High levels of mycotoxins detected in U.S. grains

By all accounts, much of the U.S. is closing its 2018 harvest season with a high risk for mycotoxin development in grains thanks to wet weather over the past few weeks and months.

Not only have these issues caused concern for harvest timing, prompting delays due to moisture, but the increased risk of mold growth increases the likelihood of mycotoxin contamination.

The University of Arizona’s Duarte Diaz told Feedstuffs that farmers and livestock producers should expect fumonisin especially in southern states and higher levels of DON, T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone in the Midwest and western states. And, where one mycotoxin is found, usually others are also present.

Max Hawkins, mycotoxin expert from Alltech and frequent contributor to Neogen’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Reports, told Feed Navigator that in corn silage samples sent to Alltech this year so far, the average sample contained 6.26 mycotoxins. About 99% of samples contained two or more types. None were free of mycotoxins. DON and fumonisin were the most prevalent, but some T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone was found. [ More … ]

Robot-run restaurant kitchens prompt questions about man vs. machine

If you entered the newest restaurant in the chain Haidilao in Beijing, you might not feel like you’re stepping into the future. Everything seems typical at first — diners eating while servers mingle among tables, as expected — but behind the scenes, things get a bit more hi-tech.

Haidilao has set up a restaurant with an entirely robot-run kitchen in the Chinese capital, becoming what it calls the “world’s first smart hotpot restaurant.” Hotpot restaurants have diners order a soup stock and ingredients, which they cook at their table using a pot and burner.

One reviewer from the South China Morning Post visited the restaurant and described the experience:

“As you enter the venue, an automated cold room kept at zero to four degrees Celsius [32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit] is on view, where queues of robotic arms prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables according to the orders placed by patrons through an iPad at each table.” [ More … ]

Consumer trends: 61% of Americans pay attention to food labels

Food labels are more than just marketing words on a package — they reveal important health information for consumers and allow them to make more informed buying decisions as they stroll down the grocery aisles.

Michigan State University recently released the results of its Food Literacy and Engagement Poll, a survey of over 2,000 Americans about their understanding of several food-related topics, including shopping habits and food access. According to the survey, 61% of consumers said that food labels are “influential or very influential” in their purchasing decisions, while just 13% said labels had “minimal influence” or are “not at all influential.”

The survey shows that consumers are paying attention, but that they don’t always have all the information they’d like about their food. About 50% of consumers said they rarely or never seek information about how their food was produced and where it was grown. About a fifth of respondents said they sought this information at least once a week.

Less than half of respondents ranked their understanding of the global food system as “average,” while 38% confidently rated their knowledge as “higher or much higher than average.” [ More … ]

Neogen at Water Quality Technology Conference

Water quality is key to life, and we’ll be at the Water Quality Technology Conference in Toronto this month to present our water test kit, Colitag, which uses an EPA-approved medium to detect total coliforms and E. coli in water samples. Find us at booth #406.

About the event:
Dates: November 11–15, 2018
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

See the conference website for more information.

Study: Does eating organic reduce risk of cancer?

In recent years, more and more consumers have incorporated organic foods into their diets as a lifestyle choice for several reasons, such as perceived health benefits, supporting local producers and promoting sustainable growing practices. Now, a new study suggests that organic food might help reduce cancer risks as well.

The publicly funded study, coming out of France, kept track of five years’ worth of eating habits of nearly 70,000 adults, mostly women in their 40s. It found that those who ate organic foods frequently, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat, developed 25% fewer cancers than consumers who never ate organic. Especially notable was the reduction in rates of lymphoma (73%) and postmenopausal breast cancer (21%).

“We did expect to find a reduction,” said study lead Julia Baudry, “but the extent of the reduction is quite important.” Baudry was careful to note that organic food doesn’t necessarily prevent cancer, but “an organic-based diet could contribute to reducing cancer risk.”

Participants shared detailed information about their consumption of a diverse range of organic foods, including fruits, vegetables, dairy and soy, meat, fish, eggs, grains and legumes, bread and cereals, flour, oils and condiments, wine, coffee and tea, biscuits, chocolate, sugar and dietary supplements. [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: U.S. law gives 60 days for new regulations on oral fluid and hair drug testing

A new act signed into effect by U.S. President Donald Trump in late October aims to combat the opioid crisis with a variety of provisions that affect everything from packaging to telemedicine, including one that has been long backed by the trucking industry.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 for the first time addresses hair and oral fluid testing for illegal drug usage, directing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to report its plan for establishing hair and oral fluid testing guidelines within 60 days.

Previously, U.S. law acknowledged only urine testing, so trucking companies needed to carry out urine tests on new and randomly tested drivers. This meant that even if a company wanted to rely on another testing method, like hair testing, federal requirements mandated that they still carry out urine testing in addition to other forms. [ More … ]

Making the water taste good: Water pH modification on the poultry farm

“Would you like lemon with your water?” is a question heard at restaurants across the country. For those who answer yes, a splash of acidity makes their drink a little more pleasant to drink.

“Acidic beverages tend to be more palatable— for example coffee, soda and sports drinks,” said Neogen poultry expert Lindsay Good. “That principle extends to poultry water as well.”

Previously, we’ve covered how important it is to clear mineral buildup from poultry water lines, and disinfecting the water provided to birds. Once this is done, the focus can shift to enhancing the water to encourage more consumption. Higher water intake correlates to higher feed intake, ultimately leading to improved daily gains and overall performance. Modifying the pH level of the water can improve both the palatability and odor of the water. [ More … ]

Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report for November 5, 2018

The latest from Neogen’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report includes new DON reports, harvest completed at five-year average, and a report from Alltech’s Dr. Max Hawkins on 2018 mycotoxin prevalence. “Test, test, test,” urges Dr. Hawkins.

Neogen Corporation takes great care to ensure the integrity of the data we collect from many sources across the country. As these data can vary widely, they should NOT be considered typical of all grain harvested. The mycotoxin levels we report are intended to assist our industry partners in developing their risk assessment programs. Detecting problems before commingling or processing can help avoid quality issues and financial losses.

To subscribe to get these reports straight to your email inbox, click here.

Neogen at the Food Safety Consortium

At this year’s Food Safety Consortium, Neogen’s Jim Topper is presenting with Rob Mommsen, Global Food Safety Director from Sabra Dipping Company, about the revolutionary Listeria Right Now. Their presentation, “Applications for a one-hour environmental Listeria test” takes place on Thursday, Nov. 15.

We’ll also be showing AccuPoint Advanced, our ATP sanitation verification system, at booth #312.

You can visit us there in Schaumberg, Illinois from November 13 to 15. For more event details, see the Food Safety Consortium website.

Wild harvest weather leaves U.S. farmers worried about mycotoxins

The 2018 harvest has proven to be a challenging one for some American farmers, reports Wisconsin State Farmer, as cold temperatures, winds and even bouts of rain and snow have hampered work.

Now that the ground has dried up a bit, agriculture authorities are noting that grain damaged by earlier weather could present mycotoxin risks.

“Because of the challenging conditions this growing season, there is an increased likelihood of damaged or moldy grain,” said Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Sheila Harsdorf in a statement. “If you suspect you may have a problem with your grain, consider having it tested prior to commingling or delivering it.” [ More … ]