5-4 news: H1N1 flu found in Alberta pig farm
It was the first documented case of the H1N1 virus being passed from a human to another species. Canada stressed that pigs often get the flu and there's no danger in eating pork.
As a result of the discovers, Philippines, Honduras, and Ukrane were among the countries that stopped accepting all Canadian pork. China announced it was banning all imports of pork products from Alberta. Shipments already in the country will be inspected before being released.
Source: Associated Press, American Meat Institute
Tyson reports $100 million Q2 lossTyson Foods posted a larger-than-expected loss of $104 million in the second quarter, based on charges and declining beef sales. Last year, the company's quarterly loss was $5 million.
Tyson reported a loss of $90 million from continuing operations, with $3 million in earnings from continuing operations. Sales dropped 1 percent from $6.34 billion to $6.31 billion. Beef sales fell 11 percent to $2.42 billion, pork sales rose 2 percent to $844 million, and chicken sales rose 9 pecent to $2.36 billion.
“Our loss of $0.24 per share from continuing operations in the second quarter includes $0.17 from a change in the method we used to recognize interim income taxes and $0.02 from a one-time charge for a prepared foods plant closure,” said Leland Tollett, interim president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “Our chicken segment has been profitable since the end of February, and I am pleased with the consistent progress we are making. We have improved our operational efficiencies, our product mix, and we are benefiting from lower grain costs and more favorable chicken prices. Our beef, pork and prepared foods segments generated financial returns at or near normalized ranges in the second quarter, excluding one-time charges in prepared foods... we believe the operational recovery we are experiencing will be reflected in our results for the third and fourth quarters.”
Sources: Tyson Foods Inc., Associated Press
Westland/Hallmark sued for $150 millionA federal district court has unsealed a false Claims Act filed by the Humane Society of the United States against Hallmark Meat Packing and Westland Meat Co. Inc., the two companies that were involves in the downed animal abuse case in China, Calif., last year. The U.S. Department of Justice is intervening in the case and is attempting to recover $150 million in taxpayer money.
The lawsuit claims the slaughterhouse, at one time the second largest supplier of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program, fraudulently claimed that all cattle slaughtered at the plant were handled humanely and that no meat from so-called "downer" cows entered the food supply.
"The alleged misrepresentations by Hallmark and Westland could have impacted the health of many of our nation's most vulnerable citizens - our schoolchildren," said Tony West, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's civil division. "Our intervention in this case demonstrates how seriously we will pursue allegations such as these."
Sources: Humane Society of the United States, Associated Press
National Pork Board To Reinforce 'Pork Is Safe' MessageTo assure consumers that pork is safe, and will continue to be safe to eat, the National Pork Board on Thursday approved funding for a national media advertising program. The advertising, which should begin appearing next week, will be targeted to major daily newspapers and to a variety of Internet-based media.
"We have been conducting nightly consumer research this week to measure consumer reaction to the deluge of information about 'swine flu,'" said Chris Novak, CEO of the National Pork Board. "Even though the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and others have said this influenza strain should be called H1N1 and not swine flu, we needed to know if consumer behavior is being impacted."
More than eight of every 10 consumers continue to believe pork is safe to eat, according to the daily consumer tracking research. And among consumers who have purchased pork products recently, more than nine in 10 believe it is safe.
"But we know from the research that there is additional work that needs to be done to continue to provide assurances for consumers," Novak said. "In addition to emphasizing the pork safety message, this advertising effort also gives us the opportunity to remind consumers about the nutritional benefits from eating pork."
Novak said that based on the board's approval, plans for the advertising message and for the selection of media are being finalized. Preliminary plans call for using both newspapers with national reach and some regional newspapers, plus online search engines and sites that reach those consumers who make food purchasing decisions.
Additionally, the board approved additional funding for other efforts to get the "pork is safe" message to consumers. Those efforts include making experts about food safety and nutrition available to television stations and to other media.
"The early and extensive reporting of this terrible disease as swine flu, even though international health organizations were saying there has been no proven connection between this virus and pigs, did some damage," Novak said. "It has been devastating for our producers who have seen hog prices fall each day this week. But the positive consumer attitudes about the safety of pork we are seeing in our tracking research are good news. We are optimistic that consumers will continue to make pork part of their families' daily meals."
Steve Weaver, a California pork producer and president of the National Pork Board, noted that record-high prices for corn and soybeans over the last year already have put many pork producers in a perilous financial position. "The events of the last week have added to that stress," Weaver said. "The National Pork Board understands these challenges and remains committed to doing whatever it can to help producers in these difficult economic times."
Source: National Pork Board
Attempt to depose Tyson chairman failsA federal judge has ruled that John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, will not have to face a deposition in an Oklahoma lawsuit over poultry litter. U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul J. Cleary found that the state of Oklahoma provided "insufficient" evidence to support the need for questioning him, according to AP reports.
Cleary noted that the state has taken depositions of lower-level Tyson employees and stated that it was “puzzling” why the state would wait almost two years “until the eve of discovery cutoff before pursuing this matter.” Edmondson's office has maintained that the relevant witness that Tyson provided was “either ill-prepared or generally unknowledgeable on pertinent topics.”
Tyson is one of 13 companies being sued by Oklahoma's Attorney General, Drew Edmondson, for allegedly polluting the Illinois River watershed with bird waste. The trial is expected to begin in September.
Source: Associated Press