Globe-spanning topics sparked recent conversations:

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its Sixth Assessment Report.
  • Food safety concerns spanked strawberries, raw milk and more.
  • Women enjoyed the spotlight for their contributions to food production.

Emission Commission

On March 20, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Sixth Assessment Report. This “synthesis report” brings together data from IPCC’s three working groups — composed of hundreds of scientists — into a single set of observations and recommendations for policies to mitigate the impact of climate change. Thoughtfully, the committee synthesized the full 9,275-page report down to a mere 36 pages.

  • The report notes, “Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming.” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee added, “If we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
  • Million Belay of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems explained in Civil Eats, “Every fraction of a degree of warming raises the risk of food shortages and multiple crop failures. Transforming food systems is now an urgent priority and a massive opportunity.”
  • DTN reporter Chris Clayton observed that global agriculture productivity has been growing at a slower rate than in the past — and productivity will be outpaced by population gains in the next 20 years.
  • Nonprofit organization ReFED reiterated its mission of reducing food waste: “If global food loss and waste were a country, it would rank third in the world for GHG emissions after the U.S. and China.”
  • The Nature Conservancy covered the broad strokes of the IPCC’s goals. Meanwhile, other environmentalist groups, such as Earthjustice, ignored food systems in favor of condemning fossil fuels.

Skip the Berries and Cream

Food safety issues involving some of the usual suspects, like infant formula and raw milk, caused trouble. It’s been an interesting few weeks, with strawberry and cultivated chicken issues also gaining attention.

  • We don’t often correlate strawberries with hepatitis A, but that drove a big recall this week. NPR covered this outbreak involving frozen strawberries originating from certain farms in Baja California, Mexico, in 2022 and sold at Costco, Aldi and Trader Joe’s.
  • Unfortunately, we do correlate infant formula with food safety issues lately. Food Safety News publisher Bill Marler offered some scathing criticism of FDA’s response to the crisis, as well as some suggestions on how to improve, like putting an FDA inspector in every plant. FDA Director Susan Mayne disagreed.
  • Amid the continued formula shortage, yet another recall — this one involving the Gerber brand — pulled product from shelves, “out of an abundance of caution due to the potential presence of Cronobacter sakazakii,” reported USA Today.
  • GOOD Meat, the cultivated meat division of food technology company Eat Just, Inc., grabbed headlines on March 20, when the FDA declared the company’s chicken product safe to consume. Now the product must pass USDA approvals before being served at an upscale Washington, D.C., eatery owned by chef-philanthropist José Andrés (Fox News).
  • The Honolulu Star Advertiser summarized a house bill legalizing the sale of raw milk in the state. The bill cited improving food security in small communities as a primary motivation. If we’ve learned anything from scanning the food news every day for more than a decade, it’s to stay away from raw milk. And Cronobacter sakazakii.
  • Risk-assessment group Sedgwick published a 2022 recall report covering all product areas. Regarding food, the report found “FDA food recalls experienced a 700.6% increase in the number of units impacted in 2022. With 416.9 million units recalled, this represents a 10-year high.”

Celebrating Women

March is Women’s History Month, including International Women’s Day on March 8. Women make up a large part of the food industry’s workforce and a variety of organizations made their appreciation known.

Hey, What’s Good This Week?

PepsiCo chose National Ag Day to announce plans to invest $216 million into regenerative ag practices in the United States. Partnering with three large ag organizations, they intend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons by the end of the decade, all to meet their Positive Agriculture ambition published two years ago. As one of the world’s largest food and agriculture companies, their plan commits to spreading regenerative agriculture over 7 million acres.

Worth Reading

Hip to be Square

When it comes to making pizza at home, most available recipes have been devoted to making something closer to a New York-style pie. Kenji López-Alt set out to change that in a detailed exploration of Chicago-style thin crust pizza … ironically published in The New York Times. After ranging from history to food science, López-Alt arrives at a trio of recipes for dough, sauce and sausage, as well as a final realization: “If you’re from the Midwest, thin was always in. The rest of us are just catching up.”

Ciao, Domino’s, Ciao, Starbucks

While we’re talking pizza, Bloomberg reported that the Domino’s Pizza stores in Italy have entered into liquidation after seven years of attempting to gain market share in the birthplace of pizza. Who knew? Next up, Starbucks announced plans to open a store in Rome, across from the Italian parliament (Wanted in Rome).

‘Peak Fertilizer’

In a Substack post, Oxford University researcher Hannah Ritchie asked, “Is the world approaching ‘peak fertilizer’?” Ritchie looked at an array of statistics, finding that global use of fertilizers has leveled off while crop yields continue to climb. Ritchie wrote, “It’s possible to reduce fertilizer use without sacrificing food production by adopting better farming practices. … But I want to stress that zero-fertilizer is not the target. In fact, many countries need more fertilizer, not less.”

Vegging Out

Reporting from South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Greenbiz senior editor Jesse Klein offered ADM some praise for creating a dinner that featured vegetables as … vegetables. “I would love to see chefs convince eaters that vegetables are awesome by focusing on celebrating vegetables instead of only trying to mimic meat.”