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News for March 16, 2010

PepsiCo: No Sugary Drinks in World Schools

(CBS/AP)  PepsiCo plans to remove sugary drinks from schools worldwide, following the success of programs in the U.S. aimed at cutting down on childhood obesity.

The company said Tuesday it will remove full-calorie, sweetened drinks from schools in more than 200 countries by 2012, marking the first such move by a major soft drink producer.

In primary schools, that means PepsiCo Inc. will sell only water, fat-free or low-fat milk, and juice with no added sugar. In secondary schools, it will sell those drinks along with low-calorie soft drinks, such as Diet Pepsi, which has zero calories. Sports drinks are permissible when they're sold to students participating in sports or other physical activities.

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The Femivore’s Dilemma

Four women I know — none of whom know one another — are building chicken coops in their backyards. It goes without saying that they already raise organic produce: my town, Berkeley, Calif., is the Vatican of locavorism, the high church of Alice Waters. Kitchen gardens are as much a given here as indoor plumbing. But chickens? That ups the ante. Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird.

All of these gals — these chicks with chicks — are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper. “Prior to this, I felt like my choices were either to break the glass ceiling or to accept the gilded cage,” says Shannon Hayes, a grass-fed-livestock farmer in upstate New York and author of “Radical Homemakers,” a manifesto for “tomato-canning feminists,” which was published last month.

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Animal registry ruling lauded

AUSTIN — Opponents of a national animal registry say their efforts have been buoyed by a ruling in favor of an Amish farmer who refused to register his property under Wisconsin’s mandatory premises registration law.

The ruling presents another setback in efforts by agribusiness and technology companies to implement a national animal registry that would penalize farmers, said Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA), based here.

The ruling came after U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the agency was abandoning the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) in favor of a new framework.

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Mega-dairies: Farming solution or big problem?

(CNN) -- The plan for Britain's first "factory farm" for cows has stirred up the debate on the future of farming in Europe.

Similar "feedlot" dairies are commonplace in the U.S., but plans for a complex housing up to 8,100 cows in England is the first proposal on such a large scale in Western Europe. It is still far from clear whether they will be accepted on a continent increasingly obsessed with where its food comes from.

There's a certain irony in the timing: Nocton Dairies has submitted its application to open the huge industrial dairy just as the anti-industrial farming movie "Food Inc." opens in cinemas across the UK.

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Alaska cheese makers seeking lesser regulations

Alaska's small dairy producers are seeking exemptions in proposed regulations that appear to be geared for the industrial scale.

The Legislature's regulation review committee heard from dairy processors and small-scale dairy farmers Monday. They say the rules appear too burdensome and stifle an already meager commercial potential.

Kristin Ryan, head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation's division covering sanitary food, defended the new regulations as accessible. She said three operations -- of which two are "mom-and-pop" farmers -- have already been permitted under the proposed regulations, albeit with compromises.

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Lax oversight of animal protection rules at slaughterhouses probed by lawmakers

FRESNO, Calif. — The knives at the slaughterhouse weren't properly sanitized, a government investigator said, and employees at the meatpacking plant didn't know how to test the carcasses of days-old veal calves for a dangerous pathogen. Food safety conditions were so poor at the Vermont processing facility that it should close before someone got sick, officials warned.

Instead, the plant stayed open for months. It wasn't until an undercover video surfaced with images of calves being kicked, dragged and skinned alive that the federal government ordered Bushway Packing Inc. to close last November for the inhumane treatment of animals.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at that time called the abuse "inexcusable," and vowed to redouble efforts to enforce laws aimed at protecting farm animals.

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US One of Top Five Food Safety Violators

(LONDON / SALEM) - A new global monitoring tool identifies the United States as one of the top five worst food safety offenders in the world. We take rank with China, Turkey, Iran, and Spain.

This extensive integrated network was designed by Kingston University researchers to offer an instant snapshot of the state of food safety around the world.

The rankings were established through electronic tracking of countries that issue the most food safety alerts and those that produce the greatest number of faulty or contaminated foods.

Findings based on contamination levels collected between 2003 and 2008 identified China as the number one food safety threat.

The comprehensive system was unveiled in February at a meeting of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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