FDA again finds cell-cultured chicken is safe to eat
For the second time in four months, the FDA cleared cell-cultured chicken as safe to eat on Tuesday, an important step in bringing the food, grown in fermentation vats rather than from livestock, closer to the retail market. "It's food system transformation in action," said Bruce Friedrich of the Good Food Institute, which promotes alternative proteins.
Lab-grown meat has a P.R. problem
Cell-based meat companies claim their products are identical to meat, but they have one important difference, reports Joe Fassler, in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with Bloomberg Businessweek. (No Paywall)
White House competition checklist cites livestock marketing, ocean shipping
In a summary of achievements, the White House pointed on Monday to progress toward increased competition, including action on livestock marketing, consumer right-to-repair and ocean shipping rates. It said President Biden would "highlight progress we need to continue to make to promote competition and protect consumers" in the State of the Union speech on Tuesday, with so-called junk fees as an area for action.
Colorado passes universal school lunch
Colorado voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure to make free lunches available to all public school students. But voters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, rejected a proposed ban on new slaughterhouses, and California voted down a proposed tax on the ultra-wealthy to pay for electric vehicle programs and wildfire prevention.
USDA awards $223 million to expand meat processing capacity
In steps to create "more, better and new markets" for U.S. producers, the Agriculture Department awarded a total of $223 million in grants, loans and loan guarantees to expand meat and poultry processing capacity, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday. Increased competition would support farmer income, said the USDA.
House panel approves bill to expand meat processing capacity
Congress would create a loan and guarantee program to expand competition in the meat processing industry under a bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. The bill would authorize up $20 million a year through 2024 for the loan guarantees.
Study: Public had fewer fears than leaders did of meat shortages
In April 2020, when outbreaks of Covid-19 among slaughterhouse workers slowed U.S. meat production, the chairman of Tyson Foods said in full-page advertisements, "The supply chain is breaking." Two days later, President Trump signed an executive order to keep processing plants open during the pandemic. In retrospect, the meat supply chain was strained, but not broken, and production recovered quickly, said a team of economists in the journal Meat Science.
Largest U.S. farm group opposes cattle market quotas
While supporting more transparency in cattle prices, the American Farm Bureau Federation draws the line at requiring meatpackers to buy slaughter cattle on the cash market, said president Zippy Duvall. Mandatory purchases are a prime feature of the leading Senate bill for cattle market reform.
More competition will reduce meat prices in fight against inflation, says Biden
Acknowledging "we need to get inflation under control" as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration will inject competition into the highly consolidated meat industry to bring down prices at the grocery store. Meat prices soared by 14.8 percent during 2021, part of overall food inflation of 6.3 percent.
U.S. will vigorously enforce fair-play laws in meatpacking, says Biden
President Biden announced a four-point plan for increased competition in the meat industry on Monday, including "across the board" enforcement of antitrust laws and support of legislation to inject transparency into cattle pricing. During a virtual meeting with farmers and ranchers, Biden said meatpacking, dominated by a handful of big processors, was a textbook example of the perils of corporate consolidation.
USDA finds big pork plants recovered quickly from Covid-19
Outbreaks of Covid-19 at meatpacking plants slashed U.S. hog slaughter rates by 36 percent in late April 2020, but a USDA report found that “regions with large pork processing plants recovered in a couple of months” – similar to regions with small plants. Critics of the highly concentrated meat …
U.S. hits REvil ransomware group linked to attack on JBS
The Justice Department is seeking extradition of a Ukranian man on ransomware charges and has seized $6.1 million in alleged ransom payments from a Russian man, said Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday. Both men were part of the REvil cybercriminal gang linked to an attack that shut down …
Loan guarantees for ‘middle of the supply chain’
The USDA will create a $100 million loan-guarantee program to expand processing capacity in the meat industry and improve the infrastructure of the food chain, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The program is "focused on the middle of the supply chain," he said, such as mobile processing units, new cold storage equipment and formation of cooperatives to gather, process and market farm goods.
Ask FDA about plant-based ‘meat,’ says USDA
Three-and-a-half years after it received a cattle group's petition to define "meat" and "beef" as referring only to the flesh of food-bearing animals, the USDA said it has no authority over the labeling of alternative proteins from plants and insects. The FDA regulates those products, said the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and when it "is made aware that a non-animal product is being labeled as 'meat' or 'beef,' FSIS refers such information to FDA."
More competition in meatpacking or ‘bust them up,’ senators are told
With four companies dominating the meat industry, Congress and federal regulators must intervene to assure that livestock farmers get a fair price from processors or “if need be, bust them up,” the president of the National Farmers Union said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. It was the …
USDA to ask consumers, what does Product of USA mean to you?
Amid complaints that the labels are deceptive, the USDA will undertake a top-to-bottom review of the Product of USA labels that appear on packages of meat, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday. In addition to identifying meat from animals raised in the United States, the label can currently be used on foreign meat that is processed in U.S. plants.
DOJ: Tyson was not directed by federal government to continue pandemic production
The federal government never instructed Tyson Foods and other meatpackers to keep their plants open during the early months of the pandemic, according to the Department of Justice in a recent filing in a federal appeals case. Experts say the brief, along with others filed in the case, is a good sign for the plaintiffs, the relatives of four Tyson workers in Waterloo, Iowa, who died of Covid-19 last spring. It is also likely to have broad implications for other Covid-related lawsuits filed by meatpacking workers around the country. (No paywall)
Covid-19 rates in meatpacking counties now mirror other rural counties
Rural counties dominated by meatpacking plants endured their second surge in coronavirus cases during this winter but the latest wave "does not appear to be driven by new outbreaks in the meatpacking industry," said the USDA. "Meatpacking-dependent counties have maintained an almost identical pattern to other rural counties for the last seven months."
Smithfield pork plant in LA faces rolling Covid-19 outbreak
A coronavirus outbreak at the Farmer John pork processing plant in Los Angeles County that began nearly a year ago has been the focus of two state investigations. Cases at the Smithfield Foods-owned plant have more than doubled — with over 300 cases reported in January alone — as the county has become a Covid-19 epicenter, Leah Douglas and Georgia Gee report in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with the Covid-19 Reporting Project.