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Ministers discuss proposal to review EU rules on organic production

Ministers discuss proposal to review EU rules on organic production

Meeting in Brussels on 14 July, ministers discussed a proposal to review EU rules on organic production and farming and a communication preparing the ground for new EU fishing quotas for 2015.

Please click here for the video.

Agriculture and fisheries ministers meeting in the Council held a policy debate on organic farming, based on the Commission’s proposal to review the legal framework for organic production and farming in the EU.

Some ministers raised concerns about the proposed new rules for organic production, in particular the limited exemptions, which they feel could negatively impact the growth of the organic sector. Concerns were also raised on the changes to control systems in the proposal, and some ministers were opposed to an extended use of delegated acts.

The organic farming proposal is a priority for the Italian presidency, which hopes to reach a general approach before the end of 2014.

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Publication date: 7/16/2014

Keep Food Safety Out of AIB, Kansas State Proposal

(This was posted April 10, 2014, at 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


Food Control

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


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

Letter From The Editor: A Modest Proposal to Wipe Out Farm Animal Abuse

I’ve acknowledged here before that I grew up in a small midwestern town. It was even larger than most small towns, but I still went to school with more farm kids than city kids.

I’ve also admitted here before that the longest two weeks of my life were spent helping a friend milk 60 cows twice a day while his folks were on vacation. I was always in awe of all the farm kids I knew for how good and how fearless they were with animals.

Frankly, I started out being afraid of these farm beasts. Horses are tall. Cows are huge. Pigs can see the wind. And, sheep always look like they are up to something.  But all my farm friends could make these animals do what they wanted them to do just by standing in the right place or position, or pointing, or making the some noise.  My farm friends taught me to not be afraid. They showed me how easy it is for us humans to get animals to go there, or stand more or less in one place or move along.

I am not talking about those special “horse whisper” powers in the movies or the amazing abilities someone like Professor Temple Grandin has in real life with animals.  I am just talking about a time just a generation ago when there were a lot of farm kids who knew how to handle animals. I did not say humanely because it seemed like nobody back then would think of handling animals in any other way.

Farm animal abuse was not in our lexicon.

What’s different today, I think, is there are not enough farm kids. Not all of the ones I knew at my land grant university planned to go back to the farm. Most of their kids I know of went beyond the farm to become scientists and engineers and such.   USDA is out with the 2012 agricultural census that again shows fewer people living on the land with at least a positive uptick in a younger age group of farmers. Maybe it’s leveling off.

This past week in Boise, there was a three and one-half hour public hearing on legislation that grew out of an ugly 2012 incident of animal abuse that was video taped by an animal rights activist who easily got a job at the involved dairy.  Five hourly employees  involved in the offense immediately lost their jobs and were convicted on misdemeanor animal abuse charges after an investigation by Idaho agricultural officials.

Two fired workers fled the state’s jurisdiction.  They are probably working with animals in another state or even in Idaho as the misdemeanor warrants have since expired. In the Boise hearing the dairy industry testified about training programs they now have in place for workers after they are hired.  Hardly any mention was made of the scarcity of hourly farm workers with the skills and ability to work with animals in rural America. The animal rights activists who went undercover at the Idaho dairy later bragged that all he had to do was to say he didn’t drink and would arrive at work on time.

As my mind was wandering, as it usually does during these long hearings, I was thinking about all the unemployed 18 to 30 year olds, many of whom love animals and who with training and support could become the workforce rural America needs.  I know, it’s one of those “out of the box” theories that would be very difficult to implement. Immigration reform might be easier to pull off.  It just seems something more is required than training after folks are hired or the 20 cameras the Idaho dairy has since installed to look on its own for the next animal abusers.

Idaho’s “same old, same old” legislative solution — to make lying on an employment application part of its law against trespass and ban taking pictures or making videos of animal agricultural facilities without the owner’s permission—isn’t going to solve the real problem.

Somehow we need to come up with a system that weeds out people sick enough to abuse animals before they get hired and then delivers a pool of skilled humane people to the jobs that are out there in rural America with animal agriculture.

Food Safety News