A spokesman for the European Union says that it regrets the United States' decision to appeal to the World Trade Organization to settle the ban over U.S. chicken imports to Europe. The issue stems over the American practice of using low-concentration chlorine to wash chickens prior to selling them, which is not permitted in the EU. The ban has been in place since 1997.

"We regret that the United States has decided to ask for a panel to be established in this case. We feel that litigation is not the most appropriate way to deal with complex issues such as this one," the European Commission said in a statement. "However, since the US has chosen this path, we will defend our food safety legislation, which does not discriminate against imported products.”

Boyden Gray, a U.S. special envoy to the EU, protested last year that the ban was not scientifically justified, Euractiv.com reports, and that some EU processors used the same process for their exports.

The National Chicken Council released a statement about the WTO appeal. “The EU has deprived U.S. poultry firms a fair opportunity to compete in that market for the past 12 years by imposing protectionist and unjustified non-tariff trade barriers on U.S. poultry,” it read. “At issue in this case is the use by U.S. poultry processors of four commonly-employed and beneficial antimicrobials which the European Union’s own scientific committees have reviewed and have determined to be safe. Despite the advice and recommendations of its own scientific committees, the EU has continued to maintain a ban on U.S. poultry imports. The United States considers the EU ban on U.S. poultry to violate several provisions of WTO law, including provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, and the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.

“The U.S. poultry industry appreciates the strong leadership of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and his staff in moving forward to WTO dispute settlement in this case. Ambassador Kirk has previously indicated that the Obama Administration would pursue a policy of more stringent enforcement of existing international agreements, and the initiation of this case demonstrates Ambassador Kirk’s commitment to that policy. In pursuing this case, USTR will have the strong and enthusiastic support of the undersigned organizations and the members they represent.

“We look forward to a timely and appropriate determination from the panel.”

Source: Euractiv.com, National Chicken Council

Sara Lee unveils new Jimmy Dean breakfast items

As October ushers in National Sausage Month, Jimmy Dean, is introducing two new breakfast items to its popular line of D-lights products. Made with whole grains, egg whites, turkey sausage and turkey bacon, the new Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Whole Grain Bagel Sandwich and Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Bacon Breakfast Bowl have less than 300 calories and contain half the fat of the leading breakfast products.

“As part of our on-going commitment to provide better-for-you options to our consumers, we're celebrating National Sausage Month with two great new breakfast options that will give people everywhere a chance to start their day with the 'power of protein' while taking in less than 300 calories,” said Andy Callahan, vice president of breakfast and snacking for Sara Lee North American Retail. “With D-lights, we're proud to offer delicious, guilt-free breakfast foods to help energize America and start the day right."

Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Sausage Whole Grain Bagel Sandwich contains: 260 calories; 18g of protein; 8g fat; 34g whole grains; Ingredients: turkey sausage, 100% whole grain bagel, egg whites and cheese; Four sandwiches per package

Jimmy Dean D-lights Turkey Bacon Breakfast Bowl contains: 240 calories; 19g of protein; 9g fat; Ingredients: turkey bacon, potatoes, scrambled egg whites, and reduced fat cheese; One breakfast bowl per package

The launch of the new D-lights products coincides with the recently launched national commercial featuring the beloved Jimmy Dean Sun character and his friend and colleague, Rainbow. In celebration of National Sausage Month, the release of both the new commercial and D-lights breakfast products supports the brand’s new multi-channel marketing campaign, Fight the Morning Fade, aimed to help busy families get the best start to their day with a wholesome, protein-based breakfast.

The Jimmy Dean D-lights product family features six varieties, including the Turkey Sausage Muffin Sandwich, Canadian Bacon Honey Wheat Muffin Sandwich, Turkey Sausage Reduced Fat Croissant Sandwich, and Turkey Sausage Breakfast Bowl.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

Burger sales booming, according to new report

Domestic sales for the limited-service hamburger industry grew by a healthy 4.1 percent in 2008 to $64 billion, outperforming the total limited-service restaurant segment’s growth of 3.2 percent. The Top 50 hamburger chains made up the vast majority of the market, with $62.8 billion in sales and growth of 4.4 percent. Their solid results were largely driven by strong concept positioning and the introduction of new premium burgers by the industry’s heavy hitters. The findings are detailed in a new study, the 2009 Technomic Top 50 Limited-Service Hamburger Chains Restaurant Report.

Some of the trends, chains and products examined in this report include:
* Quality product: Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Smashburger
* Value: McDonalds and Burger King, $1 double cheeseburger wars
* Customization: The Counter’s “312,120 plus burger combinations”
* Social responsibility: Burgerville, Evos’
* Healthy: Energy Kitchen, “nothing over 500 calories”

Other interesting findings include:
* Unit growth for the Top 50 hamburger chains was 1.0 percent, bringing store locations to 40,599. The overall U.S. limited-service burger industry grew units by 0.7 percent to 47,674.
* Though unit growth overall was nearly flat, several chains accounted for most it: Sonic Drive-Ins (up 137 units), Five Guys Burgers & Fries (up 119 units), and Burger King (up 53 units).
* Fast-casual chains accounted for 17 of the Top 50 chains, and grew sales an impressive 11.4 percent last year. The Top 50 quick-service chains grew by 4.2 percent.
Fast-casual concepts Smashburger and The Counter led the Top 50 in rate of sales growth, up more than 150 percent over the previous year.

“In 2008, the burger industry showed that there is more than one route to staying relevant and growing sales in a weak economy,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. “Fast-casual chains strengthened their gourmet burger positioning and benefited from consumers trading down from casual restaurants. Traditional quick service chains stepped up to premium burgers, and consumers responded well. In the future, the leaders will be those who continue to closely monitor market opportunities and watch how competitors respond.”

Source: Technomic

Beef Checkoff's new concepts reach marketplace

Several of the Beef Checkoff Program's new product concepts, initially developed and tested in 2006 and 2007, were recently introduced into the marketplace.

Schwan’s launched the marinade-on-demand concept (which keeps the beef and marinade separate until the consumer is ready to marinate their steak) in a Chimichurri Beef flavor profile. In as little as 30 minutes, the steak is ready for the grill. Since introduction in late spring of 2009, over 200,000 packages have been sold with a retail value of over $2 million. Schwan’s is also receiving very positive feedback on another new product introduction developed by the beef checkoff, the Wine & Garlic Flat Iron Steak.

“New products really have to go through a rigorous, calculated process from concept to launch,” says cow/calf producer Jennifer Houston of Sweetwater, Tenn., chair of the industry’s Joint New Product and Culinary Initiatives committee. “However, once they’re out on the shelves and into the hands of our consumers, it’s helping to drive beef demand and ensuring us a market for our cattle. New products really are the cornerstone of the future: as consumer attitudes and desires change, the beef checkoff’s Beef Innovations Group changes along with them and delivers products consumers want.”

Tyson also has several new products for retail, foodservice and international markets. One new product is Skillet Creations, a frozen retail meal kit with less sodium than Tyson’s prior offerings.

“It really is inspiring to see our beef checkoff investments come to fruition through new product launches,” concludes Houston. “I see it as a little job security. We have to stay competitive as producers, delivering a safe, wholesome product to the market. Along with that, our checkoff dollars are being invested to take that safe, nutritious product and introduce products consumers are asking for.”

Source: National Cattleman's Beef Association