Philadelphia-based deli meats supplier Dietz & Watson is challenging Boar’s Head to end its demands of deli case exclusivity, saying that forcing a deli to carry only one brand of luncheon meat hurts consumers.

"Dietz & Watson has never shied away from competition - we've been producing the finest deli meats and cheeses for 70 years," said Louis Eni, president and CEO. "We would never - ever - consider demanding that grocery stores carry only our premium products at the exclusion of others. We want to win on quality and taste, not by cutting off competitors. That disrespects consumers. Yet that's exactly what Boar's Head has been doing to grocery store chains across the country - essentially telling grocers, 'If you want to sell our product, you can't offer your customers any other premium choices.' Exclusivity is selfish and it needs to stop."

Eni pointed to the Harris Teeter chain in North Carolina, which was forced to discontinue offering Dietz & Watson products because it wanted to offer Boar’s Head products as an alternative. A spokesman for the chain told a local newspaper that it was a difficult decision, as the Dietz & Watson products were popular among customers.

"It was a decision, frankly, that they never should have had to make," said Eni. "Harris Teeter is a terrific grocer and we have been proud to sell our products in their stores. They didn't want to see us go, and neither did their customers.

"As Dietz & Watson continues to grow and to thrive, we're going to be entering new markets and reaching new customers. But as we grow, I pledge today that our company will never ask for exclusivity in grocery stores. Customers deserve choices and I'm confident, if offered a choice, they'll choose Dietz & Watson more often than not. The bottom line is they will have had a choice - and that's what this is all about.

"I challenge Boar's Head to take the same pledge - to compete like everyone else. After all, if they believe their products are superior, what's to be afraid of? Choice is good. It's what all customers deserve."

Source: Dietz & Watson Inc.

Pork skin products recalled due to uninspected production

Camacho's Food Processing, a Salinas, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 1,450 pounds of ready-to-eat pork skin products because they were prepared without the benefit of federal inspection, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced.

The product subject to recall is 10-pound, plastic-lined bags of "Camacho's Foods PS., Uruapan, Chicharrones, (Fryed Pork Skin)." Each product bears the establishment number "EST. 34241" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The ready-to-eat pork skin products were produced from June 16, 2009, through July 29, 2009, and were repackaged for sale to consumers and distributed to retail stores in California.

FSIS' Office of Program, Evaluation & Review discovered the problem. FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

Source: Food Safety and Inspection Service

USDA gets support for catfish inspections

In letters sent last week to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, three of the nation’s largest food safety watchdog groups and a U.S. Congressman voiced their support for USDA inspections for domestic and imported catfish species, as mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill.

The first letter was sent jointly by the Consumer Federation of America, the largest consumer group in the United States; Food and Water Watch, the largest public interest food watchdog group; and Safe Tables Our Priority, a coalition of consumer and food safety advocates, on July 23, 2009.

The letter read, in part: “We hope you will use the new responsibility given to the USDA by the 2008 Farm Bill to design a program that requires specific safety standards for both domestic and imported catfish, as the agency currently does for meat and poultry,” the letter stated, speaking to Sec. Vilsack.

“Consumers have good reason to demand that imported catfish be raised and processed under similar safety standards as domestic catfish. Since June 1, 2008, the FDA has rejected catfish products imported from China, Thailand and Vietnam a total of thirty one times. Thailand was responsible for two refusals, China was responsible for thirteen, and Vietnamese catfish products were rejected a total of sixteen times.”

In a separate letter to Sec. Vilsack from Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell, the lawmaker recalls a trip to tour Vietnamese seafood processing facilities in December 2008, where he noted the aquaculture conditions were less than favorable and the fish were unfit for American consumption. “During my most recent trip to the Mekong Delta, I saw the putrid conditions in which these fish are raised. I saw raw sewage and drainage pipes leading directly into the Mekong Delta upstream from where the fish farms are located,” he wrote. “The FDA only voluntarily inspects less than one percent of total food imports and less than two percent of seafood from foreign plants. This is frightening and unacceptable.”

Source: Catfish Farmers of America