Another example of the complex food system that keeps us well-fed: A sharp increase in global demand has caused the wholesale price of butter to nearly double in Europe. Consumers are paying more too: retail prices jumped nearly 20 percent in June over the previous year, reports CNN.com. Chinese demand for foreign milk products is booming, the article notes, with the USDA predicting that Chinese milk imports are expected to jump by 38 percent this year. Almost all of that milk will come from the EU and New Zealand. That’s because the growing Chinese middle class doesn’t trust the safety of Chinese milk or Chinese milk safety regulatory agencies, says Food Systems Institute core faculty member Dr. Stephanie Ostrowski, a veterinarian with an interest in food safety.

That mistrust traces back to the 2008 melamine milk adulteration tragedy, which killed six babies and made 300,000 ill. Melamine is used to make plastics, fertilizers and concrete and when added to food products makes the protein content appear to be higher. One in five Chinese dairy companies were implicated, leading to international distrust of Chinese food safety standards, the conviction of more than 20 people and the execution of two. “The reputation of U.S., New Zealand and European Union dairies is such that they have become the standard for premium quality, safety, wholesomeness and trustworthiness,” Ostrowski says.

Australia and New Zealand both have well-established markets around the Pacific Rim, with dairies in the western U.S. competing for those same markets, Ostrowski notes. “I think the droughts in Australia have driven a lot of their dairies out of production,” she adds. “New Zealand is able to raise cows and grow milk essentially ‘on grass’ with very little inputs of grain, etc., so they have a definite economic edge in spite of the geographic distance.” Read more HERE and HERE.

FOOD SAFETY

Are arrests coming? Dutch investigators on Thursday detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a food safety scare in several European countries. The detentions and a series of coordinated raids in the Netherlands and Belgium marked another escalation in a widening scandal that has seen eggs tainted with the pesticide Fipronil stripped from shelves in countries including the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. READ MORE

Could probiotics limit antibiotic use? Over the last decade, Dr. Shayan Sharif’s lab at the University of Guelph has been involved in developing probiotic formulations against Salmonella. “We’ve clearly shown by using combinations of different lactobacilli or lactic-acid-producing bacteria we can reduce colonisation or burden of Salmonella in poultry quite significantly,” says Sharif. He is now turning his attention to Campylobacter jejuni, the main notifiable bacterial cause of human enteritis or foodborne illness reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada. READ MORE

Norovirus traced to local donut shop: Mama C’s, a doughnut shop in suburban Toledo, Ohio, remained closed Thursday as county health inspectors continued an investigation into a norovirus outbreak that has sickened more than 200 people. A number of people who ate food from the doughnut shop from Aug. 4 through Aug. 7 became ill with norovirus symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting, according to reports by The (Toledo) Blade newspaper and television news stations in the area. Norovirus outbreaks are usually traced to sick employees and is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. READ MORE

Beef patties recalled because of misbranding, allergen: Kenosha Beef International of Kenosha, Wisc., is recalling nearly 4,000 pounds of beef patty products because of misbranding and an undeclared allergen, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced. The products may contain milk in the form of cheddar cheese, a known allergen that was not declared on the finished product label. The products also contain undeclared bacon. READ MORE

CYBER SECURITY

The IIoT represents opportunity (but be careful): Manufacturers must modernize their automation systems and IT infrastructures. Forward-looking enterprises are viewing this as an opportunity to create a more “intelligent” supply chain and automation environment. And that means leveraging the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This is a good reminder that you must stay up-to-date on cyber threats and cyber security. READ MORE