Study: Coronavirus Came to New York City From Europe, Not Asia

The new coronavirus has been circulating in New York City for longer than previously believed and most cases can be traced back to Europe, a new study reveals.

To come to that conclusion, genetic information about the coronavirus was gathered from nasal swab samples taken from 75 patients at Tisch Hospital, NYU Winthrop Hospital and NYU Langone Hospital Brooklyn, said the NYU Langone Health team.

The findings were submitted to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data, which promotes the international sharing of data on influenza infections and is now tracking the evolution of the new coronavirus.

“The value of determining viral local sequences is that — the more that become available — the better we can monitor the spread and severity of the disease — and the more it can clarify which drugs, vaccines or social interventions are effective here,” said sequencing team leader Adriana Heguy, director of NYU Langone’s Genome Technology Center.

“We’re just starting this project, but will soon be sequencing 192 viral samples per week with the goal of offering thousands of sequences for analysis in the near future,” Heguy added in an NYU Langone news release.

“This global effort does not just determine the code of a single version of the virus, but tracks how its genetic code changes as it moves through a population, and with what consequences,” explained Dr. Matija Snuderl, director of Molecular Pathology and Diagnostics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine in New York City.

“As viruses evolve during transmission from person to person, their sequences can help researchers to zero in on the provenance, or place of origin, of that specific infection,” said Snuderl, who leads the clinical testing team.

“Slight changes in the genetic code of a virus that happen during transmission from person to person can help to guide the public health response,” added Matthew Maurano, from NYU Langone’s Institute for Systems Genetics and Department of Pathology.

Source: HealthDay

Today’s Comic

Ikea’s New Meatless Meatballs are Coming to Europe in August

Jon Porter wrote . . . . . . . . .

Ikea’s plant-based meatballs will be available in its roughly 290 European stores starting this August, with other markets set to follow a couple of months later. The so-called “plant ball,” which may or may not be the name on the menu, is designed to both look and taste like meat, but it’s made out of a combination of pea protein, oats, apples, and potatoes. Ikea says the plant ball has a climate footprint that’s 96-percent smaller than its traditional pork-and-beef meatballs. Last year Ikea sold over 1 billion meatballs.

This is not the first meat-free meatball that Ikea has introduced. It began selling a veggie meatball in 2015. However, it says that the new plant ball is designed for customers who want to eat less meat but “without compromising the familiar taste and texture of Ikea meatballs.” The plant balls will be available fresh in Ikea restaurants, where meatballs are typically served with the traditional mashed potatoes, lingonberries and cream sauce. Ikea also says you’ll be able to buy them frozen at their blue box stores to eat at home.

Ikea has also tried out vegetarian versions of its other food. Back in August 2018 the company introduced a vegetarian version of its hot dog, which it says it sold 10 million of in its first year on sale. Then in April 2019, it introduced a vegan version of its strawberry soft ice. [Ed. note: The veggie hotdog and vegan soft ice are confirmed delicious!]

In total, the retailer says that 680 million people ate its food in 2019, which could mean a huge carbon saving if a significant portion switch to plant-based or vegan food alternatives.

The plant ball is part of a wider environmental sustainability push at Ikea that it hopes will make its business climate positive by 2030, meaning that overall it wants to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. Other initiatives include sourcing the wood for its furniture from more sustainable sources, experimenting with refurbishing products, using more recycled materials, and testing the use of sustainable biofuel for shipping containers that transport its products.

Last year, Ikea says carbon emissions from its materials, production, supply chain, and use of products were down by 4.3 percent, despite sales increasing 6.5 percent. The retailer said this was the first time its environmental footprint has decreased while its business has grown. The use of renewable energy and increases in the environmental efficiency of its products were responsible for the reduced emissions, the company said.

Ikea isn’t the only company getting in on the fake meat craze. Over the past couple of years fast-food chains including Burger King, KFC, and Subway have all experimented with or rolled out plant-based versions of their traditionally meat dishes. Partners leading the way are meatless meat specialists Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

Source: The Verge

Plant-based Rebel Whopper Burger Launches in 2,500 European Burger King Restaurants

The Rebel Whopper burger has launched in over 2,500 Burger King restaurants across 25 countries in Europe, and it’s set to launch in the UK soon.

The Vegetarian Butcher has partnered with Burger King to launch the plant-based Rebel Whopper in over 2,500 Burger King restaurants across 25 countries in Europe, including Ireland.

The Rebel Whopper is similar to Burger King’s beef burgers as it features tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, pickles and sliced white onions on sesame seed bun. The Vegetarian Butcher’s plant-based patty is made from a blend of sustainable soy, wheat, vegetable oil, herbs and onion.

The mayonnaise used in the Whopper currently contains eggs so is not suitable for vegans, although the burger can be ordered without to make it plant-based. The patty is also cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers.

Discussing the partnership, Jaap Korteweg, the founder of The Vegetarian Butcher, said: “When I started The Vegetarian Butcher nine years ago, my goal was to be the biggest butcher in the world and create products for meat lovers, with the ambition of providing the same taste and experience, but plant-based.

“Working with Burger King on the Rebel Whopper has been amazing. We can’t wait for all Burger King guests to enjoy it.”

David Shear, President of Burger King EMEA, added: “We are confident that the Rebel Whopper is the sandwich everyone has been waiting for and provides the ultimate plant-based patty alternative with the iconic Whopper build.

“I’m excited to let the Rebel Whopper do the talking and see whether our guests can tell the difference!”

Source: Vegan Food and Living

Leading European Foodgroup Say Goodbye to Meat to Concentrate on Plant-based Market

Following the sale of meat company Enkco, Vivera Foodgroup is entering a meatless future with the remaining plant-based companies in its portfolio which includes Vivera (one of the largest producers of plant-based products in Europe), Culifrost and Dutch Tofu Company.

According to the group, it has “strong ambitions and aims at large-scale investments in expanding production capacity and product range,” which could mean new plant-based products hitting supermarket shelves in the near future.

Vivera is well-known for its meat replacement products such as its ‘ground-breaking’ steak, and is keen to expand the production capacity of its Netherlands-based factory to meet the “rapidly developing market demand” for plant-based foods.

CEO of Vivera Foodgroup, Willem van Weede, said: “We are one of the first companies in the world’s meat industry to say a final goodbye to meat. From now on we only focus on plant-based foods which are really conquering the world.

“More and more consumers are discovering that plant-based products can be just as tasty as real meat and have many benefits for personal health, environmental impact and animal welfare. As a result of the sale of our meat activities we think we can boost even more Vivera’s rapid international growth”

Source: Vegan Food and Living

Vegan Strawberry Soft Ice-cream

IKEA introduces a vegan strawberry soft ice to the IKEA Bistro menu in Europe, starting from April 2019.

The new soft ice is fruit-based, made with strawberry puree. This new, smooth soft ice has almost half the carbon footprint compared to its dairy-based friend.