Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report: October 9, 2017

This week, we look at several new mycotoxin reports, as well as the impact of record high temperatures on crops. Click here to watch.

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.

FDA: Love is not a valid food ingredient

If your secret baking ingredient is love, keep it secret and don’t put it on your product labels.

A bakery and wholesale company in Massachusetts was called out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month for labeling “love” as an ingredient in its granola product.

Here’s what the FDA wrote to Nashoba Brook Bakery:

“Your Nashoba Granola label lists ingredient ‘Love’. Ingredients required to be declared on the label or labeling of food must be listed by their common or usual name [21 CFR 101.4(a)(1). ‘Love’ is not a common or usual name of an ingredient, and is considered to be intervening material because it is not part of the common or usual name of the ingredient.”

The warning letter also listed numerous other health violations. The bakery says it plans to make changes in order to comply with the FDA’s requirements, but isn’t thrilled about the mandate on love. [ More … ]

Happy National Pork Month!

Put away those jack-o’-lanterns and break out the bacon, because instead of celebrating the spooky side of October in this blog post, we’re going to talk about how this month is National Pork Month.

Some pork facts

Traditionally, pigs in Europe were slaughtered in fall and early winter, as the ensuing cold weather would help with preserving meat until Christmastime. Today, we use this time to celebrate not only pigs and pig meat, but also the farmers who work tirelessly to raise them, as well as the food processors who bring the nutritious meat to consumers.

Believe it or not, pork is the most widely consumed meat in the world. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, over 112 million tons of pig meat were consumed around the world in 2012. The most popular pork product, according to National Hog Farmer, is ham, followed by sausage, bacon, lunchmeat and pork chops. [ More … ]

The advantages of metagenomics over genome sequencing

Earlier this week, Neogen’s own Joe Heinzelmann was a special guest on Food Safety Magazine’s podcast, “Food Safety Matters.”

Heinzelmann dropped by to talk about metagenomics, next generation sequencing (NGS) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). This technology can help the food processing industry detect spoilage organisms within facilities, eliminate them, and reduce the possibility of spoiled products reaching consumers.

First up, Heinzelmann and Food Safety Magazine outlined what exactly this new technology is and where it comes from.

“As the cost of DNA testing decreases, its practical applications are increasing, with one of the most exciting applications available being the use of sequencing to identify microorganisms in samples,” said Heinzelmann. One of the handiest features: it works for microorganisms that traditionally can’t be cultured.

Food Safety Magazine asked Heinzelmann if he anticipated widespread adoption of WGS and metagenomics in the food processing industry. [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: 2016 U.S. drug death statistics released

U.S. drug overdose statistics for 2016 are now available. Approximately 64,000 lives were lost to overdoses throughout the year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s an increase of 23% from 2015, when roughly 52,000 people died of overdoses.

The New York Times reports that this is the first national report that gives not only numbers, but breaks them down by state and by particular drug, revealing one culprit that has caused more deaths than any other drug: fentanyl. Over 20,000 were killed by fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Just three years ago, that number was under 5,000.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid about 80 times stronger than morphine. In the medical world, it’s used as a tranquilizer for large animals — we’re talking elephant-large. It’s incredibly potent, and just a few grains can kill. In some varieties, like carfentanil, accidental inhalation of trace amounts has caused overdoses, so law enforcement and medical responders need to be extremely careful about exposure when handling anyone who may be in possession of the drug.

Heroin, one of the better known faces of the opioid crisis, caused over 15,000 drug deaths in 2016, and prescription opioids over 14,000. Cocaine, meth and methadone were the next highest causes of death.

On the left is a lethal dose of heroin. On the right is a lethal dose of fentanyl.

Many states saw significant increases in overdose deaths, especially Delaware (71% increase), Maryland (67% increase) and Florida (55% increase). Nebraska, Washington and Wyoming saw very small decreases.

Data is not in yet for 2017, but experts say the crisis is continuing to worsen.

For a primer on what opioids do, where they are causing the most damage, and why these overdose statistics are rising, check out the New York Times’ summary, “Short Answers to Hard Questions about the Opioid Crisis.”

Neogen offers forensic drug testing products that can screen over 300 drugs and metabolites in a wide range of forensic samples, including hair, blood, urine, oral fluid and others. For more information, click here.

 

Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report: October 2, 2017

This week, we look at how unseasonably warm temperatures crimped corn crop, and Tony offers a new Tech Tip about equipment calibration. Click here to watch.

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.

Monday links

What’s the latest in the fields of agriculture, food safety, animal science and toxicology? Check it out here.

Animal Science:

Massive projected increase in use of antimicrobials in animals by 2030 — University of Cambridge
The amount of antimicrobials given to animals destined for human consumption is expected to rise by 52% by 2030 unless policies are implemented to limit their use, according to new research.

Animal rescue team responds to Irma aftermath — University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
Prior to a hurricane’s landfall, families are reminded to include pets in their disaster plans. But protecting larger animals or finding pet-friendly shelters can be difficult, and these animals may need to be rescued after the storm. The University of Florida Veterinary Emergency Treatment Service comes to these animals’ aid. [ More … ]

Puerto Rico’s agriculture takes $780 million hit

Last week the Category 4 Hurricane Maria slowly crawled across the Caribbean, leaving devastation in its wake. In the aftermath, a big focus of the media has been Puerto Rico, which lost all electricity island-wide, something unfathomable to many in developed nations that depend on power for most daily needs.

Both individuals and industries have been heavily impacted by the storm, which followed another hurricane, Irma, by only a matter of days. And with the island’s predominant industries, manufacturing and service, now facing major damages, its smaller agriculture industry is looking at a very deep hole to crawl out of as well.

“I have never seen losses like these in any of my 80 years,” farm foreman Félix Ortiz Delgado told the New York Times. The farm he worked on lost a vast amount of coconut trees to strong winds and rain. “Those palms take about 10 years to grow. I will be dead by then.” [ More … ]

FDA’s GenomeTrakr supports food safety around the globe

There’s Twitter. Uber. Venmo. Facebook. The World Wide Web has brought us no shortage of apps, websites and networks with trendy names and useful functions. For the food industry, now there’s GenomeTrakr.

GenomeTrakr is a network of more than 60 laboratories across the world working in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What do these labs have in common? All of them use whole genome sequencing (WGS) to collect and share data about foodborne pathogens, like Listeria, Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli.

Most of the facilities included in the network are public health and university labs. They share geographic data and information on the entire DNA structure, or genome, of various pathogens.

Researchers and public health officials use the publicly available data (and data analyses) to more effectively investigate foodborne illness outbreaks, and hopefully prevent them from even happening in the first place.

According to the network’s website, more than 129,000 isolates, or chunks of genome, have been sequenced by members. More than 175 genomes have been completed. [ More … ]

Science: Equine therapy does not increase stress for horses

Dogs and cats are usually considered the most common therapy animals, offering emotional support to their owners and companions. But some therapy animals are much, much larger.

Thousands of horses belong to equine therapy programs around the world, treating both adults and kids with anxiety, depression, PTSD, addiction, eating disorders, grief and a number of other difficult conditions. These programs don’t replace conventional forms of treatment; rather, they supplement them. Sometimes, equine therapy can even be part of a physical therapy treatment plan.

Patients working with therapy horses may learn to ride them, or sometimes they just spend time with them. Advocates say equine therapy helps develop problem-solving skills and builds self-confidence.

What about the effect on horses?

So, is the practice good for the horses, too? Recently, a team from the University of Missouri-Columbia tried to find out. [ More … ]