroids, banned weight-loss medication and other harmful substances.

Cohen calls for a pre-market approval system to protect Americans from dangerous supplements and a better adverse event reporting system. He says FDA’s “Med Watch” reporting system for incidents involving drugs, medical devices and supplements is inadequate.

The supplements industry responded by saying that existing law is sufficient. Steve Mister, spokesman for the Council for Responsible Nutrition, said FDA requires 75 days notice for new supplement ingredients.

But Cohen says supplements with chemical compounds close to methamphetamine and amphetamine are being sold as “natural” by the supplements industry. His claim is backed up by recent news reports such as one this past October when a panel of international scientists found the body-building supplement called “Craze” contained a compound chemically similar to the illegal drug methamphetamine.

Craze was sold in candy grape, berry lemonade and piña colada flavors over the Internet and in retail stores like those that sell supplements and organic groceries.

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced legislation to require supplement manufacturers to register products and provide FDA with more information about their potential adverse affects. Cohen says that, while the bill is an improvement, it would not improve FDA’s ability to detect and remove dangerous supplements from the market.

Food Safety News

Supermarkets need health and wellness partners: panelist

Margaux Drake, the “Living Well’” lifestyle expert for D&W Fresh Market.

Supermarket operators can boost health and wellness sales by partnering with companies that serve consumers interested in healthy lifestyles, a speaker told the Supermarket News at Expo West conference in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday.


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Margaux Drake, the “Living Well’” lifestyle expert for D&W Fresh Market, Grand Rapids, Mich., said operators need to think outside the box. “You can’t force someone to decide to be health- and wellness-minded. You have to go into the community to find people who have already made that decision and let them know you have the products they are looking for,” she advised.

Drake said she has worked with sports retailers, automotive dealers and others whose customers lead an active lifestyle and invited those customers to events geared to healthy living, such as spin classes — “anything where you can meet face-to-face with potential customers. And then you need to invite them on store tours immediately after the special events.”

Read more: SN’s coverage of Natural Products Expo West

Speaking at the same session, John Creed, category manager for natural, frozen and dairy for Unified Grocers, Los Angeles, said independents are looking for ways to take advantage of new trends, and setting up wellness centers in their stores with the help of CPG companies and food brokers is one way to create a “signature” or “personality” for the store Creed said he expects such partnerships to grow “as retailers look for ways to set themselves apart.”

The SN event was held just prior to the start of the Natural Products Expo West, which is sponsored by New Hope. Both SN and New Hope are divisions of Penton Media.

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Supermarket News

“Big potential, but you will need the right people and the best technology”

Peninsula Farms, the largest greenhouse grower in the Kingdom of Bahrain:
“Big potential, but you will need the right people and the best technology”

With a high end operation of 4 hectares, Peninsula Farms is the largest greenhouse grower in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The greenhouse complex is a project by a group of Bahrain businessmen who contribute to the development of the agricultural sector in Bahrain as well as aiding the country to achieve its goal to be self sustainable in terms of local fresh produce. Sheik Rashid is the company’s General Manager and recently, Grahame Dunling was hired as the full time Horticultural Development Manager after he helped the grower with a three year expansion plan for the company.  Speaking to Dunling we learn that growing in the middle of the desert is a big challenge that relies on high tech equipment as well as extensive growing knowledge.

The greenhouse operation of Peninsula Farms is spread out over 40,000 m2. Divided amongst 8 greenhouses of 5,040 m2 each, they have 20,000 m2  with Cherry, Beafsteak and Plum tomatoes, 5,000 mt with Bell Peppers and another 5,000 m2 with chilly peppers. In the remaining 10,000 m2 Peninsula grows Basil, Baby Spinach, Rocket, Garden Cress and of course Mint, as well as six varieties of Lettuce, which are Lollo Rosso, Lollo Biondo, Boston, Red Oakleaf,Green Oakleaf, Frisse and Trio lettuce.

In the Kingdom of Bahrain growing in a greenhouse on such a large scale is not so common. According to Dunling, a greenhouse is a perfect way to provide local produce that is of high quality and is competitively priced when compared to imported produce in the market. “The crops locally produced will be of better quality than imported crops which are potentially damaged during transportation, storage and handling,” he said. “However, you will need a lot of extensive knowledge if you want to grow in a greenhouse over here, as the day temperatures are reaching over 50 degrees Celsius in the harsh summer months.”


Sheikh Rashid, General Manager of Peninsula Farms

In order to be able to grow a crop of a high quality the greenhouses of Peninsula Farms are equipped with high end technology. “We have a pad and fan cooling system in each greenhouse, in order to keep the temperature lower than the outside temperature,” said Dunling. “Together with an extensive ventilation system and a climate control system from Priva, we are able to achieve a good climate inside. Energy prices are not a big cost for us, and we have our own RO water well. Right now the summer is the biggest challenge for us, but we are putting plans in place to grow through the summer in temperatures that reach 50c outside, as our customers demand a year round supply.”

The greenhouses are being operated on a daily basis by Dunling who has an extensive background as a Grower & Consultant.  Dunling is assisted by Edi Sugiyanto who has over 12 months experience of growing in the Middle East and  the work inside the greenhouse is being carried out by local forces. They also have a sales and Marketing team led by Michael Doporto who oversees the sales and promotion of Local Bahrain Produce in the  Local stores and the Middle East Region.


From left to right: General manager Sheikh Rashid, Assistant Edi Sugiyanto and Grahame Dunling, Horticultural Development Manager.

The harvested produce of Peninsula Farms is packed on site in their own temperature controlled pack-house and cold store. “We  deliver to the local supermarkets such as Lulu, Geant and Carrefour in our own lorries”, said Dunling. “Besides this we also supply local restaurants such as Le Chocolat and we even export produce on a weekly basis to Saudi Arabia.”

According to Dunling, The Kingdom of Bahrain has got lots of potential to expand greenhouse horticulture. “There is definitely a good market, as long as you have the right people in place. You will need the right equipment and experience, because growing in the dessert is completely different from growing in Western  Europe or North America. Many have set up, only to leave soon after.

Peninsula has plans for building another 10,000 square meters this year. “Again we will choose to use the latest greenhouse design from Holland and again we will be using the Priva control system, because without the best technology you are nothing over here.”

For more information:
Peninsula Farms
Grahame Dunling
www.Peninsulafarms.com

 

Publication date: 3/4/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Food production in northeastern U.S. may need to change if climate does

If significant climate change occurs in the United States it may be necessary to change where certain foods are produced in order to meet consumer demand. In a paper published online this week in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University provide an overview of current farmland use and food production in the Northeastern U.S., identifying potential vulnerabilities of the 12-state region.

Led by Tim Griffin, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at the Friedman School, the authors evaluated the degree to which the Northeast can satisfy the food needs of its residents, a concept known as regional self-reliance. Their results are based on calculations of regional agricultural land use and production between 2001 and 2010. In that time, over 100 crops were harvested and livestock production involved all six major species. The authors’ estimates also include fish and shellfish.

“Food production in the United States is concentrated in certain areas, but it is important to explore the ability of all regions to produce food. This is certainly the case in the Northeast, which has both a high population density and a declining agricultural land base,” Griffin said. “For example, most of the country’s pork products come from Iowa and North Carolina, and most of the lettuce is grown in California’s Salinas Valley. Looking ahead, there is the potential for climate change to disrupt food production in those key areas. If irrigation in the Central Valley of California was reduced due to climate change, could other regions make up for that drop in production? And what is the capacity of the Northeast region to produce more?”

Griffin and colleagues noted substantial diversity in the Northeast food system, for crops in particular. “A different picture emerges when you look at the farmland acreage,” Griffin said. “A small number of crops occupy a large portion of the cropland acreage and almost 40% of that is corn, most of it used for animal feed. A small proportion of that acreage produces foods that people eat, such apples and potatoes, although much of it contributes indirectly by supporting livestock production systems.”

Griffin and colleagues found regional self-reliance to be highest for animal-based products, particularly milk and eggs. The region produces about as much fluid milk as it consumes and about 70% of the amount of eggs consumed. For seafood, the region produces 45% of the amount of shellfish it consumes and 23% of fish. Just under 30% of the amount of chicken consumed in the region is also produced there.

For vegetables, the region produces 26% of the amount of it consumes and for fruit, 18%. The vegetable crops grown in the largest amount are starchy products such as potatoes and corn. Within the fruit category, the region is most self-reliant for berries, primarily blueberries and cranberries.

Regional self-reliance in the Northeast will likely be impacted by two other factors: population growth and dietary choice. The U.S. Department of Commerce predicts that there will be an additional two million people living in the Northeast by 2030 (an increase of about 3%). “Regional self-reliance would be impacted if there were to be a shift toward eating more in line with the federal dietary guidelines, which emphasize fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products,” Griffin noted.

The authors note that agricultural growth in the region will be challenging because of land use patterns. More than half of the region’s total farmland is located in Pennsylvania and New York, with Maryland accounting for an approximate additional 20%. Another barrier is the limited supply chain infrastructure, which hampers packaging and distribution.

“Our future research will look at the complex interactions between soil suitability, climate, land use, and infrastructure and explore the policy barriers to agricultural expansion and the incentives that can be provided to address them,” Griffin said. “First, we need to establish a baseline to look at all of the potential changes. If we are to change the types of foods grown on farms, where would that occur and where would there be the most potential for increased production?”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Women need to find balance between work and personal life, panelists say

Women in the grocery business have to figure out how to balance work and family more so than men do, a panel of women acknowledged during a workshop session Tuesday at the annual convention of the National Grocers Association in Las Vegas. “It’s hard for a woman to advance in the grocery business and take an opening or closing shift when she’s trying to raise a child as a single parent, and that often can hold women back from promotions,” Lauren Johnson, COO for Newport …

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Supermarket News

In the Trenches: Produce managers need capable assistants

There is a supermarket I visit periodically to say hello to the produce manager. We often spend a few minutes discussing product and other produce topics. This particular produce manager operates a superior department and has many unique skills accompanied by a very aggressive enthusiasm in building sales.

One early afternoon I dropped into the store to pay a visit and was very disappointed to see that a few problems existed. It was obvious that the produce department was in trouble that day, as it was not in its best condition.

After touring the department, it became clear to me why the conditions had occurred. I’ve seen this picture many times in my career and the cause could be dangerous and damaging.

I approached a full-time clerk and asked to see the produce manager. He replied, “He’s on vacation this week.”

My next question was, “Who is taking over for him?” The clerk smiled proudly and said, “I am. I’m the assistant produce manager.”

Then that big silent thought-bubble over my head whispered, “What a surprise.” I then turned and left the store.

Without a doubt, this particular assistant produce manager revealed several weaknesses in the ability to hold down the fort. Could it be inadequate training or simply a lack of skilled workmanship?

I visited two other stores and talked with the produce managers about their assistants. I asked them, “What do you expect out of your assistant produce manager?”

Both similarly replied, “I expect my assistant to do everything I can do,” which was an appropriate response.

Very few produce managers operate a large department completely by themselves. The one person they rely on is their assistant. When the produce manager has a day off, is at a meeting or is out sick, the assistant should then be able to move in and take over the responsibilities immediately.

There is much more to being an assistant produce manager other than just stocking displays and maintaining the department. A greatly skilled assistant works harder than the rest of the team and supports the produce manager by keeping the staff running on a full engine at all times.

I can remember being an assistant produce manager in the past. The produce manager told me that my biggest responsibility was to fix all problems that developed before reaching him. That alone kept me on my toes at all times.

Produce is a fast-paced business. Today, the value of a knowledgeable and skilled assistant produce manager is priceless. The role demands a lot more than just doing the work of a clerk.

Here are a few of the significant attributes needed to become a strong assistant produce manager.

Advancement: Every assistant should have the desire to move up to a produce manager level. Those who are eager and want to get ahead should show it with passion for the business.

Sales-oriented: An enthusiastic assistant should always be thinking about selling and ways to increase sales for the department.

Confidence: Assistants who take charge of challenges by making decisions and not passing them along to produce managers show leadership strength.

Delegate: Assistants must have the capability to assign specific tasks to other workers. He or she acts as an intermediary between the produce manager and all other employees on the staff.

Merchandising: One of the most important skills of assistants is in the sophistication of merchandising. This aspect of the business encompasses creativity, planning and strategies of displaying produce that encourage sales increases.

Creativity: Thinking outside of the box is one of the better qualities in being an assistant. Inventing new ways to sell and capitalizing on current trends are values that help move the department forward on a consistent basis.

Pleasant personality: Amiable assistants are those who are always happy, refreshing, energized, enthusiastic and cheerful with customers and fellow workers.

Problem solving: Dilemmas occur at any moment in the produce operation. It takes a calm and self-controlled person to fix those problems and prevent them from ending up in the produce manager’s lap.

These qualities are necessary to be a talented assistant to the produce manager. On-the-job experience adds huge value in becoming a bona fide produce manager. Mastering all the knowledge and skills as an assistant, and possessing a proven track record, is highly necessary and essential for advancement.

The supermarket industry has lost some of its training-program punch. Can companies afford to allow high standards to fail when produce managers are on days off? Every produce department needs a strong qualified assistant to back up the produce manager.

When it comes to selling produce, superior department standards are the key components for success. Nonetheless, they must be maintained on a consistent basis.

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