A Minnesota company has won federal approval to become the first in the country to market anE. colivaccine for cattle. Epitopix LLC was given a conditional license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell its vaccine, AP reports.

“It really is a major milestone for our industry,” Michelle Rossman, director of beef safety research for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said Thursday.

The vaccine works by preventing E. coli O157:H7 present in cows' intestines from absorbing iron. It takes the proteins that E. coli use to absorb iron from the host animal and injects them back into the cattle to generate an immune response against those proteins. The bacteria can't absorb iron without those proteins and die, according to Epitopix.

James Sandstrom, general manager of the company, said that the vaccine will enter into commercial use this month but won't be widely available for several months. Some major packers and producers will be the first to use it, he said, but he did not name any companies who will try the vaccine.

Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. of Canada was granted similar approval there last October, and it sells the vaccine for $9 (Can.) per cow. The company is also seeking USDA approval to sell the vaccine in the United States. A Colorado company, GeneThera Inc., is also working on a vaccine, but it's further away from approval.

Source: Associated Press

Pilgrim's gets improved offer for Louisiana plant

Days after rejecting a $40 million offer to sell its to-be-shuttered Farmerville, La., plant, the company is now studying an improved $60 million offer. The initial offer, which was brokered by Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, would have cost Livingston, Calif.-based Foster Farms $20 million, with the state contributing an additional $20 million. In rejecting the offer, Pilgrim's said that the offer was too low, and that Foster Farm's cost-of-entry of $20 million was too low for the industry.

If the Farmerville plant is closed as scheduled, it will result in a loss of 1,300 jobs, along with impacting the local farmers who supplied the chickens to the plant.

Source: KTBS

Santa Fe Cattle Co. restaurant, National Beef agree on contract

Santa Fe Cattle Co. roadhouse-style steak restaurant chain has reached an agreement on a fixed beef contract price for March through December 2009 with National Beef, the company's current supplier. The agreed to terms will lock in beef prices for the rest of 2009 and reduce total beef cost by more than 6% from 2008.

“Several members of our management team were instrumental in negotiating these tremendous savings,” said Danny York, CEO. He complimented his team's willingness to find ways to lower cost. Santa Fe's revenue grew by more than 57 percent last year, and the restaurant's parent company, Santa Fe Holding Co., is predicting growth of more than 50 percent this year. The company is expecting to add eight to 10 new stores in 2009.

Source: Santa Fe Holding Co. Inc.

Carl's Jr. unveils Kentucky Burbon Burger

Carl’s Jr. restaurants will begin satisfying bourbon cravings morning, noon and night with the new Kentucky Bourbon Burger. The new burger is topped with sweet Kentucky bourbon sauce, bacon, garlic-pepper onion straws, Pepperjack cheese, fresh tomato and lettuce.

“There’s something about the flavor of Kentucky bourbon that goes with well with the taste of a charbroiled burger,” said Brad Haley, Carl’s Jr. executive vice president of marketing. “So, Carl’s Jr. is, once again, glad to be the first to bring that combination to fast-food consumers in a delicious, 0-proof burger.” The Kentucky Bourbon Burger is a limited time offer and available in three varieties: as a single ($2.99), double ($3.99), and Six Dollar Burger ($4.89).

Source: Carl's Jr.

Essence of Chicken drink recalled

Khong Guan Corporation, a Union City, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 2,858 pounds of chicken drink products that were ineligible for import to the U.S., the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

FSIS is recalling these products because the chicken drink products do not meet poultry products inspection or poultry exemption requirements. Specifically, it could not be determined that the poultry ingredients used in the chicken drink products were prepared under inspection as required by federal regulations or under a foreign inspection system determined to be equivalent by FSIS. The poultry ingredient is determined to be ineligible when the source of the ingredients cannot be determined.

The problem was discovered after FSIS identified a shipment of products containing poultry which were imported from an unapproved source. The chicken drink products were distributed to retail establishments nationwide. FSIS has received no reports of illness as a result of consuming this product. The products subject to recall include packages containing six 2.3-fluid ounce-bottles of  “Essence of Chicken Drink”

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service