A federal judge has rejected a motion to dismiss the illegal immigration and bank fraud charges against Agriprocessors Inc. Attorneys for Sholom Rubashkin and Agriprocessors has argued that the proceedings against the kosher meat packer were tainted with comments about race, religion and anti-Semitism, according to AP reports.

Federal judge Linda Reade rejected the claims, saying the court found no impropriety and that the defendants mischaracterized “innocuous statements and questions” made by grand jury witnesses. Agriprocessors attorneys said the company is prepared to move forward with a defense.

Source: Associated Press

NAMP: FSIS E. coli approach is flawed

In a letter to Food Safety and Inspection Service, the North American Meat Processors Association characterized FSIS’s handling ofE. coliO157:H7 as flawed. The letter to Dr. Kenneth Peterson followed a meeting between FSIS and NAMP officials, including Philip Kimball, executive director and Ann Wells, NAMP Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs.

In the letter, Kimball wrote: “Even if our members are no longer able to rely upon USDA’s mark of inspection as a guarantee of product wholesomeness — as the (FSIS 05-09) notice indicates — at a minimum they must be able to rely upon the representations of their suppliers, issued in conjunction with the mark of inspection, that the beef products they purchase have been subjected to a properly validated intervention step designed to address potential risks associated with E. coli O157:H7, particularly when the intended uses for purchased materials are recognized.”

Kimball stated that requiring thousands of further-processing companies to individually and continually monitor and validate the activities of a relatively few slaughter facilities is contrary to the scientific principles of HACCP and common sense.

NAMP asked FSIS to:
1. respond favorably to its members’ pending appeals;
2. use both its authority and its influence to insure the implementation of effective controls at the supplier level, and direct enforcement activities at that level to require the necessary assurances for products sold for further processing; and
3. generally act in a manner which will strengthen, as opposed to undermine, the underlying meaning of the mark of inspection, as further supported by appropriate HACCP-based intervention strategies.

Source: North American Meat Processors Association

Environmentally friendly KFC-Taco Bell opens

Yum! Brands Inc. has opened an environmentally friendly KFC-Taco Bell restaurant in Northampton, Massachusetts. The restaurant is the company’s first effort to pursue certification under the United States Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program.

The restaurant, designed to use 30 percent less energy and water than a conventional building, also cuts CO2 emissions, reduces waste going to landfills/incinerators and educates visitors and employees on sustainable design. In order to reduce its carbon footprint, the restaurant uses solar energy to preheat fresh air coming into the building which reduces the use of natural gas. Additionally, the restaurant is using a sophisticated lighting control system that maximizes the use of natural light. LED lights, the most energy-efficient available today, were utilized where feasible both inside the restaurant, in the parking lot and on signage. Utilizing more energy efficient kitchen and building equipment, and purchasing renewable energy credits, also minimizes the restaurant’s carbon footprint.

“The Northampton KFC-Taco Bell is part of our E3 Initiative focusing on the Energy, Environment and Economics of our buildings,” said Jonathan Balas, AIA, LEED AP, KFC project architect, the architect who spearheaded and coordinated the project.

Source: Yum! Brands Inc.