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BC Fruit Company Receives Funding Boost

From: Food in Canada

Pitt Meadows, BC – A local company has received help from the BC government to promote its newest products.

The BC Ministry of Agriculture says in a statement that it gave Pacific Canadian Fruit Packers $75,000 to help the company promote its new line of dried blueberries and cranberries.

The products have been launched under the company’s retail brand, Wild Coast Fruit Company. The funding will go toward online campaigns, traditional print materials, demos and radio advertising. Cam Watt, a partner in Wild Coast Fruit Company, says the company is “so pleased to be a part of this funding program.”

The BC government says its approach is to support the province’s agriculture, seafood and food processing sectors, and encourage the consumption of BC products.

U.S. Scientists Develop a Test that could Improve Food Safety

From: Food in Canada

College Station, Texas – Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) may have found a way to breed chickens that are resistant to pathogens.

The ARS, which is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, says the scientists developed a new test that can identify “roosters whose blood contain naturally high levels of two key chemicals, cytokines and chemokines.” These are the chemicals that get the birds’ innate immune response working. (See the ARS’ report on the new findings in “Breeding Resistant Chickens for Improved Food Safety,” from Oct. 30, 2017.)

By using the new test, says the ARS in the report, “commercial poultry breeders can single out roosters that have a strong immune response and use them to selectively breed a more robust flock.” Having this kind of resistance, especially during the birds’ first week of life, “may lower costs related to animal well-being and food safety.” Right now the industry uses sanitation, vaccines, biosecurity and antibiotics or other medications to keep chickens safe from pathogens. But, says Christi Swaggerty, a microbiologist in the ARS’ Food and Feed Safety Research Unit, some chickens have such robust immune systems that they can resist pathogens on their own.

It’s the new test that can help “select roosters for breeding a line of resistant broilers. They then exposed the resistant broilers to several pathogens. They compared the resistant group to a group of susceptible broilers bred from roosters with low cytokine and chemokine levels.” What the scientists found was that the “susceptible broilers had more pathogens and signs of infection than the resistant group. Ultimately, such resistance could mean fewer pathogens remaining on birds at the processing plant and improved consumer safety, Swaggerty notes.”

Food Performance: How does Western Canada measure up?

From: Food in Canada

Food-borne illness outbreaks and food recalls tend to grab media headlines and consumers’ attention. Many Albertans will be familiar with the XL Foods meat recall, for instance. Overall, there are more than four million cases of food-borne illness per year in Canada. It leaves Canadians to question just how safe is our food. Canadians are also questioning the cost, health and availability of our food.

How well do Western provinces perform? In The Conference Board of Canada’s 2016 provincial food performance report card, Western provinces performed relatively well to their provincial peers. Indeed, Saskatchewan is head of the class among all provinces. The province excels with “A” grades in four of five categories: food safety, industry prosperity, household food security, and environmental sustainability. Its only “B” grade is awarded on the healthy food and diets category. B.C. is also among the top performers, Alberta received an “A” grade for household food security while Manitoba’s best grade was an “A” for food safety.

In 2015, the Conference Board produced an international food performance comparison of Canada’s food system to assess how the food system meets the needs of the population. The report card measures Canada’s performance against 16 OECD countries across the same five elements of the Canadian Food Strategy: industry prosperity, healthy foods and diets, food safety, food security and environmental sustainability. While Canada (along with Ireland) received the top grades in food safety, there is need for improvement, particularly in reporting on chemical risks in food consumption, conducting more frequent nutrition and dietary studies, food traceability and radiation standards in food.

Compared to most of our peers, Canadians generally choose healthy foods, as we consume lower-than-average intake levels of salt and saturated fats and have a diverse diet. However, Canadians’ health is somewhat compromised by higher levels of diabetes and obesity. Moreover, many Canadians bring home more food than they need generating relatively high levels of food waste and are comparable with other countries in terms of their knowledge and literacy about food.

When measured by affordability and price volatility, overall food availability on a national level is not at issue. However, there are localized problems of food access and prices, and at-risk populations (including indigenous people and single-parent households) continue to exist. Canada does not perform as well in other areas. For example, Canada has among the highest rates of both food waste and food losses in the world, and ranks behind all other countries for rates of greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions.

Canada’s industrial strengths in the food sector are its resource endowments, capital available to farms, crop production, and economic viability. However, the Canadian industry falls short of other countries in measures such as food innovation, livestock production, and representation among leading global food companies.The Conference Board of Canada’s 6th Annual Canadian Food & Drink Summit, taking place this December in Calgary, will explore Western Canada’s food performance. Topics of discussion will also include the Barton Report and the recommendations from the federal government’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth where agriculture was identified as having strong potential for substantial growth and export improvement. The Summit will also debate the Government of Canada’s National Food Policy and more.

The Summit will feature engaging sessions and an exciting lineup of leading food experts and experienced practitioners who will share best practices and insights with you on how to engage stakeholders and Canadians to take action, including on trade, inspiring food innovation stories from Alberta, healthier beverages, agri-food outlook, reducing food waste, the labour gap in agriculture, affordable diets, organic retail experience, the future of the grocery business, growing culinary experiences, beef and crop sustainability, and more.The goal is to advance Canada’s food performance. Food affects our lives, health, jobs, environment, and economy. Ensuring that our food is of high quality, affordable, healthy and safe to eat matters to every one of us. We hope you will attend the Summit and look forward to seeing you in Calgary on December 4-6, 2017.

Written by: Jean-Charles Le Vallée, PhD,  associate director Food Horizons Canada, The Conference Board of Canada.

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.

Canadian Researchers Discover Genetic Clue to Peanut Allergy

From: Food in Canada

Hamilton, Ont. – Canadian researchers, says the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen), have pinpointed a new gene associated with peanut allergy. In a press release (“New genetic clue to peanut allergy,” on Oct. 10, 2017), AllerGen says the discovery offers “further evidence that genes play a role in the development of food allergies and opening the door to future research, improved diagnostics and new treatment options.”

AllerGen is a national research network funded by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through the Network of Centres of Excellence program. In the statement, AllerGen explains that “the gene, called c11orf30/EMSY (EMSY), is already known to play a role in other allergy-related conditions, such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. This study is the first to associate the EMSY locus with food allergy, and these findings suggest that the gene plays an important role in the development of not just food allergy but also general allergic predisposition.”

The AllerGen researchers included Dr. Denise Daley, an associate professor at the University of B.C., Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver; and Dr. Ann Clarke, a professor at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, and adjunct professor at McGill University in Montreal. In the statement, Daley says that “the discovery of this genetic link gives us a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk.”

AllerGen says that an allergy to peanuts develops early in life “and is rarely outgrown.” Roughly one per cent of Canadian adults and between two and three per cent of Canadian children are affected. Symptoms can be severe to life-threatening. The co-first authors of the study included Dr. Yuka Asai, an AllerGen investigator and assistant professor at Queen’s University, and AllerGen trainee Dr. Aida Eslami, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of B.C.

In the statement, Eslami says the results of the study “suggest that EMSY could be a useful target for predicting and managing food allergy treatments in the future.”

Canada’s Government is Helping to Expand Hazelnut Orchards in Ontario

From: Food in Canada

Simcoe, Ont. – Canada’s government is helping to expand hazelnut orchards in Ontario. In a statement, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says it has made an investment of almost $500,000 to the Ontario Hazelnut Association (OHA) “to help develop the hazelnut industry.”

Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre, says “Launching a hazelnut industry in Ontario is good news for our farmers, our consumers and our economy.  This investment is part of our Government’s plan to support a strong and diverse agri-food sector in Ontario, in order to create good jobs and grow the middle class.”

The investment will help the OHA develop orchard management practices “to enhance early development of hazelnut trees, develop strategies to mitigate drought stress in nursery trees and establish production techniques to multiply hazelnut plants for commercial use.”

The OHA has welcomed the news of the investment, saying in the statement that research so far has helped develop new innovations in micropropagation, variety selection, and orchard management.

Linda Grimo, chair of the OHA, says, “This new crop has enormous potential for Ontario and this support has brought us much closer to realizing our goal of establishing 10,000 hectares in the province by 2027 and creating new economic opportunities for rural communities. We are grateful for our partnerships with the federal and provincial government, the University of Guelph, and Ferrero Canada. We are very proud of the work the University of Guelph has been doing and look forward to future collaborations with both the University of Guelph and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.”

AAFC has partnered with the University of Guelph and Ferrero Canada to work on the project.

Ontario’s Food and Agriculture Sector is Thriving

From: Food in Canada

Guelph, Ont. – A new study has found that Ontario’s agriculture and food industry is thriving but there just aren’t enough qualified people to fill the jobs. The University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) commissioned the employment study, which is called Planning for Tomorrow 2.0.

In a statement (“Jobs Aplenty for Agri-Food Grads, Report Finds,” from Sept. 14, 2017), the university says the report found “an increase from three to four jobs available for every graduate, but it also found employers predicting even more jobs over the next five years.”

“It’s great news for students entering and coming out of the programs because of the tremendous demand for their skills and the many opportunities for them,” says Rene Van Acker, OAC’s dean.

“On the other side, it remains a challenge for us at the university to help the sector find the people they need to grow.” The study is based on a survey of 123 Ontario employers in the sector. The statement adds that the new survey “updates a report from five years earlier that found there were three jobs for every graduate of an OAC undergraduate program.”

Among the companies the university surveyed were food processors and growers, input suppliers, financial institutions and government agencies. The OAC dean’s office, the OAC Alumni Foundation, Farm Credit Canada and RBC Royal Bank funded the survey.

“It’s a sector that has to grow no matter what, because people have to eat,” says Van Acker. “But it’s also a sector that has a chronic challenge in attracting people.”

Georgian College Rolls Out New Baking Program  

From: Bakers Journal

Barrie, ON — Barrie’s Georgian College is now home to a Baking and Pastry Arts program. The new program started this September with 48 students, a full first intake. The one-year certificate is designed to turn into a two-year diploma program, says Anthony Borgo, a culinary professor at the school. The curriculum has been designed around the set educational standards for baking and pastry arts, but what makes it different from the others will be its style of teaching and programming delivery, he says. Borgo notes Georgian’s approach seeks to address the entrepreneurial spirit he is seeing in so many of today’s culinary students.”We’re adding the entrepreneurial side — how to open and run a business.” The curriculum will also feature a strong focus on local ingredients and connecting with local suppliers.

For more information about Georgian College, visit www.georgiancollege.ca

Students win $2,000 Bursary with the FBO’s Taste your Future Program

From: Food in Canada

Food and Beverage Ontario’s Taste Your Future program announced the winners of its inaugural student competition: Stir Up a Career. The campaign launched earlier this year and was open to Ontario high school or university students with an innovative idea for the food and beverage industry. 

The winners will each receive:

  • $2,000 bursary
  • Mentorship from an Ontario processor
  • Resume building support from Food Grads
  • Business resources from Food Starter to help them pursue their interests in food and beverage processing

For more information on the winners and the contest, visit: TasteYourFuture.ca/contest

McCain Expands Plant in Alberta

From: Food in Canada

With expansion plans underway at the Coaldale plant, McCain Foods says it has spent over $1B adding capacity to plants around the world. McCain Foods says the plant was built in 2000 and is a “key plant within the McCain North American supply network.” Today it has more than 200 employees and acquires its potato supply “from 28 potato growers in the Southern Alberta region.”

Click here to learn more about the McCain Foods expansion.