News Roundup: July 28 – August 3
- “RECALL UPDATE: Kellogg’s recalled Honey Smacks still found on NC shelves with 4 NC salmonella cases,” WRAL: The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued a warning about the Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal recall that began in June 2018. ALL Honey Smacks cereal products were recalled due to the presence of Salmonella, but it is still being found on grocery store shelves in North Carolina. The multistate outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka has spanned 33 states with more than 101 cases of infections. At least four of those infections are in North Carolina. According to a notice released on July 27, 2018 by Joe Reardon, Assistant Commissioner of Regulatory Programs for the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “We are concerned we continue to find this product offered for sale. The product was originally recalled by Kellogg’s in June. This week our Rapid Response Team activated and inspectors have found the product at one out of every 10 grocery stores during routine recall-effectiveness checks. We are urging consumers to NOT purchase or consume this product. Inspectors have placed stop sales on products found in grocery stores. However there may be more out there and we are continuing to check.” …
- “Tariff effects in Henderson County a ‘mixed bag’,” Hendersonville Times: The ongoing back-and-forth of tariffs imposed or proposed on imported and exported products like steel and soybeans is making headlines across the country, but in Henderson County, effects have been minimal. Most of the effects have been isolated to the import of steel for larger manufacturers. Brittany Brady, president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, called the effects from tariffs in this county “a mixed bag.” It’s one that tends to help smaller manufacturers but hurt larger ones, mostly in the automotive industry. But, she said, it’s not been a large enough impact to be clearly positive or negative in the county, and so far she hasn’t seen an effect on job numbers. The ultimate impact is in the cost of products, something companies have to consider when they decide whether to pass on the added costs to consumers or to their supply chains.
For farmers and other agribusinesses, Agribusiness Henderson County Executive Director Mark Williams said he has not heard of any impact. Mainly, he said, that’s because county growers and packers don’t do much importing or exporting. …
- “Agriculture tariffs sowing discontent,” Greenville Daily Reflector: President Donald Trump’s bold declaration last month that trade wars are “the greatest” and easy to win has left North Carolina farmers, perpetually faced with circumstances beyond their control, hoping for a quick armistice. N.C. Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten said this week that he understands and respects the president’s right to his opinion, “but I respectfully disagree with his opinion.” The Trump administration slapped 25-percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies, saying they pose a threat to U.S. national security — an argument that allies such as the European Union and Canada rejected. China immediately retaliated with duties on soybeans, pork and tobacco, affecting farmers in regions of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign, including North Carolina. The Agriculture Department predicted before the trade fights that U.S. farm income would drop this year to $60 billion, or half the $120 billion of five years ago, the AP reported. …
- “Trade Aid for Farmers Could Start Late September,” Southern Farm Network: The aid package announced to offset harm by the Trump administration’s trade policy for agriculture could be ready to go by late September, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The plan would include between $7 billion and $8 billion in direct cash relief as the Department of Agriculture expects U.S. farmers to take an $11 billion hit due to retaliatory tariffs after Washington placed duties on Chinese goods. Checks will go out to farmers “as soon as they prove their yields,” according to Perdue, who says the yields will be based on actual production, not historical averages. The program is a response to trade tariffs implemented on U.S. agriculture goods for the 2018 crop year only, as Perdue says “we do not expect to do this over a period of time.”
- “Senators Ask ‘What Is Milk?’” Roll Call: Dairy industry wants to limit the word to what comes out of cows. This morning senators asked themselves, “What is milk?” when voting on a proposal to block funding for a review of whether the word milk should be limited to products made from cow’s milk. The Senate voted, 14-84, to defeat an amendment, offered by Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, that would kill spending on a Food and Drug Administration study on what can be marketed as milk. “Consumers are not deceived by these labels,” said Lee. “No one buys almond milk under the false illusion that it came from a cow. They buy it because it didn’t come from a cow.” The dairy industry wants to restrict plant-based products from being called milk, hoping to put soy, almond, coconut and other milk substitutes at a competitive disadvantage. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin called the amendment “an attack on dairy farmers” and said it would upend the FDA’s nutrition innovation strategy. Last year Baldwin introduced a measure that would ban the term “milk” for nondairy products, but it never saw committee or floor action. “These labeling requirements play right into the hands of the large, cronyist food industries that want to place new, innovative products at a disadvantage,” said Lee in a statement last week.
- “Other Voices: Should we call this stuff meat?” Hendersonville Times: What do you call a hamburger made from meat that was grown in a giant vat rather than from the ground-up flesh of dead cattle? Is it “meat,” “cultured meat” or something else entirely? That sounds like the setup to a joke. But it’s an honest-to-goodness debate brewing among the advocates and detractors of a new class of meat products being developed by a number of biotech companies. This meat is grown from cultured animal stem cells and fed with nutrients to create alternatives to factory-farmed chicken, beef and pork, and it could be on supermarket shelves and restaurant menus in as a few as two years if regulators permit it. Advocates call it “clean meat,” a name that evokes not just hygiene but also a lighter environmental footprint. And that’s the pitch: If consumers gravitate to a manufactured meat that tastes, looks and has the same nutritional composition as ordinary beef, chicken or ham, it could significantly reduce the need for factory-farmed animals and the greenhouse gas emissions that come from 1.5 billion ruminating cows. Also, meat grown in a vat is less liked to be exposed to harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella because those bacteria develop in the intestinal tracts of live animals and typically taint meats as animals are slaughtered.
Pig farmers, cattle ranchers and other farm animal producers don’t care what the stuff is called, so long as it isn’t referred to as “meat.” …
- “New markets are bright spot for farmers,” Southeast Farm Press: Emerging markets for grains and ethanol provided a bright spot for U.S. farmers, agribusinesses and industry officials at the U.S. Grains Council’s 58th Annual Board of Delegates meeting in Denver. The Council’s Middle East and Africa Director Ramy Taieb and Manager of Global Trade Alvaro Cordero spoke on a panel moderated by the Council’s Senior Director of Global Strategies Kurt Shultz, highlighting the Middle East and North Africa as a 10 million metric ton (394 million bushel) market for U.S. grains in all forms. They focused on new demand in Saudi Arabia for U.S. sorghum and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS), near-term opportunities developed following years of work by Council staff and members to set the stage with local customers. “The Middle East and North African is a vast area with a lot of complexity,” Taieb said to the group. “However, from the perspective of the U.S. producer, it’s an important area of the world that encompasses 17 countries importing grains products valued at more than $1.8 billion.” The Council has a regional office in Tunisia and consultants in Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, who also covers Oman and the United Arab Emirates. …
- “Think you’re in the clear after eating recalled salad? Symptoms can take weeks to show,” News & Observer: Salad and wrap products at the center of a public health alert issued Monday are about a week past their “best by” date, but people who ate them days ago could still get sick. The dates of the recalled products ranged from July 18 to July 23, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a warning for the items shipped nationwide out of concern that they could be contaminated with a parasite that can take weeks to develop into infection. Caito Foods found out from its lettuce supplier, Fresh Express, that chopped romaine used in some of its beef, pork and poultry salads and wraps were being recalled, according to the FSIS alert. The Caito products were sold in stores across the country, including Kroger, Trader Joe’s and Walgreen’s, and marked with either EST. 39985 or P-39985, according to the alert. The parasite, Cyclospora, is spread by ingesting food or drink contaminated with feces and can cause an intestinal infection called Cyclosporiasis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- “Bailey man takes prize for largest watermelon,” Wilson Times: H.C. Williams of Bailey won the largest watermelon contest on Watermelon Day last week at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh with a 178-pound whopper that earned him a $1,000 first prize. The promotion on a hot sunny day was sponsored by the N.C. Watermelon Association, State Farmers Market Restaurant, the State Farmers Market, Ford’s Produce and R&H Produce to support the state’s watermelon agribusiness. “We really had a good time,” Williams said Tuesday. “My family was there, and we got a chance to see a lot of old friends. I feel real, real good about it. I wish it had been larger, but it was good enough to win.” Participants enjoyed free watermelon slices, free recipes, and a visit by the N.C. Watermelon Queen. Williams’ entry was put on display in the Farmers Market Restaurant. The next-largest melon this year weighed in at only 158 pounds. Williams has been entering the contest every year since 2010. His green thumb at Williams Plant Farm included a 232-pound melon on Watermelon Day in 2012, which held the record for heaviest watermelon there until last year when Danny Vester of Spring Hope won with a record-setting 237.5-pound entry, only to be beaten later in the season by a 316-pound giant at the N.C. State Fair. …
- “First legal marijuana plants grown in Wilkes,” Wilkes Journal-Patriot: At the dead end of a rural dirt road just east of the Wilkesboros, beyond abandoned chicken houses that now store hay, there’s history coming out of the ground. In a 75-foot-square plot of bottomland along a meandering creek, the first legal marijuana plants grown in Wilkes County are shooting out of rich soil, standing about a foot tall from seeds put in the ground just over a month ago. The curator of the plants is Andy Stancil, a 69-year-old Realtor from North Wilkesboro whose eyes were opened to the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) oil—extracted from a strain of medical marijuana made from genetically engineered plants—after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2016. Stancil’s plants look the same as those illicitly grown and harvested in Wilkes for decades, resulting in Wilkes being called the marijuana capital of the state at one time. But these plants are much different; the oil eventually to be harvested from them will have virtually no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, which causes the psychotropic effect (“high”) from marijuana. Industrial hemp must have less than 0.3 percent THC. If higher it’s considered marijuana, which may contain from 1 to 35 percent THC. If an industrial hemp crop tests for greater than 0.3 percent THC in North Carolina, the state will destroy the plants. The N.C. Department of Agriculture sends inspectors to take crop samples, which are then analyzed in the state drug lab. …
Posted in: Field Notes
Tagged: E. coli
, food safety
, Henderson County
, honey smacks recall
, lab-grown meat
, milk labels
, N.C. Farm Bureau
, salad recall
, State Farmers Market
, trade aid
, Watermelon Day
, wilkes county