Crayfish Linked to Sweden Salmonella Outbreak
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported in November that there have been 33 known cases of Salmonella Mikawasima in Sweden and seven other European countries.
“There is an ongoing investigation of Salmonella Mikawasima cases, which have been identified through exceedance analysis and whole-genome sequence analysis,” Susana Barragan, a spokesperson for the ECDC, told Food Quality & Safety “ECDC is collecting further epidemiological and WGS [whole-genome sequencing] information from the countries in order to assess the extent of this event.”
Although the majority of cases were reported in Sweden, others have been reported in the U.K., France, Denmark, and Ireland.
Moa Rehn, an epidemiologist for the Public Health Agency of Sweden, says it’s investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Mikawasima in the country as people have been sick with the same Salmonella strain that has popped up throughout those European countries.
“We suspect that there is a common food source that has been distributed to several countries in Europe,” Rehn told FQ&S. “A national outbreak team with participants from the Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten), regional infectious disease departments, and the Swedish Food Agency is investigating the Swedish outbreak. Cases are being interviewed by the regional infectious disease departments to find out what those cases ate before falling ill.”
The two dozen or so sick in Sweden live across 12 counties. The most recent known date of illness onset is Oct. 24, with those infected in an age range of 4 to 89 years old.
The Public Health Agency of Sweden is performing a case-by-case study, comparing the food history of outbreak cases to non-outbreak cases from the same time period. They believe the probable source of infection is large crayfish sold at retailer ICA, according to Rehn.
After being made aware of the alleged problem by Folkhälsomyndigheten, the retailer has withdrawn all packages from their stores, though it released a statement that it randomly checked the Chinese crayfish it has in stock and did not detect Salmonella.
– Keith Loria
CEA Food Safety Coalition Welcomes First-Ever Executive Director
The New York City-based CEA Food Safety Coalition has named Marni Karlin as the group’s first executive director. Karlin is charged with strengthening food safety standards and ensuring they are appropriate for the controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) leafy greens sector.
The CEA Food Safety Coalition comprises CEA leafy greens producers, including those that use hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic methods.
“I am always seeking opportunities to use my skills and expertise to create a healthier, more sustainable food system,” Karlin says. “I’ve done that through work with the organic sector, and in nutrition education, and now I’m excited to bring my skills, expertise, and experience in policy, advocacy, and coalition management to bear for the controlled environment agriculture leafy greens sector.”
Previously, Karlin served as VP of government affairs and general counsel for the Organic Trade Association, representing the interests of the organic food, fiber, and agriculture sector in Washington, D.C. She also was counsel to Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., on the Senate Judiciary Committee, advising the legislator through her engagement with coalitions of government, nonprofit, and for-profit stakeholders.
In her new role, Karlin will seek to grow the coalition’s membership, educate consumers and regulators about this growing sector, and work with members, government agencies, and industry experts to strengthen food safety standards.
“As a growing sector, it’s critical that we build a coalition of engaged stakeholders to advocate, educate, and work with external stakeholders now,” she says. “It’s important to have a seat at the table when standards and regulations are being discussed, and I’m excited to ensure that our sector has just that. We have a great opportunity to help people understand what we do—whether they’re parents choosing to put our products on their children’s plates, or regulators making important decisions to protect food safety and people’s health.”
– Keith Loria
Report Reveals Food Authenticity Market Headed for Exponential Growth
A new report projects that the global food authenticity market is on a big upswing and will reach record numbers in the years ahead.
In 2017, the global food authenticity market was valued at $5.312 billion, according to research by KD Market Insights, Albany, N.Y. Researchers reported it should reach $9.84 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1%.
Food authenticity, defined in the report, is driven by numerous factors, including volatility in food prices, availability of raw materials and ingredients, economic conditions, regulatory developments, and large environmental impacts.
According to the UK’s Food Standards Agency, food fraud is rampant and causes significant negative effects on both consumers and businesses. This includes everything from damage to brand reputations and revenue for retail businesses and processing establishments to health complications for the consumer due to its impact on food safety. That has given rise to innovative technology that’s utilized to monitor food authenticity and tackle food fraud head on so more labs can confirm the food source and stop potential problems.
The food authenticity market is led by Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific, with the latter recording the highest growth rate last year thanks to an increase in processed foods production and the governments’ implementation of new safety regulations.
KD Market Insights credits the U.S. for its regulations on labeling requirements and authenticity confirmation as being a key contributor to the projected increase in the years ahead.
The meat speciation segment is projected to grow at the highest compound annual growth rate during the forecast period, due to the increase in number of frauds in meat products and adulterations.
– Keith Loria
Beyond Vegan Burgers: Next-Generation Protein Could Come from Air, Methane, Volcanic Springs
ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – It may sound like science fiction, but in a few short years the family dinner table may be laden with steak from a printer and other proteins produced from air, methane or volcanic microbes.
With the explosive success of vegan beef and burger substitutes developed by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, the alternative protein sector just keeps growing.
According to investment bank Barclays, alternative meat sales could reach $140 billion – or 10% of the global meat industry – within a decade, or a 10-fold increase from current levels.
A new generation of products in the works melds cutting-edge technology with age-old fermentation processes to turn otherwise harmful or everyday elements into essential food ingredients, with the aim of reducing agriculture’s massive carbon footprint.
According to the United Nations, agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net manmade greenhouse gas emissions from 2007 to 2016, soaring to 37% when pre- and post-production activity were factored in.
Livestock meanwhile are responsible for about 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Enter Solar Foods, a Finnish company working on an edible protein powder called Solein which uses water, air and renewable electricity as a way to separate food production from agriculture.
“You avoid land use impacts like clearing forests for agriculture, use of pesticides and use of fertilisers that release greenhouse gases and so on,” co-founder and CEO Pasi Vainikka told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Solein is made by putting microbes into a liquid and feeding them small bubbles of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, a process similar to making beer or wine, apart from the lack of grapes or grains, Vainikka explained.
As the liquid thickens, it is dried into a very fine powder which is about 65% protein and tastes much like wheat flour.
In September, Solar Foods struck an agreement with Nordic food company Fazer to develop products using Solein, which can be used in existing plant-based products or future offerings such as lab-grown meat.
Solein will cost about €5 per kilo ($2.50 a pound) to produce and will hit the market by 2021, Vainikka said.
“There’s a lot of climate anxiety,” he said. “And people are looking for hope and solutions and they’re happy to see companies like ours, so that’s encouraging.”
Fermentation, Fermentation, Fermentation
Another company tackling agriculture’s emissions through fermentation, Bangalore-based String Bio, is working to convert methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide as it traps 28 times more heat, from waste and natural sources into protein powder – initially for animals.
“We said this is probably the best impact we humans can have in this world, where we take something that we don’t need for the environment and convert it into something we do need,” said Vinod Kumar, who with his wife Ezhil Subbian set up the company.
Such environmental considerations, along with concerns over animal welfare and human health, have driven both demand and supply of alternative proteins, said Dan Altschuler Malek, Managing Partner at investment firm Unovis Partners.
Just 10 years ago he said retailers saw alternative proteins as a risky bet, but “today they realise there is a huge demand for all these products.”
Unovis manages New Crop Capital, a fund that invests exclusively in start-ups developing meat, seafood and dairy replacements, including Beyond Meat.
New Crop has also invested in Nova Meats, a Spanish company that uses a special 3D printer to produce steak that can mimic the taste and texture of meat.
The printers produce three-dimensional vegan steaks using cartridge-style syringes which extrude plant-based proteins.
Volcanoes and Tiny Organisms
Some have criticized plant-based alternatives flooding store shelves as highly processed and high in sodium, and Harvard scientists recently questioned their role in a healthy diet.
Others such as the Center for Consumer Freedom, which is backed by the food and beverage industry, have launched campaigns decrying so-called “fake meat” as loaded with chemicals.
Proponents counter that burgers have always been laden with fat and sodium and were never exactly considered health food.
The new generation of proteins are also less processed, said Thomas Jonas, CEO of Sustainable Bioproducts whose protein is based on microbes found in volcanic hot springs at Yellowstone National Park.
In that barren, other-worldly and dangerous landscape, researchers “discovered a bunch of life forms that across millennia evolved to survive in this environment,” he said.
Having raised $33 million in February, the company plans to produce “a hamburger equivalent” next year through a “novel fermentation” of the microbes.
At full capacity its 35,000-square-feet (3,250 square metres) plant in Chicago could produce burgers equivalent to those made from cows grazing on 15,000 acres (6,100 hectares) of land, Jonas said.
For investors like Altschuler Malek, alternative proteins are all about options for consumers, with three essential caveats:
“It needs to taste great, it needs to meet certain price points and it needs to be able to be manufactured in large volume,” he said.
“There are amazing chefs all over the world that are doing plant-based products. But If you cannot convert that into mass manufacturing it’s really hard to see how that can actually make a change in the world.”
It is also an opportunity for a radical shift in agriculture which, despite incremental improvements, has remained much the same for centuries, Jonas said.
“Fundamentally we are surviving on this planet based on an agricultural system that has barely changed in the past 11,000 years . . . when we domesticated a handful of plants and animals.”
“New technologies are really giving us tools for a second domestication – things that we didn’t even know were there.”
–Thin Lei Win, Thomson Reuters Foundation