Food Chain Transparency

Posted by: Influence Feed

Two of the nation’s largest companies are making moves to bolster their reputations in the food business, and that’s generating plenty of reaction among influencers. One fast food giant is taking the veil off of its production processes, and one retail giant is supporting sustainability efforts while promoting steps toward selling healthier affordable food.

See who’s making the moves and what leading commentators are saying about them in this installment of Influence Feed.

Antibiotics Draw Attention

Posted by: Influence Feed

Influencers heavily discussed a government report indicating the use of antibiotics in food animals increased by 16 percent in recent years. Additionally, Tyson Foods, Inc. announced that its hatcheries are free of antibiotics and California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would regulate antibiotics in livestock. Meanwhile, a Harvard University study questioning the validity of claims that antibiotics use in food-producing animals poses human health risks received little attention.

Look for the latest commentary shaping the industry in this installment of Influence Feed.

Legislation and Legal Action

Posted by: Influence Feed

In recent days, influencers have weighed in regarding presidential oversight, reported health risks and production practices for antibiotic use. That’s stirred passionate thoughts about regulation and best corporate practices.

Passions also flared on other topics, such as “Meatless Mondays” in school lunches and regulation of waterways. Even pumpkin spice couldn’t escape scrutiny. You’ll find reactions to these issues and others in this edition of Influence Feed.

Causes, criticism and caution

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Even around the Labor Day weekend, there was no holiday from debate over the substantive issues facing our food industry.

Take a New Yorker piece on environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, whose global campaign against genetically modified crops prompted reaction, reflection and rebuttal. Or consider legislative efforts to address the drought in California through water regulation. Although the legislation gained support in government, the focus on regulating groundwater use will result in family farmers and ranchers “dealing with the consequences of the legislation for years to come,” as one California farm leader pointed out.

Causes and solutions are seldom black and white. You’ll find some deep reflection on the details in this edition of the Influence Feed.

CSR Changes for Big Brands

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Prominent food manufacturers under scrutiny from consumers and activists are responding — by changing their corporate social responsibility policies. And that has influencers taking notice.

There was positive reaction to the decision by Kellogg Company to address climate change through policy revisions that will reduce the company’s impact on the environment. Nestlé also earned praise for its decision to change its farm practices for animal care.

Other recent influential conversations in the food industry include a debate over sodium intake and whether farming can provide a sustaining livelihood for future generations.

You’ll find a synopsis of the issues that have the food industry talking in this week’s edition of Influence Feed.

Rights and Regulation

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Government regulation gave influencers plenty to discuss in recent weeks. Consider the issues raised by U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. The Connecticut Democrat not only questioned changes in poultry food safety inspection, but also took aim at sugary beverages by introducing a tax on sweeteners used in them, vowing to combat the “dual epidemic of obesity and diabetes.”

Other widely-discussed topics included the government’s stance against Salmonella; a U.S. appeals court decision that supports country of origin labeling on meat; and the impact of the Russian ban on food imports. There was also the narrow vote supporting the right to farm in Missouri, which one university professor interpreted as “the agricultural establishment trying to build a firewall against growing consumer concerns.”

The ensuing debates focused on whether the government is doing too much or not enough in its oversight of the nation’s food industry. Read more about these issues and others in this digest of influential voices in food and agriculture.

Uncovering Data, Fueling Insights

Posted by: Influence Feed

Influencers explored boundaries regarding what’s necessary, reasonable and appropriate when it comes to managing food. Recent discussions include the ongoing hot topic of school lunch, long-term global food production priorities, food safety issues in China, and domestic animal agriculture practices.

As often is the case, it’s not just the information that’s debated but also the motivation behind it. At the top of the list is a review of research regarding the benefits of organics, questioned not only because of who funded the study but also because of the premise: Are organics prized by some consumers based on nutrition, or is it because of production values? The Guardian wrote of one scientific analysis, “The findings will bring to the boil a long-simmering row over whether those differences mean organic food is better for people, with one expert calling the work sexed up.”

You’ll find plenty of debates simmering in this edition of Influence Feed.

Midyear Reflections; Standards and Solutions

Posted by: Influence Feed

This edition of Influence Feed highlights the most highly discussed topics from the first half of the year in addition to providing recent insight from our influencers. After analyzing tens of thousands of communications, some clear leading topics emerged among influencers in 2014: sustainability, food regulation, genetically modified organisms and organic food. Government-led initiatives, agriculturalist feedback and activist responses all had a large impact in discussions of those topics. Additionally, foodborne illness received heavy news coverage following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports and several large recalls that prompted government intervention.

In recent weeks, food safety concerns and fears have dominated influencer conversation. As the latest episode in a year of dealing with Salmonella Heidelberg, Foster Farms issued a recall of some of its chicken. Noted seafood author Paul Greenberg released American Catch — a book documenting the questionable sources of our seafood supply. Meanwhile, a study from Cornell University identified fears — often unfounded — that drive purchasing decisions of food consumers, while a cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek delved into the workings of Monsanto, a company often viewed with suspicion and distrust. Read more about influencer reactions to these concerns.

Food Policy in the Spotlight

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Our eating habits are in the spotlight. From reporting new research to advocating calls for urgent action, the media understands that consumers want more information about food. That’s why the changing nature of how we’re consuming food is the major theme for this edition of Influence Feed.

“Food has become America’s all-consuming passion,” writes Bruce Horowitz in a June 4 USA Today article. “Blame it on the Food Network. Blame it on a culture of celebrity chefs whose names are no longer limited to Wolfgang. Blame half on Whole Foods. Blame it on a generation of Instagram-loving Millennials, many of whom would rather post a photo of themselves eating a veggies Thai lettuce wrap than lounging on a Thai beach. Food is the new cool. Food is consuming us” (emphasis added).

In recent days, we saw a series in The Wall Street Journal focusing on “How We Eat.” Butter made the cover of Time magazine in a piece rethinking how we look at fat. Things we once took for granted are under fire, including whether our cereal has too many vitamins and minerals. After decades of being vaguely defined, the word natural is under assault.

Influential voices are weighing in on all these issues, and you’ll find them in this latest summary of the conversations focusing on food and agriculture.

Clashes Over Health

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Red meat has once again risen to the forefront among influential conversations about healthfulness. The release of a study showing red meat consumption in early adulthood could create a higher risk of breast cancer gathered widespread attention. There were also spirited debates over GMO labeling, use of artificial ingredients in food service and soda sizes in New York City.

In Washington, D.C., a summit over soda stirred a many-sided dialogue in social media. In particular, talk of a soda tax gathered a lot of attention, not only in principle but also in detail over whether such a tax could be most effective based on size or calorie count.

Twitter was a battleground in the debate over school lunches. Deliberation in Congress over whether schools that show financial hardship should be exempt from nutrition standards continued a dispute that included lunch worker lobbyists and the first lady.

You’ll find these issues and more in the latest summary of discussions from influential voices in food and agriculture.

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