Finger Foods: the weekly news update

U.S.

Food Safety

Which Organic Egg Brands Are Factory Farms in Disguise? – Kiera Butler – Mother Jones
A recent Cornucopia investigation revealed that conditions at many facilities that produce organic eggs are often just as crowded and industrial as those at conventional egg farms.

Amid mounting safety concerns, technology helps track food from farm to table – P.J. Huffstutter – Los Angeles Times
IBM Corp. is in talks with a leading growers association in California to roll out a computerized tracing system for its members.

Court rules rBGH-free milk *is* better than the kind produced with artificial hormones. Now what? – Tom Laskawy – Grist, Food
While the “compositional difference” debate may seem to be semantic wrangling (although that “pus” mention sure is eye-catching!), the appeals court’s determination suddenly and unexpectedly undercuts the FDA’s entire rationale for allowing the sale of unlabeled rBST milk for human consumption.

Food Industry

Sun Chips Bag to Lose Its Crunch – Suzanne Vranica – Wall Street Journal, Food & Drink
Frito-Lay, the snack giant owned by PepsiCo Inc., says it is pulling most of the biodegradable packaging it uses for its Sun Chips snacks, following an outcry from consumers who complained the new bags were too noisy.

Monsanto’s Fortunes Turn Sour – Andrew Pollack – New York Times, Business Day
Monsanto, the giant of agricultural biotechnology, has been buffeted by setbacks this year that have prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak from creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end.

School Food and Nutrition

The USDA published this study titled “How Food Away From Home Affects Children’s Diet Quality.” Below is the summary they’ve provided, but the link also provides a link to full study.
Compared with meals and snacks prepared at home, food prepared away from home increases caloric intake of children, especially older children. Each food-away-from-home meal adds 108 more calories to daily total intake among children ages 13-18 than a snack or meal from home; all food from school is estimated to add 145 more calories.

Agriculture

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Protecting Farm Workers’ Health – Sarah Parsons – Change.org, Sustainable Food
A new law aims to offer California’s 700,000 farm workers a little more protection from the onslaught of chemicals they face on a daily basis. The Farm Worker Health Act (A.B. 1963) requires medical facilities that test farm workers for toxins to report their findings to state agencies.

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery – Kirk Johnson – New York Times, Science
Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food. Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem,.

Obama taps food-industry exec for top ag-research post – Tom Philpott – Grist, Food
Earlier this month, Congress approved Obama’s nomination of Catherine Woteki, the USDA’s undersecretary for research, education, and economics. Woteki comes to her new position after a five-year stint as global director of scientific affairs for Mars, Inc., the multinational junk-food giant.

International

Kimchi Crisis Leaves South Koreans In A Pickle – NPR
At markets in Seoul, shoppers were up before dawn fighting to buy heads of Napa cabbage that once cost about $4 but now go for as much as $14.

Local

Plan to Ban Food Stamps for Sodas Has Hurdles – Anemona Hartcollis – New York Times, N.Y. Region
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg may face legal and political hurdles in carrying out his ambitious plan to bar food-stamp recipients from using their benefits to buy sugar-sweetened drinks, food policy experts said Thursday.

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