Consumer
The University of Guelph has received $76.6 million from the federal government to start a “digital revolution” in food and agriculture.

The government is investing in U of G’s Food From Thought research project, which will use high-tech information systems to help produce enough food for a growing human population while sustaining the Earth’s ecosystems.

The funding, announced by Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph, on behalf of Kirsty Duncan, minister of science, will come from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), which supports world-leading research at universities and colleges.

It’s the largest single federal research investment in U of G history.

“This will position Canada as a leader in sustainable food production,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino, adding the project will help farmers produce more food on less land using fewer inputs.

“Our faculty, staff and students will have opportunities to participate in innovative discovery and to play a role in tackling one of the world’s greatest challenges: how to sustainably feed our growing population.”

Longfield added: “The University of Guelph has a long history of collaborating across Canada and globally to contribute to understanding complex challenges. The global food supply will require the University’s unique leadership skills that bring together agricultural expertise, big data, environmental science, business and civil society. Today’s funding announcement will give Canada a huge step forward to become a global leader in food.”

Food From Thought will create novel tools for producing more and safer food while also protecting the environment.

“It is not just how much food we produce but also the way we produce it that will be key in the next century,” said Prof. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), who is the institutional lead for Food From Thought and a plant genomicist in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

New technology and agricultural practices must enhance biodiversity, produce safe, nutritious food, and improve animal welfare and human health, he said.

U of G is well-placed to lead this project, Campbell said. “We are Canada’s food university, with a 150-year legacy in agri-food and a reputation for innovation and commitment. We also have the capacity, with world-class researchers and facilities, and strong partnerships with government and industry.”

Geography professor Evan Fraser, scientific director of Food From Thought and director of U of G’s Food Institute, said launching a digital revolution will require improved understanding of the complex interplay between farming practices, the genetic potential of our crops and livestock, and the environment.

“This is essential if we are to realize the potential offered by our emerging ability to collect vast amounts of data and to develop information management systems,” he said.

Food From Thought will bring together experts to generate and commercialize knowledge, and to inform agri-food policy-makers and practices from farm management to global conservation planning.

The initiative will offer new teaching and research opportunities, and will focus on training the next generation of agri-food leaders through fellowships and graduate student positions.

More than $1 million will be available for annual research awards and competitions intended to develop innovations for sustainable food systems.

Within Food From Thought, researchers will work on key scientific missions including:

Expanding use of DNA barcoding technology developed at U of G to identify food fraud, food-borne ailments and invasive pests, and to improve environmental impact assessments;

Using “big data” on farms to reduce pesticide use, monitor watershed health and identify crops suited to the effects of climate change; and

Using information management systems to help track emerging infectious disease threats to livestock and control pathogens in the food supply.

Food From Thought includes partnerships with academic institutions around the globe, numerous government agencies, and industry and innovation centres.

One key partner is IBM Canada, which will be involved in everything from research collaborations to cognitive and data analytics tools and training to secure cloud-based storage.

“IBM shares the scientific vision of Food From Thought: ensuring that we sustainably, resiliently and safely increase production while enhancing ecosystem services and livestock health and welfare using data-driven approaches,” said Sanjeev Gill, research executive at IBM Canada.

Food From Thought will be one of U of G’s largest and most inclusive research projects, spanning all seven colleges. It will be led by 10 principal investigators from across campus.

This funding announcement was part of a $900-million competition lasting several months and involving a review panel of Canadian and international scientific experts. This is the second CFREF competition since 2014.

 

 

The revelation that a bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort was found in a Pennsylvania woman prompted a flurry of media activity in late May. Increased consumer concern on an already-sensitive topic is understandable in light of such headlines as, “Nightmare Superbug Shows Up in the United States” and “Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics.”

The Washington Post conducted a Q&A with an infectious disease doctor at the University of Pittsburgh who tried to put the development into perspective. He said, “While certainly concerning and something to keep a close eye on from a public health point of view, there is no evidence that this is a widespread problem at this time. Even in the rare event that you get sick from this bacteria, there are treatment options available.”

Since the bacteria has also been detected in pigs, the Post asked about food safety concerns. The doctor stated there is no risk as long as meat is properly handled and cooked to the recommended temperature.

There’s growing consumer concern and rising pressure on the food system about the use of antibiotics in food animals. Antibiotic resistance is a serious issue and one farms and food companies are taking seriously, but the connection between antibiotics used in animals raised for food and the risk of human antibiotic failure is a complex issue not easily distilled for widespread understanding. Several things must happen before resistant bacteria from a farm can affect people:

  • Antibiotic-resistant bacteria must be present in an animal when it leaves a farm
  • The bacteria must survive sanitation steps during the packaging process
  • The meat must be undercooked, enabling bacteria to survive
  • The bacteria must cause human illness
  • The ill person must receive medical attention and the antibiotic therapy must involve the same class of antibiotic used on the farm
  • The patient must get worse or fail to recover due to the resistant infection

There’s also the perception that antibiotic resistance results from eating meat containing antibiotic residue, but there are strict federal laws in place to prevent unsafe residues in meat. By law, since the 1950’s, the FDA strictly audits and enforces that unsafe levels of antibiotics may not be present in meat before it enters the food supply.

Leading drug companies have recognized the concern about the resistance issue and are making antibiotics available only for treatment and prevention of disease — not growth promotion. Beginning next year in the U.S., antibiotics important to human medicine will only be available under a Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD), which is essentially a prescription from a veterinarian.

There are unanswered questions on the link between animal antibiotic use and human resistance and the issue is still being studied. Until those questions are conclusively answered, the best source of information is sound science in the form of peer-reviewed and published studies. Dr. Peter Davies, BVSC, PhD, professor of Animal Science at the University of Minnesota, says, “There are almost no documented clinical cases where antibiotic resistance was unequivocally tied to animal antibiotic use. So while the risk is not zero, in my opinion, it is extremely low.”

Animal antibiotics must be used responsibly to minimize agriculture’s contribution to antibiotic resistance. But much of the current discussion about antibiotic use is highly polarized, pitting commercial interests against public health interests. It’s important to remember that preventing disease and treating sick animals through the responsible use of antibiotics is the ethical thing to do.

Reprinted with permission from the Center for Food Integrity (CFI).  CFI’s vision is to lead the public discussion to build trust in today’s food system and facilitate dialog with the food system to create better alignment with consumer expectations. For more information, visit: www.foodintegrity.org

 

 

 

 

Sustainability – making sure that food is produced in such a way that it can be produced at the same quality for generations to come – is something increasing numbers of consumers are looking for. In particular, seafood, poultry, egg and meat products seem to be of strong interest to many members of the general public, and therefore also of significant interest to the grocery distribution industry.

“Retailers believe that animal products that they sell must be safe and of high quality, as well as produced in a sustainable and humane manner,” says Nathalie St-Pierre, vice-president (Sustainability) and vice-president Québec at the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). She notes that there are significant implications and complexities in making changes to how animals are raised – including animal well-being, socio-economic and environmental considerations – and this is why the Council continues to work with many parties through constructive dialogue and shared objectives to bring about the best outcomes.

Some examples of food sustainability issues that RCC is working on include the neonicotinoid insecticide concerns (involving CropLife Canada, Flowers Canada Growers and beekeeper associations) as well as seafood sourcing and related labour issues (involving Greenpeace and other parties).

A COMBINATION
To get a sense of the big picture of how food retailers are currently approaching companies with regard to sustainability, we asked St-Pierre if they’re mostly dealing with companies on an individual basis or if they’re creating collective sustainability criteria together. It seems to be a combination of both.

“Retailers often work on these issues in a pre-competitive fashion,” she explains. “However, when it comes to actual sourcing, this is part of the retailers’ individual strategies and we do not comment on such matters.”

SUSTAINABILITY AT LOBLAW
Let’s look at one retailer’s individual strategy – in this case the largest food retailer in Canada. Loblaw owns more than 20 different store chains across the country, and with the recent acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart, now operates over 2,300 individual stores.

The firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach includes five pillars that govern the way it does business in achieving its overall purpose of “Helping Canadians Live Life Well.” These pillars, which all relate to sustainability, are respect for the environment, waste reduction, energy reduction, packaging improvement and sourcing product ingredients with integrity.

The Loblaw “pillars of sustainability” have stemmed from the recognition that customers are not only looking to understand where their food comes from, but to understand the health and sourcing implications of the ingredients in their food.

“On any given day,” says Melanie Agopian, Loblaw Senior Director of Sustainability, “we may encounter questions as diverse as the degree of sustainability of a fishery that a seafood ingredient is sourced from, to whether our pork products are sourced from a loose housing environment, to the right approach to sodium in our diets. As a retailer, we need to have the answers to these various questions ready, and also ensure we advocate for consumers. That means we need to be very familiar with the issues customers care about, and our supply chain.”

 To ensure Loblaw understands their customers’ perspectives, the company does things like conduct an annual survey. Recent survey results show that in general, half of the respondents chose environmental, sustainability and animal welfare aspects of their food as high in importance, followed by worker’s rights, food choices, waste reduction and local sourcing. However, with regard specifically to groceries, survey participants placed priority on local sourcing, healthier food choices, packaging reduction and animal welfare.

To drive change in response to these concerns, Loblaw puts its corporate policy in action through collaborations with the Retail Council of Canada. In addition, a key driver for change at Loblaw is the firm’s leadership with their private label products (‘President’s Choice’ and ‘No Name’ are Canada’s #1 and #2 food brands respectively).

“Our customers expect higher standards with our private label brands and these high standards are a mechanism to drive loyalty and trust,” Agopian explains. “We often look to lead and differentiate by innovating with our brands, and sustainability work is included in that.”

Through these labels, Loblaw has a close relationship with their vendors, relationships in which the firm can partner and collaborate to find creative solutions on important sustainability issues. Agopian adds that in their effort to be as credible and science-based as possible, they use globally-recognized 3rd party certifications when appropriate. “We’ve seen from our own data that customers significantly prefer sustainability supported by [these] certifications,” she explains, “and we also partner with academic and scientific advisors on key files.”

SOURCING
In making their private label brands more sustainable, Loblaw is beginning with a close examination of the raw ingredient sourcing of seafood, palm oil, cocoa, coffee and beef. They are also working to continuously improve packaging with guidelines for weight reduction, using renewable or recycled content, and working on overall package recyclability/reusability.

In terms of egg and poultry products, Agopian says animal welfare is a key sustainability focus. Loblaw is committed to expanding the President’s Choice (PC) Blue Menu Omega Free-Run Eggs offering in order to provide further choice to customers. The company is also expanding the full PC “Free From” range of products, which is meat and poultry raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones (noting that in Canada, all poultry and pork is raised without the use of hormones). Additionally, the company is an associate member of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) and supports the implementation of the NFACC Codes as they become available.

SUSTAINABILITY OUTLOOK
Just where sustainability issues are headed in the future for retailers is hard to say. Will it become mandatory for most (or even all) companies to satisfy retailers that their products are produced in a sustainable way? Which products will receive the most attention going forward in terms of sustainability concerns? While it’s impossible for anyone to predict the future, St-Pierre believes the public will lead the way. “The retailers’ first priority is to give consumers the products they want,” she notes. “Thus, consumers will define the next trends in sustainability. If we look at the current consumers’ demands, it is difficult to judge if, going forward, sustainability and animal welfare will become a standard for products, or if they will only serve a certain type of consumer.”

St-Pierre adds that while ‘green’ factors do influence many consumers’ purchase decisions, they trail price and quality by a significant margin. “Still, analysts feel that awareness of ‘green’ products has been growing and will continue to grow, though they note that awareness does not necessarily translate to interest, especially if prices remain high,” she says. “On the other hand, retailers often announce commitments of their own to ‘green’ initiatives: buying locally- grown/produced products, sustainable fishing and sourcing, fair trade and safety of workers, commitments for the health and wellness of animals.” She points out that retailers have had an important role in the reduction of plastic bags use, as well as a significant impact in the development and implementation of many types of recycling programs across Canada.

Food Retailers
Here is some of the sustainability work being done by food retailers who operate in Canada:

Metro’s (Ontario and Quebec) sustainable fisheries policy, for example, aims at providing fresh or frozen, wild and farmed seafood to customers.

Sobeys also targets seafood in its sustainability efforts, fully supporting and embracing sustainable seafood certification programs and making a commitment to “fix the worst [fishery concerns] first.”  

Walmart Canada is also committed to selling sustainably-managed seafood products.

IKEA cooperates with World Wildlife Fund, Save the Children, UNICEF and many others on sustainability projects. All coffee sold at IKEA is third-party certified to meet social and environmental standards. IKEA’s food suppliers must agree to work to reduce waste and emissions to air, ground and water, handle, store and dispose of hazardous waste in an environmentally safe manner, contribute to the recycling and reuse of materials and products, and more. 

 

 

February 19, 2015 - The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) – an panel of experts tasked with developing recommendations about what Americans should eat – has submitted its report to the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture (USDA), which will publish the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans later this year. One of the key recommendations is that consumers should take sustainability into account, eating less meat and more plant-based foods.  Foodnavigator-usa.com reports

 

 

Canadian chicken farmers are trustworthy, responsible and they really care about their flocks, the environment and producing quality products. That’s the message of a new branding campaign just launched by the Chicken Farmers of Canada (CFC).

The campaign is called “Raised by a Canadian Farmer,” and CFC says it will “showcase the commitment of Canada’s chicken farmers to providing families with nutritious chicken raised to the highest standards of care, quality, and freshness.” One push for the initiative comes from the fact that there are already many store and processor brands in the marketplace that are attempting to identify products as Canadian, but consumers don’t know which of them they should rely on. CFC research has shown that the majority of Canadians would trust a national brand if it came from a farmer group as opposed to a retailer or processor. Therefore, CFC believes that because it both represents Canada’s 2700 chicken farmers and administers the On-Farm Food Safety and Animal Care programs to which they must adhere, it made sense for CFC to spearhead a national branding campaign.

“Raised by a Canadian Farmer” got off the ground in 2011, when CFC Directors approved its creation as part of the organization’s annual strategic planning process. “This kind of program takes a long time – particularly since it’s integral that as many partners are consulted as possible,” notes CFC’s Manager of Communications Lisa Bishop-Spencer. In 2012, CFC engaged a firm called “Brand Matters” to develop the campaign. This involved conducting many extensive and in-depth interviews among CFC member organizations, which represent an extensive portion of the chicken value chain. The firm also conducted many extensive interviews with representatives from major Canadian grocery retailers and primary processors.

Meanwhile, CFC also did research through its “Usage & Attitude” surveys. These questionnaires are used on an ongoing basis to track Canadian consumer trends and concerns like food safety and animal care. The survey work found that it’s increasingly important to shoppers that the products they buy come from Canada. More specifically, over 85 per cent of respondents felt that it’s important that the chicken they buy be Canadian and not imported. They were also inclined to feel that their expectations for food safety and animal care are met when the chicken is raised in Canada. Throughout 2012, all of these elements were integrated in a cohesive branding strategy. “Effectively,” says Bishop-Spencer, “it cleared the path to capitalize on Canadians’ already positive view of Canadian chicken, Canadian chicken farmers, as well as on the importance of a Canadian identity.”

GROCERY STORES
During 2013, CFC approached several major grocery retailers to determine their willingness to participate in the campaign, and find out what would be needed to ensure the successful launch of branded fresh Canadian chicken in stores. CFC is currently negotiating with a variety of retailers and restaurant chains, big and small, to try to make the brand as widely available as possible. “At this time, we are not working with foodservice, as this is a program meant predominantly for fresh chicken at retail, although we do have a couple of frozen products that will be ‘on-brand’ soon,” says Bishop-Spencer. “So, the program is launching at retail right now, but we’re receiving a big influx of interest from restaurants across the country — which points to the possibility that this will be a next step in the brand’s evolution.”

Bishop-Spencer says that the processors and retailers coming into the program are very enthusiastic and are making longer-term plans to incorporate it. “We currently have two retailers and one processor ‘on brand’ and other contracts are currently in negotiation,” she notes. “What’s really interesting is that we’re seeing a greater level of attention being paid to the matter of demonstrating when chicken is Canadian. We’ve brought a great deal of awareness throughout the industry to the importance of this issue…It looks like people are listening when we tell them that the vast majority of Canadians would be likely to buy chicken if it has a label showing it is from Canada.”

While Bishop-Spencer says a uniform approach in marketing to the public — one that allows individual retailers or processors to market their products, but also include the message that their product has been raised to a strict set of national standards endorsed by farmers — is one she believes consumers will feel is stronger than any alternative. Every retailer or restaurant will likely reach shoppers or diners with package labelling and menu highlighting, but signage and other avenues could also be used. “We do see it as being on package, that’s for sure, but we’re hearing more and more interest in placing the brand within flyers, at point of sale,” Bishop-Spenser says. “Most interestingly, there’s interest in incorporating the use of our mark within CFC’s expansive digital strategy, which is an established means of getting directly to those people who actually buy our chicken.” CFC’s digital strategy includes things like Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps and Pinterest. Once a retailer or processor comes “on brand,” discussions are initiated about how they can work with CFC to share these avenues. “There may be later opportunities for them to partner with us in traditional print and television marketing as well,” says Bishop-Spencer.

The answer to whether some of the rationale for the branding program is a firmer establishment of Canadian chicken sales (in case, for example, more chicken imports occur in future) is yes. “Certainly, there are elements of this program that, no doubt, are about keeping and growing the market for Canadian chicken,” says Bishop-Spencer. “Imports are always an issue — and so is spent fowl. As importantly, though, the program is about delivering on consumer expectations. As an industry, we have a responsibility to be straightforward with consumers and let them know what they’re buying and where it’s from and to not just let them make assumptions. That’s a risk we can’t afford. We spend a great deal of time, as a part of our ongoing strategic planning, surveying and learning about what our consumers want – and Canadians want Canadian chicken.”

 

 

 

 

As part of its commitment toward building a sustainable egg industry, Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) puts a lot of weight behind research and development. By investing in research conducted at universities across the country, EFC, on behalf of egg farmers, address issues of great importance to the industry and consumers alike.

With a focus on egg production, poultry science, animal and human nutrition, and environmental technologies and techniques, Egg Farmers of Canada funds research in areas that will shape the future of egg farming in Canada. To this end, we have launched a research chair program focused on the egg industry.  

“Supporting proactive discovery is such an important part of our research efforts and working with Maurice and Tina makes it possible for us to shape the future of egg farming,” explains Peter Clarke, Chairman of Egg Farmers of Canada. “Our chairholders are thought leaders in their fields, who were selected for their commitment to research excellence. We are very proud to be working with them.”

Investing in Tomorrow
EFC is dedicated to looking forward and nurturing the next generation of researchers and industry experts. “Our philosophy towards research is simple: in order to be at the forefront of social change we must drive innovation by investing in tomorrow’s industry experts,” adds Peter Clarke.

Current chairholders
Dr. Maurice Doyon, Egg Industry Economic Research Chair at Université Laval in Quebec City
Dr. Doyon’s research focuses on the economic implications of the Canadian egg industry and supply management. Dr. Doyon and his team are developing a variety of projects on the economics of egg production that promote growth and innovation in the sector.

Their projects include the development of a quota trading system between farmers, an examination of the implications of international trade on the system of supply management, an evaluation of consumers’ willingness to pay for specialty eggs and the development of a model of egg producers’ behaviour in situations of economic risk.

Dr. Tina Widowski, Poultry Welfare Research Chair at the University of Guelph
Dr. Widowski’s work focuses on hen welfare and health, and best practices for the management of housing systems. The first project she will complete in this area examines the ways in which different pullet rearing systems affect hens’ behaviour, bone health and egg production.  

Dr. Widowski’s research team is developing projects on the development of flight and locomotion in different breeds of laying hens in aviary systems, the causes and prevention of feather pecking and the effects of ammonia outputs from manure in alternative housing systems.

Looking ahead
Egg Farmers of Canada are dedicated to making sure we invest in innovative technology and practices for years to come, assuring the sustainability of the Canadian egg industry.

“We look forward to continuing our work with our research chairs, as well as our broader network of researchers across the country,” says Clarke. “It is important to work together to mobilizing this new knowledge for the benefit of our farms, farmers and stakeholders in Canada and with partners around the world.”

For more information about our research programs, please visit eggfarmers.ca.

 

October 2, 2014 - According to a new study by University of Manitoba economists Canadians are paying anywhere from 10 per cent to 69 per cent more for certain dairy and poultry products than their U.S. counterparts. READ MORE

August 22, 2014 - Health and agriculture ministers were told that monitoring animal disease plays a critical role in preventing human disease threats, by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), at a meeting in Indonesia August 20. READ MORE

June 9, 2014 - Responding to growing demands from consumers to know where their food comes from, Chicken Farmers of Canada has introduced its "Raised by a Canadian Farmer", a branding program showcasing the commitment of farmers to provide families with nutritious chicken raised to the highest standards of care, quality and freshness.

The Raised by a Canadian Farmer brand will tell Canadian consumers, right on the packages of chicken they buy, that their chicken is raised in Canada by farmers dedicated to producing unmatched quality chicken that meets the highest nutrient, food safety and animal care standards.

Recent Leger Marketing studies reveal that Canadian primary shoppers believe it is important that chicken be labelled with its country of origin. More importantly, more than 85 per cent feel it is important that the chicken they buy is Canadian, not imported.

"Consumers increasingly want to know the story behind their food. Our research tells us that we can best tell that story through a distinct brand," emphasizes David Janzen, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada. "Moreover, our research shows that the majority of Canadians would trust a national brand if it came from a farmers' group, rather than from a retailer or processor."

Branding chicken raised in Canada affirms consumer preferences for local food and showcases Canadian farming practices, which ensure that chicken Raised by a Canadian Farmer is fresh, safe and of the highest quality. Ninety-eight per cent of Canadian chicken farmers are certified on Chicken Farmers of Canada's mandatory national on-farm food safety program. Each farmer is audited annually to ensure compliance.

"Thanks to the system of supply management, most chicken in grocery stores is already produced by Canadian farmers," continues Janzen. "But with ever-growing calls to know where and how food is produced, we need to let shoppers know just how proud our farmers are in helping to feed families in every corner of the country."

In addition, Chicken Farmers of Canada's Animal Care Program ensures that farmers are aligned with humane treatment standards. The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association support the implementation of the Animal Care program. Just like the food safety program, farmers are also audited under this program to ensure that animal care standards and practices are strictly followed.

 

May 28, 2014 - Canada's first graduate program in meat science will be housed out of the University of Alberta. 

A $1.6 million grant will be used to fund the Canadian Meat Education and Training Network (MEaTnet), a virtual organization made up of the U of A, Université Laval, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Guelph. The organization will be based at the U of A but will develop a shared graduate studies curriculum between all four universities. The network estimates it will produce 50 grads over the next six years and aims to have formal meat science graduate programs at all four partner universities by 2020.

Read more about the new program here.  

 

 

Jan. 9, 2014 - An Alberta individual who recently returned from a trip to China has passed away, making them the first North American to die of the H5N1 strain of flu.

According to the Globe and Mail, the person’s gender, age, profession or name have not been revealed, due to patient confidentiality. However, travel details for the individual were provided - they flew from Beijing to Vancouver and Vancouver to Edmonton on December 27, 2013.

The Albertan victim was admitted to hospital on Jan. 1 and passed away on Jan. 3.

Image courtesy of CNW Group/Egg Farmers of Ontario.

Oct. 2, 2013, Mississauga, ON - October is World Egg Month. A new Angus Reid survey has found Ontarians are tossing everything from jalapeno peppers, curried apples and chocolate chips into their omelettes for a new look and taste that adds "eggs-citement" to any meal.

While cheese (58 per cent), vegetables (25 per cent) and meat (12 per cent) are the three favourite omelette additions, the survey by Egg Farmers of Ontario (EFO) discovered Ontarians aren't afraid to use the frying pan as an experimental playground for their eggs.  Many of us are putting our own creative spin on the classic omelette and challenging a few taste conventions along the way.

Survey respondents are adding everything from berries and baked beans to chia seeds to their omelettes, boldly going where no flavours have gone before. Ever tried an omelette with smoked barbecued eel or curried apples? How about some buckwheat, bean sprouts and blueberries? Those are just a few of the other inspiring combinations Ontarians surveyed are using to create their own signature omelettes.

Breakfast break
The survey also found that omelettes have cracked the convention of being a breakfast-only menu item. Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of Ontarians say they usually eat their omelettes outside of breakfast - for lunch, dinner or a snack.

"One of the best things about eggs and omelettes is that you can never stop finding new ways to enjoy them or new ingredients to add," says Carol Harrison, Registered Dietitian. "Omelettes are a great way of expressing your culinary creativity, while enjoying the goodness of eggs and their 14 essential nutrients any time of day."

More survey highlights

The survey revealed some other interesting facts about Ontarians and their omelettes:

  • Women (62 per cent) are more likely than men (54 per cent) to say cheese is their favourite omelette filling.
  • Men (19 per cent) are three times as likely as women (six per cent) to say meat is their favourite omelette filling.
  • Women (14 per cent) are more than twice as likely as men (five per cent) to enjoy omelettes for dinner. Women (16 per cent) are also more likely than men (11 per cent) to prefer omelettes for lunch.
  • The older we get the more likely we are to enjoy an omelette outside of breakfast:
    • Only four per cent of 18-34 year-olds tend to eat their omelettes for lunch compared to 21 per cent of survey respondents over the age of 55.
    • Only four per cent of 18-34 year-olds tend to eat their omelettes for dinner compared to 14 per cent of survey respondents over the age of 55.
About the survey
From September 11th to September 12th, 2013 an online survey was conducted among 798 randomly selected adult Ontario residents who eat omelettes and are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.4%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

For more on the Egg Farmers of Ontario, visit www.eggfarmersofontario.ca.
Image courtesy of Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences.

Aug. 30, 2013, University Park, PA - Continuing research on Salmonella may enable researchers to identify and track strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria as they evolve and spread, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. Tracing the transmission of individual strains from agricultural environments to humans through the food system is difficult because of the rapid evolution of resistance patterns in these bacteria. Resistance patterns change so quickly that, until now, it has been impossible to determine where some highly resistant strains are coming from.

Michael DiMarzio, a doctoral candidate in food science working under the direction of Edward Dudley, associate professor and Casida Development Professor of Food Science, developed a method for identifying and tracking strains of Salmonella enterica serological variant Typhimurium as they evolve and spread.

Every year in the United States, the various strains of Salmonella together are responsible for an estimated 1 million illnesses, 20,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths at an economic cost exceeding $3 billion.  Salmonella Typhimurium accounts for at least 15 percent of clinically reported salmonellosis infections in humans nationally. The number of antibiotic-resistant isolates identified in humans is increasing steadily, suggesting that the spread of antibiotic-resistant strains is a major threat to public health.

"Typhimurium infections have exhibited a gradual decline in susceptibility to traditional antibiotics, a trend that is concerning in light of this pathogen's broad host range and its potential to spread antibiotic resistance determinants to other bacteria," DiMarzio said. "Now more than ever, it is imperative to effectively monitor the transmission of Salmonella Typhimurium throughout the food system to implement effective control measures."

Building on recent research done in Dudley's lab, DiMarzio developed the new approach to identify antibiotic resistant strains of Salmonella Typhimurium focusing on virulence genes and novel regions of the bacteria's DNA known as clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPRs. They report their results in the September issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

CRISPRs are present in many foodborne pathogens. The researchers demonstrated that CRISPR sequences can be used to identify populations of Salmonella with common antibiotic-resistance patterns in both animals and humans.

"Specifically, we were able to use CRISPRs to separate isolates by their propensity for resistance to seven common veterinary and human clinical antibiotics," DiMarzio said. "Our research demonstrates that CRISPRs are a novel tool for tracing the transmission of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium from farm to fork."

DiMarzio found that several subtypes of Salmonella Typhimurium showed up repeatedly in the frozen collection of Salmonella samples taken from cows, pigs and chickens in Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. In this case, researchers looked at 84 unique Salmonella Typhimurium isolates collected from 2008 to 2011.

"We know those strains are widely disbursed, and the thing they have in common is that they have noticeably higher levels of antibiotic resistance," he said. "So we examined clinical samples of Salmonella taken from humans, and it turned out that we see an overlap -- the ones we see in humans are the ones we see a lot in animals. You would expect that, but it is confirmation that our method works."

DiMarzio noted that the researchers identified subsets of the overall Salmonella bacteria population that seem to be more prone to acquiring antibiotic resistance.

"Our challenge now is to learn what makes those strains different -- why do some strains acquire resistance while others don't, even though both are circulating widely among animal populations?" he said. "We will need to know that to try to control them."
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Gran.

Aug. 26, 2013 - Arsenic is a known carcinogen, has been used in insecticides and is a very potent poison. It also has been used as an additive to poultry and swine feed in order to increase weight gain and feed efficiency, as well as an anti-parasitic.

And since arsenic is toxic, public health experts believe that exposure through water and food needs to be controlled and exposure should be minimized as much as possible. However, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health have found increased levels of arsenic in retail chicken meat from producers who use arsenic-based drugs.

Keeve Nachman, assistant scientist and director of the Farming for the Future Program, says that with all the knowledge regarding arsenic posing a number of adverse health conditions, use of arsenic-based drugs is still perfectly legal. "Despite this, arsenical drug use remains federally-approved in animal production," he said. "This study sought to understand the chemical form of arsenic that remained in chicken meat as a result of arsenical drug use."

The researchers purchased different types of chicken from major metropolitan areas in the U.S. from December 2010 to June 2011. This time frame was used as it coincided with when an arsenic-based drug, roxarsone, was still readily available. They found that chickens likely raised with the drug had four times higher the levels of inorganic arsenic in their meat than those without drugs.

Interestingly, Nachman found that cooking the chicken made the situation worse – not better. "We also found that cooking the chicken increased the fraction of arsenic that was present in the toxic form, and decreased residues of the original, less toxic arsenic-based drug."

Since some arsenic-based drugs (such as nitarsone) are available to producers, Nachman added, their use equates to an unnecessary risk to consumers. The only solution is clear, says Nachman. "Withdrawing these drugs would lower levels of arsenic in chicken and turkey meat, and lower population arsenic exposures."

Apr. 24, 2013 - At Experimental Biology 2013, scientists from around the world are gathering to share research on a variety of topics, including nutrition and health. Given the growing global burden of chronic disease, there is particular interest in the important role of diet and nutrition in overall health. Several studies presented at the conference looked specifically at the role of whole egg consumption in high-risk groups, including those with metabolic syndrome and heart disease, as well as the satiating effects of high-protein breakfast consumption for overweight adolescents.

Evidence to Support Eggs as Part of a Heart Healthy Diet

Research from Yale University explored the impact of daily whole egg consumption in men and women with coronary heart disease1. The subjects were randomized to consume either two eggs, ½ cup of egg substitute or a high-carbohydrate breakfast for six weeks as part of their typical diet. The subjects who ate either whole eggs or egg substitute did not experience any negative impact in total cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight or endothelial function. The researchers concluded that whole eggs can be a part of a heart healthy diet, even in those with existing coronary heart disease.

Whole Egg Consumption Promotes Favorable Lipid Changes in those with Metabolic Syndrome

Research from the University of Connecticut suggested that daily whole egg consumption may have a positive effect on the function and composition of HDL cholesterol in adults with metabolic syndrome. Subjects followed a carbohydrate-restricted diet, and consumed either three eggs per day or an equivalent amount of egg substitutes2. After 12 weeks, subjects consuming whole eggs experienced improvements in HDL (good cholesterol) composition and ability to remove cholesterol from the blood.

Those eating three whole eggs daily also had HDL that was lower in triacylglycerol and higher in a beneficial component of egg yolks (phosphatidylethanolaime)2. "Taken together with previously established benefits of egg intake on HDL profiles, these findings further support the notion that eggs serve as a functional food to reduce cardiovascular disease risk in individuals with metabolic syndrome," says Catherine Andersen, lead study author and PhD candidate at the University of Connecticut.

High Protein Breakfast Results in Decreased Daily Calorie Intake

Researchers at University of Missouri presented data comparing the effects of a normal-protein cereal breakfast (15% meal calories), high-protein egg and pork breakfast (40% meal calories) and no breakfast on satiety in overweight/obese adolescents who normally skip breakfast(3). The group that consumed the high protein egg and pork breakfast reported a decrease in hunger and an increase in fullness compared to the normal protein and breakfast-skipping group. The individuals eating a high protein breakfast also voluntarily reduced their intake by more than 400 calories per day over the 12-week study. No significant differences were seen in weight between groups; however, breakfast skippers were found to have significant increases in percent body fat mass compared to those who ate the normal and high protein breakfasts. This study supports the benefits of a high protein breakfast as a weight management strategy among overweight and obese adolescents(3).

"This year's EB program showcased cutting-edge nutrition research with wide-reaching public health implications," says Mitch Kanter, PhD, Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. "Furthermore, many studies underscore a positive role for eggs in the current chronic disease challenges we face." For more information about egg nutrition research and the benefits of egg consumption, please visit eggnutritioncenter.org.

About the American Egg Board (AEB)

AEB is the U.S. egg producer's link to the consumer in communicating the value of yhe egg and is funded from a national legislative checkoff on all egg production from companies with greater than 75,000 layers, in the continental United States. The board consists of 18 members and 18 alternates from all regions of the country who are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The AEB staff carries out the programs under the board direction. AEB is located in Park Ridge, Ill. Visit http://www.IncredibleEgg.org for more information.

About the Egg Nutrition Center (ENC)

The Egg Nutrition Center (ENC) is the health education and research center of the American Egg Board. Established in 1979, ENC provides science-based information to health promotion agencies, physicians, dietitians, nutritional scientists, media and consumers on issues related to egg nutrition and the role of eggs in the American diet. ENC is located in Park Ridge, IL. Visit http://www.eggnutritioncenter.org or http://www.nutritionunscrambled.com for more information.

References:
1. Katz et al. Effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function in adults with coronary artery disease: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial. Experimental Biology 2013. Boston, MA. April 20, 2013.

2. Andersen CJ, Blesso CN, Lee J, Barona J, Shah D, Thomas MJ, Fernandez ML. Egg consumption modulates HDL lipid composition and increases the cholesterol-accepting capacity of serum in metabolic syndrome. Lipids. 2013; doi 10.1007/s11745-013-3780-8

3. Leidy HJ, Hoertel HA, Douglas SM, Shafer RS. Daily addition of a protein-rich breakfast for long-term improvements in energy intake regulation and body weight management in overweight & obese 'breakfast skipping' young people. Experimental Biology 2013. Boston, MA. April 20, 2013.

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