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News for May 25, 2010

FDA needs more clout to make food supply safer

The Food and Drug Administration needs greater authority, more cooperation from other agencies and must do more scientific research to help make the U.S. food supply safer, the General Accountability Office said on Monday.

The FDA also needs to do more to help consumers navigate the maze of food supplements on the market and requires more power to regulate them, the GAO said.

READ MORE (Reuters) ]

Front and center in the nation's food debates

The sap is running on a crisp spring morning - sugar maples along the roads are festooned with every manner of container, from gallon milk jugs to shining buckets. Steam and smoke waft upward from jury-rigged sugar shacks and multiroom log sugar houses worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest. This variety is typical across the country - the small producer's next-door neighbor might be a multimillion-dollar producer.

But beneath the bucolic image, there are questions. The artisanal food movement has added delicious, high-quality food to the national palate, but how does it affect the communities in which it is produced? What happens when artisanal products become too expensive for regular folks, the people who have always enjoyed them?

READ MORE (Los Angeles Times) ]

An open letter to Doyle on raw milk

My wife and I worked hard for the passage of the raw milk bill and have been consuming raw milk for the past seven years. Your veto of the bill has left us feeling betrayed. Your public comments prior to the passage of the bill indicated potential support.

We believe that you were aware all along of the opposition of "health professionals" and the "dairy industry" and the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection to the legalization of farm-to-consumer raw milk sales. So, your last minute veto felt like a punch in the gut and your brush-off of the strong bipartisan support this bill received left us stunned.

READ MORE (Milwaukee Journal Sentinal) ]

The Fight to Save Small-Scale Slaughterhouses

This should be the slowest time of the year for butchering, but T&E Meats is booked months in advance, like the other small meat processing plants in my area. We're all working at almost full capacity to bring locally grown, pasture-raised, and humanely slaughtered quality meats to market. The local food movement and the bad economy have motivated people to return to their roots, but the infrastructure to support such a movement is threatened with extinction, and if we don't act now there's a chance the USDA will seal the deal.

Picture an hourglass and you'll understand the sustainable meat crisis: there are plenty of willing consumers out there, and there are more and more farmers looking to "meat" that consumer demand (sorry-couldn't help myself!), but the real bottleneck is processing capacity. Small, community-based meat processing plants have become an endangered species, done in by an ocean of super-cheap industrial meat and the challenge of meeting the Byzantine demands of USDA regulations without a Ph.D. in microbiology.

READ MORE (The Atlantic) ]

USDA Announces Availability of Compliance Guide for Mobile Slaughter Units

As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced the availability of the compliance guide for mobile slaughter units. This document presents recommendations and is not a regulatory requirement. FSIS will post this compliance guide on its Significant Guidance Documents Web page at www.fsis.usda.gov/Significant_Guidance/index.asp.

"USDA is excited to offer this help to small producers and encourages establishments who own or manage mobile slaughter units to use this guidance document to help meet food safety regulatory requirements," said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold R. Mande. "Food must be safe, regardless of where it is produced, and FSIS has worked with mobile unit operators to develop inspection procedures tailored to their needs."

READ MORE (USDA) ]

New food-safety rules threaten small, organic farms

Tom Willey is so concerned about food safety he is willing to bet the farm on it.

Literally.

READ MORE (Mercury News) ]

Governor soured on raw milk, but despite botulism risk, 'Pickle bill' preserved

A bill to legalize the sale of raw milk in Wisconsin died last week because of health concerns, but another bill that allows the sale of home-canned pickles, salsas and jams at farmers markets without licensing or inspection quietly sailed through months ago, despite associated risks of botulism poisoning.

Farmers and gardeners can now sell home-canned foods that are naturally acidic or have been acidified by pickling or fermenting to reduce their risk for bacteria contamination under Wisconsin's new "Pickle Bill." The bill - passed by voice votes in the Senate and Assembly - was signed into law by Gov. Jim Doyle in February with an emergency rule that added safety measures, but no teeth to enforce them.

READ MORE (Milwaukee Journal Sentinal) ]

Milk in the Raw

There is not other subject that creates so much controversy and even animosity as the debate about consumption of milk. When you have some time to ponder - ask yourself why!

Could it be because milk is such a HUGE business. because everyone drinks milk, especially children. It is probably the most consumed food and therefore a very profitable product.

READ MORE (America's Food Revolution) ]

I-Team: Dead Farmers Collecting Federal Money

Taxpayer dollars sometimes end up in questionable places.

WBZ's I-Team uncovered that millions of dollars have been sent to deceased farmers here in Massachusetts, and across the country. It's federal farm aid that they're receiving.

READ MORE (WBZ) ]

Got Milk?

As the consumer movement towards unprocessed, local and organic food grows, so do questions about how the food was produced. Perhaps none is more controversial than in the case of raw milk.

Raw milk is simply milk that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria or homogenized so that the cream does not float to the top. The controversy is explained well in this news clip and features a farm that is only a few miles from the Center for Rural Affairs office.

READ MORE (Blog for Rural America) ]

Raw milk fans say Wisconsin's dairy industry is too powerful

Ahh, behold the power of cheese.

The catchy phrase made popular by a national dairy ad campaign nearly a decade ago proved true in Wisconsin last week, when an effort to legalize raw milk sales on a trial basis was quashed at the final stage of approval after an 11th-hour push by the state's $26.5 billion dairy industry.

READ MORE (The Cap Times) ]

Safer food imports goal of public-private venture

The University of Maryland's M Square research park in College Park may soon become a crucial hub for ensuring global food safety.

The university has struck a partnership with Waters Corp. of Milford, Mass., to build and operate the first U.S. laboratory for training foreign food producers that also export to the U.S. The International Food Safety Training Laboratory, which is expected to open in July 2011, will be in M Square's Patapsco Building, according to university information.

[ READ MORE (Gazette.net) ]

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