May's top stories: Vertical farm tackles food scarcity, ConAgra fined over salmonella contamination

Spanish design company Forward Thinking Architecture has developed a new solar-powered vertical farm concept to tackle future difficulties in food supply, while ConAgra Foods' subsidiary has agreed to pay a fine of $11.2m over salmonella poisoning. Foodprocessing-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from May 2015.


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Forward Thinking Architecture unveils solar-powered vertical farm concept to tackle food scarcity

Spain-based design company Forward Thinking Architecture (FTA) has developed a new solar-powered vertical farm concept to tackle future difficulties in food supply.

Named Smart Floating Farms (SFF), the new concept is designed as a modular-expandable multi-layer floating farming system that incorporates solar energy, hydroponics, green growing and aquaculture.

SFF will be situated off the coast on an open sea, thereby requiring less land and minimal agricultural imports.

ConAgra to pay criminal fine of $11.2m over Salmonella contamination

ConAgra Foods' subsidiary, ConAgra Grocery Products, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a fine of $11.2m regarding the shipment of contaminated peanut butter linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella poisoning from 2006-2007, the US Department of Justice announced.

Said to be the largest ever criminal fine paid in a food safety case, ConAgra will pay a fine of $8m and forfeit assets of $3.2m.

In February 2007, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had linked the salmonellosis outbreak to Peter Pan and private label peanut butter that had been produced and shipped from ConAgra's Sylvester peanut butter plant.

Mechanically tenderised beef to follow new labelling rule from May 2016

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The US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said that raw or partially cooked beef products that have been mechanically tenderised will need to carry more information.

The new requirements will be effective from May 2016, or from a year of the publication of the rule in the Federal Register.

As per the new labelling requirement, food manufacturers will need to mention more information about the product, along with cooking instructions to educate consumers about how to prepare them safely.


WTO rules against US meat origin labels appeal

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled against a US appeal for introducing country-of-origin labels on meat packages, saying it discriminates against livestock from Canada and Mexico.

As per the US rules, meat producers need to identify the place of origin for animals, as well as where they are raised and slaughtered. The information is required to be printed on the packages that are sold in grocery stores.

After the US introduced the rule for the labeling of meat products in 2009, Canada and Mexico had filed suits at the WTO saying that the move was discriminatory and leads to an increase in expenses for them, while decreasing the value of their livestock.

UK considering detailed labelling of meat

UkmeatThe British Government is discussing a proposal, the implementation of which will result in more detailed labelling of meat in the country.

While currently meat labels read 'Born, Raised and Slaughtered in Britain', it is being proposed to include the area of the UK where the product has been produced.

The government is also in talks to label dairy products like cheese and butter with 'Made from British milk,' reported The Independent.

Head of food labelling at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Stephen Pugh was quoted as saying that there was a need to label alcoholic products too.

Hormel Foods to buy meat firm Applegate for $775m

hormelUS-based food and meat products producer Hormel Foods signed an agreement to acquire natural and organic meat firm Applegate Farms for around $775m.

As part of the deal, Applegate will operate independently as a standalone subsidiary, under Hormel's refrigerated foods segment.

Hormel Foods president and CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said: "A growing number of consumers are choosing natural and organic products.

"This deal allows us to expand the breadth of our protein offerings to provide consumers more choice."

New antibiotic standard for poultry in US

poultryThe US has developed a new standard for the responsible use of antibiotics in chicken for school lunches

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will verify the Certified Responsible Antibiotic Use (CRAU) standard that was developed by School Food FOCUS (Food Options for Children in the US) and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service Quality Assessment Division will audit poultry companies using either its Process Verified Program or its Quality System Assessment.

Chinese scientists rear cattle rich in fish oils

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A team of Chinese scientists reared genetically modified cattle that are said to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids, normally found in fish.

The researchers reportedly reared 14 transgenic beef calves with higher than normal levels of healthy Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids by using somatic cell nuclear transfer.

The introduction of the fat1 gene in the cattle led to a fivefold increase in the levels of beneficial oils.