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The research safeguarding your next meal

The University of Minnesota’s National Center for Food Protection and Defense is working hard to safeguard your next meal. Here’s a glimpse into the Minnesota-based research defending the global food supply.

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Can this tool predict and prevent food fraud before people get sick?

While 2012 marked the introduction of watershed federal food-safety reforms started by the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011; the United States’ contaminated food problem still remains somewhat unresolved.

Each year, roughly one in six Americans contracts a foodborne illness, and countless more consume foods that aren’t exactly what their packaging claims – honey, olive oil, maple syrup and fish are all frequent targets of food fraud …

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Amy Kircher to lead U of M food safety center

The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at the University of Minnesota, celebrates the appointment of Amy Kircher, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., to director this week.

As director, Kircher will lead the NCFPD’s research, education and outreach efforts focused on addressing the vulnerability of the food system from intentional or catastrophic contamination. During her tenure, Kircher will seek to transition the center’s research and technology to the private sector to protect the food system as well as create a network of global capabilities.

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New proposed rules for imported food

Food today is sourced from all over the world. Grapes from Chile, hazelnuts from Oregon, honey from China, you name it – what fills your stomach today often comes from miles away.

The many different food safety standards and complex supply chains can make it challenging to identify and prevent food-related problems. Threats stem from Mother Nature and food system failure from intentional contamination for economic, criminal or terrorist reasons.

To combat the risks from imported food, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed two new rules as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed by President Barack Obama in 2011. These rules aim to raise the food safety standards on imported foods and shift policies from reactive to more proactive solutions.

But why propose such rules now? Why hasn’t something similar been in place all along?

National Center for Food Protection and Defense experts Amy Kircher and John T. Hoffman share.

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Cocoa butter equivalent: The future of chocolate?

When demand for a commodity outstrips its supply, manufacturers must look for alternative ingredients to substitute into their products in order to maintain profit margins. Such has been the case in the chocolate industry during recent times.

The global cocoa deficit this year is expected to widen to 47,000 metric tons as diseases and replacement crops are leading to meager cocoa yields in Indonesia, Asia’s primary cocoa producing country.

Although there are reportedly sufficient market stocks for the remainder of the year, the increasing gap between global appetite and chocolate resources is causing cocoa price projections to continue to rise.

Fear not, chocolate lovers, for there’s a new ingredient in town. While cocoa butter has historically been preferred over cocoa butter equivalent (CBE) as a fat source in chocolate products, in the coming years the balance is projected to shift in favor of CBEs.

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The Politics of Poultry

David Fenley is a research assistant at the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD) and student in the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. This post first appeared on the NCFPD’s Blog

At the National Center for Food Protection and Defense we aim to anticipate food system disruptions before they become just that, disruptions.

While markets around the world react to the Chinese H7N9 bird flu scare and poultry is slaughtered by the tens of thousands in an attempt to contain its further spread, the United States might not have too much cause for concern.

The flu virus is not easily spread from person-to-person and the U.S. does not currently import Chinese poultry for human consumption. Pet food, on the other hand, is imported and has a history of harming our furry friends.

In the past decade, U.S. trade relations with China have improved immensely, but there are still many points of contention, poultry being one of them.

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