Two Smithfield Foods plants and a Tyson Foods plant are being idled for the day today, effectively shutting down 10 percent of U.S. pork produciton. The two Smithfield plants are located in Sioux City, Iowa, and Sious Falls, N.D., and The Tyson plant is in Columbus Junction, Iowa. The three plants have a combined daily hog slaughter of 43,000 head, Reuters reports.

The plants are being idled due to tight supplies of hogs and slow pork sales. Tyson announced that it will also  run some of its other pork plants at reduced levels this week  “We have had dismal cutout values,” said Ron Plain, an agricultural economist at the University of Missouri. “It is largelt related to the worldwide recession. Pork exports are doing very poorly and the U.S. economy is doing poorly. There is just not a lot of demand for high quality foods.”

Source: Reuters

Foster Farms' Farmerville facility opens

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster were on hand to help open Foster's Farmerville, La., facility on Saturday, completing a saga that started with Pilgrim's Pride announcing it was closing the plant earlier this year. Foster Farms acquired the facility in March, with the state of Louisiana contributing $50 million to the deal.

More than 200 people attended the ribbon-cutting on Saturday. Foster Farms has said that when the plant reaches capacity, it will employ at least 1,100 employees with a payroll of more than $24 million. “This is a family owned and family operated business and I would like to say on behalf of my family, ‘Welcome to Foster Farms, Farmerville,’ ” Foster said, according to the Ruston Daily Leader. “We were able to see what can be done, when the state and companies work together, we can do something with this facility to make a better community.”

When the plant closed, unemployment in Union Parish rose from 7.6 percent in April to 13.2 percent in May, noted the Houston Chronicle.

Sources: Ruston Daily Leader, Houston Chronicle

Illinois company recalls 219 pounds of ground beef

E. S. Miller Packing Co., a Montgomery, Ill., establishment is recalling approximately 219 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated withE. coliO157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

The products subject to recall include 10-pound Cryovaced bags of bulk "Edward S. Miller Packing Co., Ground Beef" and 12- and 15-pound boxes "Edward S. Miller Packing Co., Ground Beef Patties." These ground beef products were produced from July 7, 2009, through July 10, 2009, and were distributed to consumers and several local restaurants in the Montgomery and Paw Paw, Ill., areas, located in northern Illinois.

The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

Iowa Supreme Court awards disability to brucellosis-infected worker

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled on Friday that a former slaughterhouse worker at IBP Inc. can receive disability payments after he contracted brucellosis from hogs. Lee Burress worked at IBP from 1987 to 1997 and began experiencing the symptoms of brucellosis in 2003, which doctors determined came from contact with hog blood while working at the plant.

Burress submitted a claim for workers compensation, which IBP challenged, according to AP reports. The company stated that brucellosis is an occupational disease and not an injury and claimed that Burress did not file the claim within one year after exposure. A workers compensation commissioner ruled against IBP, and a district court judge overturned the decision after IBP appealed. Burress then appealed to the Iowa Court of Appeals, which ruled in his favor, prompting IBP, now a Tyson Foods company, to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court ruled that IBP's claim that brucellosis was an occupational disease was not supported by the evidence.

Source: Associated Press

Jerrod Mande named deputy under secretary for food safety

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the appointment of Jerold R. Mande, M.P.H., as Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this position, Mande will have responsibility for the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

"Jerold Mande brings years of experience in health, nutrition and epidemiology, food safety, and public policy in both government and academia that will greatly serve USDA and the public as we continue to work to protect public health," said Vilsack.

Most recently, as Associate Director for Public Policy at the Yale Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, Mande developed a national model to increase support for cancer prevention and control, including diet, exercise, and obesity. He also initiated and helped manage the cancer center disparities program, to improve cancer control and care in underserved populations. He was also a lecturer in public health, and helped train select groups of physicians for careers in public policy.

Prior to this, Mande served on the White House staff as a health policy adviser where he helped lead key food safety, tobacco control and cancer initiatives, including expansion of FoodNet and PulseNet. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Occupational Health at the U.S, Department of Labor. He also served as Senior Advisor and Executive Assistant to the Commissioner of the Food and Drug and Administration, where he led design of the Nutrition Facts food label, for which he received the Presidential Award for Design Excellence. Mande began his distinguished career in the U.S. Congress where he was first hired to work on food safety legislation.

Source: USDA