Health/Nutrition/Food Safety

Senators rally to defend the potato’s vegetable status amid USDA and HHS reclassification debate

A bipartisan group of 14 US Senators opposes reclassifying potatoes as grains in the next Dietary Guidelines. In a letter to the USDA and HHS, they highlight potatoes’ nutritional value and historical vegetable status. The potential change could confuse consumers, disrupt industries, and adversely impact federal nutrition programs. The senators insist potatoes remain classified as vegetables, emphasizing the decision’s broad implications.

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Michigan State University scientists cracking the code to a healthier potato chip

Michigan State University scientists made a discovery revealing the genetics behind cold-stored potatoes darkening and health risks. Published in The Plant Cell, the research could lead to new potato varieties resistant to cold-induced sweetening (CIS), reducing harmful acrylamide production during processing. This advancement is crucial for the U.S. snack industry, including Michigan’s $240 million potato market, as it could ensure a consistent supply of fresh potatoes year-round while enhancing chips and fries quality.

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James Hutton Institute spearheads global food security with new National Potato Innovation Centre

The James Hutton Institute plans to establish the National Potato Innovation Centre to bolster food security, focusing on potatoes’ role in global strategies. The NPIC will utilize a new glasshouse complex to breed potato varieties suited to warmer, sustainable environments. With a reputation in potato science and a history of R&D success, the institute’s facility, housing the Commonwealth Potato Collection, aims to promote drought tolerance and disease resistance in potatoes, thereby future-proofing the UK industry.

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‘Preventing the next plant plague’: Jean Ristaino’s groundbreaking research in the fight against potato blight

Plant pathologist Jean Ristaino from NC State University is spearheading research to combat plant diseases such as late blight in potatoes and tomatoes. She is developing a rapid detection system to manage plant diseases efficiently and mapping the Phytophthora ‘tree of life’ to understand disease evolution. Her international collaboration and upcoming book “The Potato Plague” emphasize the global effort needed to secure food supplies amid climate change and population growth.

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FAO: Every day, more and more people in Gaza are on the brink of famine-like conditions

Conflict leads to humanitarian crises and increased hunger, as observed by the FAO. Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol reports on FAO’s efforts in Gaza, Sudan, and Ukraine to combat malnutrition and restore agriculture. The FAO faces unprecedented acute food insecurity in Gaza, with 25% of people nearing famine. Solutions to conflict are needed urgently as people’s access to food, water, and medical services decreases daily.

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Americans’ love for potatoes: More than just a side dish

A study by Potatoes USA shows that 22% of Americans eat potatoes multiple times weekly, revealing their cultural significance despite health perceptions ranking them low among vegetables. Spanning various ethnic groups, potatoes are considered a foundational food, with 53% of adults deeming them culturally important. Moreover, Americans appreciate potatoes for their taste, cost, and nutrition, with 72% recognizing their good value.

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‘She Feeds the World’: How PepsiCo Egypt’s program is transforming rural women’s lives

PepsiCo Egypt celebrated the fourth harvest of its “She Feeds the World” program, supporting 10,000 female farmers. Launched in 2020, the initiative empowers rural women in agriculture, aligning with pep+ and Egypt 2030 Vision, aiming for self-sufficiency and enhanced living conditions. The program has touched 390,000 lives and promotes economic empowerment and community development. The stories of these resilient women serve as a beacon of inspiration and a call to action for continued progress in the agricultural sector.

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From farm to food bank: Syngenta Canada’s pioneering effort through its Zero Hunger Challenge

Syngenta Canada’s Zero Hunger Challenge has surpassed its meal donation target by 20%, contributing over 225,000 meals to combat rural hunger and food insecurity, which has risen 78% since 2019. With $1 million already donated to Food Banks Canada, the initiative is committed to increasing 2024’s target to 250,000 meals. Syngenta engages in food drives and promotes agricultural innovation to support this cause.

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UK’s Health and Safety Executive proposes withdrawal of mancozeb approval, impacting agricultural practices

The Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain has proposed the withdrawal of the widely used pesticide mancozeb. This decision, expected to impact agricultural practices, may lead to changes in mancozeb’s use. Despite the proposed withdrawal, efforts are underway to explore options for maintaining its availability in the UK market. The approval is set to expire on 31st January 2024, with a possible interim extension.

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Creating a sustainable and greener food system: Key trends in 2023

In a piece for Food Matters Live, Anna Turns highlights the significant environmental impact of food production, which contributes to 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions. She outlines 10 promising sustainability trends for 2023, including upcycled foods, lower-impact cooking, sustainable crops, and regenerative agriculture. This shift towards circular, less wasteful models and more environmentally friendly supply chains reflects the food industry’s ongoing efforts to create a responsible and sustainable food system.

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Beauty in the blemished: ‘Ugly Potato Day’ fed thousands, fighting waste in Canadian city

In a remarkable display of community spirit, Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia province recently witnessed “Ugly Potato Day,” a unique event aimed at combating food waste and feeding thousands. The event was organized by Heppell’s Potatoes. The company distributed visually unappealing yet edible potatoes that are typically discarded. The initiative garnered a large turnout, raising awareness about food waste while providing food to those in need. This initiative sets an example for addressing food insecurity.

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Fresh Trends survey: American consumers turn to potatoes to battle inflation

The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2024 survey reveals that potatoes are a top choice for consumers facing grocery price inflation. According to the survey, 30% of consumers buy more potatoes during inflation, making it a popular choice after bananas (32%) and above apples (23%). Notably, the survey found that lower-income consumers are most likely to buy more potatoes due to inflation.

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The future of farming: Insights from the World Potato Congress webinar on combatting food loss

In a recent webinar hosted by the World Potato Congress, Luciana Delgado analyzed losses in the potato value chain, emphasizing their impact on food security, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. Delgado presented the “Food Losses App,” a tool to assess and address food losses for farmers, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 12.3. She emphasized the unequal impacts of food loss, the need for precise measurement, targeted interventions, and creating a business case for reducing losses at the producer level.

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Potatoes facing a ‘grainy’ future? Astonishing debate about the vegetable status of the potato challenges common sense

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is actually considering reclassifying potatoes from vegetables to a category alongside rice and grains. This bizarre proposal has sparked debate within the nutritional and agricultural communities. The National Potato Council vehemently opposes the reclassification. Potato News Today firmly stands with the growers, scientists, and consumers who advocate for the potato to remain classified as the nutritious vegetable it rightfully is. We can’t help but wonder how this particular Committee’s idea can become any more absurd. We truly hope not…

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Tim Kitson: An inspirational story of resilience and a positive outlook in the face of great adversity

Norfolk potato consultant Tim Kitson, who suffered from severe head injuries after a 30ft fall from an elevated walkway onto the concrete floor of a potato store which he was inspecting in 2019, has received national recognition at the British Potato Awards. Besides overcoming physical challenges, he retrained his sense of smell, affected due to a brain bleed. His client, Lamb Weston, praised his innovative ideas and positive attitude despite facing significant professional and personal challenges.

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‘To veg or not to veg’: The controversy over the vegetable status of potatoes in U.S. nutrition policy guidelines

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is considering reclassifying potatoes from vegetables to a broader category of rice, grains, and carbohydrates in the 2025 national diet guidelines. This move is raising debates among scientists and potato industry stakeholders. Critics, such as the National Potato Council’s CEO, argue that potatoes are a gateway vegetable for children and should not be downgraded due to some people’s choice to eat fries instead of rice.

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The potato’s role in food security: FAO welcomes decision to celebrate International Day of Potato

The UN has designated May 30 as International Day of Potato in a bid to stress the vegetable’s global importance for food security. The move was initiated by Peru and builds on the International Year of Potato, observed in 2008. As a versatile, climate-friendly crop that is both nutritionally and economically valuable, potatoes play a pivotal role in addressing global hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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The battle against acrylamide: Progress and challenges in European food industries

A research team in Italy studied acrylamide levels in over 15,000 food samples and found potato-based products and coffee were the top sources of exposure to the potentially carcinogenic compound. The study also revealed that mitigation measures by the European Union have made a significant difference over time, notably decreasing contamination levels. However, it equally emphasized continuous monitoring and strict regulation to maintain these improvements and ensure public health.

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Global food security and the power of potatoes: World Potato Congress webinar to provide insights

The World Potato Congress Inc. announces a webinar featuring WPC President Dr. Peter VanderZaag and Dr. André Devaux, focusing on the role of potatoes in global food security. The event, scheduled for November 28, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, will highlight the potato’s status as the world’s third most important food crop, its growing significance in developing regions, and the importance of scientific innovation for enhancing yield. Success stories and strategies for international collaboration in potato production will also be discussed.

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Rethinking potatoes: A comprehensive nutritional analysis and its impact on health

This article, based on research by Stephen A. Fleming and Jenny R. Morris at Traverse Science in Illinois, challenges the negative perception of potatoes, focusing on their nutritional value and health impact. It argues that potatoes are high-quality carbohydrates, comparable to legumes and grains. The study highlights the importance of preparation methods and dietary context, showing that potatoes can contribute positively to a balanced diet and should not be excluded based on their glycemic index alone.

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Global experts rally for sustainable food security solutions at symposium

At the Food Systems Transformation symposium, experts highlighted the urgent need for a strategic overhaul of global food security methods. The event, hosted by Agrico and SeedNL, emphasized the importance of sustainable, inclusive food systems and the role of strategic policy in leveraging food as a geopolitical asset. Discussions covered the necessity of local focus, innovation, and multi-stakeholder cooperation, with a special mention of Africa’s challenges in value addition due to trade laws.

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Ensuring safe potato storage: CRMG calls for grower support in CIPC data collection initiative

The UK potato industry has formed the CIPC Residues Monitoring Group (CRMG) to monitor chlorpropham (CIPC) residues in potatoes from stores previously using CIPC, now banned. The CRMG, led by Adrian Cunnington, seeks industry-wide cooperation to provide data to the Health & Safety Executive, ensuring continued safe use of these stores. The Group will act in the interests of the whole of the UK potato industry to ensure that the data submitted meets the standards expected by CRD. The group aims to maintain the temporary Maximum Residue Level for CIPC.

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How biofortified potatoes can become a game-changer in the battle against anemia of children

Hugo Campos, roots, tubers and banana breeding lead at CGIAR, discusses the global challenge of anemia, especially in children, in a recent article published by The Des Moines Register. Highlighting the higher prevalence in low-income countries, Campos emphasizes the potential of biofortification. The International Potato Center’s development of iron-enriched potatoes aims to combat anemia. These potatoes can provide essential iron, especially in regions with high potato consumption. This innovation offers a sustainable solution to address iron deficiencies and improve global health.

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Potatoes: The produce powerhouse driving retail success in the U.S.

Fresh potatoes have emerged as a consistent sales force in the U.S. produce sector, offering retailers vast opportunities for increased customer interaction. Data reveals that effective merchandising significantly boosts potato sales. With the highest household penetration among vegetables, purchased on average 10 times annually, potatoes enhance sales for other items too. Their contribution to the produce department ensures overall store success, making them a valuable asset for retailers.

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How effective and safe are current-generation pesticides?

An article by Kayleen Schreiber and Marc Brazeau at the Genetic Literacy Project explores the safety and efficacy of modern pesticides. It highlights a significant reduction in pesticide use per unit of food and fiber and per capita, credited to increased food production yields since 1985. While toxicity remains a concern, levels have decreased, and biodegradability has enhanced. Both organic and conventional farming use pesticides, but modern ones are less toxic and more environmentally friendly. The article series emphasizes understanding pesticide risks amid rising global food needs.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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