5@5: The troubling timeline of a food safety recall | Why Amazon isn't guaranteed to rule online grocery

Each day at 5 p.m. we collect the five top food and supplement headlines of the day, making it easy for you to catch up on today's most important natural products industry news.

December 27, 2017

3 Min Read
5@5: The troubling timeline of a food safety recall | Why Amazon isn't guaranteed to rule online grocery

Inspector general report: FDA food recalls dangerously slow, procedures deeply flawed

It has taken up to 10 months to get unsafe food products off store shelves, according to a report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general office. The inspector general reviewed 30 recalls that occurred between 2012 and 2015 and found that it took the FDA an average of 57 days to initiate a recall. The report suggested improvements in the agency’s process for monitoring recalls, as well as its electronic tracking system. In June 2016, the inspector general issued an “early alert” on the FDA’s recall activities. But Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says things have improved since then—the agency created a team to speed up recall processes, and FDA will soon provide its own guidance on what else can be done. Read more at USA Today… 


Americans love spices. So why don’t we grow more of them?

The United States leads the world in consumption and import of spices, and per capita consumption has more than tripled over the last 50 years. There’s been an uptick in cumin, paprika and turmeric imports in recent years as Americans gain appreciations for global foods and flavors. So why are we sourcing them from across the world, instead of growing them domestically? While many spices grow best in tropical areas, the reason overall is not because we can’t—at least according to one spice aficionado—but because big agriculture is more focused on commodity crops like corn and soybeans. As a start, a group of researchers in Vermont is trying to develop ways for farmers to grow saffron, a high-value crop that’s harvested in the fall. Read more at NPR…


Amazon isn’t a lock to dominate grocery

While Amazon has captured an overwhelming majority of grocery sales made online, the realm remains largely uncharted with plenty of room for competitors to grow, too. Food and drug remain largely brick-and-mortar retail categories. While online grocery sales rose this year, so did the number of shoppers who said they preferred to pick up groceries ordered online at stores, which suggests that physical retailers also have untapped opportunity to grow online services. And, in a recent RBC Capital Markets survey, nearly 80 percent of shoppers said Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition wouldn’t make them more likely to buy groceries online. Amazon has a big job ahead of it in luring customers to purchase grocery stores online—and to do so specifically through its services. Read more at Bloomberg…


How to water a food desert

Evidence is mounting that there isn’t necessarily a clear link between the availability of healthy food and how healthy communities are. Rather, it seems that income is more closely tied to nutrition, according to a new paper from economists at Stanford, the University of Chicago and New York University. The addition of new supermarkets to neighborhoods does not materially increase healthy eating, they say. "For a policymaker who wants to help low-income families to eat more healthfully, the analyses in this paper suggest that improving health education–if possible through effective interventions–might be more effective than efforts to improve local supply,” they write. Read more at U.S. News and World Report…


One man’s stand against junk food as diabetes climbs across India

The people of India are more likely than other population to develop diabetes as they gain weight. And as diets heavy in carbohydrates and fat spread to different areas of the country, experts predict that the number of Indians with diabetes will soar to 123 million by the year 2040. Rahul Verma, a former corporate marketing executive whose son struggles with digestive problems, filed a public interest lawsuit to ban the sale of junk food and soft drinks in and around schools in India in 2010. That led to court-ordered regulations of junk food that have been met with fierce opposition from the food industry. This year, the government took a significant step in partially implementing a sugar tax. But the regulations to ban sales in and near schools haven’t led to much else—at least yet. Read more at The New York Times…

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