Food News Round Up
E. coli survives better on Romaine grown in the fall
Outbreaks caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections have been linked to leafy greens over 36 times in the last 20 years. The researchcarried out by the produce safety and microbiology research unit of the USDA’s ARS (Agriculture Research Service) Western Regional Research Center in Albany, CA showed that there is a seasonal effect on the survival of E.coli on Romaine lettuce. This summary from ARS explains more:
“One of the most significant findings of this study is that E. coli survived on average 5.6 times better in cold-stored packaged romaine harvested in the fall than on the same varieties harvested in late spring. “
Most early and late season lettuce is grown either in Salinas Valley CA or Yuma AZ and most STEC outbreaks have been linked to Romaine lettuce grown at these sites. This might be partly due to the quantity of lettuce grown there, which is then sold throughout the USA. Whereas during the main lettuce season, lettuce is mostly likely grown more locally and on a smaller scale.
Russia’s Attack on Ukraine Raises Food Prices
I am grateful for IFPRI for collating their articles and research on the invasion of Ukraine and its effect on food prices. Unfortunately there is little chance that food prices won’t increase due to the Russian attacks as Ukraine is a key exporter of wheat and natural gas, which is used to make conventional fertilizers.
As I wrote in Oct 2021, fertilizer prices in Europe were already high due to increases in the price for natural gas; this price increase will only get worse.
I expect to return to this topic. If you have any questions, please put them in the comments.
Politico Reports that FDA is Failing to Keep Our Food Supply Safe
An important investigation reported by Helena Bottemiller Evich at Politicoshows that the section of FDA that is responsible for food is essentially nonfunctioning especially in a timely manner. From the report, it seems that many former and current employees of FDA including former FDA commissioners and deputy commissioners are frustrated that food is considered the silent F at FDA and isn’t given the resources or attention necessary to fully ensure safety. These delays are happening even with, or perhaps because of, the passage of Food Safety Modernization Act.
The problems in FDA are structural, as no one person seems to have the final say over food issues; an inability to come to final decisions on key issues facing food today from regulations for agricultural water, to setting standards for baby food and infant formula, and even coming up with recommendations on whether and how to reduce sodium, and a general feeling that they aren’t responsive to either consumers or industry concerns.
This is a bit frustrating and scary as the FDA regulates over 80% of America’s food supply and if they cannot trace outbreaks or respond to concerns in a timely manner, the health of all of us is a risk.
The FERN Launches a Podcast, Hot Farm
Hot Farm podcastis traveling across the Midwest, talking to farmers about what they are doing, or could be doing, to combat climate change. I listened to the first episode last night and it was excellent. I strongly recommend adding this to your podcast listening.
What food news have you read or heard this week? Share in the comments.
I write about the intersection of food science and food systems with an emphasis on food safety, food justice and resilience. I am concerned that climate disasters and changing weather patterns are affecting our ability to eat healthy nutritious food.
I run a food safety consultancy, Food Safety Mid Atlantic, which I started in 2018 to support small and mid sized food businesses with food safety and product development. I support clients to develop a robust food safety program and to scale up their businesses while allowing them to maintain integrity with their values.
My primary goal is to support my clients so they make food at cost that is safe, tasty and compliant with federal, state, and local regulations.
If you are interested in learning more about my consulting services, please schedule a free call.
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