Press Clips: Herbicide Traces Found in Ben & Jerry’s; WFM Roasted for Coffee Quality

Meagan McGinnes

Newshounds are sniffing around the food industry for stories about everything from regulations, to mergers and acquisitions, to snortable chocolate. Here’s what is making headlines in food news.

Traces of Glyphosate Found in Ben & Jerry’s

Small traces of the controversial herbicide glyphosate — common to the herbicide RoundUp — were found in samples of Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, according to independent testing performed by Health Research Institute Laboratories on the behalf of The Organic Consumers Association, a consumer advocacy group.

The New York Times reported that glyphosate was found in 10 of 11 samples of the company’s ice creams. The levels were far below the ceiling set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Rob Michalak, the global director of social mission at Ben & Jerry’s, told the Times that the company is working to refine its supply chain.

“We’re working to transition away from GMO, as far away as we can get,” he said. “But then these tests come along, and we need to better understand where the glyphosate they’re finding is coming from. Maybe it’s from something that’s not even in our supply chain, and so we’re missing it.”

Whole Foods Roasted for Poor Coffee Quality

A Washington Post story published today suggests that Whole Foods Market’s commitment to freshness may end in the retailer’s coffee aisle. The report found that many Whole Foods stores regularly stock beans well past their roast dates.

“Over the course of four or five months, the same coffees were still sitting there,” Chris Vigilante, founder of Vigilante Coffee, told the Post.

While consuming older beans is not a safety issue, coffee aficionados state that they do lose their quality–and it’s a point of contention for producers and distributors alike. Some specialty roasters suggested that Whole Foods needs to begin rotating out the older beans and treat its coffee beans with as much care as it does produce. Others suggested the retailer’s quality issues may stem from buyers who haven’t mastered how much of each blend to stock based on their varying demands.

Democrats Push for Review of Amazon-Whole Foods Deal

A group of 12 senators have signed a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission earlier this week calling on Congress to conduct a more thorough review of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market, according to Reuters.

The senators are particularly concerned about the potential effect the $13.7 billion deal could have on food deserts, or areas where residents have limited access to fresh groceries. And these senators are not the first to raise concerns over the impending deal.

This news comes less than a week after former-majority investor JANA Partners cashed out of Whole Foods. The group, which had a well-known contentious relationship with Whole Foods president John Mackey, suggested the grocer should put itself up for sale back in April.

In the meantime, Amazon is deepening its roots in food, reportedly filing for trademarks and meeting with a dozen U.S. ranchers today to expand distribution of organic and grass-fed meats as it takes over Whole Foods.

Chuck Schumer Wants to Regulate Snortable Chocolate

You can now snort lines of chocolate, and that’s a topic of concern for Senator Charles Schumer, according to The New York Post.

In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, Schumer stated that because Coco Loko — a new raw cacao powder infused with a “special energy blend”— is marketed like a drug, it should also be regulated as such. Currently the energy-boosting substance is completely legal.

Snyder’s-Lance plans $7.8 million expansion of Better-For-You Bakery

Baptista’s Bakery, a subsidiary of Snyder’s-Lance Inc., plans to expand its snack-food manufacturing operations in Franklin, Wisconsin, according to The Wisconsin Journal.

The expansion is expected to create about 125 jobs. Snyder’s-Lance’s $7.8 million investment will be used toward building renovations, machinery and equipment, the Journal reported. Baptista’s Bakery, which is known for its private label brand of flat pretzels, joined the Snyder’s Lance portfolio when it was acquired in 2014.

Manischewitz Newark Factory to Close Its Doors, Cut 169 Jobs

Kosher food manufacturer Manischewitz is closing its Newark plant and laying off 169 employees, reported last week.

“At a challenging time in the retail and grocery business, we have made the difficult decision to close our plant in Newark. Beginning this fall, our products will be made at more modern New Jersey facilities,” a spokesperson from the company said.

The plant is one of three for the 129-year-old company. It opened in 2006 and is expected to produce its last batch of products on September 14, less than a week before Rosh Hashanah.

ICYMI: NOSH Staff Picks Favorites From Summer Fancy Food Show

Last month, the NOSH team ate their way through the Summer Fancy Food Show in N.Y.C. Listen to Editor-In-Chief Jeff Klineman, NOSH editor Carol Ortenberg and Senior Reporter Meagan McGinnes talk about highlights and trends seen on the showroom floor with the Taste Radio team. Hint: “whimsical” hard boiled eggs are involved.

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