Mentally disabled meat workers lived in 'deplorable conditions'

Iowa state officials are investigating the case of 21 mentally disabled men who lived in a 106-year-old house boarding house in Atalissa with boarded-up windows and no heat except for space heaters. The men were employed by Henry’s Turkey Service, a Texas-based company that has supplied workers to West Liberty Foods’ turkey-processing plant in eastern Iowa.


The man, many of whom were in their 50s and 60s, were removed from the house this weekend and placed in a hotel while the state investigated the situation, according to AP reports. The men are all from Texas but have been living in Iowa for more than 20 years.


According to the Des Moines Register, J. Bennett, an Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals administrator, was in the bunkhouse Saturday and described conditions as “deplorable.” Henry’s has apparently been acting as the men’s employer, landlord and caregiver. “What we do know is that money was deducted from their paychecks for housing and other services,” said Gov. Chet Culver.


Relatives of one employee, Keith Brown, showed the Des Moines Register payroll records from January. Henry’s Turkey Service deducted $487 from his paycheck for room and board and $572 for kind care. Brown’s sister, Sherri, said that he has $80 in savings after decades of working for the company.


“It’s too soon to know the extent of the potential criminal and civil penalties and fines,” said Culver. “This is going to be a very extensive and thorough legal process.”


Sources: Associated Press, Des Moines Register

Carl's Jr. opens green flagship restaurant

Carl’s Jr. has opened a new flagship restaurant in Carpinteria, Calif., located two miles from the corporate headquarters of CKE Restaurants Inc. The new facility is environmentally friendly, practicing sustainability, conservation and energy efficiency. Those practices will be evaluated and measured for potentially company-wide implementation at both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants.


Some of the features of the restaurant include:

· Highly efficient ENERGY STAR rated equipment that has been tested and proven to use less energy than traditional or competitive brands;

· Roofing material that is solar reflective and cuts heat absorption into the restaurant, thus reducing cooling needs;

· A rainwater reuse system that collects for use during drier seasons;

· A smart irrigation system that senses existing ground moisture and effectively determines how much to water landscaping;

· An energy management system that is electronically controlled and allows for precise automated management of zone temperatures and lighting schedules; there are no light switches in the building, all systems are controlled electronically;

· More efficient LED parking lot lights;

· Construction with low-emitting material, including: adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, floor systems, composite wood and laminate adhesives;

· The installation of a catalyst which converts charbroiler particulate into carbon dioxide and water, reducing smoke, odors and emissions.


“Our commitment to the environment with this green restaurant is more than just lip service, it is a point of pride throughout the company and can be held up as an example for other businesses, that sustainability should be a top priority,” said Andrew Puzder, CEO. “For the restaurant in Carpinteria, we reused the existing shell of a former restaurant to reduce our construction footprint and even went so far as to install a hawk perch for a local bird that took up residence on the roof during construction.”


Source: CKE Restaurants Inc.

Tyson plans to increase deli meat production

Tyson Foods plans to expand its Cherokee, Iowa, deli plant, boosting production by 20 million pounds. The expansion will increase yearly production to 75 million pounds of Canadian bacon, hot dogs and deli meats.


Tyson will put in $5 million of new slicing lines and will also spend $12 million to add new smokehouses and chillers.


Source: Meat International

Study finds most kosher buyers purchase for food quality

Mintel, a market research firm, has published a new report showing that 62 percent of adults who purchase kosher food do it for food quality and not for religious reasons. The second-most common reason for buying kosher food is “general healthfulness,” (51 percent) followed by food safety (34 percent). Fourteen percent of respondents purchase kosher food to follow kosher religious rules, and another 10 percent buy it because they follow religious eating restrictions similar to kosher rules.


“Kosher food has gained the reputation of being more carefully produced and thoroughly inspected than non-kosher food,” comments Marcia Mogelonsky, Ph. D, senior analyst at Mintel. “With recent food safety scares causing people to rethink even the most familiar food products, we can expect more adults to turn to kosher food as a way to ensure food safety and quality.”


Mintel reports that sales of kosher foods totaled $12.5 billion in 2008, a 64 percent increase from 2003.


Source: Mintel