Whole Foods Have More Food Recalls Than Other Supermarkets

As consumers we can be thankful for the unseen work done by the Food and Drug Administration behind the scenes to keep the food we purchase safe for consumption. As consumers we should also be wary of a supermarket which reportedly has the highest number of recalled foods, especially since most of them are the store’s own brand.
The grocery store to hold that dubious honor is Whole Foods. Since the start of last year (2014) 26 products which bear the Whole Food store-brand label have been recalled. One item that was not on the recall list is the dog food Beneful.
It was not just one or two particular store-brand products that were recalled, but the food items spanned the entire store. The majority of the recalled foods at Whole Foods were foods prepared at the store, the ready-made convenience meals prepared by store employees. Spices and candy have been frequently recalled, as well as baked goods, cheese, supplements, cheese and ice cream.
Recalls on dietary supplements and ice cream have been fodder for the news lately, with supplements not containing the ingredients they claimed to and Listeria bacteria in a popular brand of ice cream which has made countless people sick and claimed one life.
Under the best of circumstances the occasional contaminate will find its way into our food source and prompt a recall, but when one store continuously tops the recall list with its own store-brands, a closer investigation by FDA may be in order.


U.S. Orange Producers Encounter Hardships


Orange growers in the United States have encountered a variety of problems this year. But Susan McGalla recently touched on this on forbes.com and has faith that this can be overcome. Most of the oranges grown for export in the nation are produced in two states: California and Florida. Producers in both locations have encountered some unusual conditions this year.

During the period of time that a dispute between shipping companies and port employees slowed the loading of cargo at Pacific coastline ports, many orange growers experienced concern because boxes of oranges were left unrefrigerated for protracted periods of time, reducing their shelf life in Asian supermarkets. Approximately 25% of California’s citrus is exported for sale to Asia. Shipments of oranges to Asian buyers fell by half from previous years sales during part of the period of time that the port dispute occurred.

Florida citrus growers also faced unexpected problems this year from two sources: cold weather threatened crops in some parts of Florida, and the state also suffered from an outbreak of a deadly bacterial disease that kills orange trees. The illness is carried by the citrus psyllid, an insect inadvertently transported to the United States from Asia. There is no known cure for the disease. The EPA reportedly authorized the short term use of a powerful insecticide, clothianidin, in some parts of the state to eliminate this pest. This decision upset many conservationists, because the insecticide damages honey bees, which in large numbers pollinate orange groves.


Falling Grain Prices May Force Lease Cancellations

Farmers who rent the land they work are facing challenges that may be difficult to overcome. With falling grain future prices and rising costs of fertilizer and seed, there may be no profits in the coming season.

Reuters reports that many land owners are refusing to lower rents and some renters are simply dropping out. How many will do so is not known, but one real estate agent in Iowa estimates that as many as 1,000 of the state’s 100,000 farmland leases may not be renewed this year.

Ray Lane does not expect grain production to fall greatly even with the tighter squeeze being put on tenant farmers, because many land owners would prefer not to allow the land to lie fallow. Still, the ripple effect of less production and lower profits will likely have a negative impact on equipment sellers and others. The result may be more consolidation and fewer small farms.

Categories: Crop Troubles

Fruit Flies and Bad Weather Set to Cripple Italian Olive Crop

The olive groves of Tuscany have long been the envy of the world, but this year, they may be also the envy of a multitude of fruit flies. A massive horde of hungry fruit fly larva is expected to wipe out much of Italy’s olive production and result in higher prices for olives and olive oil next spring. 

One olive farmer reports that over 18,000 of his olive trees are out of commission this year. Last season, he sometimes processed 20,000 kilos (44,000 pounds) of olive oil a day. This season, he expects 20,000 kilos to be the full year’s yield.

Flooding, hail storms, and generally nasty weather has also weighed in to destroy about a third of the olive crop. The combination of the bad weather and the hungry critters will surely have a huge impact.

Tom Rothman says this is bad news for lovers of the finest olive oil, but there are other sources of the stuff. Most customers will either be rich enough to afford the price hike or versatile enough to rough it with the lower-quality olive oil. Thus, it will be the Tuscan olive farmers who suffer the most and not the consumer. But these are the kinds of ups and downs that farmers are used to. One year, there is a bumper crop; the next year, things fall apart. It all generally averages out in the end, so don’t panic.

Categories: Crop Troubles