Engelhart Gourmet Foods Inc., a Fairfield, Calif. establishment is recalling approximately 3,456 pounds of a smoked chicken sausage product because the product may contain an allergen, wheat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

Wheat is a known potential allergen and the product is mislabeled as the front of the package states “No Gluten.” However, the ingredients statement on the back of the package indicates that the product “Contains Soy and Wheat.”

The products subject to recall are 48-ounce vacuum-sealed packages of “All Natural Chef Bruce Aidells Fully Cooked Spicy Mango with Jalapeño: Smoked Chicken Sausage with Mango and Jalapeño Pepper.”

Each label bears establishment number “P-6024” inside the USDA mark of inspection, as well as the product item number “360278,” which is located on the back of the package directly below the list of ingredients. Packages are marked with Use or Freeze by Dates “5/4/09" and “5/11/09.”

The product was produced on March 6 and 12, 2009 and was distributed to retail establishments in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The problem was discovered by the establishment. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

Foodservice distributor A. LoPresti & Sons ceases operations

Citing unprecedented financial challenges resulting from the far-reaching effects of the national and local economic downturn, A. LoPresti & Sons Inc., a family-owned, wholesale foodservice distributor that has been serving northeast Ohio for more than 100 years, announced that it is ceasing operations, effective immediately, and will liquidate the business.

The company, which has annual revenues of approximately $40 million, serves more than 1,200 customers, primarily restaurants, hotels, caterers, schools, hospitals, and business and industry accounts throughout the region.

“We have done everything we possibly could to survive these latest challenges, just as our family has done for four generations,” said Patricia LoPresti, CEO and president. “Regrettably, we concluded today that we can no longer remain in business. With our lower volume and inability to collect some major receivables, we no longer have the cash necessary to keep operating.”

A. LoPresti & Sons has 72 employees and has operated out of a 180,000-square foot warehouse. While produce has always been the company's specialty, its product line has expanded over the years to include dairy, groceries, frozen foods, fresh meat, poultry, and paper and cleaning supplies. Local farmers and other local suppliers have represented about one-fourth of the total product offering.

“Unfortunately, many of our customers and suppliers in the foodservice industry are under the same kind of severe economic pressures that we have been,” said LoPresti. “Sales volumes are down, credit terms are being tightened, payments are falling farther behind, and financing options have all but evaporated. We greatly appreciate the support and tremendous cooperation of all those who have worked diligently with us over the past few months to find innovative solutions to these new market realities -- including our employees, union, vendors, landlord and lender. But in the end these efforts were unsuccessful, and we have become another victim of the economic storm.”

LoPresti said the company's financial situation has become most critical since mid-September of last year, when the nationwide credit crunch became severe and demand plummeted. Although the company has maintained its market share since then, annualized business volume has decreased 25 percent from the previous year and two major customers have gone out of business, resulting in more than $500,000 in uncollectible receivables.

“Although we are deeply saddened by this development, we remain proud of the legacy of our family and our company, and can rejoice in celebrating a century of outstanding service,” LoPresti said. “Throughout our history, we have maintained the highest ethical standards and a deep commitment to the Greater Cleveland community. We are thankful for the support of our customers and suppliers, and grateful for the dedication of several generations of employees, who have been our extended family.”

Source: A. LoPresti & Sons Inc.

BI-LO grocery chain filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

BI-LO, a grocery store chain with more than 200 stores in Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, filed for protection from creditors three days before a credit facility matures. The stores will remain open and will continue to operate without interruption, BI-LO LLC announced.

The company has assets and debts of as much as $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. Its 20 largest creditors without collateral backing their claims, are owed $36.3 million. BI-LO is owned by Lone Star Funds, a private equity investor, and employs 15,500 people.

Source: Bloomberg

Yum! Brands buys into Chinese chain

Yum! Brands, operator of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC, has agreed to buy a 20 percent interest in Little Sheep Group Ltd., a restaurant chain based in Inner Mongolia, for $63 million. The transaction is expected to close this summer, pending regulatory approval, according to Marketwatch.com.

Little Sheep is located mostly in China and Hong Kong. It offers Mongolian-style “hot pot” cuisine, characterized by “its proprietary soup base and Mongolian lamb specialties,” the company said in a statement. The company pointed out its success rate in China, noting that its China division is currently opening restaurants at a rate of more than one every day.

Source: Marketwatch.com