Canada Total Climbs in Dole Salad Listeria Outbreak | The Packer

The Packer

"Canadian health officials have added four more cases of listeria to an outbreak in the U.S. and Canada that was linked to Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc.’s Springfield, Ohio, plant.

The Springfield plant remains closed while regulatory and company officials continue to investigate the outbreak.

‘Four cases of listeria have been added to the national investigation,’ according to a Feb. 2 statement by the Public Health Agency of Canada. ‘These illnesses were previously reported in Ontario and are not new illnesses; however, additional laboratory test results have now confirmed a link between these four illnesses and the previously recalled packaged salad products.’

The additional cases raise the Canadian total to 11, health officials said.

Since July 5 last year, 15 people from six U.S. states have been reported being infected with listeria, Dole officials said in a release. All cases led to hospitalization, and one person died in Michigan, U.S. health officials said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not disclosed information about the death.

The Public Health Agency of Canada initially reported seven people were infected with listeria in five provinces and became ill between September and early January. All individuals were hospitalized, and one person has died although it has not been determined if listeria contributed to the cause of death, Canadian health officials said.

The agency is awaiting test results that identify cause of death, Maryse Durette, a spokesperson for the Canadian health agency, said Jan. 28.

Dole reported Jan. 21 to U.S. health officials it had suspended operations at the Ohio plant. The company recalled all Dole and private-label packaged salads produced there.

Production has been shifted to other Dole processing facilities until the plant is back online, Bil Goldfield, Dole spokesperson, said in a Jan. 28 e-mail.

Dole’s primary concern is always the health and safety of its consumers, Goldfield said.

Recalled brands of packaged salads include Dole, Fresh Selections, Simple Truth, Marketside, The Little Salad Bar and President’s Choice. Packaged salad products being recalled are identified with a product code beginning with the letter ‘A’ in the upper right-hand corner of the package, according to a news release."

Source: Canada Total Climbs in Dole Salad Listeria Outbreak | The Packer


Chipotle Outbreak Probe Expands Systemwide | The Packer

The Packer

"Federal investigators have expanded the scope of their criminal investigation into Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.’s food-safety practices from one store in California where a norovirus sickened dozens of customers last August to a systemwide probe that includes all the Denver-based chain’s restaurants.

Investigators with the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies are probing Chipotle’s food safety practices dating back to the start of 2013, company officials said Feb. 2 of a subpoena the company received Jan. 28. The company pledged to cooperate fully with investigators.

News of the expanded criminal investigation came one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the E. coli outbreak linked to the burrito chain ‘appeared to be over.’

A series of E. coli and norovirus outbreaks tied to Chipotle restaurants at various locations across the country sickened more than 500 people in the past six months, U.S. health officials said.

Federal investigators and company officials are not commenting on the ongoing criminal investigation.

Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney representing about 100 customers who became ill after eating at Chipotle, told Reuters he thought the expanded investigation could focus on what officials at Chipotle’s headquarters knew about food-safety conditions at restaurants across the country and when.

On Feb. 8, Chipotle plans to close its 2,000 restaurants until 3 p.m. to discuss food safety with its employees nationwide.

In December, Chipotle officials said the company would prepare tomatoes, lettuce and bell peppers in a central kitchen and blanch avocados, onions, jalapenos and citrus.

In addition to those practices, the chain now will marinate chopped onions, jalapenos and cilantro in citrus juice when it makes salsas and guacamole as an added food safety measure, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells said Feb. 2 during a conference call to discuss Chipotle’s fourth quarter and year-end 2015 earnings.

The chain also will undertake a new way of marinating chicken and steak that is distinct from preparation of other fresh items, Ells said during the call.

Chipotle is expanding its in-restaurant auditing programs and taking the changes ‘very seriously,’ Monty Moran, co-CEO, said during the call.

‘Beginning in 2016, scores from our third-party auditor will account for half of our managers’ bonuses,’ Moran said during the call.

The outbreaks caused Chipotle sales to plummet 14.6% in the fourth quarter, marking the first decline since the company went public in 2006. Its stock tumbled from a high of $758.61 last August before the outbreaks to $404.26 Jan. 12. Chipotle stock was trading at $461.92 early Feb. 4.

‘The fourth quarter was without question the most challenging in our history, but we have responded and have implemented an industry-leading food safety program that reduces our food safety risk to as low to zero as possible,’ Ells said during the call.

Despite slumping sales, the pace of new restaurant openings was not affected by recent events, Ells said on the conference call. Chipotle added 79 restaurants in the fourth quarter and 229 for the year, bringing the chain’s total to 2,010 restaurants. The company anticipates opening another 220 restaurants in 2016.

Chipotle plans to unveil a $50 million marketing and advertising campaign for the first quarter of 2016 — the largest marketing blitz in company history — to lure customers.

‘As we emerge from this difficult time, we can focus on what will be our primary objective for 2016: making sure our food is as safe as possible and welcoming customers back to our restaurants as our teams deliver an extraordinary dining experience,’ Ells said during the conference call."

Source: Chipotle outbreak probe expands systemwide | The Packer


Canola Watch February 3: Clubroot Map

Canola Watch

AB Clubroot 20160209

"The Alberta map shows the extent of fields with observed clubroot symptoms by county. Counties in red, for example, have had at least 50 fields from 2003 to 2015 that produced canola with clubroot galls. The Manitoba map is based primarily on clubroot spore levels in soil samples. Municipalities in red have had clubroot symptoms observed in at least one field or have had at least one soil sample with spore levels above 80,000 per gram.

Saskatchewan clubroot testing is limited to 100 to 150 random fields per year, but given the presence of clubroot along the Alberta and Manitoba borders, pathologists assume that clubroot in Saskatchewan may be present in more fields than the four previously identified.

MB Clubroot 20160209

READ MORE to see how the Manitoba and Alberta maps are different."

Source: Canola Watch February 3: Clubroot Map


Saskatchewan Wants Federal Funds to Clean Up Oil Wells | WP

Western Producer

"Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall has asked the federal government for $156 million in funding for an accelerated well cleanup program.

The idea is to stimulate employment in the oil and gas support sector by cleaning up old wells that are no longer producing.

The province estimates that the program would accelerate the decommissioning and reclamation of 1,000 wells in the next two years and generate 1,200 direct and indirect jobs.

Dan Cugnet, chair of Valleyview Petroleums Ltd., an exploration and production company in Weyburn, said aside from jobs, the program would eliminate fugitive emissions from non-productive wells.

The program would include environmental site assessment, safe removal and disposal of old equipment, remediation of oil and salt water spills, and restoration of agricultural land and critical habitat."

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

Source: Saskatchewan Wants Federal Funds to Clean Up Oil Wells | WP

With the downturn in the Oil Economy, many small discovery companies are going out of business, and will not clean up after themselves. Hopefully growers will get some help with this.


Vegetable Production Gets Processing Boost | FCC

FCCExpress

Vegetable production and exports in southwestern Ontario are getting a boost, through a major investment in processing.

On Tuesday, greenhouse Lakeside Produce Inc. announced a $7-million expansion to its Leamington processing plant to meet increased demand from its major retail customers – large retail chains, club stores and food service distributors.

The province is supporting the expansion with $1 million from its Southwestern Ontario Development Fund.

‘Leamington is well known for producing high-quality vegetables and being an economic hub for Ontario’s agri-food sector,’ says Ontario agriculture, food and rural affairs minister Jeff Leal.

Lakeside Produce has been in the greenhouse business since 1943. It grows, ships and markets vegetables, such as bell peppers, cucumbers and specialty tomatoes. Besides Leamington, Lakeside maintains operations in Carpinteria, California and Guadalajara, Mexico.

The development will create more than 200 new jobs in Leamington, which was rocked in 2013 when long-time community and agricultural stalwart Heinz announced it was closing its doors.

Chris Cervini, President and CEO of Lakeside Produce, says his company shares the province’s vision of bringing fresh, locally grown produce to Ontario. The investment in Lakeside simultaneously enhances exports.

The Leamington plant expansion is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019."

Source: Owen Roberts – Vegetable Production Gets Processing Boost | FCC


Agri-Fos® Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives US EPA Registration | AgroNews

Agronews

"The US based copmany Vivid Life Sciences announces the EPA registration of Agri-Fos® Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, for use in agriculture crops, and for residential and commercial uses.

‘Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide is the original systemic fungicide. It was developed by Agrichem and it was one of the first potassium phosphite products registered in the U.S.,’ said Josh Krenz, CEO of Vivid Life Science. ‘The Agri-Fos brand has been used 15 years in the United States and more than 30 years worldwide, across thousands of acres, through Agrichem. It is the trusted leader in phosphite products.’

Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus is a new formulation with 15 percent more active ingredient than the original, making it the most concentrated liquid product in the marketplace. Its potassium-based phosphite makes for greater plant uptake. Advanced phosphite formulation techniques enhance systemic activity for complete translocation of the active ingredient throughout the plant. The product will be sold through Vivid Life Sciences, which acquired the rights to all Agrichem products in the USA as announced earlier in 2015.

‘Because Agri-Fos Plus is the most concentrated liquid product on the market, growers have the ability to be so much more efficient,’ said Krenz. ‘They will make fewer passes across the field, use less water and fuel, decrease environmental waste and use fewer jugs.’

Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus is labeled for use in the control of Phytophthora, Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, fire blight, downy mildew, powdery mildew, blight, crown rot, root rot, brown rot, bud rot, fruit rot, sudden wilt, canker, apple black spot scab, bacterial diseases, Septoria, anthracnose and pink rot.

Agri-Fos brand products are compatible with most pesticides and liquid fertilizers, but always jar test when mixing with other products and spray a small area to test. Always read and follow label directions.

Vivid Life Sciences has been leveraging the expertise and current technology from their sister company, Agrichem Australia. Since 1986, Agrichem has offered an extensive range of specialty liquid fertilizers, soluble solids, plant health formulas and adjuvants for growers domestically and internationally."

Source: Agri-Fos® Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives US EPA Registration | AgroNews


Bayer Refuses EPA Request to Cancel Use of Insecticide | Agriculture.com

Agriculture

"Today, Bayer announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voluntarily cancel the uses of flubendiamide in the U.S. Instead, Bayer will seek a review of the product’s registration in an administrative law hearing.

Sold in the U.S. by Bayer, under the trade name Belt, flubendiamide is approved for use on more than 200 crops because of its strong pest performance, favorable environmental and toxicological profile, and excellent fit in integrated pest management (IPM) programs. Bayer believes the methods used by the EPA exaggerate environmental risk and would deny farmers access to a critical pest management tool, according to a Bayer announcement.

The EPA claims uses of flubendiamide may harm benthic organisms that live in the sediment of waters near agricultural fields. Bayer strongly disagrees with the EPA’s methodology, which is based on theoretical models and assumptions that exaggerate risk, according to the Bayer statement. The statement continues to say that years of water monitoring studies have shown residues of flubendiamide, and its metabolite levels are well within safe levels established for aquatic invertebrates.

‘We are disappointed the EPA places so much trust on computer modeling and predictive capabilities when real-world monitoring shows no evidence of concern after seven years of safe use,’ said Peter Coody, Bayer vice president of environmental safety.

Bayer rejected the EPA’s request to voluntarily cancel the flubendiamide registration and anticipates a hearing in front of EPA’s independent Office of Administrative Law Judges for a review.

‘Denying a product’s registration and ignoring its safe use history based on unrealistic theoretical calculations calls into question the EPA’s commitment to innovation and sustainable agriculture,’ said Dana Sargent, Bayer vice president of regulatory affairs.

While under review, farmers and retailers can continue to buy, sell, and use the product in their operations."

Source: Kacey Birchmier – Bayer Refuses EPA Request to Cancel Use of Insecticide | Agriculture.com


Brazil Collects 45,500 Tons of Empty Packages in 2015 | AgroNews


Agronews

“The Clean Field System has disposed in an environmentally correct way 45,536 tons of empty packages of agrochemicals in Brazil in 2015. The number indicates a growth of 7% comparing to 2014.

The states of Tocantins, Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul obtained greater percentage growth, according to an analysis of the National Institute of Processing of Empty Packages (inpEV). The biggest quantities of empty packages came from Mato Grosso, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul – which combine correspond to 65% of the total in the country.

The institute reached its 2015 goal of disposing in an environmentally correct way of 45,500 tons of empty agrochemical packages. Since the start of Clean Field System in 2002, over 360,000 tons of these materials were disposed correctly. For João Cesar M. Rando, director-president of inpEV, ‘the results show what the system has achieved to attend to the growing demand of the Brazilian agriculture’.

Comparison of Disposed Agrochemical Package Tons – January to December 2014 vs 2015

State 2014 2015 %
Matto Grosso 9,852 10,391 5
Paraná 5,367 6,110 14
Rio Grande do Sul 4,479 4,856 8
Goiás 4,454 4,649 4
Mato Grosso do Sul 2,933 3,498 19
Minas Gerais 3,228 3,454 7
Bahia 3,298 3,413 3
Santa Catarina 824 940 14
Maranhão 848 873 3
Tocantins 400 498 24
Pará 142 170 20
Rio de Janeiro 57 61 8
Rio Grande do Norte 52 58 11
Others 6,709 6,564 –2
Brazil 42,646 45,536 7

Brazil States

Source: Brazil Collects 45,500 Tons of Empty Packages in 2015 | AgroNews

Notes

  • This is a good thing for Brazil
  • Total packages shipped should be listed for comparison
  • CropLife Canada is working to achieve an 80% recycling rate
  • 45,000 tons is a good start
  • What does ‘disposal’ mean?

Chinese Scientists – Potato Effluent Into Fertilizer | AgroNews

Agronews

"Scientists in China have developed a way of making fertilizer from waste water discharged by potato processing plants, solving a pollution problem which has held back China’s potato ambitions.

China sees potatoes as a new staple food to ensure food security, but protein-rich water discharged by starch processors, a major buyer of the spuds, has been blamed for polluting rivers and lakes.

‘For years, there has been no technical solution to this problem, forcing environmental authorities to close more than 10,000 small (potato processing) plants, which has hurt the potato market and farmers,’ said Liu Gang, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou institute of chemical physics.

Liu’s team has developed technology that can halve the chemical oxygen demand (COD) of the effluent by removing starch, fiber and protein. The processed water does not need to be dumped either, because of its high nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus content make it a perfect irrigation water.

LA four-year test has shown the water harmless to crops, and three starch companies are now using the technology to purify their discharge.

China is the world’s largest potato producer, with 5.6 million hectares under the crops. Given its resistance to cold and drought, the tubers are more suitable for cultivation in China’s arid west and northwest than wheat and rice.

The Ministry of Agriculture has plans to expand potato acreage to 10 million hectares to produce 50 million tonnes by 2020.

Chinese companies have developed buns, noodles and other products made from potato starch, products that are more familiar to the Chinese as staple food."

Source: Xinhua News – Chinese Scientists – Potato Effluent Into Fertilizer | AgroNews

This is a big problem wherever there are potato processing plants, including Canada.


Iran Agriculture at Glance – Part 1 | AgroNews

Agronews

"Roughly one-third of Iran’s total surface area is suited for farmland, but because of poor soil and lack of adequate water distribution in many areas, most of it is not under cultivation. Only 12% of the total land area is under cultivation (arable land, orchards and vineyards) but less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated; the rest is devoted to dry farming. Some 92 percent of agro products depend on water.[1] The western and northwestern portions of the country have the most fertile soils. Iran’s food security index stands at around 96 percent.

35% of the total land area is used for grazing and small fodder production. Most of the grazing is done on mostly semi-dry rangeland in mountain areas and on areas surrounding the large deserts (‘Dasht’s’) of Central Iran.

The non-agricultural surface represents 53% of the total area of Iran, as follows:

  • 39% of the country is covered by deserts, salt flats (‘kavirs’) and bare-rock Mountains, not suited for agricultural purposes.
  • An additional 7% of Iran’s total surface is covered by woodlands.
  • And 7% is covered by cities, towns, villages, industrial areas and roads.
  • At the end of the 20th century, agricultural activities accounted for about one-fifth of Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employed a comparable proportion of the workforce. Most farms are small, less than 25 acres (10 hectares), and are not economically viable, which has contributed to the wide-scale migration to cities. In addition to water scarcity and areas of poor soil, seed is of low quality and farming techniques are antiquated.

All these factors have contributed to low crop yields and poverty in rural areas. Further, after the 1979 revolution many agricultural workers claimed ownership rights and forcibly occupied large, privately owned farms where they had been employed. The legal disputes that arose from this situation remained unresolved through the 1980s, and many owners put off making large capital investments that would have improved farm productivity, further deteriorating production. Progressive government efforts and incentives during the 1990s, however, improved agricultural productivity marginally, helping Iran toward its goal of reestablishing national self-sufficiency in food production.

Average annual rainfall is 800 mm but in Iran the annual rainfall is only 220 mm. Overall, Iran’s soil is not well suited for large scale agriculture. About 12 percent of the country’s total land area of 1,636,000 km² is cultivated. Still, 63% of the cultivable lands have not been used, and 185,000 km² of the present farms are being used with 50 to 60% capacity.

Both irrigated and rain-fed farming are used in Iran. In 2005, some 13.05 million hectares of land was under cultivation, of which 50.45% was allocated to irrigated farming and the remaining 49.55% to rain-fed system. As of 2013, the amount of cultivated land that is irrigated increased to 8 million hectares, while 10 million hectares remain rain-fed."

Author: Dr.Ramin Salek

Source: Iran Agriculture at Glance – Part 1 | AgroNews