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New Food Police Unit Coming Soon to the United Kingdom

An independent report suggesting that the United Kingdom needs a special food police unit uses the Danes and the Dutch as examples and not the United States, where more than a dozen food industry executives this year have been subjected to investigations resulting in felony criminal charges.

Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast is the author of the report, which looks to the Danish Food Crime Unit, established in 2006, and the Dutch Food Crime Unit, started in 2002, as examples for the U.K. to emulate.

No mention is made in the 146-page report of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 23-year-old Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) or USDA’s investigative units, including the Office of the Inspector General (IG).

The Elliott report stems from Europe’s 2013 horse meat scandal, where organized crime was found to be substituting cheaper equine meat for beef in both fresh and packaged products. The food security professor was named to make independent recommendations aimed at better deterring, identifying and prosecuting food adulteration.

In calling for a new food crime unit, the professor makes it clear that it won’t be for “low grade infraction of the law,” or “harmless minor breach of technical regulations,” but rather for going after “organized crime” where “the profits can be substantial.”

“The government must take action to prevent and deter criminal activity, requiring effective cooperation at a strategic level across the UK, Europe, and internationally,” the Elliott report states.

Many in Europe think that governments were slow to bring prosecutions in the horse meat scandal. It was not until this past spring that four executives were charged in Westminster Magistrates’ Court of breaching food regulations by the Crown Prosecution Services. About a month later, a Dutch businessman was arrested and charged in France in connection with the scandal.

In response the Elliott report, the British government says it will:

  • set up the new Food Crime Unit,
  • ensure a resilient network of food analytical laboratories to test food consistently, and,
  • improve coordination across government to protect food integrity and “tackle food crime.”

How closely the new unit will resemble either the Danish or Dutch examples remains to be seen.

The Danish Food Crime Unit is attached to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and was created after a scandal involving meat being sold after its “use-by” date. It began with six full-time employees and has since expanded to 18 people at three locations in Denmark. Its duties have also expanded to include supplements fraud. It conducts about 16 major investigations per year.

Many Danish investigations involve illegal slaughter and financial fraud. The unit invites anonymous reporting. Unit employees can enter public and private property without warrants, but its investigators have no power to arrest, which means it must also rely on local police.

The Dutch Food Crime Unit is housed in the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, which is jointly sponsored by the Ministrys of Economic Affairs and Public Health. It is one of six divisions and currently has 110 full-time employees, including 90 special investigators. It also employs three forensic accountants who are expert at electronic data processing and whose job it is to mine computers for information. Many of the unit’s employees came from other police agencies.

The Dutch Food Crime Unit’s focus is on international and organized crime.

In the U.S., which is going though some unprecedented criminal prosecutions of food executives, both FDA’s OCI, USDA’s IG, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have played prominent investigative roles in the recent cases.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Food Standards Agency published its response and the final Elliott report on the U.K.’s official website on Sept. 4.  The official title of the independent review is the “Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks—Final Report.”

Food Safety News

California May Soon Require Paid Sick Time for Restaurant Workers and Others

California is poised to become the second state in the country to require paid sick leave for workers, an issue that has serious food safety implications for the restaurant industry.

Under the just-passed legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature (and he has already expressed support), California workers as of July 1, 2015, would be guaranteed at least three paid sick days a year.

More precisely, the bill requires businesses to grant employees one paid hour off for sick time for every 30 hours worked.

“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians,” Brown said in a statement after the bill was passed on Aug. 30. ”This bill guarantees that millions of workers — from Eureka to San Diego — won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”

Campaigners for restaurant worker sick pay say that many employees in the restaurant industry are more likely to work while sick if they do not have the privilege of paid sick time. In turn, sick restaurant workers have a higher chance of causing foodborne illnesses due to their contact with food.

In 2010, 88 percent of restaurant workers in a survey reported not receiving paid sick leave, according to Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC). ROC’s report, “Serving While Sick,” also found that 63 percent of workers reported cooking or serving food while sick at some point.

Another ROC report, “Backed into the Corner,” found that 48 percent of restaurant workers in the Miami-Dade area of Florida reported working while sick at some point, with 11 percent saying they experienced diarrhea or vomiting during a work shift. That report also found that workers were twice as likely to work while sick if they did not have paid sick time.

Once the bill is signed, California would be joining the state of Connecticut and cities such as Washington D.C., Seattle, WA, and Portland, OR, in requiring paid time off for illness.

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) and other business groups have lobbied against paid-sick-time legislation at the state and local level, saying that the one-size-fits-all legislation hurts businesses and threatens jobs.

Groups, including the NRA, have successfully helped pass laws to prevent new local paid-sick-leave legislation in 12 states.

Food Safety News

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit?

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, according to researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13th.

With awareness of what makes these biotechnologies new and different, genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, especially in Europe, they say. This could mean that genetically edited versions of GMOs such as “super bananas” that produce more vitamin A and apples that don’t brown when cut, among other novelties, could be making an appearance on grocery shelves.

“The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more “natural” than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes,” said Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy of Istituto Agrario San Michele in Italy.

For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make. Genome editing of fruit has become possible today due to the advent of new tools — CRISPR, TALEN, and the like — and also because of the extensive and growing knowledge of fruit genomes.

So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops. Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialized in part because of stringent regulation in the European Union (EU). The researchers say that genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified, depending on the interpretation of the EU commission and member state regulators.

Fruit crops are but one example of dozens of possible future applications for genetically edited organisms (GEOs), Kanchiswamy and his colleagues say. That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialization even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy.

“We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMOs,” he said. “Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a “natural” strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit?

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, according to researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13th.

With awareness of what makes these biotechnologies new and different, genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, especially in Europe, they say. This could mean that genetically edited versions of GMOs such as “super bananas” that produce more vitamin A and apples that don’t brown when cut, among other novelties, could be making an appearance on grocery shelves.

“The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more “natural” than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes,” said Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy of Istituto Agrario San Michele in Italy.

For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make. Genome editing of fruit has become possible today due to the advent of new tools — CRISPR, TALEN, and the like — and also because of the extensive and growing knowledge of fruit genomes.

So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops. Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialized in part because of stringent regulation in the European Union (EU). The researchers say that genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified, depending on the interpretation of the EU commission and member state regulators.

Fruit crops are but one example of dozens of possible future applications for genetically edited organisms (GEOs), Kanchiswamy and his colleagues say. That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialization even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy.

“We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMOs,” he said. “Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a “natural” strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit?

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, according to researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13th.

With awareness of what makes these biotechnologies new and different, genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, especially in Europe, they say. This could mean that genetically edited versions of GMOs such as “super bananas” that produce more vitamin A and apples that don’t brown when cut, among other novelties, could be making an appearance on grocery shelves.

“The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more “natural” than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes,” said Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy of Istituto Agrario San Michele in Italy.

For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make. Genome editing of fruit has become possible today due to the advent of new tools — CRISPR, TALEN, and the like — and also because of the extensive and growing knowledge of fruit genomes.

So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops. Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialized in part because of stringent regulation in the European Union (EU). The researchers say that genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified, depending on the interpretation of the EU commission and member state regulators.

Fruit crops are but one example of dozens of possible future applications for genetically edited organisms (GEOs), Kanchiswamy and his colleagues say. That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialization even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy.

“We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMOs,” he said. “Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a “natural” strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Coming soon: Genetically edited fruit?

Recent advances that allow the precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, according to researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13th.

With awareness of what makes these biotechnologies new and different, genetically edited fruits might be met with greater acceptance by society at large than genetically modified organisms (GMOs) so far have been, especially in Europe, they say. This could mean that genetically edited versions of GMOs such as “super bananas” that produce more vitamin A and apples that don’t brown when cut, among other novelties, could be making an appearance on grocery shelves.

“The simple avoidance of introducing foreign genes makes genetically edited crops more “natural” than transgenic crops obtained by inserting foreign genes,” said Chidananda Nagamangala Kanchiswamy of Istituto Agrario San Michele in Italy.

For instance, changes to the characteristics of fruit might be made via small genetic tweaks designed to increase or decrease the amounts of natural ingredients that their plant cells already make. Genome editing of fruit has become possible today due to the advent of new tools — CRISPR, TALEN, and the like — and also because of the extensive and growing knowledge of fruit genomes.

So far, editing tools have not been applied to the genetic modification of fruit crops. Most transgenic fruit crop plants have been developed using a plant bacterium to introduce foreign genes, and only papaya has been commercialized in part because of stringent regulation in the European Union (EU). The researchers say that genetically edited plants, modified through the insertion, deletion, or altering of existing genes of interest, might even be deemed as nongenetically modified, depending on the interpretation of the EU commission and member state regulators.

Fruit crops are but one example of dozens of possible future applications for genetically edited organisms (GEOs), Kanchiswamy and his colleagues say. That would open the door to the development of crops with superior qualities and perhaps allow their commercialization even in countries in which GMOs have so far met with harsh criticism and controversy.

“We would like people to understand that crop breeding through biotechnology is not restricted only to GMOs,” he said. “Transfer of foreign genes was the first step to improve our crops, but GEOs will surge as a “natural” strategy to use biotechnology for a sustainable agricultural future.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

China may be open again soon to California citrus

China has been a $ 75 million to $ 80 million market for California citrus, and growing, but in April 2013 Chinese officials closed access to the Chinese market for California citrus after a plant disease called phytophthora, commonly known as brown rot, was detected on several different loads of fruit.

Since then, the California industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been working with China in an effort to re-open the market, and California Citrus Mutual President Joel Nelsen was optimistic that those efforts may be about to pay off.

“I am feeling pretty good about it,” he told The Produce News May 20, following an announcement that USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has reached an agreement with its counterpart agency in China on an export protocol.

Nelsen said he was also optimistic last November when “we thought we had an agreement to reopen the market” just before the start of the California Navel season. But “problems developed” and it didn’t happen. “As a result, the Navel orange industry lost the whole export season for the 2013-14 crop year.”

But “to their credit, USDA continued to persevere and continued to challenge China on the obstacles that they were placing in our way,” he said. In April, APHIS officials traveled to China and reached a “tentative agreement” with Chinese officials “on what the industry is obligated to do.”

In June, a Chinese delegation will visit California to review the California citrus industry’s field and packinghouse operations and how enforcement and documentation will be carried out, “and thus assure themselves” that the protocols in the agreement will actually be carried out.

Pursuant to that visit, “the goal is for them to announce in early July that the market will be reopened in time for some summer exports of Valencia oranges and lemons” and well in advance of the Navel export season, which typically starts in December, Nelsen said.

The Chinese delegation will be visiting production areas in Ventura County and in the San Joaquin Valley. “We will take them to packinghouses. We will take them to groves. We will let them visit with the county commissioners, because that is a system unique to California that affords better enforcement of these trade protocols,” he said.

Before the market closed a year ago, China was the third-largest export market for California citrus, following South Korea and Japan. Navels are the state’s leading citrus export item to China, followed by lemons and “to some degree” Valencias, he said.

In compliance with the agreed protocol, California citrus growers will be skirting, or trimming, the trees higher above the ground than has been standard practice.

“We do that as a normal practice because of other pest issues,” Nelson said. “But they want them skirted a little higher for export, so we are going to do that. We are also going to be managing a spray program,” using a benign copper spray that “provides a good shield against the [phytophthera] bacteria manifesting themselves onto the fruit.”

The spray schedule will be based upon climatic conditions.

The industry will continue to handle fruit at the packinghouses using “our traditional post-harvest materials,” he said.

China has not previously recognized the efficacy of those materials, but has now agreed to do so.

Finally, “we’ve got to inspect the fruit, both in the field and at the packinghouse, to a greater degree than what we are doing,” he said. “All of that is manageable, and we are more than happy to do it to satisfy the concerns from China.”

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

Grapefruit shipments out of Israel to start soon

Grapefruit shipments out of Israel to start soon

Several crops out of Israel, including red grapefruit, started shipping to Europe, and growers are expecting steady to good markets for most of them.

“The first loads of red grapefruit are already available since last week,” said Mehadrin’s Tomer Ezra. Mehadrin sends most of their shipments to Western Europe, though there will be also shipments to Eastern Europe and Russia.

“We’ll have good volumes of fruit this season,” said Ezra. “More than last year because it looks like there is just more fruit on the trees.” He also expects fruit sizes to be more on the larger end of the spectrum, though he also expects to have sufficient quantities for customers wanting smaller sizes. While good volumes are expected, he noted that the season, as it typically does, will get off to a slow start.

“We had a holiday this week, so we’ll start the season slow,” said Ezra. “But we should get up to full capacity in next week.” While prices will not reach the levels seen last year due to good amounts of South African fruit still left in storage, Ezra believes they will get adequate returns, despite increased competition from Turkey. “Anyway while prices will be under pressure from South African fruit at the outset, I think they’ll even out later in the season.”

Sweetie Fruit
Israeli growers will start to ship sweetie fruit this week, and just like the former, Ezra sees good signs for the latter. He noted that fruit in the field looks good, so quality of fruit in the market, when it ships in one week, will also likely be good. “Normally, this is a big product in Eastern European markets, so they are waiting eagerly for the shipments,” said Ezra. “Good quality will likely bring good prices, so we’re anticipating a nice season there.”


Avocados

Also on the slate of crops that will soon depart Israeli fields bound for European markets are avocados. For them, it’s much of the same situation as the two aforementioned products: a slow start that will give way to a good season. As of now, Ezra said they’re waiting for approval from government authorities that oil levels are high enough so they can ship their avocados. They’re expecting that to happen within the next two weeks. “The indications from the field are that we’ll have more avocados than last year,” said Ezra.


Dates
The Medjool date harvest is still ongoing, and Ezra described a season with lots of smaller sizes, which he said is good for customers who like to get creative with their packaging.

“Every year we try to offer value-added packaging to our customers, and having smaller fruit means we have more alternatives as to how we can present that packaging,” said Ezra. “All in all, this has been another good year because quality has been good and prices have been stable, so dates have been a good business.”

For more information:
Mehadrin
Tel: +31 180 642 570
Fax:  +31 180 642 571
Email: [email protected]
www.mehadrin.co.il
 

Publication date: 9/23/2013


FreshPlaza.com

AU: Cherry exports to China could open up soon

AU: Cherry exports to China could open up soon

Mainland cherry growers could be able to export cherries to China as early as this season. Tasmanian growers sent their first shipment of cherries to China last year, but mainland growers were excluded because their fruit is exposed to Queensland fruit fly.

Andrew Gartrell, from the New South Wales Cherry Growers Association, says government talks are underway in Canberra this week to try to finalise a deal.

“Talking around the data and the reality of a workable air freight protocol, which may include fumigation or a radiation,” he said. “Something a bit different to the cold treatment protocols which have dogged current discussions and we should get some feedback from that over the next few days.”

“It’s not impossible that the growers may access the market this season but probably, more realistically, in one to two years we would have access to that market.”

Source: abc.net.au

Publication date: 8/7/2013


FreshPlaza.com