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No animal required, but would people eat artificial meat?

From: FoodProcessing.com

Futurists tell us that we will be eating in vitro meat (IVM) – meat grown in a laboratory rather than on a farm – within five to 10 years.

IVM was first investigated in the early years of this century and since then, criticisms of farm animal product systems, particularly intensive ones, have escalated. 

They include the excessive use of land, energy and water resources; local and global pollution; poor animal welfare; a contribution to climate change; and unhealthy eating habits and disease in humans.

At the same time, human (and livestock) population growth continues, farming land is requisitioned for urban expansion and meat consumption per person is rising.

So we want a new source of meat – or do we?

Reaction to artificial meat

Growing meat artificially, under laboratory-type conditions, is not possible on a large scale. But people’s concerns about eating IVM have rarely been explored.

In a recent survey, published this month in PLOS One, we investigated the views of people in the United States, a country with one of the largest appetites for meat and an equally large appetite for adopting new technologies.

A total of 673 people responded to the survey, done online via Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which they were given information about IVM and asked questions about their attitudes to it.

Although most people (65%), and particularly males, were willing to try IVM, only about a third said they would use it regularly or as a replacement for farmed meat.

But many people were undecided: 26 per cent were unsure if they would use it as a replacement for farmed meat and 31 per cent unsure if they would eat it regularly. This suggests there is scope to persuade consumers that they should convert to IVM if a suitable product is available. As an indication of this potential, 53 per cent said it was seen as preferable to soy substitutes.

The pros and cons of IVM

The biggest concerns were about IVM’s taste and lack of appeal, particularly in the case of meats seen as healthy, such as fish and chicken, where only two-thirds of people that normally at them said that they would if it was produced by in vitro methods.

In contrast, 72 per cent of people who normally eat beef and pig products would still do so if they were produced as IVM. Interestingly, about 4 per cent of people said they would try IVM products of horse, dog or cat – despite these being meats they would not currently eat.

The perceived advantages of IVM were that it was environmentally and animal-welfare friendly, ethical, and less likely to carry diseases. It could increase the proportion of happy animals on Earth if it replaced intensive farm animal production. By happy, we mean well nourished, comfortable, healthy, free from pain, and able to perform.

The disadvantages were that IVM was perceived as unnatural, potentially less tasty and likely to have a negative impact on farmers, by putting them out of business.

The IVM consumer

So who would be most likely to use IVM, and hence dictate the focus of advertisers’ pitch?

Gender was the biggest predicting factor with men more likely on average to say they would try IVM, whereas women were less sure. Men also had more positive views of its benefits.

Recognizing that meat-eating men are often viewed as more masculine, it is not clear whether this prevailing attitude would change if men converted to eating IVM.

Those with liberal political views rather than conservative ones were also much more receptive to the idea, confirming their more progressive viewpoints generally, as well as their traditionally stronger focus on fairness and avoiding harm to others.

Vegetarians and vegans were more likely to support the benefits of IVM but least likely to try it. People who ate little meat were also more supportive, compared with big meat eaters.

IVM on the menu

While a reasonably large proportion of the sample reported willingness to try IVM in the future, there appears to be hesitation around the idea of incorporating it into a daily diet.

Resistance came primarily from practical concerns, such as taste and price. But these are factors that are largely under the control of the manufacturers.

The concerns – about taste, price and impact on farmers – could all be effectively dealt with if there was sufficient financial advantage in producing IVM.

As tissue engineering techniques improve, culturing meat in vitro also brings the opportunity to introduce health-promoting ingredients, such as polyunsaturated fats, more easily than in living animals.

Another commonly cited concern was the perception that the product was unnatural. This may be similar to people’s concerns about genetically-modified (GM) foods – some of those who oppose GM foods are moral absolutists who would not be influenced by any argument in favour.

By expressing concern about the naturalness of IVM, some people were suggesting that there are fundamental issues that would cause them to reject it.

But with a little investigation into the processing and production of some meat products today, they might soften their attitudes toward IVM.

If IVM doesn’t take your fancy, lab-grown leather is actively being developed by a company that was dissuaded from producing IVM because it thought only 40 per cent of people would even try it.

That was back in 2012 and now our survey has found that 65 per cent of people surveyed in the U.S. said they would definitely or probably try IVM. So maybe people are becoming more responsive to the idea as opposition to conventional animal farming grows.

Although ours was a relatively small survey in a developed country (with a huge appetite for meat), one can speculate that people in developing countries might be less concerned about issues like taste and natural appeal of IVM. They might view it as a valuable source of protein they would not otherwise get.

Perhaps the futurists are right and IVM will be what fills our dinner plates in the near future.

With a new federal marketing order, can pecans become the next ‘it’ nut?

From Food Navigator USA

The USDA approved a federal marketing order (FMO) for the pecan industry earlier this year, enabling the industry to collect mandatory dues that will go towards marketing and research efforts for US pecans. In August 2016, the industry started the nomination process for members of a new American Pecan Council, which will decide how the funds will be used.

Bruce Caris, chairman of the National Pecan Shellers Association, says that the pecan industry was more scattered throughout the country. While an overwhelming majority of domestic pistachios, walnuts, and almonds are grown in California (about 95%, Caris estimated), pecans are grown in 15 different states.

Despite its niche place globally as Caris described, there is growing demand for pecans overseas. “Prior to 2000, China had never imported more than a million pounds of pecans in the shell. Two years ago they bought almost 98 million pounds of in-shell pecans from the US. For this past crop year it would probably be close to 60 million — China alone is buying 20 to 30% of the US crop,” he said. There, Caris explained, consumers like their tree-nuts in shells, because it seems fresher to them.

But beyond being sold plainly as a nut, Caris noted innovation in other applications. “I would say over the past three years we’ve seen several pecan nut butters getting started. I know of two companies who sometime in the next month will launch pecan milk,” he added. “And inclusion in cereals and snack bars have taken off in the past five years, both here as well as in Europe and Asia, Japan in particular.”

Learn more about turn-key bulk processing solutions from Tri-Mach Group here.
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Soy research fights food poisoning

From Food In Canada

The latest use for soy could fight food poisoning. University of Guelph researchers are using soy extracts – isoflavones and peptides – to prevent the growth of microbial pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses.

Suresh Neethirajan is a University of Guelph engineering professor and director of the BioNano Laboratory. Neethirajan and his research team have found soy extracts can be more effective in fighting against bacteria, including Listeria and Pseudomonas pathogens, than current synthetic chemicals commonly used to preserve foods.

Already consumed in everyday food products, soybean derivatives are can be found in food including baked goods, canned foods, cheese, cooking oils, ice cream, and meat alternatives.

“Studies have shown heavy, continued use of current chemical antimicrobial agents can cause strains of bacteria to become resistant and making them ineffective,” says Neethirajan, explaining they also kill all bacteria – good and bad. “Using this soy alternative in food products will only target pathogenic or bad bacteria, leaving the good, healthy bacteria in foods that aid in digestion and help us properly process the food we eat.”

Because the soy extracts have the ability to selectively inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria compared to beneficial bacteria, some health issues commonly associated to the synthetic-based food preservatives will be eliminated, notes Neethirajan.

This project has received support from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The right equipment can also reduce the risk of food poisoning. Learn more about Ever-Kleen® technology from Tri-Mach Group here.
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Unilever to sell AdeS soy beverage business to Coca Cola

From New Food Magazine

Unilever has signed an agreement with Coca Cola FEMSA and The Coca Cola Company to sell the AdeS soy beverage business in Latin America for an aggregate amount of US$ 575 million.

Founded in 1988 in Argentina, AdeS is the leading soy-based beverages brand in Latin America. As the first major brand launched in the category, AdeS pioneered the development of the second-largest global market for soy-based beverages. The brand is currently available in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia.

In 2015, AdeS sold 56.2 million unit cases of beverages and generated net revenues of $284 million.

Learn more about bottling and liquid processing solutions from Tri-Mach Group here.
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P.E.I. government invests in province’s lobster holding capacity

From The Guardian

There will be more space available in P.E.I. to store live lobsters so they are as fresh as possible when they are processed and sent around the world.

Innovation P.E.I. has contributed more than $224,000 in grants to the Live Lobster Holding Program since it began in March 2015, with the remaining $2.2 million coming from the private sector. The expansions are being made to holding facilities in Evangeline, Acadian Supreme Inc.; Souris, Colville Bay Oyster Co. Ltd.; Tignish, Royal Star Foods Ltd.; Summerside, JMK Fish Mart Co.; and Darnley, Basin View Seafood Inc.

The projects will add more than a half-a-million pounds to the province’s total lobster holding capacity, which is approximately 2.3 million pounds. Being able to hold live lobster for a longer period gives processors more flexibility to adjust their production to meet existing labour supply.

Read the full article here.

The FDA is Making Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label

From the Wall Street Journal

The Food and Drug Administration said a new nutrition-facts panel on the back of packaged food and beverages will list how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers, and what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents.

The FDA’s decision to break out added sugar from the total sugar count already on packaging comes amid a yearslong campaign by the Obama administration to curb obesity, diabetes and other ailments. The new sugar rules have faced opposition from food and beverage companies, which say there is no difference between naturally present sugars and added sugars.

The FDA estimates that implementing the change will cost the food and beverage industry roughly $500 million a year, while providing approximately $2 billion annually in benefits such as reduced health costs, over 20 years. A study commissioned by several industry trade groups based on an earlier proposal found the label changes would result in a total net cost of at least $640 million. Economist John Dunham, who led the study, said the FDA accounted for far more benefits than are realistic.

Manufacturers have two years to comply with the new regulation, though they could still challenge the changes in court. Those with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have three years.

The new label regulations don’t apply to certain meat, poultry and processed-egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the FDA.

Among other changes, manufacturers also will be required to declare the amounts of potassium and vitamin D because the FDA says Americans aren’t getting enough of them. Manufacturers will no longer be required to list vitamin A and vitamin C because most people do. The new panels also will require some companies to change the serving sizes they list on the back of the package. Ice cream labels, which can now show half a cup as one serving, will list two-thirds of a cup as a serving, increasing the calorie count that appears on the label by a third.

Read the full article here.

Amazon is going to sell its own line of food

From ReCode

Amazon is going to start selling its own brands of snacks, diapers and detergent — a move lots of traditional retailers have already made. But Amazon isn’t a traditional retailer, so this move could be very meaningful for Amazon and its competitors.

The e-commerce powerhouse will soon begin selling its own packaged goods exclusively to Amazon Prime members under brands like Happy Belly and Mama Bear, the Wall Street Journal reports. Recode reported in February that Amazon was testing out the Mama Bear brand name.

Amazon already sells things like electronic accessories, office supplies and even clothing under a variety of its own brand names. Now it’s going all in on groceries and household products.

While some people will point out that so-called “private labeling” is nothing new — grocery stores and big-box retailers have been increasingly pushing their in-house brands — this is a much bigger deal. That’s because the growth in retail is all going to be online, and Amazon owns online. It already accounts for half of all sales growth in U.S. e-commerce.

Read the full article here.

This groundbreaking technology will soon let us see exactly what’s in our food

From the Washington Post

Imagine a scanner the size of a grain of rice, built into your phone. You go to the grocery store and point it at something you want to buy. If it’s an apple, the scanner will tell you what variety it is, how much vitamin C it has and how long it has been in cold storage. If it’s a fish, you’ll learn whether it’s really orange roughy or just tilapia being passed off as something more expensive. If it’s a muffin, the device will tell you whether there’s gluten in it.

Although you won’t be able to do it tomorrow, this isn’t some kind of distant Jetsonian vision of the future. I’ve held the rice-size scanner in my hand; it was built for only a few dollars. I’ve seen bigger, more robust versions of the scanner do the things that your smartphone will be able to do, probably during the administration of the president we’re deciding on right now.

Every substance reflects (and absorbs) light in a different way, and the graph of that reflected light is a kind of optical fingerprint. Except it’s better. Although the whorls and lines in our fingertips don’t say anything inherent about their owner (See that swirl? Doesn’t mean you’re smart.), the peaks and valleys of the optical fingerprint do. That peak there is vitamin C. That other one is sugar. This pattern means gluten.

Identifying a food and its characteristics based on the scan is a twofold job: First, you simply match the optical reading to a library of known objects; second, you read the topography of the graph to zero in on specific characteristics. The two together can tell you an awful lot about what you’re scanning.

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Food processors get a kick start with Food Starter

From Food In Canada

With nearly 20,000 new food products introduced to the market each year, consumers have a lot of choice. Each new product represents countless hours of hard work perfecting the product, conducting market research, meeting regulatory requirements and making critical business decisions.

Food Starter is a new venture that provides a launch pad for the discovery, creation and success of new food products and companies in Toronto.

Launched in 2015, Food Starter is a hands-on incubator program for entrepreneurs who want make a breakthrough in the food market. The 20,000 square foot facility provides access to shared production and packaging facilities, business advisory services and a structured training program to help entrepreneurs build and grow their food processing business.

“Food Starter focuses on helping early-stage food processors commercialize and scale the development of their food products so they can become successful in the marketplace and create sustainable jobs,” says Dana McCauley, Food Starter Executive Director. “Our programs bring together all the necessary pieces and people to develop a successful, saleable food.”

McCauley and her team provide clients with customized services including essential business skills, access to commercial and industrial equipment and assistance fielding the regulatory landscape.

Read the full article here.

Catching up on the French’s revolution

From the Toronto Sun

As Loblaws mops up a public relations mess in the ketchup aisle, local food advocates believe this may be the beginning of a movement powerful enough to regrow jobs in Ontario. Interest in local food and local food processing has moved beyond the realm of hardcore foodies, says Professor Sylvain Charlebois of the Food Institute of the University of Guelph

“There’s a collective awakening around how food processing is important to our economy,” Charlebois said. “When you look at manufacturing, we often forget that food manufacturing is the second largest economic sector in our province after automotive.

Customers put the squeeze on Loblaws after it announced it would pull French’s ketchup from its shelves, blaming poor sales. The Canadian food giant relented as politicians and social media questioned its patriotism.

Although an American company, French’s stepped in to buy Leamington tomatoes and Leamington-manufactured tomato paste after Heinz pulled out of the community in 2014, ending a century of Canadian ketchup-making tradition. While there’s a heated online debate over how much any product is Canadian — French’s ketchup is actually bottled south of the border — fellow Ontarians do depend on these jobs in a part of the province that has lost so much food processing and other manufacturing.

Learn more about fruit & vegetable processing solutions form Tri-Mach Group here.
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