Food Links: Are there black widow spiders in your grapes?

By Chantal Braganza - Published on Sep 19, 2016
Black widow spiders and other poisonous insects have been found in some fruits and vegetables in Canada and the United States. (Mark Kostich/iStock)

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Every week, TVO.org talks Food Chain. Snack on these policy, nutrition and food safety nuggets from around the province and beyond.

There’s a scorpion in my bananas!

After a string of produce scares in Edmonton, Ottawa, British Columbia and some northern American states this past year, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is asking people to be on the lookout for poisonous insects in their fruit and greens. The warning, issued last week, notes that black widow spiders, scorpions and iron cross blister beetles have been found inhabiting grapes, bananas and leafy vegetable packaging respectively, and advises consumers to exercise caution when washing and storing these products.

Ontario continues agri-food trade mission series with India

Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal and International Trade Minister Michael Chan will be embarking on a trade mission to India this fall focused exclusively on agri-food industries, the province has announced. The week-long visit in late November follows the province’s first minister-led agricultural trade mission in April 2015, during which both ministers spent nine days in China and secured trade agreements on maple syrup, ice wine and winery products. This year’s mission will include representatives from farming, feed and food processing interests. 

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International producers object to Canadian dairy deal

Dairy organizations from five countries are asking their respective governments to launch a trade dispute with the World Trade Organization over a nearly-finalized Canadian dairy strategy organized by dairy farmers and processors. Since 2015, Dairy Farmers of Canada and dairy processing organizations nation-wide have been in talks to develop a multi-tiered dairy system strategy, which concluded last summer with an agreement-in-principle expected to come into effect later this fall. The protesting organizations allege the agreement would support unfairly subsidizing Canadian exports and favour domestically-produced dairy ingredients over imports — both of which they argue contravene WTO and NAFTA obligations. 

Zero-waste grocery store in Montreal

High rates of food waste both at home and globally have sparked public conversations about the issue in policy and media circles. Now, a new crop of zero-waste grocery ventures is attempting to address one facet of the problem: the amount of refuse generated by food sales packaging. Méga Vrac is a former Montreal bulk food store that has been converted into a 167-square-metre outlet that sells absolutely no packaged goods, bags its products in paper and offers discounts to customers who bring their own containers. While the store is mostly stocked with dry and liquid items sold in bulk — everything from spices to shampoo — co-owner Ahlem Belkheir says package-free produce such as dairy, eggs and cheese are also in the works.

Monsanto-Bayer merger would create world’s largest owner of seeds

A proposed $66-billion merger between Bayer and Monsanto will, if successful, result in the creation of the single largest agribusiness worldwide, responsible for a quarter of global pesticide and a third of global seed production. Twenty years ago, the Globe and Mail’s Ann Hui reports, global seed, pesticide and fertilizer production was spread out across 600 companies. Today, that number is closer to six — and will drop even lower with the approval of this deal.

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