The U.S. food supply, battered by a series of recalls after millions were sickened, moved a step closer toward its first major safety overhaul in more than 70 years following a key vote in Congress on Wednesday. The Senate voted 74-25 to limit debate on the food safety bill, which clears the legislation for a final vote where it is expected to pass. There is no timetable for when that could occur, Reuters reports.

The bill would give the Food and Drug Administration broad powers over recalls, increase the rate of plant inspections and boost access to food facility records. The House of Representatives passed a similar version of food reform legislation in July 2009.

"There are people all across America who understand that when you go shopping at the food store and buy groceries or buy produce there is a sort of built-in assumption that it's safe," said Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat.

"The simple fact of the matter is there are wide gaps when it comes to food safety in America and those gaps need to be closed by this bill," he said.

The legislation, if passed, would be the largest overhaul of U.S. food safety laws since 1938 when Congress gave the FDA the authority to oversee the safety of food, drugs, and cosmetics.

The Senate bill was passed by the chamber's health committee last November, but it has been delayed by the Senate's busy agenda and by some lawmakers who have criticized the spending and regulatory hurdles created by the bill. Backers of the bill are unsure if the bill will get final congressional approval before the current session ends next month.

Source: Reuters

Pizza Inn names marketing VP

Pizza Inn Inc. has appointed Kendra Shier to the position of vice president of marketing. A restaurant and marketing veteran with more than 20 years of industry experience, she joins Pizza Inn's executive team at a critical time in the brand's reinvention and expansion, the company states.

"We're very excited to name Kendra to this post as we move the brand forward and embrace our loyal customer base while growing our restaurant network and reaching new audiences," said Charlie Morrison, president and CEO of Pizza Inn.

Morrison added that Shier's focus will play a critical role as Pizza Inn continues to add new locations, advances its new restaurant design, remodels existing locations and earns a much larger share of the market that loves quality food.

"I am thrilled to be guiding the brand direction for a 52 year-old iconic brand," Shier says. "The Pizza Inn brand represents some of my most precious childhood memories as well as that of hundreds of thousands of Pizza Inn fans across the globe. I am excited about joining a passionate, visionary leadership team that already has a solid strategic plan that is sure to catapult this brand into the future. The gloves are off, and we are here to make an indelible mark on the pizza industry."

Source: Pizza Inn Inc.

Sysco senior VP announces retirement

Sysco Corp. announced that Michael C. Nichols, senior vice president, administration, general counsel and corporate secretary, has announced his plan to retire effective December 31, 2010. Russell T. Libby, currently vice president and assistant general counsel, will become vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary following Nichols' retirement.

Sysco's President and CEO Bill DeLaney stated, "We appreciate Mike's contributions to Sysco's success over the course of his career and we are very pleased to begin working with Russell in his new role."

Nichols said, "I greatly appreciate the significant opportunities which Sysco offered me. As I transition into my new life, I leave Sysco with the firm belief that our talented employees will hold fast to our history of integrity, good judgment and solution-oriented, hard work."

During his tenure as a Sysco officer, Nichols has been responsible for a broad range of corporate activities including the corporate legal and human resources functions, mergers and acquisitions, government and community affairs, enterprise risk management, safety, crisis management, corporate governance and ethics compliance. He served as chief legal counsel to nine different board chairmen, chief executive officers and chief operating officers.

Source: Sysco Corp.

Steakhouse owner files for bankruptcy

CB Holding Inc., the owner of Charlie Brown's Steakouse and Bugaboo Creek Steah House chains, filed for bankruptcy. The company had just announced the closing of several underperforming restaurants. Reuters reports that the company intends to seek a quick sale of its restaurants, located along the East Coast.

"The debtors have run out of sufficient available cash to operate their business," said Gary Lembo of CRG Partners in a court filing. Lembo was appointed chief restructuring officer of the company.

In the court documents, CB said its debts total $100 million to $500 million, while its assets amount to $50 million to $100 million.

Source: Reuters