A supervisor arrested after last July's Agriprocessors Inc. meatpacking plant raid in Iowa has been sentenced to nearly two years in federal prison for harboring illegal immigrants. Martin De La Rosa-Loera was sentenced Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids to 23 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release, according to AP reports.

The 43-year-old Postville man pleaded guilty last year to aiding and abetting the harboring of undocumented immigrants under an agreement with prosecutors. In May, 2007, he told illegal workers that they would have to change their names and social security numbers to continue working at the plant, and that their salary would “start over” at $6.25 an hour, reports the Des Moines Register. He was also told by his supervisors in April, 2008, to fire a group of employees with fraudulent social security numbers, but that the six most valuable employees could be retained if they got new identification documents.

The Postville immigration raid resulted in 389 undocumented workers. Other company managers also face federal charges.

Source: Associated Press, Des Moines Register

Arkansas governor says Pilgrim's plant may have a buyer

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe told a group of 250 Pilgrim's Pride plant workers and community members that a group of buyers have offered to purchase the company's El Dorado plant, which is slated to close in May. He told the crowd that it could be an “uphill battle” to make the sale, but that the interested party have experience in the business, reports theHouston Chronicle.

Pilgrim's Pride spokesman Ray Atkinson dismissed the governor's claims, saying, “To date we have not received any meaningful offers on the El Dorado plant.” Beebe didn't offer any further details on the offer except to say that the group had been working on the offer for about five months.

“The odds are we're not going to be able to get this done no matter how hard we're trying,” Beebe said. “But we've got to try.”

Sources: Houston Chronicle, El Dorado (Ark.) News

FDA Reform bill introduced in Senate

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) today introduced the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which, if passed, would result in major reforms to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

The bipartisan bill focuses on four key areas where supporters of the legislation claim the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorities and resources need improvement: food-borne illness prevention; food-borne illness detection and response; food defense capabilities; and resource availability and application generally.
Specifically, the bill would:

* Require all facilities to have in place preventive plans to address identified hazards and prevent adulteration, and give FDA access to these plans and relevant documentation;
* Expand FDA access to records; 
* Allow FDA to recognize laboratory accreditation bodies to help ensure U.S. food testing labs meet high quality standards and require results from food testing performed by these labs to be reported to FDA;
* Require importers to verify the safety of foreign suppliers and imported food, provide that FDA require certification for high-risk foods, and deny entry to a food that lacks certification or that is from a foreign facility that has refused U.S. inspectors;
* Increase FDA inspections at all food facilities, providing for annual inspections of high-risk facilities and inspections of other facilities at least once every four years;
* Enhance food-borne illness surveillance systems to improve the collection, analysis, reporting and usefulness of data on food-borne illnesses;
* Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a pilot project to test and evaluate new methods for rapidly and effectively tracking/tracing fruits and vegetables in the event of a food-borne illness outbreak;.
* Give FDA the authority to mandate recall of a food product if a company fails to voluntarily recall product upon FDA’s request;
* Empower FDA to suspend a food facility’s registration if there is a reasonable probability that food from the facility will cause serious adverse health consequences or death;
* Direct FDA to help food companies protect their products from intentional contamination; and
Increase funding for FDA’s food safety activities through increased appropriations and targeted fees for domestic and foreign facilities.

Source: American Meat Institute

Spring ahead for free Arby's Roastburger

Arby's, which recently introduced its new Roastburger sandwiches, is giving away a free Roastburger sandwich to anyone who comes into the store on March 8 and says they want to change their burgers. The promotion is tied to the first day of Daylight Savings, when everyone has to change their clocks.

“At Arby’s, we know it can be hard to spring forward and lose an hour from our already jam-packed weekends,” said Jason Abelkop, senior vice president, marketing & national media, Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. “With this giveaway, we hope people will be able to spend less time in the kitchen and break out of their greasy fast food burger ruts by changing to our new Roastburgers.”

The Roastburgers feature the company's thinly shaved roast beef in three varieties: All-American (topped with fresh lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, ketchup, mustard and a secret sauce), Bacon and Blue Cheese (pepper bacon and blue cheese spread with lettuce, tomato and onion) and Bacon and Cheddar (pepper bacon and cheddar cheese with lettuce, tomato and onion).

Source: Arby's Restaurant Group Inc.