DON: How much is too much?

Based on this year’s weather conditions throughout parts of the U.S. and Canada, the threat of deoxynivalenol (commonly referred to as vomitoxin or DON) in wheat crop is a real issue farmers are currently facing. But when it comes to knowing how much DON-contaminated wheat grain or wheat straw farmers can actually feed animals without incurring negative production and health effects, the questions of how much is too much comes top of mind.

An article recently published by Agri-View, discusses this conundrum and suggests that before feeding any potentially contaminated wheat grain or wheat straw, farmers should sample the product to determine its contamination level. Once you know the contamination level, you can then determine how much you can feed before you reach the upper DON limit. [ More ... ]

Improved heifer care eyed to beef up cattle herd, quality

For the past 60 years the U.S. cow herd has been declining, creating a short supply of beef for consumers and thus leading to meat prices reaching new record highs almost every week.

While it may seem like there is an obvious solution to this problem, repopulating the cow herd for quality beef involves more than just farmers keeping heifers to breed (a heifer is a female cow that is not mature enough to breed). Rather, one researcher from the University of Missouri has found it involves using improved genetics and focusing special attention on pre-breeding care and nutrition. [ More ... ]

Wild Hawaiian cows causing conflict in paradise

Herds of 2,000-pound beasts with horns the size of full grown men is not the typical image that comes to mind when you envision the picturesque island of Hawaii. Nor would you believe that these “beasts” do not belong to the grizzly bear or mountain lion family, but are rather cows, the wild Hawaiian cow, to be exact.

What is being done about these cows is causing animosity between native Hawaiian hunters and the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). According to Hawaii Administrative Rules the DLNR considers the cattle an invasive species that are damaging the local ecosystem, and has resorted to managing their population through airborne shootings and other organized hunts. This however, does not settle well with local hunters who grew up surrounded by the cattle and consider hunting them a 200-year tradition. One hunter in particular says these cattle are a way for the isolated state to provide some of its own meat, and is what he and his eight sons rely on to survive. [ More ... ]

Monday Links

September marks National Food Safety month and in its honor we have compiled some of the most recent food safety and other related news from around the world to help keep you up to date.

Food Safety

 Study: Flame Retardants in Baby Food Well Below Unsafe Levels – Food Safety News
The levels of flame retardant chemicals in baby food from the U.S. and China are well below levels considered unsafe, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA).

High-tech Chopsticks Developed To Combat Food Safety Issues In China –
China has seen its fair share of food safety scandals lately leading to the development of inventive ways for people in China to keep themselves safe.

Is my food safe? -
A new app developed by the Home Food Safety program, a collaboration between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods, can help reduce your risk of food poisoning through information on safe internal cooking temperatures, and determine how long you can store your leftovers. The program also offers an opportunity to ask your food safety questions to registered dietitians— the food and nutrition experts.

[ More ... ]

Elliott Report aims to tackle food crime in the UK

Fresh Ground BeefTriggered by the horsemeat scandal of 2013 and other growing concerns about the systems used to deter, identify and prosecute food adulteration in Europe, The Elliot Report was published earlier this month. The Report reviews the current integrity of the food supply network, discusses the issues impacting consumers’ confidence pertaining to the food they purchase, and suggests steps to be taken to ensure a safe, high integrity food system for the United Kingdom (UK).

Written by Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Global Institute for Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, the report outlines eight pillars of food integrity and calls the government to create a dedicated unit to tackle crime in the food industry, something the government has already reported will be operational by the end of this year.  [ More ... ]

‘Gutter oil’ taints Taiwanese food, regulatory agency


According to a published report, bakery and other food items from more than 1,000 restaurants and businesses in Taiwan have been pulled from the shelves after authorities identified these products were made with cooking oil containing slaughterhouse waste, grease from leather factories and recycled oil from kitchen grease traps, cookers and fryers.

This “gutter oil” was then reportedly sold unknowingly to businesses by a single Taiwanese company and is currently accounting for more than 200 tons of tainted oil and oil-laced products throughout Taiwan and into Hong Kong.  Executives from the company are responding that they were misled by their suppliers in the production process and were unaware of the tainted oil they were selling.
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HOT potatoes! Genetics seek to improve dud spuds


Whether you prefer them mashed, fried, baked or roasted, potatoes are one of the most popular vegetable crops with an annual total production of 41.3 billion pounds in the U.S. alone. While several spud varieties are enjoyed year-round, potatoes are being celebrated this September not only for National Potato Month, but for what one researcher at Michigan State University (MSU) is doing to improve the crop world-wide.

Potato Researcher, David Douches and his team have recently developed new potato varieties including those with enhanced nutritional value and those that result from reduced pesticide use, and use more sustainable growing methods. According to Douches, this success can be attributed to the mapping of the potato genome, an international team effort lead by Robin Buell, MSU plant biology professor. This now allows researchers to find genetic markers for desirable traits within potatoes, leading to the breeding of a more sought-after crop. [ More ... ]

Rats: If we can’t beat them, eat them?

Grilled Rice Field RatOver the millennia that we have been fighting rats, researchers have provided nearly endless solid scientific rationale for us wanting to hit any we see with a baseball bat about 17 times.

They spread disease, eat our food, contaminate our food and homes, bite us, and are generally unlikable.

The BBC reports that there are farmers in Southeast Asia that now believe that if we can’t beat them, we might as well eat them. In the article, one rat trapper explains that these rats are not the nasty rats seen in horror movies and nightmares. These rats are better-tasting rice-fed rats — or so they claim. [ More ... ]

Here are your Monday links

RoquefortCheese_ByeBye_BlogDon’t have time to scour the internet for the latest food safety, animal safety, life sciences and agriculture news? Relax, we’ve got it covered.

Food safety

The FDA has effectively banned some fancy cheeses like Roquefort – The Week

New FDA restrictions on the levels of harmless bacteria found in imported cheese have effectively banned a number of artisan French cheeses, including Roquefort, Morbier, and Tomme de Savoie. [ More ... ]

‘Shut up and pet me!’

PuppiesA recent study has apparently proven that dogs would prefer that humans would just shut the heck up, and get down to petting them on their furry soft little heads, behind their ears, or oh my, on their cute little tummies.

The research, which was co-authored by Dr. Erica Feuerbacher of the University of Florida and Dr. Clive Wynne of Arizona State University, found that dogs preferred petting to vocal praise, whether it came from the dog’s owner or a stranger. The study also found that dogs will only respond to vocal praise if it comes from an owner they are very familiar with. [ More ... ]