Traditions, a Pearl, Miss., establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of various boxed pre-packaged meal kits. The boxes contain separate portions of instant nonfat dried milk, which was previously recalled, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

Due to potential Salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a recall of the instant nonfat dried milk product on June 28, 2009. Although the nonfat dried milk product has already been recalled, as announced by FDA, the master boxes, which contain the various pre-packaged meal items, bear the USDA mark of inspection on the outside of the box.

The products subject to recall include boxes of "Traditions Meal Solutions" prepackaged meal kits and “ILSmeals Home Meal Delivery Service" prepackaged meal kits. The pre-packaged meals were distributed nationwide to various food distributors and regional nutrition service providers. These meals were not available for consumer purchase.

Source: FSIS

Perogies recalled due to unapproved ingredient

Buffalo SAV, Inc., a Buffalo, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 208,768 pounds of frozen perogies containing various meat and poultry ingredients because they contain an unapproved ingredient, Amaranth Red #2, that is declared on the label, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The provisional listing and certification of FD&C Red #2 (Amaranth Red #2) was terminated by the U.S. Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration. Amaranth Red #2 is not approved for use in products sold in the United States.

There are no package or case codes. The frozen meat and poultry products were produced from June 1, 2008, through June 5, 2009, and were sent to distributors and retail establishments in California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. The problem was discovered by the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets and reported to FSIS by the company. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Restaurant Performance Index shows first decline in 5 months

The outlook for the restaurant industry was dampened somewhat in May, as the National Restaurant Association's comprehensive index of restaurant activity registered its first decline in five months. The Association's Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) - a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry - stood at 98.3 in May, down 0.3 percent from April and its 19th consecutive month below 100.

"With the performance of the current situation indicators holding relatively steady in May, the RPI's decline was the result of restaurant operators' dampened outlook for each of the four forward-looking indicators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of Research and Information Services for the Association. "Although restaurant operators remain relatively optimistic that economic conditions will improve in six months, their outlook for sales growth and capital spending activity softened somewhat."

The RPI is based on the responses to the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Industry Tracking Survey, which is fielded monthly among restaurant operators nationwide on a variety of indicators including sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures. The RPI consists of two components - the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.

The RPI is constructed so that the health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, while index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators.

The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 96.9 in May - down 0.1 percent from April. In addition, May represented the 21st consecutive month below 100, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators.

Restaurant operators reported negative same-store sales for the 12th consecutive month in May, with results similar to the April performance. Twenty-six percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between May 2008 and May 2009, matching the proportion who reported a sales gain in April. Sixty percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in May, compared to 59 percent who reported lower sales in April.

The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 99.6 in May - down 0.5 percent from April and its first decline in six months. April's level of 100.2 represented the first time in 18 months that the Expectations Index surpassed 100, which signifies expansion in the forward-looking indicators.

The May decline in the Expectations Index was due in part to a dampening in restaurant operators' outlook for sales growth. Twenty-nine percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 33 percent last month. In comparison, 33 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, up from 30 percent who reported similarly last month.

The full report is available online:

Source: National Restaurant Association

Cargill launches new pork line

Cargill announced the launch of a new pork line of variety meat cuts under its brand, Rumba. The new Rumba pork products include ears, hocks, jowls, kidneys, neckbones, split front feet, stomach, tails, fatback skins, hearts and livers.

Rumba is one of the first brands to focus on the multicultural customer offering fresh variety meat cuts in U. S. mainstream meat cases. Rumba brand beef products were launched in 2007 and the line is now being extended to cover pork variety meat cuts to further meet the needs of customers. Like its beef products, Rumba pork variety meats continue to offer always fresh, never frozen cuts in a vacuum-packed clear case always allowing the consumer 100 percent visibility of the product. The vacuum-sealed packages also allow each cut to stay fresher longer. Kelly Perrier, Cargill Pork brand manager stated, “Our research showed that there was a limited number of pork variety meats in the mainstream meat case. Rumba variety meats represent quality, fresh products that our customers trust. With the Rumba brand, our customers can conveniently make authentic, favorite family recipes for their entire family. ”

The Rumba pork products offered are based on extensive consumer research to match and exceed the needs and expectations of multicultural customers such as Hispanics and African Americans, who are primary users of pork specialty meats in traditional dishes. In the past, the mainstream meat case in the local grocer did not carry all of the specialty meat cuts that are the essential ingredients in culturally-significant dishes. These customers turned to shopping at other locations for their meat purchases.

“Since the arrival of the Rumba brand, customers receive quality, freshness, value, and taste they desire when cooking authentic meals. The extension of pork within the Rumba brand is further fueling the desire and capability of keeping the family meal traditions alive,” added Perrier.

Rumba’s pork variety meat cuts are available in different store locations across the country, with more available locations arriving soon. Along with the pork launch, the Rumba brand has also expanded its beef cuts and revamped its website ( to showcase all the new additions to the Rumba meats family including authentic recipes paired with each type of beef and pork meat cut. The new beef cuts include, flank, outside skirt, honeycomb tripe, marrow bone, and suet.

Source: Cargill Inc.