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Health Canada Approves Use of Stevia as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars

Posted on December 08 2016 | Author: Admin

On August 24, Health Canada’s Food Directorate issued a Notice of Modification to Enable the Use of Steviol Glycosides (the active ingredient in stevia leaf extract) as a Sweetener in Nutritional Supplement Bars.

This is great news for the industry, as approval for stevia in various food products has lagged behind the US market for some time, with many customers wondering why low-calorie nutritional bars do not have stevia as an ingredient.

This also led to an unfair playing field in the industry, as Canadian manufacturers were limited in their choice of sweeteners to add to low-calorie Nutritional Supplement bars.

This Notice of Modification adds to expand the list of foods in Canada that can include steviol glycosides (stevia leaf extract) as a sweetener.

While the term is not in common use, Nutritional Supplements are a specific category of food within the Canadian Food and Drugs Regulations (FDR). They are located in FDR Division 24, Foods for Special Dietary Use, specifically in Section B.24.200.

While most consumers will not be familiar with this category as a distinct type of food, most people are aware of the concept of Meal Replacements. Meal Replacements are also found in Division 24 of the FDR. Up until now, Meal Replacements were allowed to use stevia, but Nutritional Supplements were not.

The two categories are quite similar in terms of compositional requirements of the products. The biggest differences are that Nutritional Supplements are permitted to have a lower total calorie count than Meal Replacements, and in addition they cannot be advertised as a replacement for a meal.  The easiest way for the general public to think of Nutritional Supplements is that they are a Low-Cal version of Meal Replacements.

 

Article provided by dicentra


About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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A User’s Guide to Social Media Strategies

Posted on November 30 2016 | Author: Rachael Piccoli Kuschke

In the past, it took 60 years for television to reach 1 billion households. In this generation, it only took 5 years for cellphones to reach the same amount of people. In today’s generation, the increase in cellphone users goes hand in hand with the use of social media platforms due to the growing amount of people who use their phone for the internet and social networking apps. Technology is growing rapidly, requiring consumers, and more importantly businesses, to grow with it. With 70% of the global population expected to have smartphones by 2020, it is imperative businesses are active on social media.

Social media can be a great tool for organizations to reach a large segment of their consumers, help them interact with users and uncover consumer needs. Two of the most popular social media platforms used by businesses are Twitter and Facebook. Each of these platforms has unique strategies and goals associated with it.

Twitter
Twitter focuses on 4 key pillars: public, conversational, real time and distributed information. Since each post is limited to 140 characters, Twitter is not about creating long, in-depth messages– it is about grabbing the users attention, being seen and engaging with the public multiple times a day.

Did you know that 80% of customer service requests come from Twitter?

It is important for businesses to interact with customers to identify needs, areas of improvement and to keep the “conversation going”. It is not often that people take their complaints into a store anymore; businesses should prioritize activity on the platforms that consumers favour and use to express their opinions.  This can assist with fostering customer satisfaction and even staying ahead of the competition.

Twitter is also a great place to keep up with current news and trends. If there is a specific issue that everyone is tweeting about – businesses should consider becoming a part of the conversation! Organizations can increase engagement when they express an opinion, encouraging their consumers to share their views as well. It also indicates to consumers that your organization is keeping up with current trends, news and is active on the platform.

Facebook
Facebook has changed significantly since its launch in 2004. It has grown from a standard image-sharing network to a marketing hub. Today, Facebook is populated with multiple advertisements, promotions, pages, interests and “likes” posted to your profile. This gives companies access to information that they have never been able to see before!

Consumers are able to “like” different company pages, share articles, videos and photos they enjoy as well as comment on all content circulating the platform. This has allowed users to become very interactive online and has created a space to share thoughts and opinions on practically anything. Since consumers can share information online so easily, Facebook is a great way for companies to utilize social marketing. By promoting your organization on Facebook, you allow people to easily share your content with their networks, who can then share with their networks and so on. With features that allow you to “like” and comment, it is easy for consumers to receive feedback and identify what pages their friends are “liking”, and thus, possibly influencing brand behaviour. 

A recent study found that trusted social media users play a larger role in purchase decisions than product manufactures/retailers – these users are often referred to as “influencers”. Consumers value other consumers’ opinions, which means that “influencers” can play a huge part in the marketing of a brand – especially on social media where more than half of the population is active!

By promoting your product on Facebook, it gives people the opportunity to share their interest in your product with their network and potentially promote it with the click of a button. “Likes” and positive comments can help enhance a brand’s reputation and help you promote your product or business.

Growing With Technology
The way consumers use technology has changed, making it extremely important for businesses to adapt and understand how consumers are engaging with it.  Since the invention of smartphones, consumers are using various social media apps to converse and share opinions online. This is the new way of communicating in today’s generation, making it essential for businesses to be part of social media and its communication platform.

Hopefully this post has provided you with more information on using social media across different platforms.

 

Rachael Piccoli Kuschke
Marketing & Events Assistant 

 

Sources
5 Social Media Metrics that Your Business Should be Tracking
70 Percent of Population Will Have Smartphones by 2020
Hootsuite Conference 2016
Impact of Social Influence in E-Commerce Decision Making

 

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Pixabay
 






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Are You Meeting FSMA Produce Safety Rule?

Posted on November 24 2016 | Author: Admin

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) requires growers to initially establish a Microbial Water Quality Profile (MWQP) for each untreated surface agricultural water source used during growing activities of covered produce (other than sprouts).

The Produce Safety Rules (PSR) must be applied for each water source using a direct water application method and annual surveys must be conducted for that water source in subsequent years.

The water quality profile is based on the levels of generic E. coli in your agricultural water using 100mL sample sizes. The method of testing for generic E. coli must be conducted following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Method 1603. Methods other than 1603 may be used but they must be scientifically valid and shown to be at least equivalent to EPA Method 1603 in accuracy, precision, and sensitivity.

Some experts have stated that testing water samples with 100mL sample size is not sufficient and may not detect pathogens if they are at very low levels.

Research led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is examining a new irrigation water sample collection and testing methods that are expected to enable better detection of pathogens and fecal organisms other than E.coli for irrigation water. Ultra filtration water sampling techniques seem to be offering better options for risk assessment. The technique involves robust filters with minute pours that can trap bacteria, parasites and viruses. A battery powered portable pump is used to filter water from rivers, lakes or ponds at rates of 2 to 4 liters per minute.

Agricultural water is defined in part “as water that is intended to, or likely to, contact the harvestable portion of covered produce or food-contact surfaces.”

Geometric Mean (GM): GM is essentially the average amount of generic E. coli in your water source. FSMA Produce Safety Rule criteria requires a GM at or below 126 E. coli CFU/100mL.

Statistical Threshold Value (STV): STV is a measure of variability of generic E. coli levels in your water source. In simple terms, it is the level where 90 percent of the samples (log values) are below the value. Produce Safety Rule requires an STV at or below 410 E. coli CFU/100mL.

CFU (colony forming units) is the estimate of bacterial concentration in your water per 100mL.

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra is a professional consulting firm that specializes in addressing all matters related to safety, quality and compliance for all product categories in the health sciences and food industries. We evaluate, implement, and provide all the necessary support for your products and operations to gain market access and build confidence in your brand. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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The Growing Agri-Technology Industry

Posted on November 16 2016 | Author: Dave Smardon

Fourteen years have gone by since Bioenterprise first opened its doors. Back then, we were a very modest, three person operation, focusing on what little agricultural innovation that could be found; innovation that had gone beyond the applied research phase. Agriculture was a commodity-minded industry – much more so than today. There was no such thing as “agri-technology” or “agri-tech” back then and the movement towards agri-investment was still years away.  Governments were still completely focused on supporting research and the very idea of agricultural or food targeted accelerators, incubators, and clusters, was somewhere off in the future.

I am struck by the incredible difference we see today, from such a short time ago. I joined Bioenterprise in the summer of 2005 and all of the above was still very much true. A decade later and agriculture has been brought out of the shadows and into the mainstream. The First and foremost factor supporting this shift is the exponential growth in start-ups. Bioenterprise tracks start-up activity in our Innovation Portfolio and in our global database of companies. We list nearly 2,000 companies in thirty countries and this number is growing more rapidly than ever.

Not surprising, the leaders in agricultural innovation are countries that had the vision to support agriculture and food innovation a decade ago. The Netherlands, France, Brazil and the United States have become hotbeds for entrepreneurial activity. Of course, Israel always punches well above its weight and their output of start-up companies in agriculture is truly amazing. Countries like France and Brazil have invested $400 million in support of agricultural innovation and commercialization – and did so seven years ago. Today, they are reaping the benefits of their investments. Countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland can certainly hold their own but one must recognize that they represent a second tier. This is to be expected because they have invested less and for a much shorter period of time. But governments do get it now! They have tasted the kool-aid and are rapidly making investments in commercialization programs.

In just the past five years in the United States, we have seen the creation of Yield Lab, Agri-Tech East, Radical, and a new incubator at UC Davis. In Europe, new agricultural incubators are being formed in Norway, Scotland, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark – just to name a few. Israel  has three! The United Kingdom established the Catalyst Fund and invested an additional £90 million to create agricultural innovation centres of excellence around the country. New Zealand and Ireland have recently established incubators – and I have barely touched the surface.  All of the aforementioned have an agricultural focus and the vast majority of these are, in some way, government supported.

In Canada, there are regional players like PEI BioAlliance, Innovacorp, and Ag-West Bio and then we have a national player in Bioenterprise. I think that it should be noted as a sidebar that British Columbia has assembled a commercialization eco-system to be admired and duplicated. (I look forward to discussing this in a future blog.)

As more and more accelerators and incubators spring up, some problems become very clear. First, many of them are regional players; basically economic development engines designed to build new businesses and attract others to their regions. The latter objective, (attracting businesses to a region) is incredibly difficult and should never be the burden of an accelerator or incubator.  It detracts from their most important objective; to build compelling and sustainable, new businesses.  Second, most are underfunded and lack the capacity and depth in resources to truly make a difference. Funding is often provided on a short-term basis and is subject to the whims of politicians and changes in government.  It is very difficult to build a critical mass of resources using that formula. The result is incubators that fall prey to the same dilemmas as the start-up companies they are trying to help. They end up being underfunded, under-resourced, and can only fade out of existence. They are not built for success. Third, agriculture and food are global industries. Start-up companies in these sectors require help on a much greater scale. They need access to markets, the experience of international executives and a global network that they can tap into for support. As a result, many of these commercialization groups will flounder.

Well, problems bring opportunities! Bioenterprise recently announced a strategic partnership with the Larta Institute in California. They are the only other agri-focused commercialization group with the history of success, pedigree, and breadth of resources similar to Bioenterprise. Together, we represent the largest agri-acceleration capacity in the world! And our organizations intend to capitalize on this unique position. While the details are still being ironed out, I think it can be said that this is only the beginning. It is through partnerships and collaborations between accelerators and incubators, regardless of their geography, that will provide the capacity and resources to truly make a difference… globally! And yes, the raison d’être for each of us can never be ignored but the leverage and global opportunities are so compelling.

As more and more commercialization organizations are created, there is a ground swell of new interest coming from multi-nationals and investors alike. Hopefully, more globally focused commercialization can present them with a smorgasbord of start-up companies and innovative technologies.

Yes, the landscape looks nothing like it did a decade ago, and the degree of change continues to accelerate. The future looks very bright indeed!

 

Dave Smardon
President & CEO 






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Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1

Posted on November 09 2016 | Author: Admin

Read Mandatory GE-food labelling coming to the USA Part 1 from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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Merger in Big Agriculture

Posted on November 02 2016 | Author: Alexander Lazier

$66 billion is the price agreed upon in the largest all-cash acquisition in history. In September of 2016, Bayer the German agrochemical giant, reached a deal after months of deliberations to acquire the American seed company, Monsanto. Outpours of public concern followed as the deal would result in history’s largest seed and agriculture company.

Lets look at the facts:

The total revenue produced by Monsanto in 2015 was $15 billion, while Bayer as a corporation produced $46 billion and its subsidiary Bayer CropScience, $12 billion. The acquisition of Monsanto will provide Bayer with 24 percent of the world’s pesticides, 29 percent of its seeds and 70 percent of the cottonseed market.

Public Concerns
A preliminary concern is that Bayer Crop Science dominates the agrochemical/pesticide industry, while Monsanto leads global seed production. An acquisition therefore is not consolidation of like-businesses, but rather a move for full supply-chain control, more aptly known as vertical integration.

Vertical integration of the two largest companies in their respective fields has strong potential to curb competition and thus increase the probability of price gouging. Although agricultural yields have increased over the years, so have crop prices. Therefore, the potential for price gouging poses large risks in keeping global crop prices elevated, which would have strong effects on related industries.

Lastly, the acquisition will leave farmers facing a duopoly in seed: Bayer/Monsanto and, Syngenta/ChemChina and an additional duopoly in chemicals: Dow/Dupont and Bayer/Monsanto.

Company Reassurances
Bayer and Monsanto have attempted to eliminate the negative buzz by outlining the positive benefits of the acquisition. Primarily, merging two businesses with differing expertise will facilitate faster, more effective R&D in the production of environmentally robust seeds, which are crucial to pest aversion and drought resistance as the world’s population skyrockets. With an annual R&D budget of $2.8 billion, the acquisition is hoping to advance seed research exponentially.

Additionally, as large regulatory hurdles must be passed to introduce novel biotechnology to the market, it is difficult for anyone but large players to compete. The unpredictable and lengthy process encourages consolidation and pushes for vertical integration, as it would be inefficient to do otherwise.

U.S. Government Reactions
The U.S. Senate has responded to the acquisition by assigning both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to an investigation to ensure that the acquisition will not substantially lessen smaller scale competition.

Industry Reactions
The agriculture industry responded with mixed opinions. If Bayer is true to their claims, the acquisition will create an advanced seed landscape with an increased profile of products that will increase yield and minimizing losses. However, other growers remain skeptical and believe company-centered values and price hikes will eventually be the reality.

Wherever the public stands on this acquisition, the consequences will not begin to appear clear for months, if not years. While concern is indisputably warranted, the potential for great agricultural gains are equally at play. It is up to time to tell whether this potential will be met.  

 

Alexander Lazier
Junior Analyst, Agricultural Technologies

 

Sources
Monsanto brand name may get the circular file in proposed Bayer acquisition
Monsanto's latest acquisition could send food prices soaring
Why our food would be in danger from a Bayer-Monsanto merger

 

Photo
University of Wisconsin-Extension

 

 






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FDA Addresses Nutrition Label Issue for Small Amounts of Nutrients and Dietary Ingredients in Finalized Guidance Document

Posted on October 27 2016 | Author: Admin

As of the beginning of July 2016, the FDA has finalized the draft guidance document (originally drafted and released for consultation at the end of July 2015) on its policy about Nutrition Labels and how small quantities of nutrients and dietary ingredients should be declared by food and dietary supplement manufacturers.

The finalized guidance document acknowledges the conflict that sometimes may arise when being in compliance with two distinct sections of regulations and which regulation takes precedence in the discretion of the FDA. The two sections of FDA regulations (both from Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations [21 CFR] 101.9) where compliance could potentially be mutually exclusive are:

  • 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8): These regulations describe the nutrition-labelling requirements in declaring the nutrient values in a serving of conventional food. It specifies that in declaring nutrients, specific “rounding” rules have to be applied, where the stated value has to be to a distinct increment (ex. the quantitative amount of total fat present at 5 g or less must be rounded to the nearest 0.5 increment).  This regulation also specifies how the FDA tests for compliance to these values.
  • 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5): These regulations describe the compliance requirements for declaring dietary ingredients and nutrients in nutrition labelling.  These compliance provisions (sometimes referred to as the “20-20” rule) describes a product to be misbranded under the following two conditions:
    1. The amount of a naturally present vitamin, mineral, protein, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, other carbohydrate, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat or potassium is less than 80% of the value for that nutrient declared on the label (21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii)).
    2. The amount of calories, sugars, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, or sodium is more than 120% of the declared value for that nutrient (21 CFR 101.9(g)(5).

The conflicting values for a nutrient can arise when small quantities of nutrients have to be declared.  The rounding requirements under 101.9(c)(1)-(8) may result in a value being declared that exceeds the 20% deviation permitted in 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).  An example would be a food containing 0.70 g of saturated fat per serving.  The quantity that should be declared according to 101.9(c)(2)(i) would be  0.5 g.  However this declaration would not comply with § 101.9(g)(5) because 0.70 g is more than 20 percent in excess of 0.5 g.

The FDA’s resolution  (“to be applied to all products in a consistent way” ) is based on the rationale that as the FDA’s nutrition labelling requirements in 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) specifies the increments and units of measure for declaring nutrient values while 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5) does not, the “FDA considers it more practical and consistent” for manufacturers to follow paragraph (c)(1)-(8) when a conflict occurs between 21 CFR 101.9(c)(1)-(8) and 21 CFR 101.9(g)(4)(ii) and (5).

 

Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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Bioenterprise and Women in Agriculture

Posted on October 19 2016 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

Earlier this month, members from the Bioenterprise team attended the Advancing Women in Ag Conference in Toronto, Ontario.  It was the second Annual event in Toronto and the fourth across Canada.  Our team learned of this event last year and had since heard several positive reviews, determining that this event could be a great opportunity for several of us at Bioenterprise.

The conference was sold out and the banquet room was filled with more than 400 women from the entire value chain of agriculture.  Several topics and studies presented revealed that throughout agriculture, the industry is heavily dominated by men, and even more so, in executive level positions.  The conference also presented personal and professional development opportunities.  I personally found the presentations about leadership and time management to be my most valuable take-aways from the event. 

Some of the speakers discussed the importance of reducing barriers for women in agriculture, the challenges that lie ahead to do so, and the importance of inviting both genders to contribute to the conversation.  This discussion also stood out to me and fostered a sense of pride as an employee of Bioenterprise.

Bioenterprise was formed in 2003, with one office location and a very small team.  Bioenterprise has grown significantly since then – now with six office locations across Canada, nineteen full-time employees and two part-time positions.  We are even currently looking to fill two additional full-time openings on our team!

Our team has grown a lot, but what is interesting to note is how many of our positions are held by women.  Twenty-one employees total and THIRTEEN of them are women!  We also have two extremely well established women serving on our Board of Directors.

Some of my female colleagues and I have been with Bioenterprise for several years.  For the most part, we started out new to our roles or the industry itself, but we have been fortunate enough to receive the necessary support and opportunities to grow as professionals.  Dave Smardon, President & CEO, takes an active role in identifying areas for growth and then provides us with the tools to do so.  We have all been promoted or have advanced at Bioenterprise, demonstrating that gender just doesn’t seem to be a barrier within our organization.

The issues discussed at the Advancing Women in Ag Conference were certainly not lost on me and I truly learned a lot – but I am also proud to be a part of an organization that seems to be setting a positive standard.  

 

Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing Manager

 






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Food Fax

Posted on October 14 2016 | Author: Admin

 

Read the lasted Food Fax newsletter from International Food Focus Ltd.’s President, Carol Culhane.  

 

©2016 International Food Focus Ltd., 211 Carlton Street, East Office, Toronto, ON M5A 2K9 E: focus@foodfocus.on.ca
Food Fax is archived at www.foodfocus.on.ca 






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WHO Cares About Food Safety: Red Meat

Posted on October 13 2016 | Author: Admin

It was only last October that the World Health Organization (WHO) announced, based on a report from the International Agency of Cancer Research (IACR), that processed meats and red meats were carcinogenic.

The WHO, however, did not attempt to establish the degree of risk to the public or the actual nature of the risk. While they did assign an IACR Group 1 classification to processed meats and an IACR Group 2A classification to red meats, it is important to remember that a “group” simply refers to the weight of evidence available to support the carcinogenic designation; not to the actual level of risk involved.

It is not clear, therefore, if or to what degree the risks involved can be mitigated (for example, if they can be lessened by avoiding high temperature cooking or by avoiding certain methods of preservation). As a result, and as expected, sales of processed and red meats declined immediately following the announcement. What is perhaps surprising is that within just a few weeks, sales of such meats began to return to normal, as reported in a March 2016 Global News broadcast. The reasons for such a rebound may vary – perhaps people have short term memories, perhaps they began to doubt the WHO’s findings, perhaps they decided that the health benefits of such meats to outweigh the risks, or perhaps they find such meats too delicious to give up.

Of course, the potential risks should not be so readily dismissed. Estimates of cancer deaths, based on independent research conducted by the Global Burden of Disease Project, due to diets high in processed meats are about 34,000 worldwide per year, while those attributed to diets high in red meat are estimated at 50,000 per year. On the other hand, putting this into perspective, the number of deaths worldwide per year due to ingesting contaminated foods is about 420000, with 40% of those being children under the age of 5, and an additional 500 million+  individuals falling ill each year (according to the WHO’s own statistics).

While in the case of meats it is still unclear how to mitigate the overall risks, in the case of food contamination we do know how risks can be reduced and avoided.  This involves observing simple food safety practices throughout the supply chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to the dinner table. For consumers at home, this means proper handling, refrigeration, and cooking of foods. For industry, this means implementing HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) and adopting effective food safety programs.

Were producers, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to take food safety more seriously and adopt simple but effective measures towards preventing contamination and adulteration, the global food supply would be far safer than were the WHO to declare an outright global ban of red meats.


Article provided by dicentra

About dicentra
dicentra provides sought-after food safety guidance, compliance consulting services and scientific guidance for food and health-related products sold in North American marketplaces. Since 2002, dicentra has been helping clients resolve complex scientific and safety issues, develop safe and effective market-leading products and facilitate timely regulatory approvals. To learn more about dicentra, please visit www.dicentra.com

Click here to view the original article. 






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