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Sprouts Farmers Market staying ahead of food-waste regulations

Sprouts Farmers Market is expanding the food waste diversion services it receives from Quest Resource Holding Corp. Quest designed and deployed a comprehensive organics recycling program at all California stores, ahead of new mandatory commercial organics recycling regulations.

The program reduces food waste by diverting produce, dairy, bakery, bulk, deli and juice bar items that cannot be sold or donated. The retailer now recycles food waste that cannot be donated at 125 stores.

“Responsible retailing is part of Sprouts’ DNA, and we are proud of what we’ve achieved in the past two years working with Quest,” Carlos Rojas, senior counsel for Sprouts Farmers Market, said in a press release. “Our organics recycling program not only benefits the environment, but improves store operations by minimizing waste. We also are pleased to be well ahead of the CalRecycle regulations compliance date.”

California Assembly Bill 1826 (AB-1826 Solid waste: organic waste) requires businesses that generate organic waste to implement organic waste recycling programs in phases depending on the amount of waste generated per week. Quest is helping the retailer stay ahead of the regulation requiring the retailer to recycle food waste by Jan. 1, 2017.

“Quest is delighted to expand its relationship with Sprouts, one of the fastest growing retailers in the country, and continue to help them reach their sustainability goals in California and across the country,” Ray Hatch, Quest’s chief executive officer, said in the release.

Quest’s organics recycling program converts food waste into nutritional animal feed additives or compost, helping to prevent greenhouse gas emissions and reduce waste in landfills. Quest developed custom online and in-store training to help educate and engage store associates to ensure program is successful.

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Regulations needed to identify potentially invasive biofuel crops

If the hottest new plant grown as a biofuel crop is approved based solely on its greenhouse gas emission profile, its potential as the next invasive species may not be discovered until it’s too late. In response to this need to prevent such invasions, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed both a set of regulatory definitions and provisions and a list of 49 low-risk biofuel plants from which growers can choose.

Lauren Quinn, an invasive plant ecologist at U of I’s Energy Biosciences Institute, recognized that most of the news about invasive biofuel crops was negative and offered few low-risk alternatives to producers. She and her colleagues set out to create a list of low-risk biofuel crops that can be safely grown for conversion to ethanol but realized in the process that regulations were needed to instill checks and balances in the system.

“There are not a lot of existing regulations that would prevent the planting of potentially invasive species at the state or federal levels. For example, there are currently only four states (Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, and Maryland) that have any laws relating to how bioenergy crops can be grown and that include any language about invasive species — and, for the most part, when those words do appear, they are either not defined or poorly defined,” said Quinn.

In approving new biofuel products, Quinn said that the EPA doesn’t formally consider invasiveness at all — just greenhouse gas emissions related to their production. “Last summer, the EPA approved two known invaders, Arundo donax (giant reed) and Pennisetum purpurem (napier grass), despite public criticism,” added U of I professor of agricultural law A. Bryan Endres, who co-authored the research to define legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks.

Part of the problem is that there is no clear scientific definition of what it means to be invasive. The team of researchers used fundamental biological, ecological, and management principles to develop definitions for terminology commonly used to describe invasive species.

“Our definition of invasive is ‘a population exhibiting a net negative impact or harm to the target ecosystem,’ for example,” Quinn said. “We want to establish guidelines that will be simple for regulators and informed by the ecological literature and our own knowledge. We also need to recognize that some native plants can become weedy or invasive. It’s complicated and requires some understanding of the biology of these plants.”

Quinn said that ideally the definitions and suggested regulations could become part of a revised Renewable Fuels Standard administered by EPA, which would require Congress to make the changes. The proposed regulations could also be adopted at the state level.

“Some of the biofeedstocks currently being examined by the EPA for approval, like pennycress, have a high risk for invasion,” Quinn said. “Others have vague names such as jatropha with no species name, which is problematic. For example, there are three main Miscanthus species but only sterile hybrid Miscanthus × giganteus types are considered low risk. However, the EPA has approved “Miscanthus” as a feedstock without specifying a species or genotype” Quinn said. “That’s fine for the low-risk sterile types but could mean higher-risk fertile types could be approved without additional oversight.”

According to Quinn, the white list, which includes 49 low-risk feedstock plants, will serve to clear up the confusion about plant names. The list was developed using an existing weed risk assessment protocol, which includes 49 questions that must be asked about a particular species based on its biology, ecology, and its history of being invasive in other parts of the world.

“Those questions are difficult to answer for new taxa, including plants that haven’t been around long or have just recently been developed by breeders,” Quinn said. “This will be the first time that they are out in the environment so we don’t know what their potential for invasiveness is. But the white list offers plenty of choices of plants that are already commercially available, and the feedstocks on the list have a number of different industrial uses.”

Quinn stressed that the native plants that are included in the white list are only recommended as the native genotypes grown in their native region, because although a plant may be native to a part of the United States, it could be considered invasive if grown in a different region.

“For example, Panicum virgatum is the variety of switchgrass that is low risk everywhere except for the three coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, but future genotypes that may be bred with more invasive characteristics, such as rapid growth or prolific seed production, may have higher risk.”

The researchers believe that the white list provides producers with clearly identified low-invasion risk options and may reduce conflicts between objectives for increasing renewable fuel production and reducing unintended impacts and costs resulting from the propagation of invasive plants.

“Resolving regulatory uncertainty: legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks” was published in an issue of GCB Bioenergy. Co-authors include Elise Scott and James McCubbins from the Energy Biosciences Institute, A. Bryan Endres and Thomas Voigt from the University of Illinois, and Jacob Barney from Virginia Tech.

“Bioenergy feedstocks at low risk for invasion in the U.S.: A ‘white list’ approach” was published in Bioenergy Research. Co-authors include Aviva Glaser from the National Wildlife Federation, Doria Gordon from the Nature Conservancy, and Deah Lieurance and Luke Flory from the University of Florida.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Regulations needed to identify potentially invasive biofuel crops

If the hottest new plant grown as a biofuel crop is approved based solely on its greenhouse gas emission profile, its potential as the next invasive species may not be discovered until it’s too late. In response to this need to prevent such invasions, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed both a set of regulatory definitions and provisions and a list of 49 low-risk biofuel plants from which growers can choose.

Lauren Quinn, an invasive plant ecologist at U of I’s Energy Biosciences Institute, recognized that most of the news about invasive biofuel crops was negative and offered few low-risk alternatives to producers. She and her colleagues set out to create a list of low-risk biofuel crops that can be safely grown for conversion to ethanol but realized in the process that regulations were needed to instill checks and balances in the system.

“There are not a lot of existing regulations that would prevent the planting of potentially invasive species at the state or federal levels. For example, there are currently only four states (Florida, Mississippi, Oregon, and Maryland) that have any laws relating to how bioenergy crops can be grown and that include any language about invasive species — and, for the most part, when those words do appear, they are either not defined or poorly defined,” said Quinn.

In approving new biofuel products, Quinn said that the EPA doesn’t formally consider invasiveness at all — just greenhouse gas emissions related to their production. “Last summer, the EPA approved two known invaders, Arundo donax (giant reed) and Pennisetum purpurem (napier grass), despite public criticism,” added U of I professor of agricultural law A. Bryan Endres, who co-authored the research to define legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks.

Part of the problem is that there is no clear scientific definition of what it means to be invasive. The team of researchers used fundamental biological, ecological, and management principles to develop definitions for terminology commonly used to describe invasive species.

“Our definition of invasive is ‘a population exhibiting a net negative impact or harm to the target ecosystem,’ for example,” Quinn said. “We want to establish guidelines that will be simple for regulators and informed by the ecological literature and our own knowledge. We also need to recognize that some native plants can become weedy or invasive. It’s complicated and requires some understanding of the biology of these plants.”

Quinn said that ideally the definitions and suggested regulations could become part of a revised Renewable Fuels Standard administered by EPA, which would require Congress to make the changes. The proposed regulations could also be adopted at the state level.

“Some of the biofeedstocks currently being examined by the EPA for approval, like pennycress, have a high risk for invasion,” Quinn said. “Others have vague names such as jatropha with no species name, which is problematic. For example, there are three main Miscanthus species but only sterile hybrid Miscanthus × giganteus types are considered low risk. However, the EPA has approved “Miscanthus” as a feedstock without specifying a species or genotype” Quinn said. “That’s fine for the low-risk sterile types but could mean higher-risk fertile types could be approved without additional oversight.”

According to Quinn, the white list, which includes 49 low-risk feedstock plants, will serve to clear up the confusion about plant names. The list was developed using an existing weed risk assessment protocol, which includes 49 questions that must be asked about a particular species based on its biology, ecology, and its history of being invasive in other parts of the world.

“Those questions are difficult to answer for new taxa, including plants that haven’t been around long or have just recently been developed by breeders,” Quinn said. “This will be the first time that they are out in the environment so we don’t know what their potential for invasiveness is. But the white list offers plenty of choices of plants that are already commercially available, and the feedstocks on the list have a number of different industrial uses.”

Quinn stressed that the native plants that are included in the white list are only recommended as the native genotypes grown in their native region, because although a plant may be native to a part of the United States, it could be considered invasive if grown in a different region.

“For example, Panicum virgatum is the variety of switchgrass that is low risk everywhere except for the three coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, but future genotypes that may be bred with more invasive characteristics, such as rapid growth or prolific seed production, may have higher risk.”

The researchers believe that the white list provides producers with clearly identified low-invasion risk options and may reduce conflicts between objectives for increasing renewable fuel production and reducing unintended impacts and costs resulting from the propagation of invasive plants.

“Resolving regulatory uncertainty: legislative language for potentially invasive bioenergy feedstocks” was published in an issue of GCB Bioenergy. Co-authors include Elise Scott and James McCubbins from the Energy Biosciences Institute, A. Bryan Endres and Thomas Voigt from the University of Illinois, and Jacob Barney from Virginia Tech.

“Bioenergy feedstocks at low risk for invasion in the U.S.: A ‘white list’ approach” was published in Bioenergy Research. Co-authors include Aviva Glaser from the National Wildlife Federation, Doria Gordon from the Nature Conservancy, and Deah Lieurance and Luke Flory from the University of Florida.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Congressman Moves to Prevent FDA from Changing Cheese Regulations

Last week, the world of artisan cheesemaking sounded some serious alarm over a stance that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had seemingly adopted that would disallow the centuries-old practice of aging cheese on wooden shelving.

In the aftermath, FDA apparently backed off from its position. But that’s not stopping Vermont Congressman Peter Welch from moving to head off the agency before it can implement any such regulations.

Welch, a Democrat, has introduced an amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2015 that would expressly prohibit FDA from using any funds to prevent or limit the use of wooden shelves for aging cheese.

In a statement reiterating his plans to introduce the amendment, Welch said that FDA’s clarification on their stance directly contradicts an earlier statement they had put out, including information in an email to his office.

“Artisan cheese makers cannot afford to live with this threat to their livelihoods caused by regulatory ambiguity at the FDA,” Welch wrote.

The charges of ambiguity are the culmination of communications from FDA over a span of five months, starting in January 2014 with an email from FDA Egg and Dairy Branch Chief Monica Metz to officials at the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The New York officials were asking FDA to clarify its position on wooden shelving after an artisan cheese producer in the state had been told that she should replace her wooden shelving with another material after consecutive FDA inspections found Listeria monocytogenes contamination on the shelves.

Metz emailed a document to the officials stating that wooden shelving did not conform to current good manufacturing practices, which require materials capable of being adequately cleaned and properly maintained. Wood did not meet those criteria, Metz stated, because its porous nature may foster bacteria growth and prevent adequate cleaning and sanitizing.

The document also cited a number of recent studies concluding that Listeria monocytogenes could survive cleaning and sanitation on wooden boards.

In the email containing the document, Metz implied that the stance was the agency’s “policy on aging cheese on wooden boards” and mentioned that it had been cleared for release.

Since January, the New York Department of Agriculture has been in dialogue with FDA about the position, and the agency has allegedly been unwilling to change its stance, according to New York Department of Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball.

“I am very concerned about the damage this policy could do to these businesses, not only in New York, but across the country, and respectfully request a suspension of any enforcement actions until a full science-based peer review is completed,” Ball wrote.

In March, Welch’s office received an email from FDA stating that wooden shelving for aging cheese was not permitted and never had been. The email reiterated Metz’s points about wood not meeting good manufacturing practice standards due to its porous nature.

Cheesemakers began a public pushback in the first week of June, gaining widespread attention by the next week. Headlines interpreted the situation as FDA waging a war on the artisan cheese world.

On June 11, FDA issued a clarification statement that the agency was not banning the use of wooden shelving for aging cheese, adding that the agency had never taken enforcement action solely on the grounds of a cheesemaker using wooden shelves.

“The communication was not intended as an official policy statement, but was provided as background information on the use of wooden shelving for aging cheeses and as an analysis of related scientific publications,” the statement read. “Further, we recognize that the language used in this communication may have appeared more definitive than it should have, in light of the agency’s actual practices on this issue.”

A spokesman for the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets told Food Safety News they were satisfied with that clarification.

Welch, however, said he was pushing forward with the amendment to the agriculture appropriations bill to guarantee that artisan cheesemakers don’t face any regulatory scrutiny for continuing to use wooden shelves.

A spokesman for Welch’s office suggested to Food Safety News on Friday that the congressman remains dubious regarding FDA’s position: “The email our office got [from FDA] lays out their position pretty clearly.”

Food Safety News

EU’s phytosanitary regulations hurdle to Asian exotic exports

EU’s phytosanitary regulations hurdle to Asian exotic exports

Thailand has a lot of small scale producers for exotics like okra, lemongrass, asparagus and baby corn. Which are the main products for export to EU. According to a Thai exporter, there were more items, but had to be reduced as a consequence of the EU’s introduction of stricter import regulations, including EU 669/2009, which requires samples of 10 to 20% of the shipments.

“Although we also work with small retailers and Asia shops, our focus is on supermarkets, where the conditions imposed to trade with such small exotic products, considering all the certification and lab costs involved, become a real obstacle,” says the exporter. If the volume ordered is small, for instance 50 kg per week, and one in every five or ten shipments needs to be sampled, lab costs skyrocket, pushing prices well above profitable levels.

There was also the issue of the EU’s five strike rule, by which country-wide bans may be applied. These problems, according to the Thai company, have no easy solution, apart from, as they suggest, modifying the standards on a case by case basis, depending on each company’s reputation.

The situation, in any case, has really improved since the introduction of establishment lists by the EU, which apply to specific food establishments. “It is difficult for both sides, but it is also understandable that the EU would wish all imports to be clean and safe. The Thai government, for its part, also imposes its own regulations on the country’s exporters.”

All in all, there is always a conflict between safety and prices, as importers will always seek the best value and introducing costly regulations will indirectly drive clients away to cheaper producers in Vietnam or Cambodia, so ideally, a balance between the two needs to be found.

Publication date: 5/2/2014
Author: Juan Zea Estellés
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Chile: “We will seek free transit regulations to prevent port strikes”

TGF-FruitImageInterview with Juan Carolus Brown, new president of Fedefruta
Chile: “We will seek free transit regulations to prevent port strikes”

Great challenges are ahead for the new president of Fedefruta, Juan Carolus Brown, who replaced Cristián Allendes. His team was formed yesterday, with the latter in it, as well as Felipe Garcia-Huidobro (first Vice President), Jorge Valenzuela (second Vice President), María Inés Figari (secretary), Antonio Walker Prieto, Domingo Romero, Ramón Achurra Larraín and Claudio Vergara, who will serve as head treasurer.

In an interview to Estrategia, the civil engineer from the Catholic University, MBA from the University of Chicago and grower (as part of the family business tradition), revealed the strategies he will adopt while in command at Fedefruta.

What are the main challenges you will face as president of FEDEFRUTA?

“In the next two years, we would like some regulation or free transit law for perishable goods to be approved, because we have had to face two port strikes during times when high fruit volumes are usually shipped, causing huge losses which will hopefully not happen again. Regarding labour issues, we want the temporary worker statutes to be approved; a project which has been presented, but that should be pushed forward so that people can be hired whenever they are needed. We wish to come to some agreement about the immigration of people willing to work in the agricultural sector, and we have also been summoned by the agricultural authority to assist in the modernisation of SAG.”

What do you think about the Government’s plan to reform the water regulations?

“We are primary users of water and we use those rights on a daily basis, unlike other sectors. We will try making sure that this doesn’t change.”

What do you mean with sectors that do not use their water rights allocated?

“Concerns arise from mining companies, which have water rights that they do not use, but are kept for future projects. And that should, in my opinion, be subject to regulation.”

How could the water ownership issue be resolved?

“The problem is that laws give too much power to mining firms; their water seems to be prioritised, and they are often given rights even when the channels are supposed to be depleted.”

Is the sector still hampered by droughts? It has been said rainy months are coming.

“Droughts are not over as soon as it starts to rain, and until reservoirs reach their normal levels, we cannot say that the problem has been overcome. We would need a cycle of about four or five years of rainfall for the crisis to be definitely resolved.”

Meanwhile, the dollar has reached a value of 550 pesos. Will this affect you? 

“A dollar a little above the 550 pesos is better than at 450 pesos; we are happy with this. But the issue is similar to that of the droughts. We will have higher revenue in pesos than in previous years; however, for the financial situation of fruit exporters to normalise, the exchange rate levels need to stay like this for a while.”

What are the plans for the new fruit season?

“The frosts we had in September 2013 caused some problems, especially in the stone fruit sector, and those that survived will have a very good next season, with 20% higher prices and a production 15% larger.”

Source: Fedefruta

Publication date: 4/18/2014

 

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US (CA): Truckers dealing with effects of new regulations

US (CA): Truckers dealing with effects of new regulations

Almost six months after regulations went live requiring refrigerated trucks to have engines that date back no further than seven years, California’s truckers are feeling the effects of those rules. Federal rules governing the amount of rest drivers must have is also worrying those who deal in the transportation of goods via trucks throughout the State.

New rules from California’s Air Resource Board regarding the Transportation Refrigeration Unit Regulation went into effect this year which require engines in refrigerated trucks to be no older than seven years. Not only will operators of trucks in violation of the new rules be cited and fined, but so will brokers, shippers and receivers of goods transported in vehicles found to be in violation.

“The biggest effect of this has been a lack of truckers,” said Travis Lee of Dawn Transportation, Inc. Lee handles dispatch and sales for Dawn, which is a broker in the State of California that handles many produce shipments, and he thinks the immediate impact of the new rules has been an increase in shipping rates due to fewer trucks that are able to operate in the State of California.

“The biggest thing is that there are a lot fewer trucks in California,” said Lee. “A lot of carriers we had before will no longer come into the state because they can’t.” It’s also meant brokers like Dawn have to perform more due diligence on who they work with, as anybody involved with a shipment that’s transported in a non-compliant vehicle can be cited and fined.

“They’re going to fine everyone involved with a non-compliant unit,” said Joe Carlon, owner of Joe Carlon and Associates. “It’s going to force everyone to swap out engines every seven years, and that’s not a problem for most major shippers because they do that anyway, but the old units will just be sold in another state.” While a fleet of more efficient units in California might help with air pollution in the state, Carlon noted that those older units will likely still be on the road somewhere.

In addition to California’s rules regarding refrigerated trucks, regulations on the amount of hours rest drivers must have are slated to go into effect across the nation next month. Drivers who are on the road 60 hours over seven consecutive days will still have to wait 34 consecutive hours before continuing their journey, but now those rest hours will have to include two periods between 1-5 a.m. That new stipulation could pose problems for drivers who begin their rest period in the morning, as their mandatory time off the road could stretch out to over two days.

“Those new regulations are going to cost us a day on arrival,” predicted Carlon. “We’ve got so many rules now, and we’ve always complied with them, but it will just cost us more in the long run to deliver our loads on time.” While he’s not sure what the extent of the new rules will be, he knows it could very well lead to higher shipping costs and, consequently, higher food prices.

“It’s not something you can put a dollar figure on right now,” said Carlon, “but it’s just going to tie up the truck another day.”

Publication date: 6/18/2013
Author: Carlos Nunez
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


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Debate Grows Over Poultry Worker Safety Under Proposed HIMP Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food Safety News

Meat Conference 2014: Regulations impacting the meat industry in 2014 and beyond

In a session called “Regulatory and Food Safety Update,” representatives from AMI and FMI highlighted several key laws and regulations that will have an effect on the meat industry in the coming years. These include:

  • Country-of-origin labeling: The World Trade Organization will hear arguments tomorrow and Wednesday on Canada and Mexico’s challenge to the latest COOL rule. A final ruling from WTO will come out by August or September, although whichever side loses is expected to appeal.
  • Food Safety Modernization Act: The proposed rule regarding transportion of food will apply to the meat industry. Processors that use imported spices on meat products will also need to be aware of the foreign supplier verification rule.
  • 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: It’s possible the committee will recommend Americans “limit or avoid” processed meats. The committee will also look for the first time at issues of sustainability and food safety in making its recommendations.
  • FDA intends to finalize a rule on mechanically tenderized product labeling this year, but that may not happen.

Supermarket News

AU: Mango industry to benefit from changes to US import regulations

AU: Mango industry to benefit from changes to US import regulations

The Produce Marketing Association Australia New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) has welcomed the decision by US authorities to amend regulations allowing the import of Australian mangoes into the States, which will benefit local mango growers and bolster Australia’s world class mango reputation.

PMA A-NZ CEO, Michael Worthington, said any regulation changes around exportation are positive for the fresh produce industry. “Regulation changes that offer Australian and New Zealand growers increased exporting options will always be welcome by the industry as producers in both countries need outlets other than just the domestic market,” Michael said. “In terms of mangoes, Australia has a significant production volume coming on stream, potentially more than the domestic market can handle, so this development is very welcome for the longer term viability of the industry. Australia is a relatively high cost producer of mangoes so it will be our high quality product commanding a premium price in USA, which is good news for Australian growers.”

The amended regulations allow Australian mangoes to be imported into the US as long as they have undergone treatment against the fungus cytosphaera mangiferae, including a series of measures specified by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) such as broad-spectrum fungicide treatment and irradiation to ward off the risk of mango seed weevil and fruit flies.

Australian mango shippers will have the option to irradiate the fruit at home or on US soil and APHIS expects Australia to ship roughly 1,200 metric tons (MT) of mangoes to the US annually.

For more information:
Erin Hart
PMA
Tel: +61 3 8844 5536
Email: [email protected]

 

Publication date: 9/24/2013


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