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 Post subject: Re: The food business
PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:47 pm 
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Brazil meat exports collapse in wake of inspection scandal
By SARAH DiLORENZO
22 March 2017

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's meat exports effectively collapsed this week, the agricultural minister said Wednesday, as several countries halted imports from the South American country in the wake of a meat inspection scandal.

Brazil is struggling to contain the scandal, in which investigators say that health inspectors were bribed to overlook expired meats and chemicals and that other products were added to meat to improve its appearance and smell. The government has largely tried to downplay the extent of the corruption, while also criticizing the federal police for how they have communicated about it.

The result has been a stampede away from Brazilian exports.

On average in March, Brazil exported more than $60 million worth of meat each day, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi told a Senate committee Wednesday. That figure was $74,000 on Tuesday, a few days after investigators revealed the probe.

That precipitous fall in exports shows how serious the crisis is and the government should not try to downplay it, said Michael Gordon, CEO of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis PR firm.

"Even if it is a handful of bad actors, the issue is that those bad actors are tainting the entire culture of meat production in the country," he said. "That's why a systemic response is needed."

The government has suspended exports from the 21 companies under investigation and noted that only a handful of 4,000 plants were involved, but that has not quelled concern abroad.

South Africa was the latest to join the growing list of countries that are instituting partial or total bans on Brazilian meat. The others include the European Union, China, Japan and Mexico.

In a statement Wednesday, its Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that it would block products from the companies implicated in the probe. Port inspectors will also test every container of meat from Brazil for pathogens such as Salmonella.

Exports of beef, pork and poultry make up 15 percent of Brazil's total exports, and a collapse in the sector would have serious implications for Brazil's economy, which is already in deep recession.

Brazil is also trying to address concerns at home, where Sunday BBQs are a weekly rite. The consumer protection lobby Idec is calling for a general recall and more information about which meat might be affected. So far, Brazil has not instituted a recall, but instead is pulling samples of products from shelves and sending them for testing.

Maggi has assured the public that meat is safe - but also said there would be a recall if any problems were found during the testing.

Sniping between the federal police, who are investigating the corruption, and President Michel Temer's government has not helped matters.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the federal police and the Agricultural Ministry tried to smooth over their differences and reassure the public and importers that the problem was smaller than it appeared.

The investigation has revealed "facts (that) are directly related to errors in the professional conduct of some public servants and do not represent a general malfunctioning of the Brazilian system of hygiene security," the statement read.

Associated Press writer Stuart Graham in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: The food business
PostPosted: Sat Apr 29, 2017 8:12 am 
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Cuban uses condoms, tropical fruit to make own brand of wine
3 April 2017

The sweet smell of fermenting fruit fills the streets around the modest Havana home where Orestes Estevez and his family fill glass jugs with grapes, ginger and hibiscus, then slip a condom over each glass neck to start the unusual process of winemaking in a land famed for rum.

From origins as an illicit backyard still, Cuba's 'El Canal' winery has become a flourishing business that annually produces thousands of gallons of wine flavoured with guava, watercress and beets.

Estevez, 65, has made wine for decades. After a career in the military and security services, he legalised his business and opened a tiny winery in 2000 as communist Cuba took the first steps towards allowing private enterprise. Today, Estevez, his wife, son and an assistant tend to 300 jugs containing five gallons (20 litres) of wine apiece. The main ingredient is Cuban grapes, but added flavours include tropical fruits and vegetables of virtually every variety.

The winery has become a neighbourhood attraction, with residents of the El Cerro neighbourhood sitting on the curb at all hours sipping Estevez's wine from green glasses.

The most remarkable sight, however, are hundreds of bottles capped with condoms that slowly inflate as the fruity mix ferments and produces gases. When the fermentation is over and there are no more gases, the condom stops inflating and falls, and the wine is ready for bottling. "Putting a condom on a bottle is just like with a man," Estevez said. "It stands up, the wine is ready, and then the process is completed."

All told, it takes a month to 45 days to produce a jar of wine. Estevez's product is bottled and sold for consumption in homes and restaurants, with sales at an average of 50 bottles a day for 10 Cuban pesos (40 US cents) apiece. It's an accessible pleasure for Cubans who earn an average of US$25 a month and can't afford imported wine that sells for at least half of that, and often many times more, in state-run liquor stores.

Thanks to a United States trade embargo and the inefficiencies of Cuba's centrally planned economy, thousands of products are near-impossible to find on the island. That forces Cubans to make do with what they have, and condoms have been put to many new uses.

Dozens of fishermen inflate them and use them off Havana's seaside promenade, or Malecon, where the improvised floats carry bait far out to sea and increase its resistance against tugging fish. In the case of Estevez's business and dozens of smaller home wineries across Cuba, the condoms are pricked with a pin once or twice to allow the slow release of gas and replace the sophisticated valves used to trap and release pressure in more technologically advanced winemaking operations.

Angel Garcia, a 43-year-old state auditor, said he used to buy home-made wine of dubious quality from an acquaintance in Havana's Vedado neighbourhood, but Estevez had won his business. "I like coming here a lot," Garcia said. "I earn US$16 a month and I'm not going to spend it buying wine from the store."

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: The food business
PostPosted: Mon Jul 10, 2017 2:30 pm 
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'Robot waitress' draws customers to Pakistani pizza joint
6 July 2017

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) -- The owners of a pizza shop in Pakistan say business is booming now that they've introduced a robot waitress.

Osama Jafri, the engineer who designed the 25-kilogram (55-pound) robot, says it can greet customers and carry pizzas to their tables. The robot resembles a short, slender woman wearing a long dress and apron. He says he wrapped a scarf around the robot's neck so as not to offend conservative patrons.

He says sales at Pizza.com, in the town of Multan, have doubled since the robot was unveiled in February. Jafri's father Aziz, who owns the restaurant, says he has three more robot waitresses and plans to open a new branch. He says, "I used to sell pizzas, but now restaurant owners want to buy robots from me."

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: The food business
PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:32 pm 
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Yuck or yum? Swiss offer insect burgers of mealworm larvae
8 September 2017

GENEVA (AP) -- Swallow deeply, pinch the nose and repeat the mantra: "Tastes like beef, tastes likes beef." Then bite into the burger of rice, chopped vegetables, spices and mealworm larvae.

The Swiss supermarket chain Coop, to a bit of domestic hoopla, has begun selling burgers and balls made from insects. It's being billed as a legal first in Europe, a continent more accustomed to steak, sausage, poultry and fish as a source of protein. The goal is to convince leery consumers to try a nutritious, if unusual food that "preserves the planet's resources," Coop says.

About one-third of the burger is mealworm larvae. A burger weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces) has about 10 grams of protein in it - about the same amount found in a child's-size beef burger.

For now, only seven of Coop's nearly 2,500 stores in Switzerland are serving up the critters concocted by the Zurich-based food startup Essento. The chain says the insect products have been flying off shelves during their limited rollout in the Alpine nation and a broader launch is planned by year's end.

Insect promoters say Switzerland isn't the first European country to allow retail sales, just the first to have those sales so clearly authorized. A change in Swiss law in May allows the sale of three types of insects: mealworm larvae, house crickets and migratory locusts. "It's the first time that a state has authorized human consumption of insects in such a firm, explicit way in Europe," said Christophe Derrien, chief of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed.

Insects can be found on the shelves in Belgium, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands, but that's due to a "legal void" in European Union rules, he said. New legislation taking effect in January will smooth the way for bug burgers to turn up on picnic plates across the EU, however.

The chain says it has a policy of not releasing sales numbers, but spokeswoman Andrea Bergmann said the insect burgers and balls "have been very successful from day one and have been sold out quickly everywhere."

The burger itself has little white specks of rice inside with traces of carrot, paprika, chili powder and pepper. After a hesitant bite, the main flavors that come out are the spices. The texture is curious, a bit like a meaty falafel with a crunch. An aftertaste lingered - but maybe that was just my subconscious playing tricks.

The insect burgers, like the meat variety, can be accompanied by buns, tomatoes and lettuce. The insect balls - a mixture of mealworms with cilantro, onions and chickpeas - seem to fit best in pita bread, perhaps with a spoonful of yogurt.

The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization has promoted insects as a source of human food, saying they are healthy and high in protein and minerals. The agency says many types of insects produce less greenhouse gases and ammonia than most livestock - such as methane-spewing cattle - and require less land and money to cultivate.

Still, there's no telling how long a true conversion in consumer tastes from beef to bug burgers might take - if it happens at all.

Source: AP

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 Post subject: Re: The food business
PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:32 pm 
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Bread made of insects to be sold in Finnish supermarkets
By JAN M. OLSEN
23 November 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) -- One of Finland's largest food companies is selling what it claims to be a first: insect bread.

Markus Hellstrom, head of the Fazer group's bakery division, said Thursday that one loaf contains about 70 dried house crickets, ground into powder and added to the flour. The farm-raised crickets represent 3 percent of the bread's weight, Hellstrom said. "Finns are known to be willing to try new things," he said, and according to a survey commissioned by Fazer "good taste, freshness" were among the main criteria for bread.

According to recent surveys of the Nordic countries, "Finns have the most positive attitudes toward insects," said Juhani Sibakov, head of Fazer Bakery Finland's innovation department. "We made crunchy dough to enhance taste," he said. The result was "delicious and nutritious," he said, adding that the Fazer Sirkkaleipa (Finnish for Fazer Cricket Bread) "is a good source of protein and insects also contain good fatty acids, calcium, iron and vitamin B12."

"Mankind needs new and sustainable sources of nutrition," Sibakov said in a statement. Hellstrom noted that Finnish legislation was changed on Nov. 1 to allow the sale of insects as food. The first batch of cricket breads will be sold in major Finnish cities Friday. The company said there is not enough cricket flour available for now to support sales nationwide but the aim is to have the bread available in 47 bakeries in Finland in a subsequent round of sales.

In Switzerland, supermarket chain Coop began selling burgers and balls made from insects in September. Insects can also be found on supermarket shelves in Belgium, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands. The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization has promoted insects as a source of human food, saying they are healthy and high in protein and minerals. The agency says many types of insects produce less greenhouse gases and ammonia than most livestock - such as methane-spewing cattle - and require less land and money to cultivate.

Source: AP

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