The Independent reports that a new strain of MRSA has been found in British milk, indicating that the superbug is spreading through the livestock population and poses a growing threat to human health.The new strain, MRSA ST398, has been identified in seven samples of bulk milk from five different farms in England. Follow the link for more details.
"In order to cut costs since 2007, UK households have bought less bread, lamb, beef, fish, fruit, vegetables, potatoes and alcoholic drinks – but more bacon.
The government's annual Family Food survey, which provides the most detailed annual snapshot of food and drink spending and consumption, found that weekly spending per person on all household food in 2011 was £27.99, an increase of 1.5% on the previous year. But because of price rises, that bought less food - 4.2% less in 2011 than in 2007.
The survey also showed how households saved 6.8% by "trading down" to cheaper – and in many cases, less healthy – products, hitting consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables.The poorest have been hit hardest by price rises. One pound in every six of household expenditure for the poorest 20% went on food, compared with one in nine for all UK households". Follow the link to read the full article.
The Telegraph reports that Which?, the consumer group, examined 52 smoothies from leading brands and major supermarkets and found that all of them contain more calories per 100ml than a bottle of Coca-Cola. Nearly half the smoothies contained 30g or more of sugar per 250ml, the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar. Follow the link to read the full article
ScienceNews reports that ceramic pots full of holes have pushed the earliest evidence for cheese making back to 7,400 years ago.
"Chemical signatures of milk fat in perforated pots used as strainers provide the tell-tale clues to cheese making, says a team led by biogeochemist Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol in England.
As with similar-looking cheese strainers today, these devices — previously found at ancient farming villages in Poland — separated fat-rich milk curds from lactose-containing whey. Follow the link to read more.
WattAgNet.com reports that Indonesia has identified the strain of bird flu virus that has killed more than 300,000 ducks since November. The more virulent form of the H5N1 virus is different to that usually found in Indonesia. Research is being called for to see whether the virus is a genetic shift in avian flu previously found in Indonesia, or whether the new strain came from overseas, possibly from Vietnam or Thailand. Follow the link to read the full article.
More than a third of children about to leave primary school are obese or overweight and the numbers are rising, according to official figures from the school measurement programme.
More than 1 million children were weighed and measured during the 2011/12 school year in the reception class and in year 6, the last year before they move to secondary school. Over a fifth (22.6%) of the youngest children, just starting primary school, are either overweight or obese, the data from the National Obesity Observatory shows. But by the time they have reached the last year of primary school that figure has risen to one in three (33.9%).
Making more and better investments in agriculture is one of the most effective ways to reduce hunger and poverty while safeguarding the environment.
This is the key message of FAO´s flagship annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2012 (SOFA).
"The world´s more than one billion farmers must be central to any agricultural investment strategy, as they are the biggest investors in this sector, the report notes. But farmers' investments are often limited by unfavourable investment climates... The report emphasizes that in many low- and middle-income countries, farmers are often confronted with weak incentives to invest.
A number of factors can drastically reduce the incentive to invest, including poor governance; absence of rule of law; high levels of corruption; insecure property rights; arbitrary trade practices; high "taxation" of agriculture relative to other sectors; and inadequate levels and quality of rural infrastructure and public services. Smallholders face specific, severe constraints, often including extreme poverty, weak property rights, and poor access to markets and financial services. Overcoming these barriers will be essential to unlock the full investment potential of farmers in many rural areas. The report recommends focusing on a number of areas in order to foster smallholder investment, including the following:
Governments and their development partners need to help smallholders mobilize their own savings and gain improved access to credit.
Stronger producer organizations, such as cooperatives, can help smallholders deal with risks and provide better market access.
Social protection can contribute to the expansion of the asset base by the poorest smallholders.