Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) has confirmed the presence of 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus in a pig sample collected at the Minnesota State Fair submitted by the University of Minnesota. Additional samples are being tested.

"We have fully engaged our trading partners to remind them that several international organizations, including the World Organization for Animal Health, have advised that there is no scientific basis to restrict trade in pork and pork products," said Vilsack. "People cannot get this flu from eating pork or pork products. Pork is safe to eat."

Sequence results on the hemagglutinin, neuraminidase and matrix genes from the virus isolate are compatible with reported 2009 pandemic H1N1 sequences. The samples collected at the 2009 Minnesota State Fair were part of a University of Iowa and University of Minnesota cooperative agreement research project funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which documents influenza viruses where humans and pigs interact at such as fairs.

The infection of the fair pig does not suggest infection of commercial herds because show pigs and commercially raised pigs are in separate segments of the swine industry that do not typically interchange personnel or animal stock. USDA continues to remind U.S. swine producers about the need for good hygiene, biosecurity and other practices that will prevent the introduction and spread of influenza viruses in their herd and encourage them to participate in USDA's swine influenza virus surveillance program.

Source: USDA

Illinois plant raided by federal authorities

A goat-processing plant in Kinsman, Ill., and a private residence owned by the same person were raided by federal authorities. No arrests were made at First World Management Services on Sunday, a spokesman for the FBI said, but would not comment on the reasons for the raid.

The search also included members of the Department of Immigration and Custom Enforcement Agency and the Grundy County sheriff’s police, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago residence of the doctor who owns the plant was also raided, as was a Chicago travel agency that the man owned.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting this morning that the owner of the plant was taken into custody from his home. Sources familiar with the probe also told the paper that the raid was tied to possible immigration irregularities.

“This was part of an ongoing federal criminal investigation,” FBI spokesman Cynthia Yates noted. “There were no arrests made or charges filed at this time. The search began yesterday morning and ended in late afternoon.”

According to the Morris Daily Herald, the plant was described by the FBI as abandoned, but area residents report that the slaughterhouse is still in operation, as goats and sheep are slaughtered and shipped to Chicago for delivery.

The current owners bought the business about five years ago, after the previous business went bankrupt.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Morris Daily Herald

Agriprocessors trial update: Two meat sellers testify

Two meat sellers testified in the trial of former Agriprocessors manager Sholom Rubashkin that they didn't know the plant used their names on allegedly bogus documents intended to defraud a lending bank.

Yisrael Kagan of Glatt Western Kosher in Los Angeles and Aaron Tzivin of the Crown Heights House of Glatt in Brooklyn, N.Y, testified in court on Monday, AP reports. The men testified Monday in U.S. District Court that they were unaware the Agriprocessors, Inc., plant attached their names to allegedly fake invoices that were then shown to a bank as proof the company had more money on the way.

Source: Associated Press

Sadler's launches Dinner for Two meals

Sadler's Smokehouse Ltd. announces its Dinner for Two line of fully cooked, heat-and-serve meals. The new product line in the refrigerated prepared meat category, hit grocery shelves in August and features 20 ounces of pit-smoked meats paired with flavorful side dish combinations. The dinners are portioned to accommodate the fastest growing segment of America's population, one- and two-person households.

"At Sadler's we continue to listen to what our customers are saying in the marketplace which lead to our new line of restaurant quality meal solutions that are easy to prepare, sized for two and reasonably priced," said Sadler's CEO Terry O'Brien. "Sadler's Dinner for Two is the result of our careful research and provides another way for empty nesters or young couples on the go to experience our premium pit-smoked meats."

Dinner for Two fully cooked meals are now available in the ready-to-eat refrigerated meat section of a large number of grocery stores throughout the Southeast, Central and Western U.S., given the early rollout plan. The new dinner products feature innovative packaging designed for easy microwave heating. Consumers can choose from four flavorful combinations: Sadler's signature sliced beef brisket in tangy BBQ sauce with creamy home style mashed potatoes; seasoned pork loin in a sweet BBQ sauce with white cheddar mashed potatoes; pit-smoked pork loin with an apple-cranberry glaze and red skin garlic mashed potatoes or sliced center cut pork loin with au jus and herbed rice blend.

Source: Sadler's Smokehouse Ltd.