13 october 2020

UK rejects amendments to agriculture bill on food import standards

UK MPs have rejected the amendments to an agriculture bill to ensure food products imported into the country from 1 January meet all the legal standards, as well as animal welfare standards.

MPs in the House of Commons defeated the bill, which will now return to the House of Lords, with 332 votes – despite protests from farmers and food campaigners.

Campaigners warned the government that by turning down the amendments to the farm bill, the country could be forced to accept lower standards in order to secure a future US trade deal.

The Farm Bill was designed to help the farming industry to cope with a scenario where it will not be mandatory for the country to follow EU laws and rules next year following Brexit.

In addition, the government is reportedly planning to include European laws, such as banning imports of chlorine-washed chicken as well as other products, into UK law once Brexit comes into effect.

However, the UK government justified its move by arguing that a new legal status was not required as ministers are already fully committed to ensuring that UK food standards would be kept in any post-Brexit trade agreements.


13 october 2020

Driscoll’s and Plenty to grow strawberries in vertical indoor farm

Fresh berries producer Driscoll’s has signed an agreement with Plenty Unlimited to grow its proprietary strawberries year-round in vertical indoor farms.

As part of the agreement, the companies will work together to develop strawberry varieties and supply them to the market. Additionally, the two companies will focus on delivering the fruits to markets and regions that were previously difficult to serve.

Under the new partnership, Driscoll’s will provide its proprietary genetics and berry expertise to Plenty, which will incorporate them into its indoor farming technology.

By including Driscoll’s proprietary genetics and berry expertise, Plenty aims to deliver Driscoll’s strawberries varieties with optimised texture and size.

Initially, Driscoll’s strawberries will be grown and developed at Plenty’s Wyoming, the US, farm, which is claimed to be the largest privately owned vertical farm research and development centre in the world.


12 october 2020

US issues public health alert about Taylor Farms’ bowl meals

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a public health alert about the consumption of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry bowl products from Taylor Farms.

The regulator warned of contamination with extraneous material, specifically glass. FSIS noted that Dallas-based Taylor Farms produced the RTE meat and poultry bowl goods on 5-6 October.

The products subject to the public health alert are the 10oz plastic bowl package containing ‘Meal Simple Spaghetti Squash and Alfredo with Chicken’, the 10oz plastic bowl package containing ‘Meal Simple Spaghetti Squash with Chicken & Pesto’ and the 10oz plastic bowl package containing ‘Meal Simple Spaghetti Squash and Pepperoni’.

FSIS also issued the public health alert for 11oz plastic bowl package containing ‘Meal Simple Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs’. A Taylor Farms employee identified the issue, discovering pieces of glass in a product during manufacture.

The regulatory agency added that it is issuing this public health alert out of caution to ensure that consumers are aware that these products should not be consumed. FSIS noted that a recall was not initiated as these products are no longer available for consumers to purchase.

FSIS stated its concern that some products may be in restaurant freezers, advising restaurants not to serve these items. It urged consumers not to consume them and return to the place of purchase.


9 october 2020

Barry Callebaut starts construction on new cocoa facility in Durán, Ecuador

Swiss cocoa products company Barry Callebaut has started construction of a new cocoa facility in Durán, Ecuador.

Operations at the facility will include the drying, cleaning and storage of cocoa beans, later exported to Barry Callebaut cocoa and chocolate factories in the US, Canada, Asia and Europe.

The company noted that it is making a significant investment in the project, which also signifies its commitment towards Ecuador and to further develop a value chain of this fast-growing cocoa-producing country.

Ecuador is known for the cultivation of ‘Cacao Nacional’ and also for Arriba, which is a flowery-fruity flavoured variety of cocoa.

The company has been sourcing cocoa from Ecuador since 1996 and using it for the production of a wide range of products, including Carma Milk Ecuador, Callebaut Origine Ecuador and Cacao Barry Équateur.


9 october 2020

MEPs oppose EC proposals on titanium dioxide (E171) in food products

The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have objected the European Commission’s (EC) proposals on food products containing titanium dioxide (E171) and acrylamide as they might be harmful to children.

MEPs objected EC’s proposed amendment for the use of E171 in food additives, approved with 443 votes.

Currently, E171 is used in the food industry for colouring confectionery, bakery and pastry products, as well as chewing gum, candies, chocolates and ice-cream.

The European Parliament has urged the commission to remove E171 from the EU list of permitted food additives.

MEPs raised their concerns, saying that these food products are popular with children and the usage of E171 could be harmful.

Furthermore, the members brought to the notice of the Parliament that the French government also banned the sales of food products containing E171 from 1 January, supported by 85,000 citizens across Europe.

MEPs also opposed a second objection with regard to the commission’s proposal to amend the rules setting maximum levels of acrylamide in certain foodstuffs for infants and young children.

Earlier, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) confirmed that acrylamide is a processing contaminant and has the potential to increase the risk of developing cancer in all age groups.

MEPs have requested in their resolution to the commission to lower the proposed maximum level allowed for two food products given to infants and young children as they are the most exposed, based on their bodyweight.

With these objections adopted by the European Parliament, the commission cannot approve the proposed actions and has to amend or withdraw them.


8 october 2020

Upfield Canada to open new facility for production of cheese alternatives

Plant-based margarine and spreads maker Upfield Canada has unveiled plans to set up a new production facility to enhance its operational and manufacturing capabilities.

Based in Brantford, Ontario, the facility will replace the company’s existing facility in Etobicoke. The company expect the new facility to boost its technical and production efficiencies to support its growth plans.

As part of this initiative, Upfield Canada acquired existing 164,000ft² industrial building, and also intends to make significant investments for land acquisitions, infrastructure improvements and equipment for its Brantford facility.

Currently, Upfield has a workforce of 86 members at its Etobicoke facility.

With the expansion of its operations on the 17.4 acres site in Brantford, the company aims to create more jobs between 2021 to 2023.

The new facility is part of the company’s plan to expand its spreads and margarine product portfolio, which includes Becel margarine.

The company also intends to scale-up its manufacturing platform to support innovations such as Violife 100% vegan cheese-alternative products.

The facility should become fully operational by the end of next year.

Once operational, Upfield plans to close its existing Etobicoke facility and move its existing workforce to Brantford.


8 october 2020

Midsona buys plant-based food company System Frugt

Swedish firm Midsona has acquired System Frugt, a Denmark-based provider of plant-based foods, in a deal valued at approximately $33m on a debt-free / cash-free basis.

Established in 1991, System Frugt supplies dried fruit and nuts to customers within the retail grocery industry under its Earth Control and Delicata brands, as well as private label products.

Its portfolio includes a range of products and mixes, with and without seasoning, and convenient choices for snacking, salad topping and cooking.

System Frugt has a workforce of 128 employees, with the majority of them employed at its production facility and head office in Tilst, Denmark. Additionally, System Frugt operates sales organisations in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Midsona financed the acquisition with existing cash resources and credit facilities. The acquisition of System Frugt could significantly boost Midsona’s position in the healthy snacks and plant-based foods categories.


6 october 2020

FDA expands food safety collaboration with Mexican counterparts

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its Mexican regulatory counterparts have expanded a collaborative partnership on food safety.

Mexican counterparts include the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and the National Service of Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA).

In July 2014, the participants agreed to a Statement of Intent also known as

“Produce Safety Partnership”. With the enhancement to strengthen their existing partnership scope, a new Statement of Intent will replace the old one.

Under the latest Statement of Intent, the food regulatory bodies agreed to incorporate new and emerging technologies, leverage food safety programmes at SENASICA and COFEPRIS and their work with local industry.

The agencies have agreed to initially focus on areas of mutual interest related to human food safety, including prevention, outbreak response and more.