Thursday, August 27, 2015

AFFI Implores Congress to Reject New Food Taxes

McLean, Va. – American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) and a coalition of more than 60 food groups urged the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to develop a fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget that adequately funds U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety programs without saddling consumers and food makers with burdensome new taxes or fees.

“Food safety is the highest priority for America’s food and beverage makers,” said AFFI President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz.  “As the administration begins to craft the fiscal year 2017 budget, we stand ready to work with federal agencies and Congress to ensure sufficient federal resources are allocated to FDA’s critical food safety activities without increasing costs for consumers and food makers.”

AFFI and its allies wrote Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan stressing that Congress has previously rejected efforts to impose new regulatory fees on food and beverage makers and distributors to fund FDA’s food safety programs.

The AFFI-led coalition cautioned that imposing any new food taxes will yield crippling economic effects.  The coalition wrote, “As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic recovery and food makers and retailers struggle with fluctuating commodity prices, the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher retail food prices for the most vulnerable consumers.”

Joining the American Frozen Food Institute on the letter were the Agribusiness Council of Indiana, American Bakers Association, American Council of Independent Laboratories, American Dairy Products Institute, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Feed Industry Association, American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition, American Spice Trade Association, Association for Dressings & Sauces, Association of California Egg Farmers, California Grain and Feed Association, California League of Food Processors, California Seed Association, California Warehouse Association, Canned Food Alliance, Cheese Importers Association of America, Corn Refiners Association, Flavor & Extract Manufacturers Association, Florida Feed Association, Inc., Food Marketing Institute, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Frozen Potato Products Institute, Global Cold Chain Alliance, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Independent Bakers Association, Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses, International Bottled Water Association, Juice Products Association, Michigan Agri-Business Association, Michigan Bean Shippers Association, Midwest Food Processors Association, Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, Montana Feed Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Association of Margarine Manufacturers, National Automatic Merchandising Association, National Confectioners Association, National Fisheries Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, National Grocers Association, National Pasta Association, National Pizza Institute, National Renderers Association, National Turkey Federation, Nebraska Grain and Feed Association, North American Meat Institute, North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, Northwest Food Processors Association, Ohio AgriBusiness Association, Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association, Pacific Egg and Poultry Association, Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association, Pet Food Institute, Produce Marketing Association, Shelf-Stable Food Processors Association, Snack Food Association, United Dairymen of Arizona, United Egg Producers, United Fresh Produce Association, Vinegar Institute, West Coast Seafood Processors Association, Wisconsin Agri-Business Association.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Indian ceremony opens Koppert’s joint research venture in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, India’s pharmaceutical hub, recently became the location for Koppert’s latest research facility. KoSSIL (Koppert Sustainable Solutions India Limited) is a joint venture between Koppert Biological Systems India and the local Devanur family, promotor of SOM Phytopharma Limited (India) and Agri Life. 

The joint venture will be developing innovative biological solutions for sustainable agriculture and horticulture with local R&D experts. The new research facility will manufacture natural products such as microbials for pest and disease management and biostimulants for both local and international markets.

Koppert’s Managing Director Henri Oosthoek: ‘I am looking forward to the development of more products of international standards and biological solutions to face the future challenges in agriculture and horticulture’. The opening ceremony in August took the form of a traditional ‘Pooja’ ritual. Henri Oosthoek lit the ceremonial lamp and officially opened the Hyderabad premises. He presented a gift, a symbolic image of two birds depicting both companies, to Dr Devanur to reflect the shared goals for business development and success. 

SOM Phytopharma’s CEO, Dr Venkatesh Devanur, who has 35 years of experience in the crop protection industry: ‘India and South Asia are home for over 1.5 billion people and over 300 million upwardly mobile middle class consumers now aspire to have residue free food. Farmers want to restore soil health, so sustainable agricultural practices are being considered very favourably in this part of the world. Partnering with Koppert is partnering with nature!’ He said the potential for agribusiness in India as well as the Asia Pacific region is huge and that there is a need to cater for these markets through the innovative research potential of the KoSSIL joint venture. 

The facility is situated at IDA Bollaram, just outside the sprawling metropolis of Hyderabad, considered the meeting point of North and South India. With the influx of young men and women from various parts the country, Hyderabad has become the centre for numerous universities and research institutes, particularly in the fields of biomedical sciences, agricultural biotechnology and pharmaceuticals on this subcontinent. 
Director of Koppert India, Udayanarayana Bhat and General Manager of KoSSiL, Gargi Iyengar will be supported by Koppert’s BU Microbials, Newbiz and Tech Manager, Harald Mikkelsen, in the Netherlands, and locally by Dr Venkatesh Devanur.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coke-Funded Health Research Not Credible, Says CSPI

Statement of CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson

I commend Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent for recognizing that “the way we have engaged the public health and scientific communities to tackle the global obesity epidemic… is not working.”  But the actions he said his company will adopt sound like more of the same old public-relations flimflam.

Coke has a long history of using its spending power to silence potential critics and purchase powerful allies inside and outside of academia.  The public will remain justifiably skeptical of any nutrition or health research funded by Coca-Cola.  Would anyone trust lung cancer research funded by Philip Morris?  

If Coke truly wanted to salvage its reputation, it also would stop opposing public health measures such as soda taxes or warning labels, and it would stop all marketing of disease-causing products to children and adolescents worldwide.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Conflict Café returns for a second year to serve up more peace through food

Honey & Co’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich (Middle East) l  Rajiv KC (Nepal)
Esnayder Cuartas (Colombia) l Önder Ṣahan (Turkey) l Natalie Griffith (Armenia)
London, 11 August: Conflict Café, an innovative pop-up restaurant launched by peacebuilding charity International Alert, is returning to London for its second year from 9 September – 3 October 2015 to inspire more strangers to ‘break bread’ and start conversations about peace through food.
The restaurant, which was named ‘Most inspiring pop-up of 2014’ by Time Out, will continue to showcase how food can unite, inform and provoke discussion, and will once again mark UN International Peace Day on Monday (21 September).
It will take place at House of VANS in Waterloo, a unique underground venue which will be transformed into a different region every week, encouraging diners to discover more about the conflicts and prospects for peace of each country in focus. In the wake of the ongoing Syria crisis, Conflict Café kicks off with a Middle Eastern theme, also featuring a special brunch by Honey & Co chefs Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich.
The focus will then shift to Nepal with chef Rajiv KC taking over the Café. Diners will have the chance to find out more about the challenges facing the country following the recent earthquakes and end of the civil war.
Esnayder Cuartas will introduce visitors to Colombian cuisine in the third week – a country that has been ravaged by civil conflict for the past 50 years.
Established Turkish chef Önder Ṣahan will then join forces with Armenian cook Natalie Griffith in the final week to devise a unique menu which celebrates the similar culinary traditions of these divided countries.
Ilaria Bianchi, Head of Communications at International Alert, said: “Following the tremendous success of last year, we’re very excited that Conflict Café will be returning to celebrate the food and culture of even more countries affected by conflict. The restaurant provides an interesting and unique platform for breaking down barriers and getting people talking about peace and conflict issues around the world.”
Honey & Co chefs Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich said: “For us, food is beyond conflict. Our cooking is a labour of nothing but love and an extension of our home. Food has that priceless power to bring people together around a table for a shared moment in a hectic world.”
Rajiv KC, who runs a Nepali supper club Rajiv’s Kitchen, said: “It’s a known fact that food brings people together, and when people come together with ideas and solutions, extraordinary things can happen. Food is also the best way to educate people about other cultures. We can learn a lot about a nation from its food, and once you understand them, you can build bridges.”
Conflict Café will run in partnership with Grub Club and Cult Events, and will be hosted at House of VANS. It is part of Alert’s annual Talking Peace Festival, a month-long series of events designed to spark conversations about peace through creativity.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Junk Food at Checkout Aisles Promotes Overeating, Says CSPI Report

CSPI Calls on Non-Food Stores Like Bed Bath & Beyond to Drop Food at Checkout Entirely
WASHINGTON—The presence of junk food at checkout aisles, in both supermarkets and non-food stores, induces unplanned purchases and excess calorie consumption that undermine consumers’ health, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  The nonprofit food watchdog group says that public health should be considered in shaping the retail food environment, and that non-food stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond should get out of the junk food business altogether.
Placing junk food at checkout is a powerful form of marketing for which food manufacturers pay retailers handsomely, according to the report.  In addition, putting candy at children’s eye level creates unhealthy norms for snacks and incites conflict with parents.  Adults also are susceptible to impulse buys, as decision fatigue results after choosing among the 30,000 to 50,000 items in the average supermarket, according to CSPI.  About $5.5 billion of foods, drinks, and other products are sold from checkout aisles at supermarkets alone.
“Foisting candy, chips, soda, and other sugary drinks upon customers at the end of a shopping trip exploits human psychology and basic biology, making shoppers vulnerable to consuming additional calories, added sugars, and saturated fat that put their health at risk,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan. 

A huge display of candy at a checkout at Bed Bath & Beyond in Rockville, MD.
The majority of foods and beverages at checkout are candy, gum, energy bars, chips, cookies, soda, and other sugary drinks, according to research done by CSPI and others.  Another survey found that shoppers who bought candy and soda at checkout are often the same people who deliberately avoid such products elsewhere in the store.
Today CSPI is sending letters to the top retailers to rethink their checkout aisles and is asking its members to send emails and Tweets urging Bed Bath & Beyond to stop selling candy at checkout.  In the United Kingdom, three major retailers, Lidl, Tesco, and Aldi, have each eliminated candy from checkout aisles. 
“There’s no good reason that a company that sells towels and bath mats needs to bombard its customers with a junk food display at the cash register,” said CSPI senior nutrition policy counsel Jessica Almy, lead author of the report.  “Companies like Bed Bath & Beyond need to recognize that they have their own role to play when it comes to preventing diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related health problems.  Right now, they’re making those problems worse.”
Support for Temptation at Checkout was provided by Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint project of the American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.