North Star Beef, a slaughter plant located in Buffalo Lake, Minn., has closed due to high amounts of arsenic located in the company’s water supply. Owner William Gilger said that he could not afford to fix the problem in time to avoid federal penalties, according to theStar Tribune. Two hundred people have been laid off as a result of the closure.

The company has also dealt with a fire that caused $1.1 million in damage, back taxes to the county and overdue payments to suppliers. "Between the industry, the fire and the water, we're done," said Gilger. "This put us in a category where the bankers said you guys are way too much to risk."

Gilger said the Minnesota Department of Health tested the plant's water last summer and found 18.4 parts per billion of arsenic. Arsenic can occur naturally in Minnesota, most likely coming from shale left behind by glaciers from the last Ice Age. The amount of arsenic considered safe for drinking is 10 parts per billion.

Gilger said North Star Beef has customers in Asia and many domestic locations, including Texas, Florida and Washington state and the cities of Chicago, Detroit and New York.

Source: Star Tribune

Quality Pork Processors evacuated after bomb threat

Workers at Quality Pork Processing, located in Austin. Minn., were evacuated as a precaution early this morning after a bomb threat.

There are few details other than that QPP, “elected to remove employees from the plant,” Austin Police Chief Paul Philipp said, according to the Austin Daily Herald.

Philipp said that so far nothing has been found, but that the matter is still under investigation. The Hormel Plant was not affected.

Source: Austin Daily Herald

Rumbi Island Grill to add 60 new locations in California, Texas

Rumbi Island Grill, the industry leader in tropical fast casual cuisine, signed the largest business deal in the company's history, which has the potential of creating nearly 60 new restaurant locations over the next five years in Southern California and Texas. The major area development agreement was reached with two Los Angeles County business executives operating Rumbi-LCW, based in the City of Torrance, California.

About a half dozen Rumbi Island Grill restaurants are slated to open this year in Orange County, with the initial build-out to include 20 stores and possibly as many as 35. Rumbi Island Grill will enter the Texas market in 2010 starting with Houston and then follow with store openings in Austin. The deal calls for 16 stores initially, with the potential for a total of two dozen.

In making the announcement, Stuart Gee, CEO and President of Rumbi Island Grill, said the contract "is a significant step forward for the Rumbi Island Grill brand. It means millions more will get the opportunity to enjoy our unique cuisine." Rumbi specializes in gourmet rice bowls, hand crafted salads, main entrees such as grilled salmon, a pork luau plate, house-made fries, chips, salsa, and home-made dressings and sauces.

Ron Brown, president of Rumbi-LCW, said the company is enthusiastic about the Rumbi brand because "people are looking for healthy, fresh meals at reasonable costs and both markets will react favorably to the concept. We think it has the potential of becoming one of the most popular dining destinations in California and Texas."

Rumbi currently operates 24 restaurants in Utah, Colorado and Arizona, and opened its first store in Salt Lake City in 2000.

Source: Rumbi Island Grill