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Consumers Urged to Go Antibiotic-Free With Their Thanksgiving Turkey

Public health advocates are calling on consumers to go antibiotic-free with their traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Earlier this week, the Pew Charitable Trusts posted its three reasons to buy a Thanksgiving turkey raised without antibiotics — the main one being that consumers can influence food producers to curb the overuse of antibiotics in livestock raised for food by “voting with their wallets.”

The concern is not with antibiotic residue — something for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects — but that overuse of antibiotics on farms contributes to the rise in antibiotic-resistant bugs, foodborne and otherwise.

This is not the first year such groups have made the plea. Last November, set against the backdrop of the outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg linked to Foster Farms brand chicken that sickened 634 people, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggested that Americans choose USDA Organic or turkey sold under a “No Antibiotics Administered” label.

This year, healthcare professionals are also taking a stance on antibiotics used on farms. The Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society and the Sharing Antimicrobial Reports for Pediatric Stewardship (SHARPS) group created a pledge for pharmacists and physicians to “Celebrate Thanksgiving this year by purchasing (or encouraging my Thanksgiving host to purchase) a turkey raised without the routine use of antibiotics” and to educate the food service managers at their healthcare facilities about antibiotic stewardship and discuss the importance of purchasing meat raised without the routine use of antibiotics.

Over the summer, Cargill announced that it would stop using antibiotics for growth promotion in raising its turkeys. While not agreeing to go entirely antibiotic-free — the drugs will still be used for treating illnesses and for disease prevention — the company became the first major U.S. turkey producer to have a USDA Process Verified program for no antibiotics used for growth promotion.

Cargill stated that its Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms brand turkeys would be available without the growth-promoting antibiotics this Thanksgiving and that all of the company’s flocks will be raised without growth-promoting antibiotics by the end of 2015.

Some advocates, such as Steven Roach, a senior analyst with Keep Antibiotics Working, have argued that Cargill’s changes aren’t enough. He told Food Safety News this past summer that he wanted the company to show more commitment to reducing overall antibiotic use by tracking the amount used before and after the end of growth promotion.

As with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guidance #213, which phases out the use of the drugs for certain uses, there are concerns that antibiotic use won’t decrease because it will simply be labeled as “disease prevention” in place of “growth promotion.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

Food Safety Issues Making Their Way to 2015 Legislative Agendas

Legislators and the rest of the policy crowd that hang out in the state capitols are again coming in for the unsolicited advice from the national editorial writers who want to influence processes on a variety of topics, including food safety.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is warning policy makers against turning the clock back “to the 1020s” when it comes to making raw milk more widely available.

In an editorial published Nov. 18, the newspaper points to the potluck dinner this September for a western Wisconsin football team that left 38 attendees sickened from the consumption of raw milk.

“Wisconsin has been at the heart of a heated debate over raw milk,” the editorial says. “The state allows limited incidental sales, but generally prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk, which may carry bacteria that causes food-borne illnesses. But some advocates want broader access to unprocessed milk, arguing that raw milk contains beneficial bacteria that they claim are killed by pasteurization—when milk is heated to kill pathogens.”

In the four years since former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed a bill allowing commercial sales of raw milk in the state, there has rarely been a time when someone in the Legislature has not been ready with another bill. However, a broad coalition from Wisconsin’s $ 30 billion pasteurized dairy industry and the state’s public health advocates have held off the raw milk advocates in Madison.

It’s just one of the sort of food safety policy debates that could erupt once most state legislative bodies assemble early in 2015. Nebraska’s Lincoln Star newspaper delivered a Nov. 19 message clearly intended for the state’s Unicameral. It says Nebraska’s “modern agriculture needs to do a better job of presenting itself to the world.”

“Too often, the reaction in farm country has been to try to shut out consumers, using tactics like ‘ag-gag’ laws with new criminal penalties for crusaders to trespass on our farmland,” the Star’s editorial writers say.

Last week’s state house elections saw the Republicans “run the table,” according to the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. When the nation’s legislative bodies are called into session in 2015, there will be at least 952 more Republicans holding power in those state houses than Democrats.

According to NCSL, Republicans took away the majorities in 11 legislative chambers previously held by the Democrats. These include the: Colorado Senate, Maine Senate, Minnesota House, Nevada Assembly, Nevada Senate, New Hampshire House, New York Senate, New Mexico House, Washington State Senate, West Virginia House and West Virginia House.

When, after the 2010 elections, the GOP’s lead in legislative seats topped 600, it was considered historic. With some counting still occurring, Republicans are certain of a pickup in the 350-seat range. They have not had that kind of dominance since the 1920s.

The GOP holds both the House and Senate in 30 states, and holds a single legislative chamber in eight other states. Democrats hold both bodies in 11 states, and split with the GOP the opposite chambers in those other eight states.

Republicans picked up the Governor’s mansions in Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, but lost Pennsylvania and Alaska for a net pickup of two, taking the number of GOP chief executives to 31, the most by any party in 16 years.

The count leaves 18 Democratic governors and one independent. And one other measure—Republicans control it all, both legislative chambers and the governor’s office in 23 states, compared to just seven for the Democrats.

Since 2010, a couple dozen bills have been introduced attempting to impose penalties for taking pictures or making videos of agricultural facilities without permission. About handful of states have adopted them, and they’ve come to be known as ‘ag-gag’ laws for their effect.

At a University of Nebraska –Lincoln policy conference held ahead of 2015 session of the state’s unicameral, the only one of its kind in the country, the Star said the food and agriculture sectors were told they’d do best for their brands if they listened to people and remained transparent.

And in Wisconsin, the Journal-Sentinel said the state’s problem is not that raw milk is not sold commercially, it is that when the on-the-farm products make 26 people sick and sends ten to area hospitals, the Department of Agriculture sill is not required to tell the public the name of the supplier.

The Star reported the Nebraska policy conference addressed “truths about science, emotion, the media, and food that should be taken to heart at farm country.”

Food Safety News

US: Northwest apple farmers scramble to save last of their fruit

US: Northwest apple farmers scramble to save last of their fruit

An Arctic air mass has swept into the Northwest. Cold air and snow are expected from central Washington through central Oregon and even into Idaho’s central Panhandle.

Workers at Broetje Orchards in southeast Washington pulled some midnight shifts lately to try and save the last of the apples from the recent Arctic air.

That means farmers in the region are rushing to harvest the last of their apples before the fruit freezes.

In southeast Washington, Joe Shelton manages one of the world’s largest fruit orchards. He said few things are colder than a picking bag full of 30 pounds of 30-degree fruit strapped close to your body.

This week, Shelton has been running crews until midnight trying to save the last of the orchard’s Fujis and Braeburns. All together, Shelton said about 30,000 boxes of apples will probably rot on the trees.

“It’s hard, everyone is kind of deflated, ‘cause we’ve all worked so hard,” Shelton said. “Even all the guys that we have out there picking, it’s like a week shorter of harvest, they could have made another week’s wages. You just hate to see them hanging out there and going to nothing.”

Once apples freeze, they can’t go to the fresh market. And Shelton said juice prices are so low this year it doesn’t pay to pick them.

Source: boisestatepublicradio.org

Publication date: 11/14/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Organic vs. Conventional: Pundits Are Welcome to Their Own Opinion, But Not Their Own Facts

Because Food Safety News holds an important perspective in the industry, I was surprised to see the website publish a commentary by Mr. Mischa Popoff.

Mr. Popoff has spent the last few years promoting his self-published book, Is It Organic.  He has made irresponsible and unsupported claims that 80 percent of all organic food in North America is imported and riddled with fraud — a grave disservice to the hard-working organic farmers in this country and their loyal customers.

The subtitle of his book says it all: The Inside Story of Who Destroyed the Organic Industry, Turned It into a Socialist Movement and Made Million$ in the Process, and a Comprehensive History of Farming, Warfare and Western Civilization from 1645 to the Present.

Whoa Nelly!  If you connect the dots, by looking at the other issues that Mr. Popoff writes about, and commonly published on ultraconservative websites (challenging climate change, defending genetically engineered food production, challenging the efficacy of hybrid automobiles and even parenting issues) you would have to conclude that organic food is a component of some kind of Bolshevik plot to take over this country.

He joins the father and son team of Dennis and Alex Avery, of the Hudson Institute, in taking every opportunity to denigrate the reputation of organics.  Many of the think tanks that support the Averys, and now Popoff, have received funding from Monsanto, DuPont and other interests in the agrochemical and biotechnology industries.  Companies that produce farm chemicals and genetically engineered seed quite rightfully might be concerned by the growing competition stemming from the shift to eating organically by consumers.

I encourage you to read The Cornucopia Institute’s backgrounder, Who Is Misha Popoff.

Popoff has had almost no exposure in the mainstream media here in the U.S., so it is disturbing to find his byline on Food Safety News. 

There is no factual basis for his thesis, articulated in his op-ed, that somehow organic food is more dangerous than conventional food and that the basis of the problem is the lack of testing for pathogenic contamination.

It is incumbent on all farmers and food producers to follow basic food safety protocols.  The organic law prescribes a set of standards for farmers and food processors.  Organic production is subject to the same regulatory protocols prescribed by the USDA and FDA and any applicable state and local laws.

In addition, Popoff’s essay includes the following inaccurate and misleading information:

1.      His claim that, “over 25 years of research has failed to find any harm from GM technology,” is patently false.  There’s been virtually no human health testing (not required by the federal government) and there have been almost no lifetime trials on laboratory animals (just short term studies).  Furthermore, there is a growing body of peer-reviewed, published scientific literature pointing to some significant abnormalities in laboratory animals and livestock being fed genetically modified feed.

Consumers choosing to eat organically are exercising caution by operating under the “Precautionary Principle.”

2.      He suggests that any organic food contaminated with pathogens should not be allowed to be certified as organic.  This is a specious argument because any food, organic or conventional, contaminated with dangerous pathogens should not be marketed for human consumption, period.

3.      He uses the example of a prior outbreak of contaminated bean sprouts in Europe as a model of organic production protocols run amok.  And he suggests that contaminated water might have been a factor.  However, producing bean sprouts is a high risk enterprise, be they organic or conventional, and using tested, potable water is universally a regulatory requirement.Most problems with contaminated bean sprouts, as the example he cited in Germany, are thought to emanate from contaminated seed which, again, is a hazard for organic and conventional production alike.  There is nothing inherently more dangerous about organic bean sprouts than conventional.

4.      His claim that organic food consumption in the United States is about 1 percent of the market is inaccurate.  I have seen authoritative reports pegging it at 3 to 4 percent with some commodities, like organic milk, being at about 6 percent, and fruits and vegetables significantly higher than that.  These numbers are based on market studies by the USDA, the Organic Trade Association and published by respected trade journals in the produce industry.

5.      He suggests that the director of the USDA’s National Organic Program, Miles McEvoy, took it upon himself to institute random testing for agrochemical contamination in organics.  The truth is that this testing requirement was part of the Organic Foods Production Act passed by Congress.  Pressure from The Cornucopia Institute, Consumers Union and other advocacy groups prompted an investigation by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General as to why testing had not been implemented as required by law.

6.      The cost of testing, sample collection and transportation requirements (sometimes refrigerated) for chemical residues and pathogens, as suggested by Mr. Popoff, on 100 percent of organic operations, would greatly increase the cost of organic food.  Cornucopia supports the 5 percent , annual, random testing requirement.  At this rate, the USDA will conduct over five times as many audits as the IRS currently conducts.  It is a prudent adjunct to the established rigorous annual inspection of both organic farms and facilities and all documents pertaining to organic management.

In closing, the fundamental precept of Mr. Popoff’s attempt to challenge the credibility of organic food production is flawed.  Organic food is subject to the same standards of cleanliness, and regulatory safeguards, as any other food in the market, imported or domestic. 

There is a history of inexcusable neglect during this presidential administration and prior administrations in the execution of food safety laws to protect U.S. citizens.  And Congress has been grossly remiss in failing to adequately fund the infrastructure and inspectors in the field, especially in scrutinizing imported food.  We should demand excellence from our government in this regard and we certainly are not getting it.           

Again, we respect the important journalism being done at Food Safety News, in putting pressure on the food industry and government to, literally, clean up its act.  Publishing Mr. Popoff’s opinion piece was an unfortunate aberration.

 

Food Safety News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Will customers trust you with their data?

It’s tempting to think of customer data as the new oil.

Combined with advanced analytics, it offers the promise of a truly personalized marketing that both increases effectiveness and eliminates waste. As the rumored $ 3.2 billion valuation of Tesco’s data analysis business Dunnhumby has shown, retailers (and supermarkets in particular) are a valuable source of this data.

Retailers can take a number of practicial steps to earn customers' trust, but the first step must be data security.But customer data isn’t a natural resource. It’s generated by people. And as our connectivity increases, so does our awareness of the data being collected and the erosion of our privacy. With customers increasingly seeking more control over the data they share and with whom, retailers will need to demonstrate to customers that they can be trusted with their data.

There are a number of practical steps that spring to mind:

  1. Make sure you are using the data you already have to improve the customer experience, so it’s clear to customers what value they are receiving in return.
  2. Give your customers more control over their data: Let them opt in, for example, rather than have to opt out, and be very clear what they are opting into.
  3. Only collect the data that’s essential to deliver the benefit to customers, again making clear why you need it.

However, the initial step has to be data security. With the recent spate of high profile data breaches, customers need to be reassured that you take the protection of their data seriously.

While data security can seem a very technical and legal issue, it’s underpinned by a question of mindset. If you view customer data as a commodity, then it’s something to be extracted from customers and traded … and customers will be wary.

But if you view access to customer data as a privilege, then it’s something to be earned and protected … and you’ll inspire more confidence among your customers.

What approach does your business take?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at www.simonuwins.com.

Supermarket News

Are meal solution stores on their way?

During our recent travels to Amsterdam, we had a chance to visit a unique retail concept called Bilder & DeClerq.

Each recipe includes all of the portion-controlled ingredients.Each day, the store offers 14 recipes, complete with all of the ingredients that one would need to prepare that recipe. And by all, we mean that each ingredient is available, portion controlled, so there is no waste. Preparation time for most dishes is around 30 minutes, and the company makes a point of actively searching our local and sustainable ingredients.

In addition to the recipe stations, the remainder of the store features a small café, cooking demonstration area and curated specialty foods products that can help complete a meal.

There are currently two of these locations in Amsterdam and they just recently added a “recipe wall” at the new Google headquarters in Amsterdam, where employees can scan a recipe and have the package delivered to their office.

Bilder & DeClerq features recipe stations at two locations.While it’s always fascinating to visit concepts abroad, it is not always clear how easily they might translate to the U.S. market. Bilder & DeClerq still leaves the extra step of making it at home and perhaps the inconvenience of a separate stop outweighs the benefit of being a specialist.

In any case, it is an eye opener and idea generator. Back home in the U.S., others are working on variations here as well. Fast-growing web start-ups like Plated and Blue Apron offer essentially the same proposition as a Bilder & DeClerq with the ingredients shipped directly to your home.

What these ideas have in common is the idea that convenience and solutions can be taken a step further than most supermarkets have done today. Publix does this today with their long-running Aprons program, which offers customers both added convenience and meal inspiration.

Maybe there will be a new wave of competition in the future going after the “meal solutions.” Or, maybe it outlines an opportunity to rethink how supermarkets present these solutions to their customers.

Are meal stores the wave of the future or a new business opportunity?

Supermarket News

Plants prepackage beneficial microbes in their seeds

Plants have a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria. These ‘commensal’ bacteria help the pants extract nutrients and defend against invaders — an important step in preventing pathogens from contaminating fruits and vegetables. Now, scientists have discovered that plants may package their commensal bacteria inside of seeds; thus ensuring that sprouting plants are colonized from the beginning. The researchers, from the University of Notre Dame, presented their findings at the 5th ASM Conference on Beneficial Microbes.

Plants play host to a wide variety of bacteria; the plant microbiome. Just as in humans, the plant microbiome is shaped by the types of bacteria that successfully colonize the plant’s ecosystem. Most of these bacteria are symbiotic, drawing from and providing for the plant in ways such as nitrogen-fixing and leaf-protection. Pathogenic bacteria may also colonize a plant. Pathogens can include viruses and bacteria that damage the plant itself or bacteria like the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli O104:H4. In 2011, Germany, France and the Netherlands experienced an outbreak of E. coli that was ultimately traced to the consumption of contaminated sprouts, which was thought to be caused by feral pigs in the growing area. Such opportunistic contamination is hard to guard against as most growing takes place in open, outdoor spaces with little opportunity for control.

The hypothesis behind this research is that the best way to defend against pathogenic contamination is with a healthy microbiome colonized by bacteria provide protection from invasive pathogens. Just as with babies, early colonization is crucial to establishing a beneficial microbiome. The researchers, led by Dr. Shaun Lee, looked inside sterilized mung beans and were able to isolate a unique strain of Bacillus pumilus that provides the bean with enhanced microbial protection.

“This was a genuine curiosity that my colleague and I had about whether commensal bacteria could be found in various plant sources, including seed supplies” said Dr. Lee. “The fact that we could isolate and grow a bacterium that was packaged inside a seed was quite surprising.”

The researchers first sterilized and tested the outer portion of a sealed, whole seed. When that was determined to be sterile, they sampled and plated the interior of the seeds and placed them in bacterial agar, which they incubated. What they found was the new strain of Bacillus pumilus, a unique, highly motile Gram-positive bacterium capable of colonizing the mung bean plant without causing any harm. Genome sequencing revealed that the isolated B. pumilus contained three unique gene clusters for the production of antimicrobial peptide compounds known as bacteriocins.

Dr. Lee and his colleagues theorize that their findings could have a wide impact, both on our understanding of plants and in creating food-safe antimicrobials. The finding that plant seeds can be pre-colonized may be an important mechanism by which a beneficial plant microbiome is established and sustained. Moreover, the team is now isolating and studying the bacteriocins, which Dr. Lee says “have tremendous potential.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Rotation-resistant rootworms owe their success to gut microbes

June 24, 2013 — Researchers say they now know what allows some Western corn rootworms to survive crop rotation, a farming practice that once effectively managed the rootworm pests. The answer to the decades-long mystery of rotation-resistant rootworms lies — in large part — in the rootworm gut, the team reports.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Differences in the relative abundance of certain bacterial species in the rootworm gut help the adult rootworm beetles feed on soybean leaves and tolerate the plant’s defenses a little better, the researchers report. This boost in digestive finesse allows rotation-resistant beetles to survive long enough to lay their eggs in soybean fields. Their larvae emerge the following spring and feast on the roots of newly planted corn.

“These insects, they have only one generation per year,” said University of Illinois entomology department senior scientist Manfredo Seufferheld, who led the study. “And yet within a period of about 20 years in Illinois they became resistant to crop rotation. What allowed this insect to adapt so fast? These bacteria, perhaps.”

Controlling rootworms is an expensive concern faced by all Midwest corn growers, said study co-author Joseph Spencer, an insect behaviorist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (part of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I.). Yield losses, the use of insecticides and corn hybrids engineered to express rootworm-killing toxins in their tissues cost U.S. growers at least $ 1 billion a year.

In a 2012 study, Seufferheld, Spencer and their colleagues reported that rotation-resistant rootworm beetles were better able than their nonresistant counterparts to tolerate the defensive chemicals produced in soybeans leaves. This allowed the beetles to feed more and survive longer on soybean plants. The researchers found that levels of key digestive enzymes differed significantly between the rotation-resistant and nonresistant rootworms, but differences in the expression of the genes encoding these enzymes did not fully explain the rotation-resistant beetles’ advantage. Seufferheld and his colleagues thought that microbes in the rootworms’ guts might be helping them better tolerate life in a soybean field.

To test this hypothesis, graduate student Chia-Ching Chu analyzed the population of microbes living in the guts of rootworm beetles collected from seven sites across the Midwest. Some of these sites (including Piper City, Ill.) are hot spots of rotation-resistance and others (in Nebraska and northwest Missouri, for example) lack evidence of rotation-resistant rootworms.

Chu found significant and consistent differences in the relative abundance of various types of bacteria in the guts of rotation-resistant and nonresistant rootworms (see graphic). These differences corresponded to differing activity levels of digestive enzymes in their guts and to their ability to tolerate soybean plant defenses.

The researchers found other parallels between the composition of gut microbes and the life history of the rootworms. The beetles’ gut microbial structure corresponded to the insects’ level of activity (rotation-resistant rootworms are usually more active), and also paralleled — in a graduated fashion — the plant diversity of the landscapes they inhabited. (Rotation-resistant rootworms are most abundant in regions where rotated corn and soybean fields are the dominant components of the agricultural landscape.)

To determine whether the microbes were in fact giving the rotation-resistant beetles an advantage, the researchers dosed the beetles with antibiotics. Low-level exposure to antibiotics had no effect on any of the beetles, but at higher doses the rotation-resistant beetles’ survival time on soybean leaves fell to that of the nonresistant beetles. Antibiotics also lowered the activity of digestive enzymes in the rotation-resistant beetles’ guts to that of their nonresistant counterparts.

The message of the research, Seufferheld said, is that the gut microbes are not just passive residents of the rootworm gut.

“They are very active players in the adaptation of the insect,” he said. “The microbial community acts as a versatile multicellular organ.”

“It’s not just the rootworm that we have to worry about,” Spencer said. “There’s really this whole conspiracy between the rootworm and its co-conspirators in the gut that can respond fairly quickly, relatively speaking, to the assaults that they face.”

The research team also included former postdoctoral researcher Jorge Zavala (now a professor at the University of Buenos Aires) and graduate student Matias Curzi.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Rotation-resistant rootworms owe their success to gut microbes

June 24, 2013 — Researchers say they now know what allows some Western corn rootworms to survive crop rotation, a farming practice that once effectively managed the rootworm pests. The answer to the decades-long mystery of rotation-resistant rootworms lies — in large part — in the rootworm gut, the team reports.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Differences in the relative abundance of certain bacterial species in the rootworm gut help the adult rootworm beetles feed on soybean leaves and tolerate the plant’s defenses a little better, the researchers report. This boost in digestive finesse allows rotation-resistant beetles to survive long enough to lay their eggs in soybean fields. Their larvae emerge the following spring and feast on the roots of newly planted corn.

“These insects, they have only one generation per year,” said University of Illinois entomology department senior scientist Manfredo Seufferheld, who led the study. “And yet within a period of about 20 years in Illinois they became resistant to crop rotation. What allowed this insect to adapt so fast? These bacteria, perhaps.”

Controlling rootworms is an expensive concern faced by all Midwest corn growers, said study co-author Joseph Spencer, an insect behaviorist at the Illinois Natural History Survey (part of the Prairie Research Institute at the U. of I.). Yield losses, the use of insecticides and corn hybrids engineered to express rootworm-killing toxins in their tissues cost U.S. growers at least $ 1 billion a year.

In a 2012 study, Seufferheld, Spencer and their colleagues reported that rotation-resistant rootworm beetles were better able than their nonresistant counterparts to tolerate the defensive chemicals produced in soybeans leaves. This allowed the beetles to feed more and survive longer on soybean plants. The researchers found that levels of key digestive enzymes differed significantly between the rotation-resistant and nonresistant rootworms, but differences in the expression of the genes encoding these enzymes did not fully explain the rotation-resistant beetles’ advantage. Seufferheld and his colleagues thought that microbes in the rootworms’ guts might be helping them better tolerate life in a soybean field.

To test this hypothesis, graduate student Chia-Ching Chu analyzed the population of microbes living in the guts of rootworm beetles collected from seven sites across the Midwest. Some of these sites (including Piper City, Ill.) are hot spots of rotation-resistance and others (in Nebraska and northwest Missouri, for example) lack evidence of rotation-resistant rootworms.

Chu found significant and consistent differences in the relative abundance of various types of bacteria in the guts of rotation-resistant and nonresistant rootworms (see graphic). These differences corresponded to differing activity levels of digestive enzymes in their guts and to their ability to tolerate soybean plant defenses.

The researchers found other parallels between the composition of gut microbes and the life history of the rootworms. The beetles’ gut microbial structure corresponded to the insects’ level of activity (rotation-resistant rootworms are usually more active), and also paralleled — in a graduated fashion — the plant diversity of the landscapes they inhabited. (Rotation-resistant rootworms are most abundant in regions where rotated corn and soybean fields are the dominant components of the agricultural landscape.)

To determine whether the microbes were in fact giving the rotation-resistant beetles an advantage, the researchers dosed the beetles with antibiotics. Low-level exposure to antibiotics had no effect on any of the beetles, but at higher doses the rotation-resistant beetles’ survival time on soybean leaves fell to that of the nonresistant beetles. Antibiotics also lowered the activity of digestive enzymes in the rotation-resistant beetles’ guts to that of their nonresistant counterparts.

The message of the research, Seufferheld said, is that the gut microbes are not just passive residents of the rootworm gut.

“They are very active players in the adaptation of the insect,” he said. “The microbial community acts as a versatile multicellular organ.”

“It’s not just the rootworm that we have to worry about,” Spencer said. “There’s really this whole conspiracy between the rootworm and its co-conspirators in the gut that can respond fairly quickly, relatively speaking, to the assaults that they face.”

The research team also included former postdoctoral researcher Jorge Zavala (now a professor at the University of Buenos Aires) and graduate student Matias Curzi.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News