Sara Lee Corp. opened its new North American innovation campus, The Kitchens of Sara Lee. The 120,000-square-foot research and development center is located at the company’s headquarters in Downers Grove, Ill. The Kitchens of Sara Lee, which began construction in March 2007, houses more than 100 research and development professionals, including chefs, scientists, engineers and packaging designers. This marks the first time the company has had all of its North American food and beverage research and development capabilities under one roof.

“Our dedication to innovation, and in turn increasing consumer and customer value, has been an integral part of Sara Lee’s transformation,” said Brenda Barnes, chairman and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corp. “Now, with The Kitchens of Sara Lee, we are fully equipped to turn consumer insights into products that differentiate us in the marketplace.”

The state-of-the-art features of the Kitchens of Sara Lee allow research and development teams to test product, processes and preparations before implementing mass production.

For more information, read the Provisioner On Location report submitted by Executive Editor Andy Hanacek, who attended the grand opening event and toured the facility.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

Second House of Raeford manager indicted

Barry Cronic, the complex manager for House of Raeford’s Greenville, S.C., poultry plant, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he knowingly hired illegal immigrants. He is the second top manager to be indicted, followed by the company’s human resources director.

Authorities allege that Cronic knowingly hired illegal immigrants from around 2000 until October, 2008, when federal agents raided the plant. Federal investigation into the company has also involved 12 supervisors and more than 300 employees. The raid came after authorities determined that 777 or 825 employees at the plant had submitted false documents to get hired.

“We're relying on records and witnesses familiar with the plant operation,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald. “The witnesses and the records, we believe, indicate Mr. Cronic was, as plant manager, aware that unauthorized workers were being hired.”

The Charlotte Observer, which reported the story, stated that some House of Raeford managers preferred to hire illegal immigrants because they were less likely to question working conditions for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.

Source: Charlotte Observer

China files dispute with WTO over U.S. poultry rules

China has launched a formal World Trade Organization dispute against the United States over U.S. laws affecting Chinese poultry products. In the request, the country says it believes U.S. limits on Chinese poultry imports violate international trade commitments. "By imposing these restrictions with respect to imports from China, but not similarly prohibiting the import from other (WTO) members of like products, China is concerned that the U.S. fails to accord immediately and unconditionally to China an advantage, favor, privilege or immunity granted to other (WTO) members," the Chinese statement says, according to Reuters.

If the two sides can’t settle their differences, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body can set up a panel of judges to review the case and issue a verdict. China maintains that its poultry production meets international standards and that it exports poultry products to other developed markets.

Source: Reuters