India must double food production; listeria scare: Global News Bites

Global News Bites keeps you up-to-date on what's happening around the world in food and beverage manufacturing.

India will have to double food production by 2040
“Our current food production is 250 MT and we must double it by 2040 to feed the ever-increasing population. There is an urgent need to undertake a second Green Revolution by bringing research institutions, industry, governments and farmers together,” said Gokul Patnaik, Chairman, Conferences CII Agro Tech 2012. The inaugural conference at CII Agro Tech focused on the future of Indian agriculture and sustaining Indian agriculture growth. Patnaik, while chairing the international conference said, “Our aim should be to take technology to the Indian farmer and guide the farmer and the farm industry towards maximum value creation. In order to meet the GDP projected target, we have to register at least 4 per cent growth in agriculture sector.” Param Vir Singh, Minister of Agriculture, Haryana, the chief guest saidthat in order to have inclusive growth, growth in agriculture sector is of paramount importance. Salil Singhal, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Agriculture, said that since 65 per cent of the population is engaged in agriculture, the need of the hour is to revamp agriculture to make it economically viable. “We have to bring global technological advancements to the door step of the farmers,” he said.

Sacramento firm recalls soy products due to filth
A Sacramento food company is recalling its soy products after government inspectors found unsanitary conditions at its processing facility. The California Department of Public Health said Friday the Wa Heng Dou Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. voluntarily recalled all of its products, including soy sauce, soy milk and tofu. The Sacramento firm sent a recall notice Thursday asking its customers to return or discard all its products manufactured before Nov. 28 due to "potential contamination with filth." Public health officials say they inspected the facility Thursday and determined it was clean enough to resume operations. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the recalled products.

Giant Food recalls veggie burgers due to listeria scare
Retail chain Giant Food of Landover, Md., has announced a recall of Veggie Patch meatless burgers due to possible contamination by listeria monocytogenes. In an update at PRNewswire, the company reported that it has removed remaining packages from sale in its 170 stores in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The product affected by the recall is Veggie Patch Ultimate Meatless Burger. Specific packages carry the UPC code 61012900211 and sell-by date of January 12, 2013. All affected packages have a net weight of 9 oz. Giant has received no reports of illnesses to date but urges customers who bought the product to discard any unused portions. They may also bring their purchase receipt to Giant for a full refund. Listeria is a common organism. Consumption of food contaminated with listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a rare but potentially fatal disease. Symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths. Healthy people are at low risk for contracting listeriosis, but infections in people with weakened immune systems, such as infants and elderly, pose a grave health risk.

Food inspection agency says Canadian beef meets same standards as export product
The Conservative government is refuting opposition claims that Canada has a "two-tiered" food inspection system that puts the quality of beef exports ahead of meat consumed at home. A memo from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to its employees at the XL Foods processing plant in Brooks, Alta., instructed some inspectors to ignore contamination on cattle carcasses unless they were destined for Japan. The agency responded Thursday by saying the same safety standards apply to meat for domestic consumption and for overseas exports, and reports to the contrary are "categorically false." "As the CFIA has confirmed, the meat sold in Canada is just as safe as meat exported to other countries," Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the House of Commons. "There are strict food safety standards in this country. That is the law." XL Foods became the epicentre of one of the largest beef recalls in Canadian history earlier this year after meat contaminated with E. coli was stopped at the Canada-U.S. border in September. People in at least four provinces were found to have been made ill by the E. coli strain; it wasn't until October that the XL plant was allowed to resume production.

FAO official hails Qatar’s food security program
Qatar, in its effort to achieve food security, has taken many steps, and as a result of its “good food security strategy” the country is going to change the situation in the years to come, a senior official of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) told The Peninsula on the sidelines of the UNFCCC (COP18) here. “Qatar has launched its own national food security programme and I participated in a conference only two weeks ago where it presented for Qatar and also for the other dry lands an alliance to increase food production in the region in order to be less dependent”, said Alexander Muller, Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources Management and Environment Department (NR) at FAO. However, he also added that the soil conditions and water resources in Qatar are not enough to produce food for everybody. So in the next several years Qatar will continue to export energy and import food.  “I am aware that they are going to change the situation which is a sign of a good food security strategy”. Asked to comment about the significance of food security and food sovereignty in the context of GCC countries, he said: “There is an intensive debate, ‘is food security enough or should we have food sovereignty? From an FAO point of view, we are respecting what our member countries want. Some countries want to focus on food sovereignty while others want a food security at a global scale which includes trade also. We are committed to serving the needs of our member countries.”

EU food agency dismisses anti-GM study
The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) gave its final dismissal on Wednesday to a French study which had suggested that genetically modified (GM) crops could be harmful to health. Researchers at the university of Caen in northern France said rats fed a type of GM maize died younger than average and suffered a range of cancers and tumours. Their findings, published in September, caused a sensation and rekindled fears about the safety of GM food. But EFSA said there were "serious defects in the design and methodology" of their scientific work, meaning there was "no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations" of the GM crop in question. EFSA's "final" assessment confirmed a preliminary one published on October 4, where the European Union body, based in Parma, Italy, spoke of "insufficient scientific quality (for the French research) be considered as valid for risk assessment." Separate evaluations conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands reached similar critical conclusions, EFSA said Wednesday. "We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue," Per Bergman, the scientist who led EFSA's work on the issue, said in a statement.

Natural wine? Serve it to the tooth fairy, say sceptics
Natural wine? Who could possibly object? With a desire for healthy, sustainable food stimulating trends like the farm to table movement and Slow Food, natural wine is positioning itself as the perfect accompaniment. But according to some experts, the unregulated use of the term ‘natural’ is misleading gullible consumers as well as polarising the wine trade. “These are all things that don’t exist — natural wines, the tooth fairy and Father Christmas,” says Robert Joseph, a wine trade veteran who is one of the most prominent naysayers. Natural wine does not exist as a legal category in the European Union, despite flourishing movements in Italy or France, the two biggest producers in the 27-nation bloc.

US scientists challenge scares about food links to cancer
They are mainstay stories of tabloid newspapers and women's magazines, linking common foods from burnt toast to low-fat salad dressing to cancer. But now US scientists have warned that many reports connecting familiar ingredients with increased cancer risk have little statistical significance and should be treated with caution. "When we examined the reports, we found many had borderline or no statistical significance," said Dr Jonathan Schoenfeld of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. In a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Schoenfeld and his co-author, John Ioannidis of Stanford University, say trials have repeatedly failed to find effects for observational studies which had initially linked various foods to cancer. Nevertheless these initial studies have often triggered public debates "rife with emotional and sensational rhetoric that can subject the general public to increased anxiety and contradictory advice". Recent reports have linked colouring in fizzy drinks, low-fat salad dressing, burnt toast and tea to elevated cancer risk. In the past, red meat, hot dogs, doughnuts and bacon have also been highlighted. The cancer risks involved in excess alcohol consumption are not disputed by scientists, but other links have been less easy to substantiate.


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