Smithfield, UFCW start union vote today

TAR HEEL, N.C. – Employee’s at Smithfield Packing Co.’s slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C. begin a two-day vote on union representation on Wednesday.

The workers will be voting on whether or not to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union. About 5,000 workers at the plant, the world’s largest, are eligible to vote.

Media reports said that it was the third time that a union vote has taken place at the plant. The UFCW has been campaigning for years to organize the plant, including bringing economic pressure on the company.

The latest vote was part of an agreement between the union and Smithfield that stopped a federal racketeering lawsuit against the union brought by Smithfield.


Source: Associated Press

New tests show dioxins in Irish beef

DUBLIN, Ireland – The Irish government announced Tuesday it has illegal levels of dioxins in cattle, the same chemicals that have forced the recall of Irish pork from around the world.

Irish Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith reportedly said Ireland has decided not to recall any of its beef products because the level and extent of dioxin found so far in cattle is much lower than in its pork.

Smith said the government would prevent any cattle at those three farms from being slaughtered and put into the food chain until they could be individually tested for dioxin levels.

Alan O'Reilly, deputy chief executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, told international media that dioxin levels detected in cattle from the three farms were two to three times over legal limits. He contrasted that with dioxin levels in pigs that were 80 to 200 times over the limit.

The announcement could hurt the $2 billion Irish beef industry, the country’s largest agricultural export.


Source: Associated Press

CKE, franchisee announce expansion

CARPINTERIA, Calif. – CKE Restaurants Inc., parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chains, and franchisee Americana Group SAK have announced a new expansion agreement.

Americana will open 12 Carl’s Jr. locations in Kazakhstan during the next five years. The franchisee is reportedly the second largest in the CKE system, currently operating 194 Hardee’s stores in the Middle East.

CKE Restaurants and the Americana Group have a successful 30-year relationship with plans for continued growth in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. As the most active developer in the CKE system, the Americana Group has averaged 24 new restaurant openings per year in the past three years with plans to open 27 Hardee’s restaurants in 2009.

“We have a successful history with the Americana Group and are confident that they will continue to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise and passion for the CKE brands as they expand in new and existing markets,” said Andrew F. Puzder, president and chief exectuvie officer of CKE.

The Americana Group first opened Hardee’s in Kuwait in 1980 and currently operates Hardee’s in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

CKE Restaurants announced the opening of its 300th international restaurant in September 2008 and have strategic development plans to double its international presence to more than 600 restaurants within the next five years.


Source: CKE Restaurants Inc.