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Nutrition Facts label gets facelift

nutritional fact labels

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration released what will be its changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel of food products, with the most notable change being the inclusion of information on added sugars.

“For more than 20 years, Americans have relied on the Nutrition Facts label as a leading source of information regarding calories, fat and other nutrients to help them understand more about the foods they eat in a day,” FDA commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said. “The updated label makes improvements to this valuable resource so consumers can make more informed food choices – one of the most important steps a person can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and obesity.”

The “iconic” look of the label remains, but FDA said it is making important updates to ensure that consumers have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. These changes include increasing the type size for “calories,” “servings per container” and the “serving size” declaration and boldfacing the number of calories and the serving size declaration to highlight this information.

The final label requires "added sugars" to be declared to help consumers know how much sugar is added to the product during the processing of foods. FDA said scientific data show that it is difficult for people to meet nutrient needs while staying within calorie limits if they consume more than 10% of their total daily calories from added sugar, and this is consistent with the "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

While continuing to require “total fat,” “saturated fat” and “trans fat” on the label, “calories from fat” is being removed because research shows that the type of fat is more important than the amount, FDA said.

The new label will also include updated serving size requirements to reflect the amounts people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the serving sizes were first put into place in 1993. By law, serving sizes now must be based on the portion consumers actually eat.

For example, the reference amount used to set a serving of ice cream was previously a half-cup, but that is changing to two-thirds cup, while the reference amount for a serving of soda is changing from 8 oz. to 12 oz. FDA said “dual column” labels will be used to highlight both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for the whole package of certain food products.

An updated list of nutrients required to be declared is based on public health significance. For example, vitamin D and potassium — nutrients Americans often do not get enough of — will be required to be listed. Calcium and iron will continue to be required. Vitamins A and C are no longer required but can be included on a voluntary basis.

Compliance will be required in two years, and manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply.

The Grocery Manufacturers Assn. issued a statement from chief science officer Dr. Leon Bruner saying it shares FDA’s commitment to improving nutrition labeling regulations and noting that an update was timely as eating patterns and consumer preferences have changed dramatically since the Nutrition Facts Panel was first introduced.

“Because consumers could be confused by the new label with its numerous changes, a robust consumer education effort will be needed to ensure that people continue to understand how the revised label can be used to make informed choices and maintain healthful dietary practices. We look forward to working with FDA and other stakeholders on messages and activities to help consumers understand what the new labels mean,” Bruner said.

April egg production falls 1%

U.S egg production totaled 8.21 billion during April 2016, down 1% from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest “Chicken & Eggs” report. Production included 7.10 billion table eggs and 1.11 billion hatching eggs, of which 1.02 billion were broiler-type and 93 million were egg-type. The total number of layers during April 2016 averaged 361 million, down slightly from last year. April egg production per 100 layers was 2,273 eggs, down 1%from April 2015.

All layers in the U.S. on May 1, 2016, totaled 361 million, up  1% from last year. The total consisted of 302 million layers producing table or market type eggs, 54.8 million layers producing broiler-type hatching eggs and 3.95 million layers producing egg-type hatching eggs. Rate of lay per day on May 1, 2016, averaged 76.0 eggs per 100 layers, up slightly from May 1, 2015.

Fewer egg-type chicks hatched

Egg-type chicks hatched during April 2016 totaled 49.4 million, down 2% from April 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 52.5 million on May 1, 2016, up 8% from a year ago.

Domestic placements of egg-type pullet chicks for future hatchery supply flocks by leading breeders totaled 240,000 during April 2016, up 10% from April 2015.

More broiler-type chicks

Broiler-type chicks hatched during April 2016 totaled 781 million, up 1% from April 2015. Eggs in incubators totaled 650 million on May 1, 2016, down slightly from a year ago.

Leading breeders placed 7.77 million broiler-type pullet chicks for future domestic hatchery supply flocks during April 2016, up 11% from April 2015.

Idaho ordered to pay $250,000 after losing ag-gag case

District court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has granted a motion filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and a coalition of national nonprofits that awards the groups $249,875.08 in attorneys' fees from the state of Idaho. The order comes just months after the groups won  a lawsuit over Idaho's "ag-gag" law, which the court agreed violated the First and 14th amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Idaho's law, which was passed in 2014, represented one of the most tightly written packages aimed at protecting animal facilities. Specifically, it prohibited anyone not employed by an agricultural production facility to enter or obtain records on the facility by “force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass.” It prohibited making video or audio recordings of conduct at the facility.

The bill also limited anyone from obtaining employment at a facility with the intent to “cause economic or other injury to the facility’s operations, livestock, crops, owners, personnel, equipment, buildings, premises, business interests or customers.”

The Idaho bill came on the heels of a 2012 undercover video released in the state by Mercy for Animals that later led to the firing of five workers, with criminal charges brought against three of them. The farm later installed its own surveillance cameras to keep its 500 workers in check.

The Idaho Dairymen’s Assn. pressed for the bill. Dairy producers testifying for the bill explained that animal right activists are focused more on hurting the dairy industry and its brands rather than on truly protecting animals.

U.S. law gives successful plaintiffs the right to seek the costs they incur in bringing a lawsuit in a case of violations of constitutional rights — and Winmill awarded PETA et al. nearly every dollar requested.

PETA said the lawsuit and payout should be a warning to other states considering attempting to pass similar legislation. "This ruling is a warning to other states that PETA will challenge 'ag-gag' laws, we will win and it will be costly for the state," Jeffrey Kerr, general counsel to PETA, said.

In addition to PETA, plaintiffs in this case include: Animal Legal Defense Fund, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, Center for Food Safety, Farm Sanctuary, River's Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment, Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research & Education, the political journal CounterPunch, Farm Forward, journalist Will Potter, professor James McWilliams, investigator Monte Hickman, investigative journalist Blair Koch and undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff. The plaintiffs are represented by in-house counsel Public Justice and the law firm of Maria E. Andrade.

Chubb Agribusiness adds product withdrawal coverage

Chubb Agribusiness has added "product withdrawal coverage" to its package policy for businesses that grow, manufacture and distribute consumable products. The new coverage insures the expenses as a result of a withdrawal initiated by the insured or a government authority.

"Product withdrawals in the U.S. now occur more frequently and are costlier than ever," said Philip Twietmeyer, Chubb Agribusiness senior vice president. "Companies must plan for a possible recall or withdrawal to minimize damage to their brand and bottom line. In the event of a product recall or withdrawal, Chubb's Built-In Product Withdrawal Coverage can help insureds address both the financial impact through insurance coverage and reputational damage through access to critical crisis management services."

Chubb Agribusiness said its Built-In Product Withdrawal Coverage includes:

* Insurance for first-party withdrawal expenses if the insured determines that a product withdrawal is necessary or a government authority has ordered a product withdrawal;

* Insurance for third-party withdrawal expenses that the insured is legally obligated to pay as damages because of a product withdrawal, and

* Access to product withdrawal consultants 24/7 on a pre- and post-incident basis.

Limits of liability are up to $300,000, with $10,000 for costs of regaining goodwill, market share, profit or redesign. Defense costs are in addition to the limits. Coverage may not be available in all states and is subject to the language of policies as issued.

Chubb is the world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer.

Soybeans fall amid slowdown in exports: Podcast

Soybeans held Monday double-digit losses at midsession following declines in soybean meal and a slowdown in export shipments.

Soybean meal futures are lower after setting contract highs last week.

Corn futures were near unchanged, while wheat markets were a little lower. Corn and wheat export shipments were down from a week ago but about as expected.

Bob Burgdorfer of Farm Futures reporting. Farm Futures is a sister publication of Feedstuffs.

Make rumen function a top priority when grazing

Make rumen function a top priority when grazing

Faced with low milk prices, dairy producers looking to boost margins by maximizing milk from forage, reducing feed costs and minimizing the post-turnout drop in milk quality are being urged to make rumen function a top priority this spring and summer.

“Optimizing the efficiency with which forage is converted into milk has a massive impact on dairy unit profitability, and it starts with good rumen function,” said Dr. Derek McIlmoyle, AB Vista technical director for Great Britain and Ireland.

“The challenge following turnout is that the poor fiber content in spring grass significantly increases the risk of low rumen pH, which compromises fermentation efficiency. Up to 16 liters of oxygen can also be mixed in with the feed consumed each day, which introduces aerobic conditions that are less than ideal,” McIlmoyle said.

Any time rumen content drops below a pH of 5.8, or oxygen is introduced, the activity and numbers of fiber-digesting microbes in the rumen are reduced. Therefore, optimizing rumen conditions to best support these microbes is critical to efficient forage fermentation.

“Correctly formulated buffer feeds are essential to reduce the risk of (sub-acute rumen acidosis) at turnout, including the addition of a live yeast,” McIlmoyle continued. “These metabolically active yeasts not only limit production of the lactic acid responsible for lowering rumen pH, but they also help maintain anaerobic conditions by absorbing oxygen in the rumen.

“Typical daily yield response can be as high as two liters per cow if the rumen is under severe pressure, such as following spring turnout, coupled with an improvement in butterfat due to improved fiber digestion. That’s a significant gain in feed efficiency and milk from forage that will typically provide a return on investment of between 3:1 and 6:1 based on either a one- or two-liter increase in daily milk yield.”

Low-salt diets may not be beneficial

A large worldwide study has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and death compared to average salt consumption, according to an announcement from McMaster University in Canada.

In fact, the study suggests that the only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension (high blood pressure) and high salt consumption.

The study, involving more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, was led by investigators with the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

They looked specifically at whether the relationship between sodium (salt) intake and death, heart disease and stroke differs in people with high blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure. The researchers showed that, regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low sodium intake is associated with more heart attacks, strokes and deaths compared to average intake.

“These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said Andrew Mente, lead author of the study, a principal investigator of PHRI and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine. “While our data highlight the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels. Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high-sodium diets.”

Current intake of sodium in Canada is typically between 3.5 and 4.0 g per day, and some guidelines have recommended that the entire population lower sodium intake to below 2.3 g per day — a level that fewer than 5% of Canadians and people around the world consume.

Previous studies have shown that low sodium intake, compared to average sodium intake, is related to increased cardiovascular risk and mortality, even though low sodium intake is associated with lower blood pressure.

This new study shows that the risks associated with low sodium intake — less than 3 g per day — are consistent, regardless of a patient’s hypertension status.

Further, the findings show that while there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe, the harm associated with high sodium consumption appears to be confined to only those with hypertension.

Only about 10% of the population in the global study had both hypertension and high sodium consumption (greater than 6 g per day). Mente said this suggests that the majority of individuals in most countries are consuming the right amount of salt.

He added that targeted salt reduction in those who are most susceptible because of hypertension and high salt consumption may be preferable to a population-wide approach to reducing sodium intake in most countries except those where the average sodium intake is very high, such as parts of central Asia or China.

He added that what is now generally recommended as a healthy daily ceiling for sodium consumption appears to be set too low, regardless of a person’s blood pressure level.

“Low sodium intake reduces blood pressure modestly compared to average intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones, which may outweigh any benefits. The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake; instead, it is whether it improves health,” Mente said.

Dr. Martin O’Donnell, a co-author on the study and an associate clinical professor at McMaster University and National University of Ireland Galway, said, “This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between salt intake and health and questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low sodium intake in the entire population.”

Global wildfire policies need re-evaluation

Many landscapes need fire, but population expansion into wildland areas creates a tension between different interest groups, according to an announcement from Royal Holloway University of London in the U.K.

In a major volume published May 23, more than 70 researchers from across the globe show that a combination of factors, including invasive plants, landscape change, climate change, population growth, human health, economic, social and cultural attitudes that may be transnational, make it necessary to re-evaluate fire and mankind.

There is an increasing realization that fire is a major Earth system process affecting not only the atmosphere but also the biosphere in profound ways, the announcement said. Further, it has been recently established that increasing global temperatures will lead to increased fire risk, and recent studies indeed suggest that the increase is greater during periods of rapid global change.

Fire has an impact not only on the landscape and vegetation but also on people. This is a significant paradox, according to the announcement, because fire is essential to the health of many plant communities and is used by mankind but is also hazardous to mankind, not only the fire itself but also from smoke and post-fire erosion and flooding.

The meetings at the Royal Society on which this volume was based were edited by professors Andrew Scott and William Chaloner from Royal Holloway University of London, along with Claire Belcher from the University of Exeter and Chris Roos from the Southern Methodist University in the U.S.

Following discussions involving scientists from across the world, the Chicheley Declaration was signed. It states:

“By 2050, global mean temperatures are expected to be at least 1-2°C warmer than the early 20th century, potentially altering fire regimes by transforming vegetation in fire-prone landscapes and making previously low-fire risk regions more flammable. With globally interconnected economies and population exceeding 9 billion by 2050, all fire challenges will be human fire challenges. It is ,therefore, imperative that wildfire research that has heretofore been fragmented as sub-disciplines among physical, biological and social sciences, engineering and humanities be integrated across disciplinary and national academic frameworks so that research and policy can tackle 21st-century fire problems. We believe that wildfire should be considered in terms that recognize diverse natural and human tensions that may vary across cultural settings.”

Scott noted, “If there are challenges considering risk in landscapes where fire is common, then the problems of developing wildfire policy in countries such as England, where fire is uncommon but where this may change in the future, are even more complex.”

Sumitomo to expand methionine production capacity

Sumitomo Chemical announced that it will expand its production capacity for the feed additive methionine by adding a new production line in Japan at its Ehime Works in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, to meet the active demand in the market.

After this expansion, the company will increase its capacity by approximately 100,000 metric tons per year, bringing its total production capacity for methionine to approximately 250,000 mt per year for all existing facilities. The new facility is scheduled for completion in mid-2018.

Methionine is an essential amino acid that cannot be synthesized in an animal's body. It is widely used as a feed additive in the livestock industry mainly for poultry feed to increase chicken meat and egg production. Adding methionine and producing a proper balance of amino acids in feed also helps poultry absorb amino acids efficiently, thus reducing nitrogen compounds in poultry excrement.

In recent years, demand for methionine has kept increasing for a variety of reasons, such as a growing world population, increasing meat consumption in emerging countries, soaring prices of fish meal (a feed ingredient with relatively high methionine content) and increased methionine requirements in livestock for breed improvement.

Sumitomo said the global methionine market currently is estimated at 1.1 million mt and grew at a rate of about 6% last year, which is expected to continue at similar annual rates.

Sumitomo made the decision to locate the new line at Ehime Works — with one of the company's largest investments in Japan — after due consideration of multiple factors, the most critical of which was cost competitiveness.

As far as methionine production is concerned, cost advantages accrue specifically from a variety of benefits that Ehime Works and its location can provide. They include a reservoir of methionine manufacturing know-how amply accumulated within the facility; availability of cost-efficient, integrated production, from raw materials to the finished product, and the works' comprehensive infrastructure capable of supporting methionine production, coupled with the location's geographical proximity and easier access to Asian markets where demand is growing significantly. The company also cited a generally favorable investment climate, including initiatives of local governments, both prefectural and municipal, to welcome the investment.

Sumitomo considers life sciences — which have strong growth prospects — as one of its key areas of business and is constantly promoting the expansion of its activities in the field. With this capacity expansion, Sumitomo will reinforce its position as a leading player of the methionine business in Asia and, at the same time, will work to contribute to ensuring a stable food supply globally.

OIE gathers to adopt international standards

Delegates from 180 member countries of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) are meeting in Paris, France, for six days of discussion and debate at the 84th General Session of the OIE World Assembly of National Delegates to adopt new international standards and guidelines for animal health and welfare.

Chaired by OIE president Dr. Botlhe Michael Modisane, the opening ceremony began with an address at the Maison de la Chimie Conference Centre in Paris, followed by eight speeches from ministers and government representatives of OIE member countries.

The work of the general session will continue over the next five days and conclude on May 27 with the adoption of the resolutions voted on in plenary session by the entire assembly of delegates.

This annual meeting represents the opportunity to adopt new intergovernmental standards for animal health and welfare as well as to take stock of the current global landscape of animal diseases, including zoonoses. It will also provide a forum for debate on the most recent developments in strategies for the prevention, control and eradication of diseases such as rabies and peste des petits ruminants.

However, 2016 also marks a turning point in the work of OIE, with the implementation of its "Sixth Strategic Plan." In line with the developments envisioned in this plan, a number of cross-cutting issues will be featured during two technical sessions, namely:

1. The economics of animal health, a presentation by professor Jonathan Rushton from the Royal Veterinary College of London (U.K.) studying the direct and indirect costs of animal disease outbreaks in OIE member countries, and

2. Antimicrobial resistance, a presentation by Dr. Jean-Pierre Orand, director of the French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products, that will enable member countries to endorse the fundamental principles of the OIE strategy against antimicrobial resistance.

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Economics of animal health

The economic impact of animal diseases is causing increasing concern, in part due to the sheer scale of losses caused by specific diseases, OIE said. Foot and mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and classical swine fever are examples of diseases that have harmful economic consequences for not just productivity but for international trade as well.

To optimize the performance of national veterinary services when managing disease threats and to prioritize the allocation of resources to improve animal health and welfare more effectively, OIE advises having precise data on production losses as well as on the costs of preventing and controlling animal diseases.

On May 23, Rushton presented an analysis of a questionnaire sent to the 180 OIE member countries focusing on the economic impact of animal disease outbreaks. The purpose of the analysis was to examine the operating costs of national veterinary services and animal disease control programs, assess countries' production losses caused by enzootic transboundary diseases and the effects of diseases on trade and the wider economy, as well as evaluate the need for veterinary education to include the economic and commercial impact of animal diseases.

Such information is also valuable in supporting animal health decisions and to ensure better guidance and justification when allocating resources to maximize the efficiency of veterinary services and animal disease prevention programs.

In general, the survey revealed member countries’ considerable interest in applying economics to animal health, since data were provided by nearly 120 of the 180 OIE member countries, OIE explained in an announcement.

However, the survey also highlighted:

* The lack of good-quality information available on direct and indirect economic losses caused by animal diseases;

* Global disparities in the resources available for animal health, and

* Limited access to those specifically trained in managing animal diseases in many regions of the world.

At the end of the analysis, several practical solutions were suggested to provide the veterinary profession with the keys to better allocation of resources and more effective prioritization of activities to manage animal disease. Among these recommendations were:

* Enhance the teaching of animal health economics in undergraduate veterinary training, postgraduate training and continuing education;

* Establish a pilot project to evaluate the costs of animal disease, with data on animal production losses, control costs and the economic impact of animal diseases, particularly on international trade, and

* Implement a program to gather regular data on the investments needed to operate veterinary services, including veterinary medical training, research and infrastructures.

The importance of investing in national animal disease notification systems and updating the "World Animal Health Information System" platform — an essential tool for world animal health information and to support economic analysis — were also emphasized.

To implement these recommendations, a resolution will be put forward for adoption by the World Assembly on Friday to endorse the conclusions drawn by the technical item.

The full report document can be found here.

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Annual report

At the general session, OIE released its "2015 Annual Report," which looks at nearly 60 revised international standards on animal health and welfare, animal disease surveillance, world conferences and disease prevention strategies and missions to improve national veterinary services. In 2015, OIE continued its activities based on "the four pillars" of standard setting, transparency, scientific expertise and solidarity.

The OIE report looks back on the events of 2015, which was also marked by the election or re-election of all of its governing bodies.

“Today, more than ever, the OIE’s missions — like those of the veterinary services of each of its 180 member countries — are determined by their contribution to the social and economic development of human communities, through the organization’s commitment to improving veterinary public health and its contribution to human health. Accordingly, we look towards building upon our past achievements to meet the animal health challenges of the future," said OIE director general Dr. Monique Eloit, who succeeded Dr. Bernard Vallat on Jan. 1.

The report can be access several ways, including:

* An interactive version at www.oie.int/Report2015;

* A PDF version, and

* A video.

(The interactive version and video will soon be available in French and Spanish. A summarized version of the "2015 Annual Report" will be available shortly.)