A total of three people have been confirmed killed in an explosion and roof collapse at a ConAgra Foods Slim Jim facility in Garner, N.C. The company believes that everything that was inside the building at the time of the explosion has been accounted for.

The three people killed in the blast are Rachel Mae Poston Pulley, 67, and Lewis Junior Watson, 33, both of Clayton; and Barbara McLean Spears, 43, of Dunn, reports the Triangle Business Journal. Rescue crews are still looking through the rubble of the plant for any other survivors or bodies that may have been missed. After that is complete, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will investigate the site to determine the cause of the explosion.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the three victims and their families,” said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra Foods. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to them. ConAgra Foods will continue to provide our people with support and counseling assistance, and will continue to support local authorities in identifying the cause of this accident. We appreciate all of the efforts by everyone in the Garner area who has assisted us over the past 24 hours.”

The plant was the only producer of Slim Jim snacks. The company said that there is enough inventory of the snacks for the short-term use, and it is working to resume production of the products. Rodkin said the company hopes to rebuild the plant, but added that there would be many challenges. He said that the company is also investigating the cause of the explosion. “Our goal is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.” said Rodkin.

A total of 41 plant employees were hospitalized as a result of the explosion. Four are in critical condition at the North carolina Jaycee Burn Center and three more are in fair condition there. Three firefighters were also treated for ammonia inhalation.

The company has set up a fund for contributions from ConAgra Foods, its employees and the local community. Those who wish to donate can do so by phone at (919) 463-1367; by mail at: United Way of the Greater Triangle; PO Box 110387; Research Triangle Park, NC 27709; or online at www.unitedwaytriangle.org/conagra.

Source: Triangle Business Journal, ConAgra Foods

2.68 million pounds of ham recalled due to undeclared MSG

Sigma Processed Meats Inc., a Seminole, Okla., establishment, is recalling approximately 2.68 million pounds of fully cooked ham products because they contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), and it is undeclared on the label. MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in a variety of foods prepared at home, in restaurants, and by food processors. Some persons who have eaten foods containing MSG have reported adverse reactions.

The products subject to recall are 12-pound, 5.5-ounce bags of "FUD, Original, Cooked Ham, and water product 40% of weight is added ingredients," packed in cases, and 2-pound, 5.5-ounce bags of "Sigma foods, FUD, Original, Cooked Ham, and water product 40% of weight is added ingredients, Si iSabe!" packed in cases.

Each label bears the establishment number "EST. 34447" inside the USDA mark of inspection and a "Use By" date of "May 23-Sept. 7, 2009." Each case bears the identifying case code of "01106." The fully cooked ham products were produced on March 1, 2009, through June 9, 2009, and were distributed to retail stores, service delis and wholesale distributors.

The problem was discovered by the company. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

Pilgrim's Pride recalls chicken wings

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. announced it is voluntarily recalling approximately 608,000 pounds of buffalo style chicken wings produced for The Kroger Co. because they may contain undeclared dairy, soy, and wheat allergens.

The recalled product is Kroger Fully Cooked Buffalo Style Wings, UPC number 11110 97158, packaged in two-pound bags, all code dates. These products were sold in Kroger's family of stores nationwide, except for the Fred Meyer, QFC, and Ralphs banner stores. Consumers should check their freezers for this recalled product and return it to the Kroger store for a full refund.

No illnesses associated with these products have been reported to Pilgrim's Pride. Anyone who is concerned about an allergic reaction should contact a physician.

Source: Pilgrim's Pride Corp.

Oscar Mayer expands Deli Creations line with focaccia sandwiches

Deli Creations Focaccia Sandwiches from Oscar Mayer are now available in four delicious varieties: Tuscan-Style Chicken, Parmesan Basil Turkey, Steakhouse Beef and Pepper Jack, and Bistro Ham and Provolone. Each comes complete with everything needed packed fresh, including high-quality deli meats, specialty sauces, natural cheeses and delicious oven-baked herb bread to make a hot and melty sandwich in less than a microwave minute.

As part of a Kraft Foods goal to eliminate 150 million pounds of packaging materials by 2011, packaging in each Deli Creations sandwich was reduced by 30 percent while keeping the same amount of great-tasting product inside. This effort will reduce landfill contribution by 1 million pounds and CO2 emissions by 282 tons in 2009. Also the shipping container that retail stores receive with Deli Creations Focaccia Sandwiches is recyclable, as is the outer carton that consumers purchase.

Now available nationwide, Deli Creations Focaccia Sandwiches from Oscar Mayer can be found in the refrigerated meat case and have a suggested retail price of $3.29.

Source: Kraft Foods

National Turkey Federation appoints new head of regulatory department

National Turkey Federation (NTF) President Joel Brandenberger announced the appointment today of Hilary Shallo Thesmar, Ph.D., RD, as NTF’s new senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs.

“The turkey industry is entering a challenging regulatory period,” Brandenberger said. “Policymakers in Washington are taking a hard look at the nation’s food safety systems, environmental laws, animal health policy and a wide range of other issues that have a significant impact on NTF’s members.

“Thesmar’s doctorate in food technology, her extensive education and training in nutrition and food science and her knowledge of the poultry industry make her the right person to oversee NTF’s scientific and regulatory on behalf of the turkey industry,” he said.

As NTF’s senior director of scientific and regulatory affairs, Thesmar will develop programs to ensure food safety, environmental, animal health and welfare, worker safety and health and human resources regulations are practical and permit the turkey industry to profitably produce safe and nutritious products. She will be the primary liaison to the federal agencies that regulate turkey production and processing. Thesmar will also manage the federation’s Technical and Regulatory, Live Production and Turkey Health committees.

Prior to NTF, Thesmar was director of the Egg Safety Center in Washington, D.C. She also served as director of food safety programs at the Egg Nutrition Center and most recently, acting director. Thesmar received her Ph.D. in food technology from Clemson University in South Carolina. She also holds a M.S. in human nutrition from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is a registered dietitian.

Source: National Turkey Federation