Hellmann's delivers even more choices with the introduction of an eggless spread, Hellmann's Carefully Crafted. (PRNewsFoto/Unilever United States, Inc.)

Industry-in-Brief: Hellmann’s Introduces Eggless Mayo to Compete with Food Tech Startups, GM Developments, more

February 5, 2016

Hellmann’s Introduces Eggless Mayo to Compete with Food Tech

Major global food products manufacturer Unilever has introduced an eggless mayonnaise-like spread under its Hellmann’s brand called Carefully Crafted Dressing & Sandwich Spread. Last year, Unilever was embroiled in a highly publicized legal challenge with Hampton Creek, maker of another eggless mayo product, Just Mayo. Unilever challenged Hampton Creek’s labeling of the product in 2014 claiming that the FDA’s definition of mayonnaise included egg products. The lawsuit caught the FDA’s attention and resulted in the agency sending a warning letter to the Just Mayo maker stating that the product’s label violated FDA regulations.

California Marijuana Growers May Lose High in New Legal Bans

Last September, the California Legislature passed the state’s first comprehensive set of medical marijuana regulations. Despite the celebrations, the regulations have proved to be more of a headache than smooth sailing. The 70-page comprehensive framework contains a paragraph that would provide the state with exclusive authority to provide licenses to growers in counties or cities that do not enact their own laws, and stipulate whether growing the herb is allowed or not, by March 1. Up against a rapidly closing window, counties and cities throughout the state are rushing to enact marijuana-growing bans. Some bans apply to both outdoor and indoor operations while others make distinctions between commercial uses versus growth for personal use. Read more here.

Researchers Unveil Genetically Engineered Pigs; FDA Pauses on Approved GE Salmon

Researchers from University of Missouri and Kansas State University have created a new type of genetically engineered pig that is resistant to Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory System (PRSS). The disease is largely incurable and presents major problems for pig producers using hog barns. It also spreads rapidly, resulting in farmers euthanizing entire barns of hogs at a time. The researchers are hoping to obtain approval of the GE pigs for human consumption within the next few years.

A few days ago, however, the FDA issued a ruling banning the importation of AquaBounty’s genetically engineered AquAvantage salmon, which it approved last year. The so-called ‘Frakenfish’ grow twice as fast as non-GE salmon. The ban is intended to give the agency and other stakeholders time to address the issue of whether the salmon must be labeled as a GE food, which is not currently required under the fish’s FDA approval terms.

Also in genetics, British researchers have the green light to conduct research involving the genetic modification of human embryos. The researchers will use excess embryos donated by couples pursuing in-vitro fertilization. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which approved the research, has prohibited the embryos from being implanted in a woman.

USDA Awards $30m in Grants for Food Safety and Plant Health Projects

The US Department of Agriculture has awarded roughly $30.1 million in competitive grants to fund 80 research projects to improve food safety, reduce antibiotic resistance in food, and increase the resilience of plants in the face of climate change. The grants are made possible through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). USDA has also indicated that the President’s 2017 Budget aims to invest over $700 million for AFRI, the full amount of funding authorized by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Bad Stuff” Yogurt Wars Rage On

A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction requiring Chobani to pull its recent series of advertisements that claim other yogurt makers’ products contain “bad stuff” like pesticides and chlorine. Chobani also launched a new hashtag campaign, #nobadstuff. General Mills, the maker of Yoplait, filed suit against Chobani challenging the marketing campaign because it misled consumers into believing that Yoplait is “so dangerous and unfit to eat that consumers should discard it as garbage.” The order only temporarily bans Chobani from running the ads while the parties continue to duke it out in court.

NYT  Takes Issue with North Carolina’s Ag-Gag Law

In 2015, North Carolina enacted a new law that makes it illegal to disclose abuses in agricultural facilities in the state. In a recent article, the New York Times editorial board calls out some of the more well-known abuses that occur in animal agriculture and decries the major hog-producing state’s new law as a shroud of secrecy that has “no place in American society.” Vice has also commented on the bill, positing that it may “be the worst in the nation.” A handful of states has proposed similar legislative prohibitions on agriculture whistleblowers, nicknamed “ag-gag laws.” Although some died before enactment, others were passed and subsequently struck down. Some have been enacted, only to be overturned through a lawsuit brought shortly after passage.

Other news that’s fit to chew:

  • The US Military is hoping to provide customized nutrition for individual soldiers using 3D food printing technology. Read more at TechInsider.
  • A pro-tax group in Davis, California, has chimed in on the great soda tax debate, rallying city lawmakers to turn their attention toward a potential 1-cent per ounce soda tax.
  • The US House Agriculture Committee recently took a look at some of the challenges facing farmers trying to directly market their products locally, while the Committee’s nutrition panel considered new ways to improve low-income families’ access to fruit and vegetables.
  • Former president and CEO of Post Consumer Brands joined Welch’s board of directors.

Have news or tips? Email Media@AgFunderNews.com

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