Smithfield Foods CEO Larry Pope sent a letter to all Smithfield employees noting that the testing that the Mexican government had done on the company's swine herd confirmed that no viruses were present. The herd Granjas Carroll de Mexico (GCM), Smithfield's joint venture farm in Vera Cruz, Mexico, had been accused by locals of originating the H1N1 virus.

“These findings, which are consistent with our earlier communications to you, validate what we believed from the very beginning: that the recent subtype of H1N1 influenza virus affecting humans did not originate from GCM,” Pope wrote. “I would also like to take this moment to say how proud I am of the farms that our joint venture GCM operates in Mexico. Not only are those facilities state-of-the-art, but GCM designed, built and has continually upgraded its operations with the environment in mind. As part of this commitment to continuous improvement, GCM is currently testing composting at some of its Mexican farms and has voluntarily introduced biogas digesters to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Source: Smithfield Foods

Undeclared allergens the cause of two recalls

Wayne Provision Co. of Vernon, Calif., is recalling approximately 2,075 pounds of frozen pork sausage products because they may contain undeclared allergens, hydrolized soy and whey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced. Hydrolized soy and whey are known allergens, which are not declared on the label.

The following products subject to recall are 5-pound bags of 1.6-ounce bulk links of "Breakfast Sausage" and 5-pound bags of bulk "Breakfast Sausage." Each label bears the establishment number "EST 4187" inside the USDA mark of inspection. There are no package or case codes. The frozen pork sausage products were produced between August 2008 and April 2009, and were shipped to restaurants in southern California and the Las Vegas, Nev., area.

Additionally, Amigo's Mexican Food Inc. of Deming, N.M., is recalling approximately 4,594 pounds of red pork tamale products because they may contain an undeclared allergen, wheat. Wheat is a known allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The following products subject to recall are 35-ounce vacuum packages of "Amigo's Home Style Pork Tamales Wrapped in Corn Husk." Each label bears the establishment number "P- 13083" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The red pork tamale products were produced on various dates and were shipped to retail establishments in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The problems in the two businesses were discovered by FSIS during routine product inspections. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

Former Willow Brook Foods facility pays Oklahoma $120,000

The former Willow Brook Foods facility in Springfield, Mo., that now operates as a cold storage facility paid the state of Oklahoma $120,000 as part of a consent decree and would be dropped from a lawsuit against several poultry processors. The federal court must still approve the agreement.

The facility was acquired by Cargill Value Added Meats in March, 2008, and changed its name to Cold Zone Inc. that November. It was one of eight companies sued by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson over pollution in the Illinois River watershed. It had 16 of the 2,800 poultry houses in the watershed and ended its operations there early last year.

"The very bottom line is Cold Zone was no longer involved in the business so continuing to be involved in this litigation didn't have any practical advantages to Cold Zone," said Frank Evans, a Springfield attorney who represents the company, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

"They got a better deal because they were the first to reach a settlement," said Charlie Price, a spokesman for Edmondson. "You get a better deal when you come to the table first, and they aren't in business [in the watershed] any more."

Tyson Foods, one of the other companies named in the lawsuit, is reviewing the proposed consent decree that would remove Willow Brook from the suit. "We will say the proposed settlement confirms what we've believed all along - the attorney general's real objective is to run the poultry industry out of Oklahoma," spokesman Gary Mickelson said.

Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette