Supply Scan

News from across the food supply chain.

According to news reports, farmers have hired a full-time food safety manager to monitor melon-picking and started paying the seasonal pickers by the hour, not by the amount of cantaloupes picked. The farmers also built a new central packing shed where all Rocky Ford-labeled melons will be washed with soap and a chlorine oxide, then rinsed with well water tested for contamination.

After being washed, the melons will be cooled to reduce condensation and then packed into boxes labeled with codes traceable to the fields where the melons were grown. The boxes will be packed with slips that consumers can scan using a smartphone to find out where the melons originated.

However, it may take some time to ease consumers’ concerns. And, that’s partly why some farmers decided to abandon the crop altogether, leaving only about one-third of the land devoted to growing the cantaloupes last year to this year’s crop, according to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency.


Sysco Says It Will Eliminate Gestation Crates

Sysco has become the latest food company to ban the use of gestation crates from its pork supply chain.

The company, which ranks as the largest foodservice distributor in North America, stated: “Sysco takes its role as a responsible corporate citizen in the food supply chain seriously. We use science-based standards for animal welfare and work diligently with our suppliers to ensure humane treatment of animals. We also listen closely to our customers’ desires. Although there are many ways to house sows, several customers and suppliers have expressed their desire to eliminate gestation crates from their supply chains. Therefore, Sysco is committed to working with its suppliers to create a gestation crate-free supply system, for the good of all. Like many of our customers, we’re going to work with our pork suppliers to develop a timeline to achieve this goal.”

The move to abandon the use of gestation crates has been gaining ground this year with a number of restaurant chains, grocery companies, foodservice distributors, and food manufacturers adopting similar policies.


Growing Support for GE Food Labeling Initiative

The proposed labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, known as Proposition 37, has been gaining traction in California.

According to an online poll by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University School of Public Policy, 27.2 percent of voters stated they strongly support the Genetically Engineered Food Act; 19.6 percent somewhat support it; and 18.1 percent are leaning toward a “yes” vote. Meanwhile, 11.3 percent of the voters are unsure; 10.1 percent are leaning toward “no”; 7.6 percent stated they will vote against Prop 37; and 6.2 percent indicate a “strongly no” for the measure.

In October 2011, an alliance of about 400 organizations filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling for the mandatory labeling on food products that use genetically modified ingredients.

If California’s proposed labeling proposition does pass, it will be mandatory that most foods will have the label disclosure “genetically engineered,” and it is prohibited from then using the terms “natural,” “naturally made”, “naturally grown” or “all natural” on its label.


Creating a Practical Fast-Food Chain For Organic Produce

Mike Roberts, former president and COO of McDonald’s Corporation and current president and CEO of Lyfe Kitchen, is looking to expand his radical idea for a sustainable and organic fast-food chain throughout the U.S., but he faces some supply chain challenges.

The biggest challenge is whether America’s farmers can grow, process, and deliver fresh, organic and hormone-free products to the fast-food chain in a timely and efficient manner.

Expanding is difficult under the present regulations for organic produce.

It takes three years to certify a field as organic, and five to seven years before the soil becomes truly productive.

According to Jon Kiley, Earthbound’s senior manager for national food service, organic root vegetables are tricky to supply since they take a long time to grow and are also susceptible to insects, which makes it more difficult to deliver (since no chemical pesticides are allowed).

“It may be viable if you have 50 stores,” Kiley says. But 20 times that? The question remains unanswered.


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