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The three farmers ran a certified organic farm in Overton, Nebraska, but also farmed other non-certified fields in the area. Maize and soyabeans produced from these fields were sold as organic, at much higher prices to customers both directly and via an as-yet unnamed business. They are thought to have made $11 million over 7 years by defrauding their customers.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture raised concerns about organic produce imports (see News blog 13 March 2018), and published a preliminary list of businesses allegedly using fraudulent certificates to claim their products are organic. It has since extended that list to more than 100, and of these around 20 were US-based businesses. To try to address the problem, a three-month pilot was launched in the US to prevent and detect fraud in the country’s organic food chain. The pilot will focus on identifying and assessing specific weaknesses or vulnerabilities in the supply chain, identifying and taking measures to reduce those vulnerabilities, establishing a monitoring programme for fraud prevention measures, and developing a complaint system to be used when fraud is suspected or detected.

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The FDA is responsible for food safety enforcement of all food production except any product with a meat or poultry ingredient. This often leads to duplication of inspection by the two agencies for many producers manufacturing a range of foods. A new formal agreement between the FDA and USDA will lead to better coordination and collaboration between the two agencies in food safety inspections, the update of biotechnology regulations and the implementation of new preventative safety inspections on produce farms.

 

Read the full article at: USDA FDA Coordination

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Three US NGOs have filed a lawsuit against Sanderson Farms, which is the third largest chicken producer in the USA for falsely describing its chicken as "100% natural". Traces of antibiotics, steroids, growth hormones banned in chicken production and even ketamine, a powerful anaesthetic with anti-depressive and hallucinogenic properties, were found on multiple occasions during inspections of the company's processing plants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Determining whether a product can be labelled 100% natural is approved by the USDA, which grants that label to a product if it contains "no artificial ingredient or added colour and is only minimally processed"—meaning that the product was processed in a way that does not "fundamentally alter the product." Advertising and marketing, however, does not require pre-market USDA approval, but the company has  not only played up the notion that its chickens are "free of antibiotics before they leave the farm" in its television commercials, but has also mocked other companies, which advertise their poultry as lacking added hormones or steroids on the grounds that it's "illegal" to give such products to chickens.

Read the full article at: 100% natural chicken challenged in the US

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