Colorful rice cereal on wooden background.

Another reason not to eat sugary cereals or drink soda: A study recently published by The BMJ  reports a possible association between intake of highly processed (“ultra-processed”) food in the diet and cancer. Further exploration is needed, but these results suggest that the rapidly increasing consumption of ultra-processed foods “may drive an increasing burden of cancer in the next decades,” warn the researchers. Ultra-processed foods include packaged baked goods and snacks, fizzy drinks, sugary cereals, ready meals and reconstituted meat products—often containing high levels of sugar, fat, and salt, but lacking in vitamins and fiber. READ MORE

FOOD SAFETY

World’s largest Listeria outbreak continues to grow: The death toll from an outbreak of the food-borne disease listeria in South Africa has more than doubled from previous numbers given in January to 172 deaths, the government said on Thursday. The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said 915 cases of the disease have been confirmed since January last year, up from the previous figures given last month of 61 deaths and 720 confirmed outbreaks. The source of the outbreak is still unknown. At the same time, the illness has become political. Read more HERE and HERE.

Chicken salad recalled for Salmonella: Triple T Specialty Meats Inc. of Ackley, Iowa, is recalling about 20,630 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad that may be contaminated with Salmonella typhimurium, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said Wednesday. Iowa public health authorities determined there is a link between the chicken salad from Triple T Specialty Meats and a Salmonella outbreak that has resulted in 37 confirmed cases of the illness in Iowa. The chicken salad items were shipped to Fareway grocery stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota. READ MORE

FOOD SECURITY

About those food boxes: The Trump administration’s idea of delivering millions of food boxes each month to federal food stamp recipients is an “innovation” that will help the government save billions of dollars over the next decade, according to a senior USDA official. The administration is proposing to deliver some federal food stamp benefits in the form of cereal, pasta and other food that the government buys in huge quantities at wholesale prices. Under the program, recipients would still be able to buy some of their own food using their Electronic Benefits Card, and the box of food sent by the government would supplement the EBT card. Critics say the logistics would be impossible. READ MORE

MISCELLANEOUS

Could Trump built a border wall from hemp? Here’s a different idea: A writer from the Farm Journal has suggested that President Trump could build his wall out of hemp. Yes, hemp. “One million acres of hemp builds Trump’s wall and $700 million buys the hemp, a pittance compared to overall construction estimates ranging from $15 billion to $70 billion,” the author said. He goes on to say that a southern hemp wall is far from reality, but the concept reflects the remarkable promise of a once-maligned crop emerging in the marketplace. After roughly 90 years of dormancy, a sleeping hemp giant is awakening, and the numbers involved in a southern hempcrete wall reveal a crop with a phenomenal range of utility. READ MORE

Dairy companies go international: As the global dairy industry evolves and processing capacity continues to be stretched thin, dairy companies across the U.S. are looking to international joint ventures with companies that have significant manufacturing, networking and marketing expertise, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. While the U.S. has heavily invested in milk production, Europe and other regions that faced production constraints focused their effort and investment in technology for the processing sector. READ MORE