by SNEB member Ellen Schuster, MS
Food bank/school meal challenges, an update on FDA’s investigation of Lucky Charms complaints and more!
FOOD BANKS/SCHOOL MEAL CHALLENGES
Food banks struggle with multiple challenges: hard-to-find items, inflation, higher fuel costs, staff shortages, less money being donated (https://www.npr.org/2022/06/02/1101473558/demand-food-banks-inflation-supply-chain). Summer school meals: It’s estimated that 1 in 5 meal sites won’t open this summer as the school meals waiver expires (https://www.marketplace.org/2022/06/06/free-school-meal-program-will-expire-at-the-end-of-this-month/); administration eyes a way to provide funds to school meals as waivers expire (https://www.politico.com/news/2022/06/08/school-meal-pandemic-program-00038310).
Update on Lucky Charms complaints: FDA website lists Reference #1064 as their Lucky Charms investigation continues (https://www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/investigations-foodborne-illness-outbreaks). The June 1, 2022 podcast episode of Food Safety Talk has 2 food safety specialists discussing – at about 76 minutes into the episode – whether the ‘iwaspoisoned.com’ crowdsourcing website collecting consumer illness complaints after eating Lucky Charms is to be considered data that should inform the investigation (Hint: yes.) and the May 24, 2022 podcast episode – at 15 minutes into the episode – where they share one hypothesis of a cause of the complaints suggested by a North Carolina State University professor – a pandemic supply chain ingredient substitution, possibly an additive (the link to the NYPost article is in the listen notes). They review what we know at this point in time (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/food-safety-talk/food-safety-talk-263-faraday-atSyhYf0_HD/); (https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/food-safety-talk/food-safety-talk-262-settle-nej_KSO1xIF/). How long does it take for food to be recalled?: A new report provides insights…a survey of the 50 of the largest grocery retailers found that 1/2 alert shoppers via text, phone call, email within 24 hours of being alerted by suppliers of a food recall; 1/3 post info on the web or social media platforms. In comparison, it may take the FDA up to one week to inform the public (https://www.tastingtable.com/876463/new-report-reveals-how-long-it-takes-for-food-to-be-recalled/); the news release on the report (https://uspirg.org/news/usf/new-report-food-thought-are-your-groceries-safe); the 20-page report (https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/FOOD%20REPORT%20WED%2010PM.pdf). Are QR codes preferred to expiration dates?: New Cornell research suggests that QR codes on food packages may be preferred to expiration dates (https://science.slashdot.org/story/22/06/01/2142258/consumers-embrace-milk-carton-qr-codes-may-cut-food-waste).
Miracle Whip/other food price increases, some McDonald franchisees to raise prices: Kraft Heinz announces price hikes on items (https://www.livemint.com/politics/news/food-prices-to-keep-going-up-as-costs-surge-11655040657060.html). Fast food cost breaking point?: Trends show decrease in fast food purchasing but it’s unclear if it’s the price of the food or the cost of gas (https://www.gobankingrates.com/money/business/as-mcdonalds-prices-go-up-customers-are-taking-action/). Climate change interest at the grocery store, the restaurant: About 27% of consumers consider climate change when choosing foods at grocery stores vs. 15% at restaurants (https://www.fsrmagazine.com/sustainability/how-much-are-restaurant-guests-considering-climate-change).
Interest in premium grocery loyalty programs increases: A poll of 2500 shoppers finds increasing interest in subscription/membership loyalty programs and grocer/gas discounts (https://www.supermarketnews.com/consumer-trends/many-consumers-willing-pay-premium-loyalty-programs). In-store food shopping on the rise: People are out and about, seeking deals and avoiding e-commerce fees (https://www.tastingtable.com/887821/the-real-reason-in-store-grocery-shopping-is-on-the-rise/); (https://morningconsult.com/2022/06/06/return-to-in-store-grocery-shopping/); hybrid shopping – it’s not in-store OR delivery, it’s BOTH (https://www.tastingtable.com/891248/new-report-shares-how-popular-hybrid-grocery-shopping-has-become/). More produce at Dollar General: Plans include adding more stores w/produce and piloting self-checkout-only stores (https://www.grocerydive.com/news/dollar-general-piloting-self-checkout-only-stores/624531/). Mushrooms: They’re everywhere and not increasing in price as much as other foods (https://www.specialtyfood.com/news/article/mushrooms-blossom-amid-focus-health-innovative-displays/). Saving collard greens: The Heirloom Collard Project looks to save different collard greens before they disappear (https://www.npr.org/2022/04/24/1093167996/gardening-collard-greens-seed-savers-heirloom-collard-project-food-recipes). Juneteenth food snafu: Walmart’s ‘Juneteenth’ ice cream didn’t go well but consider an alternative from a black-owned business (https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/24/business-food/walmart-juneteenth-ice-cream/index.html); more about the only woman/Black-owned ice cream company in national distribution (https://www.blackenterprise.com/meet-the-founder-of-the-black-owned-ice-cream-brand-being-sold-at-walmart-target-and-more/). Shrinkflation: From chips to flips (single yogurt cups) packages downsize while prices remain the same (https://www.npr.org/2022/06/08/1103766334/shrinkflation-globally-manufacturers-shrink-package-sizes).
Less competition in the alternative meat space: Four companies own 80% of alternative meats which might mean less innovation and access to ingredients (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/10/meat-alternatives-industry-threat-monopoly). Read comments to USDA about cell-based meat labeling: What 1179 comments suggest about cell-based meat labeling (https://www.fooddive.com/news/cell-based-cultivated-meat-comments-usda/623028/); (https://www.fooddive.com/news/cell-based-cultivated-meat-comments-tracker-usda/623608/).