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Tyson Under Fire for Undercover Video, DEA Declines to Reschedule Cannabis while Investment Banker Joins Cannabis Tech Startup, more

August 12, 2016

Tyson Foods Under Fire for Recent Undercover Video Depicting Animal Abuse

A Washington-based consumer animal rights group called Compassion over Killing (CoK) has released a video of undercover footage taken at a Tyson Foods poultry facility. Captured by an employee working undercover at various broiler breeder houses maintained by the Arkansas-based company, the video shows employees kicking, punching, throwing, and killing the birds in various ways including running them over with forklifts. At one point, the video shows an employee who CoK identifies as a supervisor standing on a chicken’s neck in an attempt to suffocate it. The man states “This ain’t the right way to do it now, but he bloody, get all over my gloves. But you can’t let nobody see you doing this, ‘cause it will get you terminated…it’s got him suffering doing this to him….” The video also depicts the controversial practice of boning in which a plastic rod is inserted through male chickens’ beaks to limit their access to certain feeders that are intended solely for female birds.

In response to the video, Tyson released a statement decrying the conduct as “inexcusable” and noted that it terminated the 10 employees seen in the video. It also announced that it had discontinued the process of boning at these facilities. It has also committed itself to retraining employees on appropriate animal handling methods. You can watch the undercover footage here.

DEA Keeps Marijuana on Schedule I List Alongside Heroin and LSD

After a lot of speculation suggesting that the DEA was preparing to move marijuana off the highly-regulated Schedule I list of controlled substances, the federal agency issued a statement this week indicating that it will not be making any such revisions. Schedule I substances are those that the government describes as having a high potential for abuse, with no accepted medical application, and which lack a set of sufficient safety standards for use in medical applications. For comparison, fellow Schedule I substances include heroin and the psychedelic drug LSD. According to DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, the agency gave serious consideration to pleas from two democratic governors and other interest groups urging reclassification of the drug. This may also have serious implications for cannabis tech startups. Many venture capitalists, banks, and other institutions are still waiting on the sidelines of this sector, which continues to grow despite the restraints that federal prohibitions create.

USDA Awards $55k to Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator for Business Development

The USDA has awarded $55k to the Great Lakes Ag-Tech Business Incubator to help the project with outreach, marketing, and training efforts. Located in Ottawa County, the incubator serves entrepreneurs, farmers, and established businesses who have an agtech invention that they want to develop into either a standalone business or a licensing platform. The USDA funding, which comes from the Rural Business Development Grant program, will help the GLATBI promote its services and better connect with entities seeking assistance. Find out more about the incubator here.

Former Citigroup Banker Joins CEA Cannabis Company HempTech’s Executive Team

HempTech, a provider of Controlled Environment Agriculture automation and analytical tools for the cultivators of legal industrial hemp and cannabis, has hired Deirdre Fernandes as its VP of operations. Fernandes worked with Citigroup for over 34 years in a variety of positions primarily in the technology area, highlighting an increasing number of investment professionals from other sectors coming into the growing legal cannabis sector. Fernandes will be working directly with the CEO and COO of HempTech to further product development, managing risks and controls, HR, regulatory processes and product delivery process & controls with current and future customers.

FDA Releases Memorandum Calling for Complete Nutrition Goals Overhaul

An internal FDA memo obtained by POLITICO suggests that the federal agency wants to take its role in nutrition policy a step further by creating guidelines that actually lead to a change in Americans’ overall health. The memo encapsulates the findings from the so-called Nutrition Review Project and touches on some controversial matters like where the nutrition facts panel should be located and how much sodium Americans should consume.

Univ. of Arkansas & Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic Release “Leftovers for Livestock” Legal Guide

Food waste is a big deal, and many livestock producers would love to get their hands on tossed out fare to feed their animals. The Food Recovery Project, based at the University of Arkansas School of Law, has released a guide detailing the legal landscape for converting excess food to animal feed. Compiled in collaboration with the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Leftovers for Livestock may help food waste startups and innovators navigate the complex public health and safety concerns that put limits on how food waste can be repurposed. Topics covered include the Federal Swine Health Protection Act, the Ruminant Feed Ban Rule, and the recent omnibus overhaul of our food safety system delivered in the Food Safety Modernization Act. It covers many state regulations as well.

FDA Releases Guidance to Industry on New Nutrition Fact Label Requirements

In May 2016, the FDA released its final rules comprising an overhaul of the long-standing Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP). The federal agency recently issued some guidelines to help manufacturers ensure that they’re toeing the line on this major label makeover effort. According to the guidance, any food product initially introduced into interstate commerce will need to comply with the new regs by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers who do less than $10 million in annual food sales have until July 26, 2019.

KIND Snack Bar Maker to Start Listing Added Sugars Online

Similar to the way that many major food producers started disclosing biotech ingredients before the Vermont law took effect or a federal statute was passed, KIND will start listing the amount of added sugars on its website. The FDA has been hard at work giving the nutrition facts label a makeover, and the new version will require added sugars to be printed on product labels starting in 2018. The company, which has had a few rows with the FDA over its use of the term ‘healthy’ on labels and marketing materials, is also planning on cutting the amount of sugar in its snack bars.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • Danone recently made a bid to take over alternative dairy drink maker White Wave Foods and the Cornucopia Institute is raising red flags about whether the merger would give Danone too big a hold on the organic dairy market, on FoodDive.
  • Panera Bread has revamped its kids’ menu to feature “clean” options while also challenging other restaurants to “stop luring children with junk food and toys that often have more taste and flash than nutritional value,” on Reuters.
  • A proposed bill in Italy would punish parents who feed their children a vegan diet, on Quartz.

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