A fire at North Star Foods on Friday destroyed the company's facility in St. Charles, Minn., and caused the evacuation of the town's 3,600 residents. The evacuation was caused by the threat of exploding anhydrous ammonia tanks that were located inside the facility. While the tanks did not explode and residents were allowed to return to their homes on Friday night, the building was destroyed.

Nobody was injured in the fire. Mark Eads, plant manager, told the Star Tribune that 110 to 120 people were in the building at the time. "It started in the ceiling above a continuous-cook oven line," Eads said. "I don't know if it was the oven that caused it or if it was the exhaust."

North Star Foods was founded in 1971. The company produces a variety of turkey products, as well as chicken, pork and beef items. North Star Foods' co-owner, Patrick Thesing, said that he is unsure if the company will rebuild in St. Charles or elsewhere, adding that a new plant could cost between $65 million and $70 million. "We're sifting through all the pieces," Thesing said.

Sources: Minneapolis Star Tribune; Rochester Post Bulletin, North Star Foods

Fieldale Farms facility facing 22 OSHA violations

Fieldale Farms Poultry's processing plant in Gainesville, Ga., is facing 22 safety and health violations from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA), totaling $73,275 in fines. According to reports fromwww.reliableplant.com, a January inspection revealed two repeat violations with $27,500 in proposed penalties, 18 serious violations with $45,775 in proposed fines and two other-than-serious violations with no fines.

The two repeat violations are for the failure to provide standard guardrails for open-side dplatforms and using flexible cords and cables as a substitute for fixed wiring. The company has 15 days from receipt of its citations to comply, contest the citations before an independent review or request a meeting with the OSHA Atlanta-East regional director.

Source: reliableplant.com

Burger King's plan to raise ad presence upsets franchisees

Burger King plans a massive increase in its advertising presence, highlighting new menu items and competing against its chain competition, but the plan will take away some funds from its franchisees.

With the additional advertising spend, Burger King plans to increase its media presence to communicate value offerings, marketing promotions and several new innovative product launches utilizing its revolutionary batch broiler cooking platform. Some of these new products include a “game-changing” extra-thick burger, bone-in-ribs, grilled fish sandwiches and a new grilled chicken sandwich. These high-quality products are expected to disrupt the out-of-home eating market – essentially delivering casual dining quality with unprecedented value for the money, speed of service and convenience.

“The company estimates between a 20 to 25 percent increase in its 2010 national media presence versus 2009 through the incremental allocation of restaurant level funds to the national level coupled with the current deflationary media buy environment,” said Russ Klein, Burger King Corp.’s president, global marketing, strategy and innovation. “We are confident that this increase will enable the brand to continue its record positive comparable sales growth trend.”

To pay for this advertising, Burger King Corp. will allocate a portion of “restaurant level” funds to the national ad budget. According to Dow Jones newsletters, the money had normally been distributed to store operators based on how much syrup they buy from suppliers like Coca-Cola Co. and Dr. pepper Snapple Group Inc. People familiar with the plan say it will amount to $4,000 per store per year, or $26 million a year from its U.S. franchisees.

"It's a matter of being competitive with very formidable competitors who have spent and continue to spend at least as much or more of these type of dollars in media," said Klein. "Not only is it a long overdue move, but a timely move." Competing fast-food chains use between 20 percent to 80 percent of these funds for their ad budgets.

Sources: Burger King Corp., Dow Jones Newsletters

Turkey soup recalled due to allergen

Ivar's Soup, Seafood and Sauce, a Mukilteo, Wash., establishment, is recalling approximately 37,776 pounds of turkey soup products because they may contain an undeclared allergen, milk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today. Milk is a known allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The following products are subject to recall:
* 12-pound boxes of "E.R.I. turkey Flavored Egg Noodle Soup Base With Turkey Meat." Each label bears the establishment number "P- 20173" inside the USDA mark of inspection and a "Produced On" date stamped onto the box.
* 12-pound boxes of "Two Spoon Homestyle Soups, turkey Flavored Egg Noodle Soup Base With Turkey Meat." Each label bears the establishment number "EST. 20173" inside the USDA mark of inspection and a "Produced On" date stamped onto the box.

Inside each box there are four, 3-pound pouches of frozen product, which also bear a production date stamped onto the individual packages.

The turkey soup products were produced on various dates between Feb. 28, 2008 and April 7, 2009, and were shipped to institutional establishments in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington and are not available for direct consumer purchase. The problem was discovered by a routine product inspection conducted by the establishment. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

California senator proposes fan for antibiotics in animal feed

A California Senate committee Tuesday will hear legislation authored by Majority Leader Dean Florez that would bar ranchers and farmers, starting in 2015, from giving feed containing antibiotics to healthy animals to promote growth and ward off disease.

The bill would also prohibit schools, starting in 2012, from serving students meat from animals that have been routinely treated with antibiotics and would require state and local government facilities to try to buy antibiotic-free meat for their kitchens, reports the Associated Press.

"We don't wake up every morning to take an antibiotic to help ensure that we don't get sick...," said Florez, a Democrat from Shafter. "There are better ways than giving every single animal an antibiotic." Consumer advocacy groups have indicated that the use of antibiotics in animal feed can lead to the development of drug-resistant bacteria that can pose a threat to humans.

Opponents of the proposed legislation say that the ban would force farmers to use more drugs in the event that their animals do get sick. "What Senator Florez is trying to do is take away tools we use to keep animals healthy," said Noelle Cremers, director of natural resources and commodities for the California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest agricultural group. "We don't see that as being a good way to provide safe food for consumers."

Source: Associated Press