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Source: Foodbev Media

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will provide approximately $12 billion in funding to protect farmers from potential damage caused by tariffs imposed by China, Mexico, Russia and others.

According to the USDA, the imposed tariffs could cost US farmers approximately $11 billion, affecting products such as soybeans, milk and pork, as well as fruits, nuts, and other speciality crops.

The short-term relief funding will be provided through a range of support programmes, which aim to help agricultural producers meet the increased costs caused by disrupted markets.

Firstly, the new Market Facilitation Program will provide payments to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs, which the USDA says “will help farmers manage disrupted markets, deal with surplus commodities, and expand and develop new markets at home and abroad.”

The USDA will also introduce the Food Purchase and Distribution Program, which will purchase “unexpected surplus of affected commodities” such as fruit, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and other nutrition programmes.

Finally, a Trade Promotion Program will be implemented, which will aim to assist in developing new export markets for US agricultural products.

US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said: “This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire US economy.

“The President promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong.

“Unfortunately, America’s hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs.

“USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations.

“The programmes we are announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand.”

US toughens food safety regulation for poultry

From Global Meat News

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalised new federal food safety regulations to reduce the risk of salmonella and campylobacter in chicken products.

In a bid to make chicken safer for American consumers, the USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) said the implementation of the safety standards would lead to an estimated 50,000 fewer illnesses a year.

FSIS said it would update its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities and would soon begin posting results online about individual companies’ food safety performance.

An estimated 1.2 million foodborne illnesses are thought to be caused every year by salmonella, with approximately 360,000 of those illnesses linked to FSIS-regulated products, the USDA said.

Read the full article here.

Minimal movement expected on corn and wheat prices

From Bakery & Snacks

In its price outlook, published this week on the back of the USDA’s June WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) report, Rabobank said: “The report was predictably neutral, with minimal adjustments across the commodities. Weather conditions in the major growing areas, as well as the upcoming USDA acreage and stocks report on 30 June, will be the key price movers.”

Rabobank reported that US 2015/16 wheat production had been revised up, as the recent rain had increased yields.

Talking to BakeryandSnacks.com about what this means for the bakery and snack sectors, Stefan Vogel, global head of agri commodity markets research at Rabobank, said: “Right now, we’re in a situation where wheat stocks are relatively good versus past levels. Stocks have increased, which is good news for bakers, as it means supply is high and prices are low.”

However, he said this positive supply picture is tempered with concern about wheat quality, as rains continue in central US.

“Harvest has just started in the southern states and especially in the hard red winter belt, it has rained substantially for the last three or four weeks. When it rains before a harvest it can raise concerns about the quality of the wheat – the fear is that the protein levels might be lower,”explained Vogel.

Vogel predicts corn prices should come down in the next few weeks, on the back of good US yield prospects and the large amount of grain that is still being held in storage.

The USDA is predicting a 2014/15 yield that is slightly below last year’s record but above the harvests of recent years. Vogel believes this can be achieved with favorable weather conditions.

Read the full article here.

New USDA App Helps Fight Food Waste

From Modern Farmer

The USDA estimates that 21 percent of food consumers buy goes to waste. It’s bad for our bodies, bad for our wallets, and bad for the planet. Instead of just telling us, the USDA released an app for iPhone and Android that it hopes will help solve the problem by sending us alerts when food is about to go bad.

The app, called FoodKeeper, was created by the USDA in concert with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute (the latter is a kind of representative organization for food suppliers that handles some research, some outreach and some food safety stuff for supermarkets and pharmacies). It has different categories for everything you might find in a supermarket, from fresh produce to baby food to deli meats to frozen foods, and tells you how long those foodstuffs can be expected to last in a fridge or freezer. You tap either “fridge” or “freezer” to indicate how you’re storing a particular item, and it opens your calendar app to make an alarm for when the food is about to go bad, so you can make sure to eat it. It also has some other tips, like recommended internal temperatures for meats, as well as healthy recipes. And there’s a virtual assistant named “Karen” to whom you can address questions about food safety, a sort of guided FAQ.

The app is surprisingly slick, in our limited testing, though it can take a while to input all your groceries. But it’s a smart and pretty easy way to help reduce food waste, at least in your own fridge. You can download it for free now.

Read the full article here.

House Approves Food Safety Funding

From Food Safety Magazine

Last week, U.S. House of Representatives made significant progress in terms of allocating funds for food safety. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is expected to receive just over $1 billion––a solid compromise after much debate between the House and the Senate.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also in line for funding with $2.6 billion earmarked for discretionary use––almost $30 million more than last year’s initial funding level. The FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is said to get $903 million of the allocation while the Center for Veterinary Medicine is slated to gain $147 million.

In an effort to thwart instances of fraud and to improve the U.S.’s seafood supply, the USDA, FDA and FSIS are expected “to support developing technologies that will provide rapid, portable, and facile screening of food fish species at port sites and wholesale and retail centers”. Additional requirements include that the USDA must make recommendations to Congress by next spring regarding country-of-origin labeling for beef, pork and poultry––guidelines that must comply with the World Trade Organization.

Read the full article here.

USDA overhauls poultry inspections

From The Columbian

The Obama administration is overhauling poultry plant inspections — the first changes to the system in more than 50 years — a move it says could result in 5,000 fewer foodborne illnesses each year.

The number of government poultry inspectors will decrease, but those who remain will focus more on food safety than on quality, requiring them to pull more birds off the line for closer inspections and encouraging more testing for pathogens. More inspectors would check the facilities to make sure they are clean.

The changes are voluntary, but many of the country’s largest poultry companies are expected to opt in. The chicken and turkey industries swiftly praised the new rules, saying they would modernize their business.

Federal law requires that government inspectors be present in poultry processing plants. Right now, many USDA inspectors stand in one place on the production line and check for visual defects. This doesn’t do much to ensure the birds are safe to eat, since common poultry pathogens such as salmonella and campylobacter are invisible. The new rules would better train inspectors to find hazards in the plant and would require all companies — whether they opt in or not — to do additional testing for pathogens.

The final rule abandons a controversial part of the original proposal that would have allowed companies to increase the speeds of processing lines in the plants. USDA said that increasing line speeds wouldn’t affect food safety, but consumer groups argued it could make it harder to detect obvious contamination and harm worker safety.

Read the full article here
Tri-Mach Group is committed to providing food-safe solutions for all types of food processing – including the meat, poultry, and seafood industries. Learn more about how our Ever-Kleen® technology keeps food and plant operations safe by clicking here.

PMMI Releases Food Safety and Traceability Report

The new report discusses FSMA perceptions and next steps.
From Quality Assurance Magazine

Many stakeholders across the food industry appear to be confused about implementation deadlines surrounding the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), according to a recent study from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Compiled from 64 interviews with manufacturing professionals, the report details food manufacturers’ perceptions of FSMA, and how equipment manufacturers can best help them respond to the upcoming regulations. PMMI has also released a corresponding infographic to accompany the study findings.

The study identifies the industries most affected by the anticipated rules. Fresh produce manufacturers are expected to see the greatest impact. Producers of baby food, infant formula and nutraceuticals will see little impact as they have already been subject to rigorous standards for preventative controls, traceability and sanitary equipment design. Industries overseen by the USDA are less likely to be impacted and juice, low-acid canned foods and seafood manufacturers are exempt.

The report also expands on ways that manufacturers affected by FSMA can make strides towards compliance – whether they have one, two, three or four years to do so. These steps include reducing liability with greater traceability capabilities, evaluating equipment design for improved sanitary construction and easy cleaning, and training operators thoroughly and often.

For more information on PMMI’s Food Safety & Traceability Study, find a downloadable executive summary here.

Read the full article here

Researchers Aim to Reduce Pathogen Loads on Raw Poultry

From Food Safety Magazine

Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. are major human pathogens associated with poultry products, which are attributed to more foodborne deaths than any other food product. Annual estimates attribute human salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis to approximately one million episodes of foodborne illness each year in the United States. Both Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. are commensal residents of the poultry gastrointestinal tract and the primary processing of such livestock can contribute to their spread.

To combat this issue, the United States Department of Agriculture-Food Safety Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) implemented stringent Campylobacter performance standards and updated pre-existing Salmonella performance standards. The compliance to such standards is projected to result in the reduction of more than 5,000 Campylobacter infections in the United States each year alone.

Previous performance standards for broilers focused solely on controlling Salmonella, requiring the prevalence of Salmonella-positive samples to be less than 20% (12 positive samples out of 51 samples). New performance standards require the prevalence of Salmonella-positive samples to be below 7.5% (five positive samples out of 51 samples). Likewise, in the new regulations, Campylobacter-positive samples should be less than 10.4% (eight positive samples out of 51 samples).

Read the full article here.
Tri-Mach Group Inc. is dedicated to meeting – and exceeding – food safety standards. To learn more about how our Ever-Kleen® technology can help keep your food safe, click here.

USDA Awards $24 Million in Food Safety Research Grants

From Food Safety News

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced it will award $24 million to research projects for improving food safety. The grants were awarded to 35 projects at 26 schools across the country through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s (AFRI) Food Safety program.

The categories of projects address critical and emerging food safety issues like the role of pigs in foodborne zoonotic transmission of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, effective mitigation strategies for antimicrobial resistance, improving the safety of fresh and fresh-cut produce, and the physical and molecular mechanisms of food contamination.

Separate from the NIFA announcement, Barabara Kowalcyk discussed the need for publicly-funded food safety research during last week’s National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.

“I’m all for private industry putting money into research, but then you get research that the private industry needs,” she said. “We do need publicly funded research in food safety and agriculture.”

Tri-Mach Group understands the importance of food safety and sanitary food processing equipment. Learn more about how our solutions address these concerns.