The 5 strangest ways food will be different in future

Food that comes out of a printer, giant skyscraper farms to meet the increased world food demand, drinks made of urine and jelly made out of humans.

These are just some of the wackiest ways food is set to change in the future, according to experts.

Check out the full list at Cracked.com, but be prepared to be utterly grossed out.

Heir to TetraPak business arrested over wife’s death

The heir to the multibillion-dollar TetraPak packaging business has been arrested after his wife was found dead in their luxury London home.

Eva Rausing, 48, was found dead in the west London home she shared with her husband yesterday.

Hours earlier, 49-year-old father-of-four Hans Kristian Rausing, was arrested after he was found driving erratically in South London and found to be carrying Class A drugs.

Police then searched his home and found more illicit substances, as well as his wife’s body.

Scotland Yard has confirmed he is being questioned over the ‘unexplained death’ and that the body found was Eva Rausing's.

Further tests are being conducted after an autopsy failed to establish a formal cause of death.

Police confirmed to British media that Hans Rausing was receiving medical attention, but would not confirm whether he remained under police guard.

It’s not the first time the couple’s drug problems have reached the media, with Eva Rausing arrested outside the U.S. Embassy in London in 2008 for allegedly trying to bring crack cocaine and heroin into building in her handbag, leading to a police search of their $10 million London town house, which uncovered small amounts of cocaine, crack and heroin.

They were charged with drug possession but the charges were later dropped.

The Rausing family issued a statement at the time, saying relatives were "deeply saddened" by the couple's drug problems and they hoped they could overcome their addictions.

Hans Rausing's Swedish father helped transform the TetraPak business into the successful manufacturer of laminated cardboard drink containers it is today.

Image: The Daily Mail

Major packaging alliance formed

Cardia Bioplastics has announced a partnership with Alto Packaging which is focused on the food manufacturing industry.

According to Cardia, the agreement will see it provide renewable resin for Alto's rigid plastic packaging manufacturing.

However "the supply agreement will initially focus on Alto's fresh food range, but has the potential to expand into other Alto Packaging product channels".

Cardia last week announced that its range of manufactured biohybrid resins had received halal approval.

Frank Glatz, Cardia's managing director, said "this strategic alliance is validation of our patented technology and provides the company with an extensive network of relationships with leading suppliers in the food industry.

"Our sales pipeline will grow as we work in collaboration with Alto Packaging to manufacture high performance packaging solutions with an improved carbon footprint."

Glatz added that "the bioplastics industry is growing globally, tracking double digit growth and Cardia is well placed to capitalise on this emerging market".

AIP recognises technologists

Packaging technologists who have made a significant contribution to their specific packaging field and to the wider packaging industry, were announced at the 2012 Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) National Conference.

Founders Award

The Founders Award has only been awarded six times in the last 50 years and is only presented to those who give outstanding performances which in a real way enhances the profession of Packaging Technology.

The 7th Awardee of the AIP Founders Award is Llewelyn Stephens, FAIP, Senior Packaging Technologist, LION.

The honour was awarded for Llew’s commitment and significant contribution to the promotion and application of packaging technology and education in industry.

AIP Life Member

Life Membership of the AIP is designed to recognise those long-standing members who have volunteered their time and passion to the continued growth of the Institute.

Life Members are people who continually go above and beyond for the AIP and for the betterment of the packaging industry.

This year the AIP has one Life Member, Richard Mason MAIP.

Richard continues to assist the NSW Division even in his retirement and has who worked in the packaging industry for over forty years.

He is on the national membership grading committee, the NSW branch committee and helps the national office on a continued basis.

AIP Fellows

The grade of Fellow is the highest professional recognition awarded to AIP Members by their peers and is designed to recognise the significant and sustained contribution these people have made to the technology, science or application to packaging in the industry. The AIP upgraded two members for 2012; Dr Roya Khalil, Senior Packaging Technologist, SPC Ardmona and Nola Porteus, Paper & Board Laboratory Manager, VISY Technology & Innovation Centre.

Robatech, Fallsdell, Proseal & Result Packaging head to AUSPACK PLUS 2013

Robatech, Fallsdell, Proseal Australia and Result Packaging are just some of the companies who will be heading to Sydney for AUSPACK PLUS 2013 and between them they will be showcasing new hot and cold glue technology, MAP in-line tray sealers and new ink jet technology.

Robatech announced that they will be displaying their advanced hot and cold glue technology on their stand during AUSPACK PLUS.

Milton Krowitz, National Sales Manager, Robatech, said that with the trend towards personalised print products, printers are finding production runs to be smaller than they have been in the past.

“Greater flexibility is therefore required in order to cost effectively manufacture these smaller runs of print products which are then packaged into folding boxes. Robatech innovative glue application system Corrutack-2 offers an ideal solution to meet this trend: It provides exceptional gluing flexibility for folding boxes as it can be easily readjusted for different types and lengths of production runs.” Krowitz said.

Error-free production with Corrutack-2

Corrutack-2 is a new system for the gluing of flaps of corrugated board and is suitable for flexo-folder gluer machines. Fixed gluing stations often impair a rapid change from top to bottom gluing, or board cut-outs block the run through the station. Corrutack-2 offers an ideal solution in such cases: The adhesive application and the glue verification take place contact-free, and the system is so flexible that it can switch very quickly from top to bottom gluing.

User-friendly gluing of liquid adhesives

CartoGlue LP, the mobile low-pressure cold glue system, enables flexible and fast utilisation on postal envelope machines, folding machines and flexo-folder gluer machines. The cold glue trolley feeds dispersion adhesive and uses up to four heads to apply it to print products and converting materials. The optional 7" touchscreen of the pattern control enables the user-friendly creation of application patterns.

According to Scott Templeton, General Manager of Proseal Australia, this will be their third consecutive AUSPACK PLUS, which is an indication of the success of the exhibition.

“Proseal Australia is very pleased to be exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013 as we see the show as a great way to showcase our machinery range and an excellent opportunity to meet new contacts and catch up with existing clients,” Templeton said.

“In 2013 Proseal will be showcasing our latest range of full vacuum MAP in-line tray sealers. The MAP in-line tray sealers are designed and built specifically for use in high-demand food production environments and the high-speed vacuum MAP machines will provide an excellent solution for many applications.” he said.      

Darren Cameron, Sales Consultant, Fallsdell Machinery, said that like other exhibitors the company is also looking forward to exhibiting at the 2013 AUSPACK PLUS.

“Fallsdell will once again be exhibiting a great range of our New Equipment as well as Equipment from our long list of Worldwide Agencies. AUSPACK PLUS is a great opportunity for us to showcase, under one roof, our full range and services to our customers and potential clients.”  Cameron said.

Michael Dossor, National Sales & Marketing Manager, Result Packaging added that they look forward to every AUSPACK PLUS as it is a major industry event.

“AUSPACK PLUS allows Result Packaging the opportunity to build our brand by showcasing our entire equipment range, and to develop new customer relationships opening the doors to more business,” Dossor said. 

“Result Packaging will be showcasing the new Leibinger’s JET3 and JET2neo which are state-of-the-art technology that will revolutionise ink jet printing," he said.

AUSPACK PLUS 2013 is a ‘must-attend’ exhibition on the Australian Packaging and Processing calendar and will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from the 7th to the 10th of May 2013.

AUSPACK PLUS is owned and presented by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), Australia’s only national packaging and processing machinery organisation.

To receive a prospectus on exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013, contact Luke Kasprzak, Event Manager, on PH: 02 9556 7972 or email LKasprzak@etf.com.au

 

APPMA scholarship winner announced

The winner of the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) scholarship program, consisting of a place in a year-long Diploma in Packaging Technology, was announced during the 2012 AIP National Conference at the Marriott Surfers Paradise.

The APPMA scholarship program has been running for four years and Chairman Mark Dingleyannounced the 2012 APPMA scholarship winner, Anna Roland, Technical Officer, Betta Foods Australia at the official dinner.

“The APPMA has awarded Anna Roland a scholarship to undertake a Diploma in Packaging Technology,” Dingley said.

“Anna has had the opportunity to work within the food and packaging industries and has completed various projects including assisting in film sealing which was her first exposure to the complexities involved in designing and implementing successful packaging.

“During the judging it was obvious that she has made a sustained effort and commitment to her studies to date and has gained the support and confidence of her employer and recognition of her professional aspirations.”

Roland said she was surprised by the win and looked forward to the opportunities it would bring.

“Winning the APPMA Scholarship gives me the opportunity to develop my understanding in both the design and practical aspects of packaging which without this help would take a lot longer to save up and begin,” she said.

“I am hoping that the learnings from the Diploma in Packaging Technology will provide greater support to the production floor and in the development of new products by our marketing and technical teams.

“In the short term, saving time detecting causes of packaging defects and reducing risk associated with product development and in the long term, laying a foundation of technical knowledge to build on as I contribute to product development and improvement.

“In a few years I hope that I will continue to be learning and challenged every day to use all the skills I have developed, and hopefully see the fruits of my current role in improving GMP, process improvement and implementing new products.” she said.

Packaging receives Halal certification

An Australian developer and manufacturer of sustainable plastics and packaging has received Halal certification for a new range of resins.

Cardia Bioplastics has derived its range of Biohybrid resins from renewable products, which now have formal acknowledgement of compliance with Islamic laws surrounding safety and quality.

Cardia Managing Director Dr Frank Glatz said the certification, announced today on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), is a “commercial milestone” for the company.

“It significantly increases our ability to drive sales as we are able to appeal to a further 1.6 billion potential customers,” he said.

“The global Muslim population is huge and growing and we now have the opportunity to tap into it.

With over a billion Muslims around the world, the sale of Halal certified products is ever-increasing.

In the UK, where 4.6 per cent of the population identify as Muslim, the production of halal meat is rising faster than the number of people of the faith, with an increase of 15 per cent in the last 11 years, according to Professor Bill Reilly, former chairman of the UK Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food.

In May, he accused the local meat industry of increasing the number of animals slaughtered without stunning, claiming it is for religious purposes, when it is actually a financial decision, which he says is “unacceptable.”

In Australia, the concern of slaughtering animals without prior stunning is also of concern, and in late May, New South Wales unveiled new regulations in state abattoirs to ensure the wellbeing and welfare of animals.

The new legislation will require a designated Animal Welfare Officer to be on the premises of any abattoir to oversee and be accountable for the welfare of animals.

But Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy general-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, has said previously there is a "lot of confusion" over Halal meat.

He said animals can be stunned before slaughter and still be labelled Halal.

"Over 90 per cent of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter," he said.

Last October, Australian agriculture ministers failed to resolve discussions over ritual slaughters, meaning exemptions that allow some Australian abattoirs to conduct slaughter without prior stunning will continue.

There are 12 abattoirs in Australia that are exempt from the regulations that say animals for consumption must be stunned before they are slaughtered.

The exemptions are on religious or cultural grounds, but animal welfare groups want to practice stopped altogether.

The council released a statement following the meeting, saying ministers have reviewed the results of a two-year consultation process with stakeholders and have considered the science involved and the views of religious groups, but could not reach a conclusion.

Up to 250,000 animals are killed without prior stunning in Australia every year under the religious slaughter exemptions and the RSPCA has rejected claims that stunning is not allowed on religious grounds, saying stunning is accepted by the Islamic community and Jewish community and no reason existed for un-stunned slaughter to continue.

The new measures in New South Wales will ensure the meat industry is heading in the right direction, Hodgkinson said.

“These tough new measures are being introduced to foster a culture in which abattoir management and employees fully understand and implement procedures that consistently comply with animal welfare standards.

 

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Nuckin Futs approved for sale in Australia

It seems Australians do still have a sense of humour, after no official complaints were lodged against the “Nuckin Futs” brand name.

A spoof of “f***ing nuts,” the snack food’s name got plenty of publicity early this year, and many thought it to be in bad taste.

A three-month opposition period was then entered into, to allow any person who believed the item should not be sold in Australia, to say so.

But while many people were against the brand name, no formal complaints were made to the trademark examiner, so the name can go ahead.

“Nobody took five minutes out of their day to actually oppose it after all the [abusive] emails we received," Jamie White, the solicitor who submitted the application on behalf of his client, told News Ltd.

“So really do people think it’s that scandalous and really does it impact them at all?”

“People may have been shocked by the trademark but not offended enough to put a stop to it.”

The company argued that the f-word has become a part of the accepted Australian language and therefore the trademark should not be denied.

The trademark examiner has granted permission on the condition it will not market the product to children.

 

Edible packaging could reduce waste

A scientist has found a way to reduce packaging waste that creates millions of tonnes of landfill every year: eat the packaging.

David Edwards, whose work encompasses the arts and science and is at the core of a network of art and science labs in Europe, USA and Africa, has now created edible packaging, WikiCells.

The idea for WikiCells was based on the way nature has always delivered nutrients in a digestible skin "held together by healthy ions like calcium."

Apples, potatoes and tomatoes, for example, all have an edible exterior protecting the food within.

"This soft skin may be comprised primarily of small particles of chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, or many other natural substances with delicious taste and often useful nutrients," the WikiCells team writes on its website.

"Inside the skin may be liquid fruit juice, or thick pudding."

Edwards and his collaborators, including industrial designer François Azambourg, have so far tested gazpacho-stuffed tomato membrane, a wine-filled grape-like shell, and an orange juice-laden orb with a shell that tastes like an orange.

The team is also looking into other possibilities including edible milk bottles and yogurt containers.

WikiCells will market ice cream in an edible shell in the French summer.

Family farms won’t survive and it’s not all Coles and Woollies fault: AIP National Conference

The 2012 Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) Conference has kicked of in Queensland, and food and packaging experts have already shared their thoughts on the future of the Australian industry.

Tom Schneider, President of the World Packaging Organisation began his address to the audience by saying Australians are “very much like Texans, you meet people well and you enjoy people.”

Terry O’Brien, Managing Director, Simplot had some more controversial comments on the state of the industry and what producers and companies need to dot o stay afloat.

“People keep saying things like ‘If we could just legislate against Coles and Woolworths and stop them bullying companies,  it would fix everything.,’ but I don’t think that’s necessarily true.

These retailers take roughly 33 per cent of profit out of the chain; globally, the level is about 25 per cent, so it is higher.

“Woolworths is the second highest profit margin maker behind Walmart.

“The fact that Woolworths is so successful isn’t a fluke, they have worked hard over a number of years and they aren’t stopping.

“And they’re looking for further profit.”

O’Brien shared his view that the rapidly changing food and packaging supply industries will continue to push producers and manufacturers to innovate and improve their business models.

“The press has had a lot of fun with the retailers and the food industry taking shots at each other over these kinds of statistics, rather than getting them together at a table to discuss the issues.

"The AFGC [Australian Food and Grocery Council] has started doing that and some kind of truce has been called.

“There is a responsibility for Coles and Woollies, given their size, for them to respect suppliers.

“When they make decisions to D-list people, they have to understand the impact of that. 

“I think they do understand, but they have to communicate those through the organisation. 

“They’re not the pseudo protectors for companies in Australia, so if you’re  sitting in a company that’s not looking bright, and is not innovating, the future is not bright for you in Australia.

When questioned about yesterday’s news that Woolworths chief Grant O’Brien has extended an olive branch to manufacturers and suppliers to develop an independent body to oversee dialogue between the major supermarkets and suppliers, O’Brien (Terry, who assures there is no family connection) was cautiously optimistic.

“Things are usually settled much better sitting around table than in all out warfare,” he said.

“How far and how deep into issues they would go, I don’t know.

“What he has offered so far is not going to the heart of the issues we have, so we need more discussions about that.”

He said not everything can be blamed on the major supermarkets, and that companies and suppliers cannot expect to continue doing business exactly ads they have done for decades.

“You have to make yourself a corporation rather than a family farm system,” he said.

“I love farmers, I spend a lot of time with them and I wish the model could stay where it is to make money, but unfortunately that won’t be the case.

“Regional areas are going to suffer.”

“No matter which way you cut it, we’re too expensive.

“There’s been a lot of talk about cheap imports, but when I’ve travelled the world, I’ve found that is the normal price, and we pay too much.

“It just costs too much to produce things in Australia, and it comes down to our standard of living.

“We expect to be able to support the standard of living we have, people are widespread geographically and people demand wage increases and things like that.

“But nobody tries to be better than average because average gets them paid.

“We have to be very efficient, and chase constant productivity improvements.”

O’Brien said the increased union activity of late is not beneficial to the industry, nor is the changed attitude to redundancies and retirement.

“The re-energised union movement in Australia is not helping,” he said.

“I’ve always been a supporter of unions, but I’m really pissed off with them now and I think they’re chasing people offshore now.

“And redundancies are just such a big nest egg, people now would love to walk out the door at retirement with a redundancy payment.

“How do you unwind this sort of thing?

Australian food packaging not shelf friendly

More than 70 packaging technologists, engineers and designers came together across three states in one week to look at ways to improve Shelf Friendly Packaging (SFP).

Supported by Woolworths, the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and retail anylists IGD, the in-store training aimed to understand what is currently working on supermarket shelves and how improvements can be made to improve design, functionality, accessibility and appearance on shelves.

James Tupper, ECR Learning & Change Manager, IGD, travelled from the United Kingdom to run the 2012 AIP/IGD hands-on training which was designed to focus on the last 50 metres of the SFP supply chain.

It provided packaging technologists, SFP designers and manufacturers the opportunity to work hands-on in-store and understand the complexities and difficulties that poor SFP design causes for store fillers and staff.

The training allowed the attendees the opportunity to participate in three practical exercises in-store that showed what SFP works, which doesn’t and why.

Attendees soon realised that tape over perforations, poor gluing of boxes, perforations that don’t open, no finger holes, poor design and identification of front edges and poor quality corrugate are just some of the reasons why SFP is not used in-store.

“At the end of the day much of the Shelf Friendly Packaging in Australia is not fit-for-purpose and needs to be redesigned,” one attendee said.

How do you think packaging in Australia needs to be changed to make it shelf friendly?

New invention gets sauces out of bottles as quick as water

A clever scientist in the US has come up with a way to make the process of getting sauces out of their bottles easier and most importantly, quicker.

Everyone has experienced the frustration of watching their favourite hot food go cold while they wait for the sauce to make its way out of the bottle.

Heinz, for example, says the ketchup in their iconic glass bottle moves its way out at the painfully slow speed of 0.028 miles (0.045 kilometres) per hour.

But when you’re standing on the sidelines of the junior rugby with a sausage sanga or cheering from the stands during the Origin series, that is just not good enough.

Luckily, MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith has identified a solution for the speed issue, which is cause by friction inside the bottle.

Along with a team of mechanical engineers and nano-technologists, he has developed LiquiGlide, a revolutionary product, which when applied inside the bottle during manufacture, allows sauces or other food products to slide out easily.

The product is made from materials approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and makes everything from tomato sauce to mayonnaise slide out of the bottle with ease, leaving little residue.

Smith describes the product, which recently came in second at the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, as a “kind of a structured liquid – it’s rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid.”

It could be awhile before the product, which Smith says would be worth $17 billion, is readily available, and he has warded against potential copycats and “patented the hell out of it.”

Watch LiquidGlide work its magic in the videos below.

 

 

Smart label remembers the use-by date you forget

A revolutionary “smart food label” developed by European scientists, which would take the guess work out of use-by labels, could be mass produced by the end of this year, if it gets enough support.

The UWI Label, which can be used on a range of foods, contains a chemical-based indicator strip that tells you exactly how long that product has been opened.

Developed by Pete Higgins, in conjunction with scientists from Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the inventors say the system could save countless food poisoning cases and significantly eliminate food wastage.

“The label on the back might have small print that says something like “once opened, use within 4 weeks” (or whatever the period might be) but, how do you remember when you first opened the jar?” the creators ask.

You don’t, that say, you forget and you then either take a risk or throw it away. Sound familiar?

“The label reacts as a soon as a food jar or packaging is opened, then gives a visual warning when the product is no longer safe to consume,” Higgins said.

The UWI Label knows when you opened the jar for the first time  shows you how long it has been opened tells you when it has reached its “use within” period and when it may no longer safe to use or consume.

Indicator panels in the label progressively turn green to show the elapsed time from the opening of a product and a red panel alerts consumers when the “use within” period has expired.

UWI Label time ranges can be set as hours, days, weeks, months up to a six month and is pre-set during manufacturing of the product.

The inventors have made it to the final of the Barclays Take One Small Step competition, which helps entrepreneurs in Great Britain to turn their ideas into reality, with £50,000 funding, exposure and support.

The public voting starts 30 May and concludes 27 June, and the inventors say they “will be working tirelessly throughout this four week period to get as many supporters as possible.”

They say while the label would be extremely beneficial for food products, it could offer significant improvements to various industries.

 “Beyond the obvious application for food production, the technology is also suitable in other sectors where products have a critical shelf life once opened – including industrial glues and sealants, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, blood transfusion services and veterinary,” Higgins said.

 

50 per cent sold with 51 weeks to go before AUSPACK PLUS 2013

AUSPACK PLUS organisers are continuing to surpass their KPI’s for the 2013 exhibition with over 3200 square metres of space already sold and there is still 51 weeks until the show opens.

According to Luke Kasprzak, Event Manager, exhibitors that have signed include packaging and processing machinery companies, plastics manufacturers, processing equipment suppliers and leading labelling and coding agencies in Australasia.

“Companies that have already booked stands include ERC Packaging, Australis Engineering, FlexLink Systems, Festo, JMP Australia, HMPS, ABB Australia, A&D, Accuweigh, Laser Resources, Result Packaging, ITW Zip-Pak, Rhima Australia, Plastral and many more,” Kasprzak said.

As Mike Phillips, Managing Director, ERC Packaging said ‘they are pleased to once again be taking part in AUSPACK PLUS and are looking forward to introducing just some of their many products to the Sydney market.’ 

“We are looking forward to participating in the Sydney event and promoting not only our expansive range of bag sealing machinery, induction sealers and shrink labelling machines and labels but we will also be demonstrating our expanded range of container sealers including the Modified Atmosphere (MAP) range,” Phillips said. 

Peter Gustafson, Managing Director, Australis Engineering, added that they are exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2103 because it brings together the decision makers across the FMCG sector.

“AUSPACK PLUS has rapidly become the preeminent tradeshow in Australia and therefore an un-missable event. By exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013 Australis Engineering benefits from exposure to the right industries and most importantly the decision makers in those industries and will use the event to showpiece our Mini Linear Palletisers and Multi-Axis Conveying solutions,” Gustafson said.

Peter Hutchings, Managing Director of FlexLink Systems said he booked his 2013 exhibition space due to the highly successful exhibition stand they had in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

“At AUSPACK PLUS 2103, FlexLink Systems looks forward to showcasing a comprehensive range of conveyor systems including our new WL wide conveyors, stainless steel solutions, software, line control and pallet systems,” Hutchings said.

“FlexLink Systems sees this exhibition as a fantastic way to communicate and demonstrate our company’s products and capability to our broad range of customers and potential clients.”

AUSPACK PLUS 2013 is a ‘must-attend’ exhibition on the Australian Packaging and Processing calendar and will be held at the Sydney Showgrounds, Sydney Olympic Park from the 7th to the 10th of May 2013.

AUSPACK PLUS is owned and presented by the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA), Australia’s only national packaging and processing machinery organisation.

To receive a prospectus on exhibiting at AUSPACK PLUS 2013, contact Luke Kasprzak, Event Manager, 02 9556 7972 or LKasprzak@etf.com.au

Undeclared “meat glue” used in countless American products

First it was “pink slime” horrifying consumers in the US, now it’s emerged that millions of Americans are also consuming “meat glue” each week.

The additive is used to produce not only meats found in fast food outlets, but also supermarkets, local delis and restaurants.

Even vegetarian foods have been found to contain “meat glue.”

The two main types of "meat glue"

The “meat glue” is made up two major types, the first transglutaminase Activa, a white powder form of a natural coagulant-like enzyme called transglutaminase.

The other type is Fibrimex, which is made of enzymes extracted from pig or beef blood by a process developed in the Netherlands.

According to the companies who make the “meat glue” they were designed to bond pieces of protein or irregularly shaped meat so it can be cut and cooked evenly by the food-service industry.

Food scientists told Scripps News Network the two cold-binding agents are used to reduce the use of sodium phosphate, sodium alginate, carrageenan, sodium caseinate and other chemicals that had been used for decades to form and mold meat.

Despite US laws requiring labelling to disclose the inclusion of the two brands of protein adhesive are apparently being ignored, according to an investigation by Scripps Howard News Service, which found almost none of the companies tested declared the additive.

Over five months, Scripps examined over 130 meats and deli products in Seattle, Milwaukee, Omaha and Denver which food scientists found contained the adhesive mixtures, but only four of them had the word “enzymes” on the ingredients list.

No companies would discuss the use of the additive, but it is estimated by food scientists that it is found in up to 35 per cent of all sliced ham, beef, chicken, fish, pizza toppings and other deli meats.

Cold cut processors and fast food outlets including McDonald’s and Arby’s were contacted by Scripps to discuss the use of the additive, but all declined to comment, on whether they use transglutaminase or blood-extract products,  raising concerns over the use of processing products.

While the government regulates that the use of the product should be included on a product’s ingredient list, producers can use a loophole which defines binders as a “processing aid.”

Is this the next "pink slime?"

Similarly to the “pink slime,” which is used as a cheap ground-beef filler, meat glue is not considered a health risk by federal food watchdogs, but consumers are disgusted and frightened by the inclusion of such additives.

After much publicity in 2011 and 2012, the use of pink slime has fallen in the US, although there are reports it is still being used in school lunches.

Experts say the US food industry needs to be accountable for it’s actions and be more transparent with consumers.

“For decades, the meat industry has conveniently operated in the dark, not sharing the dirty details of their practices with the public, while the federal government looked the other way,” Michele Simon, a policy consultant for the Center for Food Safety, told Scripps.

“But now, consumers are demanding to know the truth about what they are.

"We need more transparency in a food system that puts profits before people.”

The impact on religion and diet

The undeclared use of Activa and Fibrimex can cause issues for people with beliefs or dietary restrictions.

Jewish or Muslim consumers could be eating pork products chicken or fish pieces without being aware and vegetarians could be unknowingly consuming meat in their apparently “meat-free” products.

“There may be economic adulteration going on here, and the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) or the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) needs to look at whether laws are being violated,” Tony Corbo, legislative representative for the national consumer group Food & Water Watch said.

“We are especially appalled that certain consumers’ religious beliefs may be unknowingly violated because food manufacturers are hiding what goes into the production of these binding agents.”

The Australian standards

A spokesperson from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) told Food Magazine in a statement that the use of the enzyme, transglutaminase, as a processing aid is permitted under the Processing Aids of the food standards Code.

“Like all processing aids, the safety and function of this enzyme was thoroughly assessed before it was permitted to be included in the Code,” the spokesperson said.

Clause 6 of the Meat and Meat Products of the Code states that “Where raw meat has been formed or joined in the semblance of a cut of meat using a binding system without the application of heat, whether coated or not, a declaration that the meat is either formed or joined, in conjunction with cooking instructions indicating how the microbiological safety of the product can be achieved must be included on the label; or if the food is not required to be labelled, must be provided to the purchaser."

“This mandatory information requirement applies to all raw meat that has been formed or joined and is available for retail sale,” the spokesperson told Food Magazine.

“Where there may be compliance concerns, for example raw meat that is joined or formed being sold without the required labelling, consumers can approach the relevant enforcement agencies with their concerns.

“In addition, where the physical form of the formed or joined meat is labelled in a manner that implies the meat is a whole cut (for example, raw formed or joined meat labelled as ‘steak’), such representations could be considered deceptive or misleading to consumers and would fall under  Australian Consumer Law.

“This legislation is administered and enforced jointly by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the state and territory consumer protection agencies.”

What do you think of these kinds of additives? Are they necessary? Should there be more stringent labelling rules?

Visy accused of using Hell’s Angels for debt collections

Packaging company Visy has labelled reports that it uses Hells Angels bikie gang members as debt collectors as “nonsense.”

According to Victorian newspaper The Herald Sun, a whistle-blower has revealed a connection between the bikie gang and the packaging company.

Visy allegedly pays the Hells Angels a retainer to ensure bikies are available for the company to use as “problem solvers” when required.

The Herald Sun reports that the senior police sources detected the connection in police intelligence files and detectives are now investigating the ties.

Superintended Gerry Ryan, head of bikie gang Taskforce Echo wouldn’t comment on specific reports, but did say police are aware of some questionable activity since debt collector regulations in Victoria changed last year.

"We are monitoring this closely," he told The Herald Sun.

"Taskforce Echo has received recent intelligence of instances where members of outlaw motorcycle gangs have been used to collect debts from individuals and businesses.

"We are monitoring these activities closely and will act swiftly if offences are being committed, including the use of physical force, harassment and intimidation tactics."

Last year the Victorian government changes the regulations for debt collectors so that they don’t have to be officially registered to undertake the role.

The move has been widely criticised, with opponents saying that without monitoring or registration, individuals or companies could pose a significant threat to those in debt.

According to a former senior employee at Visy, the connection with Hell’s Angels has been in place for years and was personally approved by founder Richard Pratt, who died in 2009.

These links first emerged in the County Court in 2007.

The former employee alleges that Visy was owed significant sums of money by criminals connected to the fruit and vegetable industry, and when they refused to pay up, the packaging company decided it had to meet muscle with muscle.

"So Visy kind of had to find someone of equal status to the market heavies to collect what was owed by the sort of people who just ignore requests from traditional debt collectors," the whistleblower said.

"A senior Visy employee knew a couple of Hells Angels through a former job.

“He approached them and that's how the relationship started, with Richard Pratt's knowledge and approval."

Image: News Ltd.

Coles and Woollies not entirely to blame for supermarket wars, Dick Smith tells Inquiry

Dick Smith has warned against forcing the break-up of Coles and Woolworths, saying it would only further damage the food sector.

Speaking at the Senate Inquiry into the Australian food processing sector this morning, the entrepreneur also said government protection of the food industry, by enforcing a quota of Australian products, would be a positive move.

Industry protection funds, similar to those in the car industry, could be another viable option, he said.

In his submission to the Inquiry, Smith blamed the current supermarket climate, which is pushing Australian companies and farmers out of work, on rich foreign companies, namely ALDI.

He said dividing up Coles and Woolworths will not improve the situation “because I think they will just become uncompetitive when they become small with the internationals we allow them to compete with.”

Smith voiced his concern that the current “extreme capitalism” environment will lead to WalMart and Costco being the only supermarket companies in the world.

He told the Inquiry he does not believe the infamous milk price wars, which saw Coles drop the price of private-label milk to $1 a litre and Woolworths quickly follow suit, was either of their faults, but rather the blame is squarely at the feet of foreign-owned cheap food retailers.

''I think Coles and Woolworths were reacting to the situation that Aldi and Costco have come here,'' Smith said.

He also wants penalty rates in Australia looked at, and says a reduction in the rates would improve our competitiveness.

''Do we value our country towns?” he asked

“Which I do, do we want to go to these country towns and find them boarded up?

“Because our farmers are paying $20 an hour for labour, (and) will never be able to compete with people paying $5 an hour.

''But don't blame Coles and Woolworths for it, I think we are getting off the track…I think it is the fact consumers want the cheapest prices.''

Smith maintains Australians would readily pay slightly higher food prices if it ensured the future of the food industry.

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that while most Australians say they would like to buy Australian produced and processed food, the main contributing factor is low price.

Similar rules to those in television broadcasting which impose a certain quota of locally-made content, would be effective in the supermarket sector, he said.

''One idea that I heard a number of days ago which could have potential is that we require Australian supermarkets to have a certain percentage of their sales, say 25 per cent, to be from Australian-owned processors and made and grown in Australia,'' Smith said.

''The advantage in doing that is it will create a level playing field.''

Last month Smith, along with Greg Cooper, chairman of Australia’s largest beer brewer started calling for a dedicated “Australian made” aisle in supermarkets to allow shoppers to easily understand which products are locally made and produced, and therefore keep local industries alive.

The current packaging and import regulations leave most consumers confused, they said.

Smith predicts that ALDI’S share in the supermarket sector, currently sitting at 8 per cent, will increase gradually over coming years.

 

AFGC releases Packaging White Paper

In a bid to ensure a more strategic and proactive packaging sustainability sector, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) has released a White Paper on the ‘Future of Packaging.’

The white paper has been developed in consultation with retailers, government, recycling companies, retailers and consumers.

It aims to provide more strategic and realistic action for packaging sustainability.

The AFGC and its stakeholders have committed to going ‘beyond compliance’ with the APC, addressing broader waste and sustainability issues and identifying opportunities that will increase sustainable packaging.

The AFGC says that while significant progress has been made towards sustainability, with higher recycling rates and more lightweight packaging, more needs to be done to ensure a sustainable future for the packaging industry.

They want the focus on waste and litter to be expanded on and an improvement to the poor level of understanding about the important role that packaging plays in delivering products to consumers and the implications of this for sustainability.

In December 2011 the Packaging Impacts Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) was released for comment, aiming to identify new measures with potential to increase packaging resource recovery rates and decrease packaging litter.

The government is now considering new packaging policies to address not only recycling and sustainability, but also to provide a simple front-of-pack nutritional labelling system to curb obesity rates.

Dick Smith fronts Senate Inquiry into food industry

Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith will front the Senate Inquiry into the food processing industry and supermarket dominance today.

The Inquiry has come up against problems getting people and companies to participate in the process, as the supermarkets bully them into silence through their market control.

Smith is one of the few who is openly critical about not only the anti-competitive practises of the supermarkets, but also the government policy that is ruining the entire Australian food industry.

The case against ALDI

He  has taken a slightly different angle in his submission to the Inquiry, effectively blaming foreign-owned supermarket ALDI for most of the problems in the supermarket sector.

“ALDI’s lower prices primarily come from having lower labour costs, that is, they employ less Australians,” Smith writes in his submission. 

“When Coles and Woolworths follow this particular trend, (as they will be forced to) where in a large supermarket you might only have one or two Australians employed our food prices may be slightly cheaper but in the long term our taxes will  very likely go up to pay for the social services of people who no longer have jobs.

“When ALDI stocked a limited range of products there was hope that the Australian owned retailers could survive because they could sell the other necessities that were required, place a higher price on those and obtain an extra margin to cover their extra staffing overheads. 

“The alternative was to go broke.

“That’s  now  all changed.  

“ALDI have announced that they are going to increase their product range so a typical Australian family can buy all of their products in an ALDI store. 

“This will result in Coles and Woolworths either following ALDI further on this lower cost, 90% private label, “lack of choice” model or losing substantial market share and eventually failing.”

Woolworths and Coles are already increasing their private-label products at a rapid pace, pushing Australian companies out of business and placing unfair demands on producers and transporters.

Supermarkets killing drivers

Yesterday the Transport Workers Union (TWU) accused the major supermarkets of causing road deaths by forcing truck drivers to drive for unsafe lengths of time and meet unrealistic deadlines.

"The union is saying very clearly to Coles and the other retailers that [their] practices have to change, that they are literally killing people on our roads because of the economic pressure," TWU federal president Tony Sheldon told ABC News.

"What happens with Coles and other major retailers with dominating the market at 32 per cent of road transport tasks, is that they say to manufacturers, they say to farmers and they say to transport operators that you've got to do this work the cheapest and the fastest way you possibly can.

"They're price takers, which means the trucking industry either makes the decision to do the work or they don't have a job."

Collapse of Australia's beetroot industry

Smith points towards the beetroot industry as a prime example of the damaging impact the ridiculously low prices have on Australia.

“As an example, for many decades, a simple can of Australian grown beetroot has sold for about $1.50 in our supermarkets and this has allowed a viable farming and  processing industry to exist,” he said in his submission to the Inquiry.

“The cost price of such a can is about 90 cents, the remainder being the supermarket overheads and profit margin. 

"Not at any time in the past few decades have I  heard of consumers complaining about the price of a can of beetroot. 

“In fact, it’s about half the price of a cup of coffee and I find it truly amazing that it could be so cheap, considering that Australian award wages and conditions are included in the price.

“Notwithstanding the lack of pressure on price, ALDI started to sell beetroot at 75 cents a can.   Immediately, Coles and Woolworths matched the price, as they had to.  

“ALDI proudly claimed that the beetroot they were selling was from Australia however they did not state that this would basically sound the death knell to our beetroot growing and processing industry.

“Within a short period of time, Heinz announced the closure of its beetroot processing plants in Australia, sacking hundreds of workers and Australian farmers were ploughing their beetroot crops back in the ground. 

“Heinz announced that their beetroot from now on will be grown and processed overseas.

“At the present time, there are still stocks of Australian beetroot at 75 cents a can, but it’s obvious that once these go, if the price is to remain the same, all beetroot in future will come from overseas. 

“We will have lost a complete industry, but this didn’t happen  because of pressure from consumers. 

"This is an important point. 

“It happened because one of the most astute examples of modern “extreme” capitalism, fully foreign owned ALDI, decided to flex its power.”

Smith said another differentiating factor between ALDI versus Coles and Woolworths is that the latter two are publically-listed companies, dependant on and accountable to shareholders, whereas ALDI is privately owned by a German company.

The “highly secretive” ALDI is therefore creating an uneven playing field, he said in his submission.

"Intentionally vague" labelling

He also takes aim at the labelling laws for country of origin, claiming they are deliberately misleading.

 “The current food labelling laws in Australia are intentionally vague so the requirements are accepted by the large multinational companies who  have political clout,” he said. 

“Although there have been campaigns such as the “Australian Made” mark, this was in reality an indication that the majority of the cost of production of a product was made up with Australian content. 

“For example, if the cost of a jar, a lid, label and an ingredient such as sugar represented greater than 50% of the total cost, but the primary ingredient (say, the strawberries in strawberry jam), was imported, the label could  still  state  “Australian Made”.

“In more recent times many labels bear the words “Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients”.  In this case, the local content may be very small.”

Smith’s own company, which produces food ‘as Australian as you can get” has felt the impact of the obsession with cheap, often imported food, and is personally watching his products getting pushed out of the market.

“Turnover peaked at $80 million per year in 2002 and has now dropped to $8million per annum as most Australians move to lower prices,” he said of his company, Dick Smith Foods.

“It’s interesting to note that the prime reason Coles have refused to stock our products is that  they are about 30 cents more expensive, and they believe Australian consumers will not  support this extra cost.”

A statement from Senator Richard Colbeck, the Liberal Senator for Tasmania who called for the Select Committee last year, said he is pleased that the Inquiry has secured both Coles and Woolworths to appear as witnesses at a subsequent meeting in Canberra next week.

The committee is due to release the findings of the Inquiry by 30 June.

Rate of animals slaughtered without stunning rising faster that Muslim population in UK

An animal welfare expert in the UK has accused the local meat industry of increasing the number of animals slaughtered without stunning, claiming it is for religious purposes, when it is actually a financial decision.

Professor Bill Reilly, former chairman of the UK Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, said the increase in the number of animals not being stunned prior to slaughter was “unacceptable.”

He is currently a consultant on veterinary public health and believes the practise of slaughtering animals without stunning should be reduced or banned entirely.

He said reports by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and EU-funded Dialrel Project, combined with publically-available footage on YouTube "clearly demonstrate the pain and distress of obviously still sentient animals after non-stun slaughter".

Legislation in the UK and EU allows the slitting of animals’ throats without stunning, in accordance with Muslim and Jewish food requirements, but the number of animals slaughtered without stunning is increasing faster than the rates of people who require animals to be killed in such a way for their religious beliefs.

The production of halal meat in particular has been growing at a rapid pace, Reilly said, and now significantly exceeds the proportion of Muslims in the UK population.

The halal share of the UK meat market increased almost 15 per cent in the last 11 years he said, while the Muslim population is estimated at 4.6 per cent.

“Why has there been this growth in demand for halal meat and the proportion that is from non-stunned animals?” Professor Reilly wrote in the Veterinary Record.

“There may be operational advantages for an abattoir if stunning is not carried out.

“Other commercial drivers include the convenience of not offering a Halal processing line."

Reilly stressed that he is not targeting the right to religious freedom, but rather attempting to ensure as many animals as possible are slaughtered in a humane way.

"The challenge to society is to enable religious slaughter without compromising animal suffering," he said.
He wants to reduce the minimum number of animals killed without pre-stunning in the UK/

But Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy general-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said there is a "lot of confusion" over Halal meat.

He said animals can be stunned before slaughter and still be labelled Halal.

"Over 90 per cent of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter," he said.

In October, Australian agriculture ministers failed to resolve discussions over ritual slaughters, meaning exemptions that allow some Australian abattoirs to conduct slaughter without prior stunning will continue.

There are 12 abattoirs in Australia that are exempt from the regulations that say animals for consumption must be stunned before they are slaughtered.

The exemptions are on religious or cultural grounds, but animal welfare groups want to practice stopped altogether.

The council released a statement following the meeting, saying ministers have reviewed the results of a two-year consultation process with stakeholders and have considered the science involved and the views of religious groups, but could not reach a conclusion.

Up to 250,000 animals are killed without prior stunning in Australia every year under the religious slaughter exemptions and the RSPCA has rejected claims that stunning is not allowed on religious grounds, saying stunning is accepted by the Islamic community and Jewish community and no reason existed for un-stunned slaughter to continue.

Image: The Guardian
 

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