Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a final rule to amend the federal meat inspection regulations to require a complete ban on the slaughter of cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing initial inspection by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspection program personnel.

The final rule amends the federal meat inspection regulations to require that all cattle that are non-ambulatory disabled (“downer”) cattle at any time prior to slaughter at an official establishment, including those that become non-ambulatory disabled after passing ante-mortem inspection, be condemned and properly disposed of according to FSIS regulations. Additionally, the final rule requires that establishments notify inspection program personnel when cattle become non-ambulatory disabled after passing the ante-mortem, or pre-slaughter, inspection. The rule will enhance consumer confidence in the food supply and improve the humane handling of cattle.

“President Obama has strongly stated his support for efforts to improve food safety,” said Vilsack. “This rule is designed to enhance consumer confidence and humane handling standards and will provide clear guidance that non-ambulatory cattle will not be allowed to enter the human food supply. It is a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals.”

Under the final rule, cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled from an acute injury after ante-mortem inspection will no longer be eligible to proceed to slaughter as “U.S. Suspects.” Instead, FSIS inspectors will tag these cattle as “U.S. Condemned” and prohibit these cattle from proceeding to slaughter. Discontinuing the case-by-case disposition of cattle that become non-ambulatory disabled after ante mortem inspection will eliminate the time FSIS Public Health Veterinarians spend conducting additional inspections on these animals, thereby increasing the time inspection program personnel can allocate to other inspection activities. With this final rule, these cattle now must be humanely euthanized.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Third California company found selling imported poultry products from unapproved source

Kim Seng Company, a Commerce City, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 17,674 pounds of granulated chicken bouillon products that were ineligible for import to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The granulated chicken bouillon products are being recalled because the products do not meet poultry products inspection or poultry exemption requirements. The foreign inspection system of the country where the poultry ingredients originated has not been deemed equivalent to that of the U.S. The problem was discovered after FSIS identified a shipment of products containing poultry which were imported from an unapproved source.

This marks the third time in the past month that a company has been found importing chicken products from an unauthorized source. This recall was announced on March 13. On March 12, Khong Guan Corporation, a Union City, Calif., establishment, recalled approximately 2,858 pounds of chicken drink products. On February 24, Wei-Chuan USA, Inc., a Bell Gardens, Calif., establishment, recalled approximately 89,531 pounds of granulated chicken bouillon products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

Pilgrim's sets $80 million price for Farmerville plant

After receiving and rejecting offers of $40 million and $60 million for its Farmerville, La., facility, Pilgrim's Pride has made a counteroffer to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal of $80 million. Jindal has been active in trying to get Livingston, Calif.-based processor Foster Farms to acquire the plant, and the state of Louisiana has contributed as much as $40 million in the latest offer.

“We have made it clear from the beginning that we would consider selling the complex if someone brought a meaningful offer to us that prevents a loss,” said Don Jackson, CEO, according to The News-Star. “Given our financial situation, we cannot and will not sell this complex at a loss. Based on the capital we have invested in the plant, along with its current debt, the figure we have shared with the governor is a heavily discounted price for such a potentially valuable asset.”

Jackson said the company made an alternate proposal to Jindal that would keep the cooked plant operating, with the possibility of the entire plant opening under the right economic conditions. Pilgrim's Pride would require about $8 million from the state to the company and its independent growers, so they could service their loans for their chicken houses while the plant is idled. That proposal would keep about 125 people employed.

In an interview with the News-Star, Jackson said that a sale of the Farmerville facility wouldn't necessarily end the company's layoffs but might lead to the closing of another plant elsewhere. “If we were to sell Farmerville, the proceeds of the sale would be paid to our banks and lenders consistent with bankruptcy requirements, not remain as such in the company. Having sold it for cents on the dollar, I would predict the new owner would take some of our business, not necessarily that associated with losses at Farmerville, at a lower price and create another round of losses for us and in turn force us to close another plant to off set those losses,” he said.

Source: The News-Star

Marco's Pizza opens in three new states, plans massive expansion

Marco's Pizza, headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, has opened its first stores in Colorado, Texas and Virginia. The Italian pizza company now operates 170 stores in 16 states and has agreements for more than 700 new stores.

Marco's Pizza features “Ah!thentic” Italian pizza, fresh-baked sub sandwiches, chicken wings, salads and soft drinks. “Marco's recent expansion into Colorado, Texas and Virginia illustrates the intensity of our focus on national growth despite the challenging economic climate,” said Jack Butorac, CEO. “We are excited about these new states and look forward to continued growth as more and more people are introduced to our fresh, high-quality products.”

Source: Marco's Franchising LLC