“Use By” Dates Becoming Uniform

“Use By” dates are becoming uniform, with nine in 10 grocery store products now printing consumer-friendly labels. By 2020, all products will carry the more simplified date. The industrywide initiative aims to stop confusion over product expiration dates by standardizing wording on all products. The 10 date-label categories are now paired down to two – “Best If Used By” or “Use By.” Surveys found “when in doubt, throw it out” causes massive food waste in America, partly because of unclear food labeling. Over 90 percent of Americans throw out food because of a misunderstood label. Americans waste 133 billion pounds of food a year, a third of the U.S. food supply.

Read more (Supermarket News)

Starting in January, cooks will be able to legally sell homemade food in California. The state passed a law decriminalizing the sale of homemade food in the state. This is exciting news for home fermenters who can now legally sell their home-cooked food without paying hefty licensing fees and adhering to strict food handler rules. The new law, though, still falls short. Earnings are limited to $50,000 a year, the kitchen must employ only one cook and a $500 license is still required. In the heavily—regulated state of California, though, the LA Times notes it’s a step in the right direction: “…reflecting bipartisan recognition of the ways that overzealous food regulation disproportionately hurts those at the very bottom of the state’s economic ladder, robbing them of opportunities to better their lot, undermining their self-reliance, and leaving them vulnerable to needless legal sanctions.”

Read more (LA Times)

Should big beer brands be allowed to patent barley? In Europe, a major win for a group of small brewers who were suing Heineken and Carlsberg. The European Patent Office allowed the brewing giants to patent several kinds of barley. Heineken and Carlsberg say they invented the barley strains. Critics of the patent, though, say the barley naturally occurs and it’s based on fermenting science that brewers have used for thousands of years. In the first of three hearings, the patent office says the big beer brands could only have patents to barley with a specific genetic mutation.

Read more (The Times)

Though more consumers want probiotics only 2 percent of new food and drinks launched in the last 12 months were marketed as containing probiotics. A study found its because of regulatory issues. Companies (especially in the dairy category) are uncertain whether or not they can legally label a product as containing probiotics. Labeling the food as fermented instead could aid a product’s natural and healthy image, the study concludes, since more consumers are viewing fermentation as an authentic natural food and beverage choice.

Read more (Nutritional Outlook)

Ever wondered how the government defines “healthy” on American food labels? The FDA is taking comments until today on their nutrition innovation strategy. The FDA plans to modernize what goes on an American food label, like should plant-based dairy alternatives be called milk? And how should new food technology that reduces sodium or fat content be labeled?

Read more (FDA) (Photo: Foodies Feed)

A New York senator is pushing change for federal alcohol regulators to ease up on hard ciders. Cider owners cannot legally sell hard cider with an alcoholic content below 7% in cans, forcing them to use wine containers instead. This hurts most quality, fermented apple ciders, the senator argues, because they must water down their product to sell it in cans.

Read more (WXXI) Photo by CNY News

Thanks to Minnesota’s recent Cottage Food Law, 2,300 food startups have popped up in the state. The law allows micro businesses that make under $18,000 a year to sell their products at co-ops, farmers’ markets and grocery stores without a license. Fermented foods are some of the most popular in the state’s wave of local food retailers because most fermented foods don’t require refrigeration and allow for creativity in the kitchen.

Read more (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

The Pickle Juice received its USDA organic certification, big news for the only trademarked pickle juice sports beverage. The bottled drink also recently earned its OU Kosher Certification. A healthier alternative than traditional sports drinks, The Pickle Juice has no artificial flavoring or preservatives, and contains 14 times the electrolytes found in an average sports drink. Perfect for athletes, scientific research shows that pickle juice relieves muscle cramps in 60 seconds.

Read more (BevNet)

Lawmakers from Oregon and Colorado are advocating for a new bill that would modernize outdated federal alcohol taxes. Known as the KOMBUCHA Act (Keeping our Manufacturers from Being Unfairly Taxed while Championing Health Act), the bill aims to increase the ABV for kombucha from 0.5 percent to 1.25 percent so kombucha can be sold as a non-alcoholic beverage. Currently, many kombucha brewers are forced to pay an alcohol tax and abide by regulations intended for the alcohol industry. Kombucha Brewers International is lobbying for the bipartisan bill. You can signup to track the bill here, at congress.gov.

Read more (Kombucha Brewers International) & Read more (Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR)

Home fermenters are still hitting legislative roadblocks. A Texas law allows farmers and home cooks to sell their pickled goods without becoming licensed food manufacturers — as long as that pickled product is cucumber. The 2011 law oddly doesn’t permit any other pickled vegetable. A retired couple is suing the state over the restrictive law, arguing it hurt the financial viability of their farm which the couple was forced to close because they couldn’t sell their pickled beets.

Read More (The Texas Tribune)