Photo courtesy of National Hot Dog & Sausage Council

Despite competition from ever-increasing food options - ranging from Ichiro Sushi offered at Safeco Field in Seattle to Rocky Mountain Oysters (fried bull testicles) at Coors Field in Colorado - hot dogs are still top dog in our nation's ballparks, according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council's (NHDSC) annual survey.

With Opening Day this weekend, the NHDSC forecasts that ballparks around the country will serve 21,733,839 hot dogs this season -- an impressive feat and enough to round the bases 30,186 times and stretch to and from Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., the two sites of the 2008 World Series.

When it comes to individual ballparks, Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, topped the survey this year. Fenway Park, which finished second in last year's survey, will serve up more than 1.5 million hot dogs over the 2009 season, according to projections. Always boiled and grilled, the Fenway Frank is served on a New England style bun (split from the top) and topped with a choice of mustard and relish.

While the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies didn't take the trophy in this competition, they did win the equivalent of the National League pennant, finishing second overall. Fans are expected to consume 1.25 million hot dogs at Citizens Bank Park this season. Lucky fans might also catch a free dog, which the Phillie Phanatic, the team's official mascot, shoots into the stands every game using the finely-tuned technology of the Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher.

Third place in this year's survey goes to Dodger Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Dodgers, with 1.2 million famous Dodger Dogs expected to be devoured. This foot-long pork frankfurter is served grilled or steamed, on a steamed bun, with mustard and relish and choice of toppings.

"There's no question that hot dogs hit a grand slam year after year," said Tom Super, spokesman for the Council. "The connection and nostalgia between hot dogs and baseball has been around for over a century. After all, hot dogs were Babe Ruth's performance enhancing drug of choice."

Stadiums around the country offer a range of options to hot dog-hungry fans. Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, dresses their Georgia Dog with coleslaw, chili and onion relish. Dolphin Stadium, home of the Florida Marlins, stocks its condiment carts with banana peppers. The Tampa Bay Rays' Tropicana Field offers "The Heater," which is served with spicy chili and shredded cheddar. Arizona Diamondback's Chase Field has a specialty concession stand called "Big Dawgs," which features five foot-long specialty hot dogs including the Arizona Dog with chorizo, cheese and tortilla chips and the Wisconsin Dog with mac and cheese and bacon bits. The Metrodome, stadium of the Minnesota Twins, is home to the "Dome Dog," a black angus dog served hot off the grill with toppings made fresh daily. When the Chicago Cubs are in town, many teams will add the famous Chicago Dog to their menu for the series: a natural casing beef frank, served on a poppy seed roll with yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped onion, fresh tomato, pickle spear, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.

When it comes to hot dog's close cousin, the sausage, no one is in the same ballpark as the Milwaukee Brewers. It is projected that 430,000 sausages will be served this year at Miller Park - the only park in all of Major League Baseball where sausages outsell hot dogs. Many of the park's sausages and hot dogs are dipped in Milwaukee's-own special "Stadium Sauce" before being placed in the bun.

The New York Mets finished a distant runner-up to the Brewers, with approximately 405,000 sausages expected to be sold at the new Citi Field this year. Finishing third in the NHDSC's first-annual sausage consumption survey is Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, with 250,000 projected in sausage sales.

Source: National Hot Dog and Sausage Council

USDA to buy $87 million in meat products for federal programs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA's intention to purchase turkey, pork, lamb, and walnut products for federal food nutrition assistance programs.

"These purchases will assist the turkey, pork, lamb and walnut sectors, which are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions," said Vilsack. "Today's announcement will help mitigate further downward prices, stabilize market conditions, stimulate the economy, and provide high quality, nutritious food to recipients of our nutrition programs."

USDA intends to purchase $60 million of turkey, $25 million of pork, $2 million of lamb, and $29.7 million of walnuts. With today's announcement to buy commodities, USDA will survey potential suppliers to seeking the lowest overall cost by publicly inviting bids and awarding contracts to responsible bidders.

These purchases reflect a variety of high-quality food products each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

For more information on purchase details, interested suppliers should contact the appropriate Contracting Officer for each commodity program, which can be found on the AMS Commodity Procurement Web page:

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Maple Leaf Foods delays sale

Maple Leaf Foods has announced it will wait until at least 2010 to sell its Burlington, Ontario pork-processing business, as the company rides out the slumping global markets. There have been active negotiations to sell the plant, but the processor said there was “no immediate urgency” to sell the business, Reuters reports.

Maple Leaf Farms had announced in late 2006 that it was planning to sell the business to focus on processed meats, meals and bakery businesses. The company stated that “current economic conditions and credit markets have made it difficult to complete a satisfactory sale of its Ontario pork processing business.”

Source: Reuters

APHIS issues final rule on user fees for import, export services

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued its final rule on regulations concerning user fees for import and export-related services for animals, animal products, birds, germ plasm, organisms and vectors. APHIS is increasing these fees for fiscal years 2009 through 2013. The rule will go into effect April 29, 2009.

“We are increasing those fees for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 in order to ensure that the fees accurately reflect the anticipated costs of providing these services each year. By publishing the annual user fee changes in advance, users can incorporate the fees into their budget planning,” the report reads.

The increase in annual collections from user fees included in this final rule would be about $5.3 million in FY 2009 and rising to about $14 million in 2013. Based on the available information, APHIS expects the effects of the changes contained in this final rule to be small whether the entity affected is small or large.

To view this final rule, published in Monday’s Federal Register, go to

Source: American Meat Institute, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

UK Tesco test program allows customers to leave packaging behind

Tesco, a U.K. Grocery giant with several stores in the West Coast of the United States, is launching a six-week trial at selected stores, where consumers can leave behind any extra packaging. The chain has already cut back on what it considers “wasteful packaging,” and will attempt to find out what kinds of packaging consumers can do without, according toThe Guardian.

Tesco's trial allows consumers to leave excess packaging, such as extra boxes, cardboard and films, behind for recycling. “We know our customers expect us to help them recycle easily, and we have also committed ourselves to cutting our own waste. This unique pilot helps us do both,” said Alasdair James, Tesco's head of energy, waste and recycling. “Packaging left by customers at the store will tell us a lot about areas we may need to look at again, as well as where we have got it right.”

Tesco's trial will run in stores in Guildford, Surrey, and Ilminster, Somerset. A similar program has been used in Germany. “We are looking to find the least amount of packaging necessary and this trial will help us to establish customers' views,” said Lucy Neville-Rolfe, executive director for corporate and legal affairs.

Source: The Guardian (