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Federal Government Invests in Canadian Livestock Health

From: Food in Canada

Guelph, Ont. – Canada’s federal government is supporting livestock health with an investment of $1.31 million.

In a statement, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) says the investment was made to the Canadian Animal Health Coalition (CAHC) “to help ensure the safe transportation of livestock, develop emergency management tools for the livestock industry and improve animal care assessments.”

Jennifer MacTavish, the chair of the CAHC, says in the statement that the organization appreciates the support. She adds that the funding will help “develop Canada’s Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals and affiliated animal care assurance programs.”

The CAHC is a non-profit organization serving Canada’s farmed animal industry. The organization is a partnership of cross-sectorial organizations, all recognizing a shared responsibility for an effective animal health system.

The investment will be divided between four projects, as noted in the statement, including:

  • Up to $223,929 to develop a new livestock transport on-line certification program that will simplify, standardize and provide an opportunity for truckers, shippers and receivers to more easily access the training necessary to improve handling practices.
  • Up to $160,713 to update the Transportation Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals during transport.
  • Up to $813,200 to develop an emergency management plan for the Canadian livestock industry to help mitigate, to respond to, and to recover from major hazard emergencies.
  • Up to $112,180 to revise the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s animal care assessment program to meet the new Code of Practice for hatching eggs, breeders, chickens and turkeys. The project will strengthen the poultry industry’s capacity to respond to ever increasing demand by markets to demonstrate effective animal care standards.

Ontario’s Supports Conestoga Meat Packers

From: Food in Canada

Breslau, Ont. – Conestoga Meat Packers has received a financial boost from the province of Ontario. In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs announced that it is investing $5.3 million to help the company “boost productivity and expand its pork processing capacity by 86 per cent.” The investment is expected to create 170 new jobs at the facility in Breslau.

“Our government is proud to support the continued growth of Ontario’s food processing sector, an important driver of our economy,” said Jeff Leal, Ontario’s minister of Agriculture, in the statement. “This support will help Conestoga Meat Packers increase its productivity, enhance competitiveness and create good jobs in Waterloo Region.” Conestoga Meat began processing farm-fresh pork in 1982. Today it is Ontario’s second-largest pork processor and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Progressive Pork Producers Co-operative Inc., a co-op of 157 southwestern Ontario hog producers. The government investment was made through Ontario’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund. With the funding Conestoga Meat “will purchase leading-edge equipment that will almost double its meat processing capacity.”

For more information on the Conestoga Meat Packers, check out their website: www.conestogameats.com

Building the Ontario Beef Brand 

From: BLOCKtalk Magazine 

According to BLOCKtalk Magazine, “2017 will mark an exciting year for the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) as the organization makes a significant shift in the role they play in the development and implementation of regional marketing initiatives throughout Ontario”. BLOCKtalk discusses the strong demand for Ontario beef in the consumer market and how we must bridge the gap between farmers, processors and urban customers when paying for local beef products. 

Click here to learn more about the BFO and how they are reaching out to their consumers. 

 

 

 

No animal required, but would people eat artificial meat?

From: FoodProcessing.com

Futurists tell us that we will be eating in vitro meat (IVM) – meat grown in a laboratory rather than on a farm – within five to 10 years.

IVM was first investigated in the early years of this century and since then, criticisms of farm animal product systems, particularly intensive ones, have escalated. 

They include the excessive use of land, energy and water resources; local and global pollution; poor animal welfare; a contribution to climate change; and unhealthy eating habits and disease in humans.

At the same time, human (and livestock) population growth continues, farming land is requisitioned for urban expansion and meat consumption per person is rising.

So we want a new source of meat – or do we?

Reaction to artificial meat

Growing meat artificially, under laboratory-type conditions, is not possible on a large scale. But people’s concerns about eating IVM have rarely been explored.

In a recent survey, published this month in PLOS One, we investigated the views of people in the United States, a country with one of the largest appetites for meat and an equally large appetite for adopting new technologies.

A total of 673 people responded to the survey, done online via Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which they were given information about IVM and asked questions about their attitudes to it.

Although most people (65%), and particularly males, were willing to try IVM, only about a third said they would use it regularly or as a replacement for farmed meat.

But many people were undecided: 26 per cent were unsure if they would use it as a replacement for farmed meat and 31 per cent unsure if they would eat it regularly. This suggests there is scope to persuade consumers that they should convert to IVM if a suitable product is available. As an indication of this potential, 53 per cent said it was seen as preferable to soy substitutes.

The pros and cons of IVM

The biggest concerns were about IVM’s taste and lack of appeal, particularly in the case of meats seen as healthy, such as fish and chicken, where only two-thirds of people that normally at them said that they would if it was produced by in vitro methods.

In contrast, 72 per cent of people who normally eat beef and pig products would still do so if they were produced as IVM. Interestingly, about 4 per cent of people said they would try IVM products of horse, dog or cat – despite these being meats they would not currently eat.

The perceived advantages of IVM were that it was environmentally and animal-welfare friendly, ethical, and less likely to carry diseases. It could increase the proportion of happy animals on Earth if it replaced intensive farm animal production. By happy, we mean well nourished, comfortable, healthy, free from pain, and able to perform.

The disadvantages were that IVM was perceived as unnatural, potentially less tasty and likely to have a negative impact on farmers, by putting them out of business.

The IVM consumer

So who would be most likely to use IVM, and hence dictate the focus of advertisers’ pitch?

Gender was the biggest predicting factor with men more likely on average to say they would try IVM, whereas women were less sure. Men also had more positive views of its benefits.

Recognizing that meat-eating men are often viewed as more masculine, it is not clear whether this prevailing attitude would change if men converted to eating IVM.

Those with liberal political views rather than conservative ones were also much more receptive to the idea, confirming their more progressive viewpoints generally, as well as their traditionally stronger focus on fairness and avoiding harm to others.

Vegetarians and vegans were more likely to support the benefits of IVM but least likely to try it. People who ate little meat were also more supportive, compared with big meat eaters.

IVM on the menu

While a reasonably large proportion of the sample reported willingness to try IVM in the future, there appears to be hesitation around the idea of incorporating it into a daily diet.

Resistance came primarily from practical concerns, such as taste and price. But these are factors that are largely under the control of the manufacturers.

The concerns – about taste, price and impact on farmers – could all be effectively dealt with if there was sufficient financial advantage in producing IVM.

As tissue engineering techniques improve, culturing meat in vitro also brings the opportunity to introduce health-promoting ingredients, such as polyunsaturated fats, more easily than in living animals.

Another commonly cited concern was the perception that the product was unnatural. This may be similar to people’s concerns about genetically-modified (GM) foods – some of those who oppose GM foods are moral absolutists who would not be influenced by any argument in favour.

By expressing concern about the naturalness of IVM, some people were suggesting that there are fundamental issues that would cause them to reject it.

But with a little investigation into the processing and production of some meat products today, they might soften their attitudes toward IVM.

If IVM doesn’t take your fancy, lab-grown leather is actively being developed by a company that was dissuaded from producing IVM because it thought only 40 per cent of people would even try it.

That was back in 2012 and now our survey has found that 65 per cent of people surveyed in the U.S. said they would definitely or probably try IVM. So maybe people are becoming more responsive to the idea as opposition to conventional animal farming grows.

Although ours was a relatively small survey in a developed country (with a huge appetite for meat), one can speculate that people in developing countries might be less concerned about issues like taste and natural appeal of IVM. They might view it as a valuable source of protein they would not otherwise get.

Perhaps the futurists are right and IVM will be what fills our dinner plates in the near future.

Maple Leaf Foods acquires U.S. veggie protein company for US $140M

From: Canadian Manufacturing

Maple Leaf Foods has announced it will acquire an American company that makes plant-based protein foods for US $140 million and any related costs.

Maple Leaf says it has signed a definitive agreement to buy Lightlife Foods Inc., which makes vegetarian deli meets, chicken, beef, sausages and other meatless foods.

President and CEO Michael McCain said in a statement that consumers are looking for alternative protein sources and this growing market is one of Maple Leaf’s strategic growth platforms.

Lightlife’s management will continue to run the Turners Falls, Mass.- headquartered company, which will operate as a subsidiary of Maple Leaf.

The deal is subject to a U.S. regulatory review and is expected to close in March.

Duck farmers planning to boost production as demand grows in Canada and Mexico

From CTV Montreal

Despite a surge in cheap imports, Canadian duck producers are planning to boost production due to growing consumer demand spurred on by celebrity chefs and the reopening of the Mexican market.

Brome Lake, the country’s oldest processor of domestic Pekin duck, is spending $30 million to build a facility in a former beef plant in Asbestos, Que., that will double its annual production capacity in five years to four-million birds. Ontario rival King Cole Ducks also plans to increase its output to stay competitive.

Canada’s three largest producers, which also includes B.C. supplier Fraser Valley Specialty Poultry, expect overall annual production to double from the current level of 5.5-million ducks.

Although pricier than chicken, the red meat protein is increasingly being selected as an alternative to beef, which has experienced steep price increases.

An agreement with Mexico announced in March could help Canadian producers to progressively regain more than $3 million in annual sales of fresh chicken, turkey and duck, Ottawa said.

Learn more about sanitary turn-key poultry & meat processing solutions from Tri-Mach Group here.
Read the full article here.

Winnipeg bacon plant to expand, thanks to government’s help

From the Winnipeg Sun

Heat up the frying pan: We’re about to make a lot more bacon in this city.

Winnipeg’s Maple Leaf Foods plant currently produces about 40 million kilograms of bacon each year, which is shipped across North America. The company is cooking up an expansion, though, that will soon ramp up its production of the crispy breakfast staple by another eight million kilograms annually.

The $5.9-million boost to the bacon line, which is set for completion later this year, will allow the company to become more efficient and boost its export potential, said Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

The government’s investment is part of a plan called Growing Forward 2, a five-year framework meant to assist Canadian agricultural producers and processors.

Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler said this particular investment will help ensure 34 more full-time and 34 more part-time jobs remain in Manitoba and generate plenty of tax revenue to offset the province’s investment. He added that increased production should trigger savings that allow agricultural producers and manufacturers a greater profit.

Maple Leaf said its expansion has the added benefit of allowing some processing work previously sent to the United States to return to Winnipeg.

Learn more about sanitary turn-key meat processing solutions from Tri-Mach Group here.
Read the full article here

How Canadian Technology Is Tackling The Food Waste Crisis

From the Huffington Post

Despite rising food insecurity, $31 billion of it is wasted every year in Canada, a number soaring to $1 trillion worldwide as 30 per cent of food goes uneaten. The vast majority of food waste happens at production, processing and retail levels rather than on the consumer side.

To help address this, France famously passed unanimous legislation requiring supermarkets to either give unsold food to charity or send it to farmers for use as feed and fertilizer. Here in Canada, food rescue organizations like Second Harvest help get unspoiled food from retailers, manufacturers, restaurants and caterers to charities, delivering ingredients for over 22,000 meals daily.

But we live in hi-tech times, so technology is also being used as a weapon in the war on food waste. Here’s a look at how homegrown Canadian tech is trying to tackle our food waste crisis.

  • Nanotechnology: Jay Subramanian, a plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph, and his team of biotech scientists have devised a food spray that the CBC reports “uses a nanotechnology-based application of hexanal, a natural plant extract that prevents fruit spoilage.”
  • App: Flashfood “is essentially the discount food rack on your cellphone and it’s a means for grocery stores, restaurants, food vendors, being able to resell their surplus food before they’re going to throw it out,” founder and CEO Josh Domingues told CityTV.
  • App: Ubifood is a Montreal-based competitor to Flashfood, giving geolocation-based real-time push notifications to inform users of discounted food in their area that might otherwise be thrown out by the end of the day.
  • GMOs: Despite continuing if unfounded public skepticism over GMOs, B.C.-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits has received approval by Canadian and American authorities to sell their signature non-browning Arctic Apple.
Read the full article here.

Consumers warming to irradiated meat

From the Winnipeg Free Press

Ask anyone on the street whether they want to eat safe food, and undoubtedly the answer would be yes. Experiencing a food-borne illness is not only unpleasant, it can be deadly.

But technologies such as irradiation that can make food safer have historically been a tough sell. A public backlash caused Health Canada to nix its plan in 2002 to allow ground fresh and frozen beef to be irradiated. People simply didn’t like the idea.

Treating food products with ionizing radiation can reduce the presence of mould, E coli, salmonella, campylobacter and parasites without reducing nutrition or food quality. International authorities such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization agree it is safe.

Although the technology has been approved for use in Canada since 2002 on potatoes, onions, wheat, flour, whole wheat flour, whole and ground spices and dehydrated seasoning preparations, it is currently mostly just used on spices — if at all. But independent inquiries into the 2008 listeriosis contamination of processed meats sold by Maple Leaf, and the 2012 E. coli crisis affecting XL Beef, recommended Canada fast-track new technologies that contribute to food safety.

A survey of consumer perceptions in 2014 suggests public sentiments range from comfortably oblivious to vaguely supportive.

“Although the vast majority of respondents (72 per cent) had not heard of food irradiation, overall perceptions of food irradiation were slightly more positive (30 per cent) than negative (21 per cent) when respondents were informed that irradiation is a food-safety measure that reduces levels of bacteria that cause food poisoning and food spoilage.”

As well, survey respondents were adamant (83 per cent) irradiated food should be labelled. That’s considered a “positive shift” in public opinion.

Read Tri-Mach’s newsletter article about irradiation here.
Read the full article here.

Wood-derived ingredients could be future of food, researchers say

From FoodBev.com

Manufacturers could soon be using wood-derived polymers such as xylan, fibrillated cellulose and lignin to improve the texture and reduce the energy content of food products, according to Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre. The Espoo-based organisation said that the wood-derived ingredients could be used in yogurts, baked goods such as cakes and muffins, and meat products.

As the food industry searches for new natural ingredients that improve the quality of products and promote consumer health, its research has shown that the polymers have properties that make them stand out from their traditional counterparts.

Xylan, a hemicellulose extracted from birch pulp, could be used as texture enhancer in yogurt: VTT’s studies shown that xylan can improve the smoothness of yogurt and enhance its stability when compared to conventional manufacturing techniques.

Fibrillated cellulose, which is produced by wet-grinding cellulose fibres, forms a web-like gel that could be utilised as a thickening and stabilising agent for fermented dairy products – yogurt included. It may also reduce cholesterol in the human body.

VTT tested lignin in the manufacture of muffins and found that, in addition to giving muffins a fluffier texture, lignin proved to be a surprisingly efficient substitute for whole eggs and egg yolks. Lignin also functioned as an emulsifier in mayonnaise and contributed to juiciness in a meat product, VTT said.

Read the full article here.