The continued bans of pork product imports by Russia, China and several other countries are leading some industry officials and experts to state that other factors besides health concerns are the cause. "It's politics and not science," said John Lawrence, a professor and livestock economist at Iowa State University. "The product is safe. So why restrict imports?"

The reduction in hog prices that has coincided with the H1N1 virus bans has cost U.S. pork producers about $81.5 million, according to the Associated Press. Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork producers Council, notes that producers have had disagreements with China and Russia in the past. Russia is starting to allow some pork imports but maintains bans from products in 10 states.

"Both Russia and China, and all of these countries, know that this was not a food safety issue. So something else is going on there," Warner said. "It does seem like it's a kind of a convenient excuse."

Along with the ramifications of the import bans, producers are also dealing with the U.S. economy, where prices have not been able to rise above $60 per hundredweight. "We have to downsize," University of Missouri agricultural economist Glenn Grimes said, according to the Des Moines Register. He noted that producers had been hoping for prices of $75 to $80 per hundredweight.

Robert Wisner, an economist at Iowa State university, warned that feed prices may increase again this summer as the worldwide supplies of grain tighten.

Sources: Associated Press, Des Moines Register

New York firm recalls duck and sausage products

Schaller Mfg. Corp., a Long Island City, N.Y., firm, is recalling approximately 564 pounds of duck leg confit and kolbase sausage products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The products subject to recall are 2.5-pound approximate-weight vacuum packages, 6 legs per package, of "D'artagnan Traditional Duck Leg Confit" and 2.5-pound approximate-weight vacuum packages of "Schaller & Weber Hungarian Brand Kolbase." The products were produced on May 13, 2009. The duck products were sent to distributors and restaurants in Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The sausage products were sent to distributors and restaurants in New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia as well as the company's retail store in New York City.

The problem was discovered through the firm's microbiological sampling program. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of this product.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

O'Charley's names new president and CEO

O'Charley's Inc., a leading casual dining company, today announced that it has named Jeffrey Warne as its president and chief executive officer, effective immediately. Warne, who served as president of the O’Charley’s concept, was also appointed to the board of directors, increasing the total number of the company’s directors to eleven. The company also announced that Philip Hickey, a member of the board of directors since January 2009, has been elected chairman of the board.

An executive with substantial experience in casual dining, Warne, age 48, joined the company as president of the O’Charley’s concept in early 2006 after sixteen years with Carlson Companies Inc. In his most recent assignment at Carlson, Warne was president and chief operating officer of Pick Up Stix. Previous assignments at Carlson included executive vice president and chief operating officer of TGI Friday’s International, and chief financial officer of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS from St. Cloud State University. Warne is a certified public accountant and a chartered financial analyst.

“After conducting a nationwide search, our board concluded that Jeff Warne is the best candidate to lead the company as its new chief executive officer,” said Hickey. “He is a proven leader with a broad skill set, an impressive track record, and deep operational experience in the restaurant industry. Since he became president of the O’Charley’s concept in 2006, he has strengthened its management team, accelerated the pace of food and beverage innovation, and brought a structured and analytical approach to managing all aspects of the business. We are confident that he will build on his recent success to drive improvements in the company’s performance.”

Source: O'Charley's Inc.