Several industry leaders testified before the House Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry to speak on the industry’s commitment to food safety.

The number of processing plants in the very best category of performance continues to increase, said Dr. Elizabeth Krushinskie, speaking for the National Chicken Council. She said the steady improvement is demonstrated by data published by the Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety program.

The key to success, she said, has been the industry’s commitment to food safety. “The poultry industry has done a very good job at producing safe, wholesome, high quality foods,” Dr. Krushinskie said. “The industry is continually developing new interventions and related technologies, and refining its food safety systems, to enhance food safety. FSIS mandates HACCP plans and verifies compliance with the plans, but it is the plants that conduct hazard analyses and adopt and implement controls to address potential food safety hazards,” she noted.

“In reviews of the effectiveness of HACCP and the performance standards, FSIS has reported that nearly all broiler plants are complying with the Salmonella performance standards and that Salmonella prevalence in most product categories is lower since HACCP implementation than in baseline studies conducted before implementation,” said Dr. Krushinskie, who is director of quality assurance and food safety for Mountaire Farms in Millsboro, Del.

“We all know that food safety has been in the news and because of that publicity a common refrain heard in Washington and other venues is that the U.S. food safety regulatory system is broken and has failed the American people,” testified AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “Indeed, a great deal of attention has been devoted to what is wrong and the changes needed to assure us that the food we consume is safe. Although some of the criticism may be warranted, a closer look at our meat and poultry food safety systems yields a different conclusion.”

Boyle told the Subcommittee that both pathogenic bacteria on meat and poultry products and associated foodborne illnesses have declined markedly in the last decade. Since 2000, the industry has reduced the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef by 45 percent to less than one-half percent. The prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products has been reduced by 74 percent to less than 0.4 percent. Similar improvements in the incidence of foodborne illness have also been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In that regard, since 2000, illnesses caused by E. coli O157:H7 are down by 40 percent and listeriosis is down by 10 percent with much of the improvement occurring before 2000.

Further, CDC data show that illnesses from pathogens most commonly associated with meat and poultry comprise a fraction of the total foodborne illnesses and deaths in the U.S.

Sources: American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council

Cow genome decoded

After a six-year project, the cow genome has been mapped, and the results may lead to cheaper and healthier beef and milk, according to scientists. With the newly decoded cow genome, "you are going to be able to predict an animal's performance on the basis of its [genetic makeup]," biologist Harris Lewin said, according to National Geographic.

Cow breeders can identify genes responsible for desirable traits -- such as cows that require less feed or can produce leaner meat -- and match cows to produce calves with those same traits.

Lewin told Geographic that genome-influenced breeding could also be more environmentally friendly. "Just dealing with feed efficiency will help reduce greenhouse gases and provide more food for human populations," he said.

Source: National Geographic

Pallet comparison challenge issued

Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS Company LLC), operator of the world’s first all-plastic pallet rental service with embedded RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, today publicly challenged CHEP and the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) to a side-by-side, independent and random comparison of typical wood pallets with iGPS’ all-plastic pallet.

“Desperate to thwart the growing use of iGPS pallets by leading companies in food and other industries, unscrupulous members of the wood pallet monopoly, including CHEP, are purposefully disseminating false information about iGPS’ all-plastic pallets,” stated Bob Moore, CEO of iGPS. “In their effort to defend antiquated, dangerous and flammable wood pallets, they scurrilously have attacked the fire-retardant in our pallets, Deca-bromine – one of the most effective, widely used and extensively tested fire retardants available.

“So, for the second time, iGPS challenges CHEP to co-sponsor an independent, side-by-side comparison of our respective products, examining every aspect of the pallets, including fire safety, food safety, worker safety, environmental impact and operational performance,” added Moore. “… we also challenge CHEP to an independent survey of our respective customers covering all aspects of customer satisfaction, including: value received, vendor responsiveness, vendor innovation, quality of pallets received and truckloads rejected due to broken pallets.”

iGPS’ pallet is certified under FM Approvals 4996 and UL 2335 (file no. R25482) through encapsulation of Deca-bromine in the pallet’s plastic resin. The overwhelming body of science confirms the safety and efficacy of Deca-bromine as the best fire retardant available. Most recently, the European Commission’s environmental protection authorities have conducted an exhaustive ten-year investigation into Deca-bromine’s potential impact on human health and the environment. After evaluating over 1,000 scientific studies, EU scientists concluded that there was no need for risk reduction measures related to the use of Deca-bromine.

Source: iGPS

Domino's expands menu with pasta line

Domino’s is adding a line of pasta to its menu, featured in an oven-baked bread bowl. "This is pasta like you've never seen before and can't find anywhere else," said Domino's Chief Marketing Officer Russell Weiner. "The pasta scored extraordinarily well in our product tests. Consumers were amazed by the idea of the warm bread bowl and the pasta being baked simultaneously.”

Domino's BreadBowl Pasta is available in five combinations, including:
-- Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese - A blend of two cheddars and mozzarella tossed with penne pasta and baked to a creamy perfection.
-- Italian Sausage Marinara - Penne pasta tossed with a meaty Italian sausage smothered in zesty marinara sauce and topped with provolone cheese.
-- Chicken Alfredo -Tender cuts of 100% all white meat chicken and penne pasta baked with creamy Alfredo sauce.
-- Chicken Carbonara - Tender cuts of 100% all white meat chicken, bacon, onions and mushrooms mixed with penne pasta and baked with creamy Alfredo sauce.
-- Pasta Primavera - Baby spinach, diced tomatoes, mushrooms and onions mixed with penne pasta and baked with creamy Alfredo sauce.
-- Build Your Own Pasta - Make it your way.

Source: Domino’s Pizza