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News for May 26, 2010

Organic Valley lays down the law on raw milk

Organic Valley started up in 1988 with a vision of being a different kind of milk cooperative, one that helped save small family dairies via promoting organic dairy products.

Last week, the board voted four to three to prohibit its member dairies from selling raw milk. "It's not a fun issue here," says George Siemon, the CEO. "Everyone on the board drinks raw milk." It's been the most bitter dispute in the enterprise's 22-year history, he says.

READ MORE (Grist) ]

FDA unveils food safety reporting Web portal

The Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health this week unveiled a Web site for reporting food safety issues.

The site, dubbed the Safety Reporting Portal, currently lets the food industry report safety problems related to food -- including animal feed -- and animal drugs, according to the FDA.

READ MORE (Government Health IT) ]

At Burgerville, fast food with a side of eco-friendliness

There are plenty of smart, stylish chefs who have put down roots and opened up shop in this cool Northwest city. You can also find them if you are exploring Willamette Valley's wine or cheese makers or cruising the region around the Columbia River. This part of the world feels almost unfriendly to food chains.

But many locals have welcomed Burgerville - where fast-food culture meets eco-friendly enlightenment - a chain of 39 restaurants within a 180-mile radius of Portland. Grass-fed beef burgers, Yukon Gold potato fries, and Northwest berry shakes are on the menu; eat them in the restaurant or place your order at a drive-through window. This being Portland, the drive-through of course accommodates cyclists.

READ MORE (Boston Globe) ]

Prince Charles encourages organic farming

Britain's Prince Charles has blasted the "billions" of pounds worth of wasted food every year.

The prince made a speech encouraging the use of organic farming as an alternative to the waste crisis on a visit to the Organic Research Centre, near Newbury in Berkshire yesterday (24.05.10).

READ MORE (Monsters and Critics) ]

It's Farmer vs Farmer As Organic Valley and Other Co-ops Bar Dairies from Selling Raw Milk--Consumers to Rescue?

While attention has been riveted on the efforts of Big Dairy to push public officials to roll back or prevent availability of raw milk in states like Wisconsin and Massachusetts, a more ominous trend has been quietly taking shape among the nation's milk cooperatives and processors. These are the organizations that buy conventional milk in bulk from dairy farmers, pasteurize it, and distribute it to retailers around the country. A growing number of these outfits are refusing to buy milk from dairies that sell or distribute raw milk.

Wisconsin dairyman Scott Trautman was one of the first to feel the sting of the emerging new policy when Midwest cooperative Foremost Farms cut him off after learning about his raw milk activities, and cost him his Grade A dairy license.

READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]

Will USDA Food Safety Plan Squeeze Out the Little Guy?

With the recent re-emergence of E. coli in national headlines -- the potentially deadly bacterium was found in Arizona lettuce in May and forced a massive California beef recall in December -- U.S. regulators are under renewed pressure by public health advocates to stop the outbreaks.

But in its latest effort to combat tainted food, the U.S. Department of Agriculture faces vocal opposition from a different quarter: small producers, who say tougher federal regulations might put some of them out of business.


US: Global organic cotton sales defy recession

Global retail sales of organic cotton apparel and home textile products defied the recession last year to soar by 35%, new figures show, with C&A, Nike and Walmart among top users of the fibre worldwide.

GRetail sales of organic cotton reached an estimated $4.3bn in 2009 according to the Organic Cotton Market Report 2009 from Organic Exchange (OE), up from $3.2bn in 2008.

READ MORE (Just-Style) ]

Dingell Warns of Continued Inaction on Food Safety Legislation

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI15) made the following remarks about the current recalls of raw alfalfa sprouts linked to Salmonella and Fresh Express Romaine-based ready-to-eat salads. Some Caldwell Fresh Foods alfalfa sprouts have been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in consumers in ten states. A total of 22 cases have been confirmed; and six of the cases have been hospitalized. Some Fresh Express Romaine-based ready-to-eat salads have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall extends to products sold in 26 states and is based on an instance in which a package salad was confirmed positive for Salmonella in a random sample test conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"It is unfortunate that we find ourselves reading of more foodborne illness outbreaks that have touched the lives of American consumers. This double whammy should open our eyes to the dangers that exist when it comes to our food supply. My thoughts are with the victims and their families."


Let's protect small farms in food safety bill

There's little doubt the fractured system that has been in charge of overseeing the nation's food supply food safety needs a serious overhaul. For decades, more than a dozen federal agencies have been tasked with making sure various links in the food chain are safe.

Generally, the system has worked. But as the way our food supply is processed has become more centralized - while the supply of food itself has become more internationalized - disturbing breakdowns have become common.

READ MORE (Citizen Times) ]

USDA to issue rule on fair play in livestock sales

The U.S. government will soon propose rules to bar meatpackers from unfairly favoring big cattle feedlots and to give poultry producers more leverage, two small-farm groups said on Tuesday.

The proposal would modify Agriculture Department guidelines on fair play in livestock and poultry sales. Activists say farmers are out-muscled by big packers who dominate meat processing. The 2008 farm law required action on the issue.

READ MORE (Reuters) ]

Pre-cut lettuce is suspected cause of food poisoning outbreak

It's convenient and popular, a healthy option for harried shoppers. But bagged lettuce suspected of causing a multi-state outbreak of E. coli illness raises new questions about whether pre-cut produce is riskier than whole vegetables.

The outbreak, which involves romaine lettuce cut up and distributed in bags to 23 states and the District, is the latest in a string of recent food poisoning cases involving pre-shredded leafy greens.

READ MORE (Washington Post) ]

Margo and Dan Redmond: Gov. Doyle caves in on raw milk sales

After the raw milk bill passed by wide margins in the Legislature, Gov. Jim Doyle came under increasing pressure from lobbyists and others representing industrial farms that oppose raw milk sales from family farms. So after initially indicating he would sign the bill, he vetoed it.

In doing so, he sided with big business over the will of the people. The industrial dairies and their advocates, among them the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, oppose it because they don't want even that little bit of competition.

READ MORE (Wisconsin State Journal) ]

Raw dairy farmer visits Schmidt

Chilliwack dairy farmer Alice Jongerden made a recent trip to the raw milk mecca of Durham, Ont. where farmer Michael Schmidt operates Glencolton Farms.

Jongerden runs Home on the Range, a raw milk dairy in Chilliwack that has received significant attention in recent months as health authorities attempt to shut it down.

READ MORE (Chilliwack Times) ]

Antibiotic Therapy Can Increase the Risk of Breast Cancer

An important study from the JAMA published on February 18, 2004 revealed that women who have taken antibiotics are at increased risk for developing breast cancer. Ten thousand Dutch women were studied, including 2,266 who had breast cancer. As the number of prescriptions for antibiotics increased the risk of breast cancer steadily climbed. The women who had more than 25 prescriptions for antibiotics filled over a 17-year follow-up exhibited twice the incidence of breast cancer as women who took no antibiotics. The women who had fewer than 25 antibiotic prescriptions had a 50% greater risk than women who took no antibiotics. There did not seem to be any differences related to various types of antibiotics.

Research from Finland in 2000 involving 10,000 women revealed that women below the age of 50 who had taken antibiotics for urinary infections had an increased risk of breast cancer.


EU seeks sustainable farm policy in reform

European Union debate on overhauling the Common Agricultural Policy is set to focus on matching farm policy with plans to green the 27-country bloc's economy by 2020, rotating EU president Spain said.

The EU is set to overhaul the 50 billion euro a year ($61.88 billion) CAP by 2013, and many member states, like France and Poland, are keen to maintain spending levels because direct subsidies account for 25 percent of farmers' income.

READ MORE (Reuters) ]

UCSC debuts organic farming website, documentary

In 2007, UC Santa Cruz researchers set out to interview 12 Central Coast pioneers of the organic farming movement for the university's Regional History Project.

Three years, 58 interviews, 4,500 pages of transcript and 10 book volumes later, the baby boomers who helped start the organic farming and sustainable agriculture movements and transform them into international influences celebrated the fruits of that labor at UCSC on Monday evening.

READ MORE (Santa Cruz Sentinal) ]

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