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Ones to watch: industry stories to keep track of
The industry is ever evolving and with change factors seemingly accelerating, it can be hard to keep up with everything of note. We take a quick look at some of the stories worth keeping an eye on.
Image Courtesy of Stephanie Frey/Shutterstock.com
It seems that the news is throwing industries into turmoil every other day. Amidst the chaos, it can be easy for stories to slip by unnoticed or smaller changes to be overlooked. Yet in ways both big and small, the food industry continues to evolve and adapt from day to day.
To help navigate these changes, we’ve summed up some of the stories you’ve likely heard about and others that you may have missed. Some of them are already impacting businesses in the sector, others may not have an impact for weeks or even months, but all are worth keeping track of.
SCANDAL: SCARES AND OVERSIGHTS
UK fish and chip shops place endangered sharks on the menu
Using DNA barcoding to identify species on sale, researchers from the University of Exeter have found that fish and chips shops and fishmongers have been selling endangered species of shark. The spiny dogfish, classified as endangered in Europe, has been sold under names such as huss, rock, flake and rock salmon. Also found in the shops were species such as starry smooth-hounds, nursehounds and blue sharks.
Additionally, a wholesaler was found by the researchers to have unknowingly sold fins from species including the globally endangered scalloped hammerhead, as well as shortfin mako and smalleye hammerhead sharks. While governmental regulation allows for many shark species to be sold under generic names (spiny dogfish has been allowed to be sold in the EU as bycatch since 2011), the researchers are calling for more accurate labelling so consumers know what they are buying and where it was sourced from.
Polish abattoir exports sick beef to eleven EU countries
Covert filming at a Polish abattoir has sparked a European food scandal, with footage showing the slaughter of cows too sick to stand. Sweden’s National Food Agency has said that four Swedish wholesalers bought beef from the abattoir, with 230kg in total imported into the country. Finnish state broadcaster YLE also reported roughly 250kg imported into Finland.
The EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed informed the Swedish National Food Agency and the meat at the wholesalers is now being inspected, although at the time of reporting the inspectors were unable to say when the meat had arrived in the country or which products the potentially contaminated meat had gone into.
New Zealand prosecutes ‘fake mānuka honey’
The New Zealand Food Safety Authority is prosecuting Evergreen Life Ltd, a company that claims to sell a variety of health products internationally, on 64 charges of alleged adulteration of honey with artificial chemicals. The company has been accused of adding synthetic chemicals to honey to then sell it on as ‘mānuka’.
The most serious charges could result in a maximum prison sentence of five years or a fine of NZ$500,000 (£265,000). The company has already faced challenges in the past, with 18 of its products recalled in 2016 due to potentially containing 'non-approved substances'. While the exact products allegedly tampered with will not be revealed until the court case, the case is emblematic of a problem in which up to half of the mānuka honey sold worldwide is reportedly adulterated.
BREXIT: NO-DEAL DREAD
Retailers warn supermarkets and food outlets would be first hit by no-deal Brexit
Food retailers have warned the UK Government that departing from the European Union without a deal could lead to short-term disruption for supermarkets and food outlets. Tariffs on imported foods could cause significant increases in cost and the extra customs checks that would be required on any such imported food is likely to cause delays or limitations in supplies.
The warning came in the form of a public letter, signed by various executives, that highlights the various threats posed by a no-deal. Given the proximity to the deadline for exit – and the lack of planning and facility for several of the concerns mentioned – it is strongly suggested that a no-deal Brexit could cause an “inevitable pressure on food prices”.
INNOVATION: TRANSFORMING THE FUTURE OF FOOD
Start-up claims to develop technology for superior protein
Equinom, an Israeli seed tech start-up, has developed a new technology that will purportedly allow the creation of high-functioning, non-genetically modified seeds that are not only nutritionally superior but produce a higher crop yield. By combining natural breeding techniques with proprietary algorithms, Equinom aims to create a new ecosystem to connect food companies directly to the supply chain, increasing transparency and responsible sourcing.
Equinom’s algorithm uses computer modelling to run millions of genetic combinations in silico, allowing the researchers to identify the seeds that have the potential for the highest nutritional quality. According to the company, they can produce a seed with a variety of desired characteristics within 2-3 years.