The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is being jointly urged by four concerned groups to have the World Trade Organization (WTO) determine if a major barrier to U.S. poultry exports to the European Union is a violation of WTO’s rules. In a September 24 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk the National Chicken Council, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, National Turkey Federation, and the National Association of Manufacturers re-confirmed their strong support for U.S. Trade Representative action that would result in a WTO dispute settlement panel that addresses the EU’s blocking action against four antimicrobials that reduce pathogens during poultry processing.

In the letter to Ambassador Kirk the groups noted that early in 2009 WTO dispute settlement consultations were held with the European Union in an attempt to move the EU toward official approval of four antimicrobials that are FDA/USDA approved and have been scientifically proven in both the United States and the EU to be safe and efficacious in reducing pathogens on poultry. Since the official consultations earlier this year resulted in no resolution of the issue, it is now “most appropriate to take the issue to the next step in the WTO dispute settlement panel process, namely requesting that the issue be addressed by a WTO dispute settlement panel”, the groups stated in the letter.

U.S. poultry exports to the EU have not been permitted since 1997. If the EU was an eligible market for U.S. poultry, it is estimated annual poultry exports would top $300 million.

Source: National Chicken Council

Springer Mountain Farms uses mobile technology for breast cancer donation campaign

Springer Mountain Farms is expanding the capabilities of its mobile technology to give consumers the option of donating to the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc. Springer Mountain Farms fresh chicken products feature a scannable 2d tag that allows cell phone users easy access to their mobile web site where they can collect weekly rewards for their purchase. This new feature allows consumers the choice to keep their reward or forward it to the Foundation in their name.

According to Gus Arrendale, president of Springer Mountain Farms, “Our mobile project has been successful; this is a way to enhance its value to our customers in a meaningful way that allows them to serve a greater good. Breast cancer kills thousands of women annually, and we feel we can help save lives by enlisting customer support.”

Springer Mountain Farms mobile rewards currently include access to free music downloads, free video downloads, and rebates delivered directly to the consumer’s PayPal electronic banking. With the “Scan To Save A Life” program, customers can choose to convert their reward to a dollar amount and send it to NBCF.

“We are proud to partner with Springer Mountain Farms,” says NBCF Founder & CEO, Janelle Hail. “Their support allows NBCF to fulfill its mission to save lives by providing mammograms for those in need.”

Source: Springer Mountain Farms

ConAgra names new EVP, general counsel

ConAgra Foods has announced the promotion of Colleen Batcheler to executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for ConAgra Foods. Batcheler, 35, joined ConAgra Foods in June 2006 as vice president and chief securities counsel, and, in September 2006, added corporate secretary responsibilities. She was then promoted to senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for ConAgra Foods in 2008.

Prior to joining ConAgra Foods, Batcheler was vice president and corporate secretary at Albertson’s Inc., associate counsel with The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and an associate with the law firm of Jones Day. Her practice has focused on securities regulation, corporate governance issues, executive compensation matters, mergers and acquisitions and other general corporate matters.

Source: ConAgra Foods

Darden Restaurants opens new Orlando headquarters

Darden Restaurants celebrated the opening of its new Restaurant Support Center (RSC), which was designed to achieve Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction (NC) from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Upon final certification from the USGBC, it will become the largest LEED Gold NC building in Florida.

"Today marks a new era in Darden's history," said Clarence Otis, chairman and CEO of Darden. "Our new home is the embodiment of our goal to create a great company - a winning company financially and a special place to be; a place where our employees can pursue their personal and professional dreams.”

The sustainable design and construction elements found in the new building include:
  -- More than 90 percent of the waste generated from construction was recycled;
  -- Use of systems such as a high-efficiency heating and air conditioning system, and an automatic lighting system that dims or brightens according to the amount of sunlight entering the building will help reduce energy consumption by 16 percent;
  -- Increased use of natural light (daylighting) made possible by a 114,000 square-foot glass curtainwall exterior;
  -- A highly reflective roof system that reduces the heat island effect and helps maintain the building's interior temperature;
  -- Restrooms and irrigation systems using reclaimed water - saving nearly 2 million gallons of water annually; and
  -- Landscaping features including a bio-soil that promotes water absorption and the use of native trees, plants and grasses that require minimal water.

Darden partnered with developer Trammell Crow Co., architectural firm Perkins+Will and general contractor Hardin Construction to create an open environment that promotes greater collaboration, idea sharing and innovation. The building was designed not to exceed three stories in height to allow employees to move easily between floors using multiple staircases. The staircases were also widened to allow for impromptu conversations without blocking the movement of others. Each of the development kitchens for Darden's six restaurant brands is located adjacent to one another, allowing culinary staff to easily interact and share ideas.

"Beyond creating an environment that allows our employees to develop stronger working relationships and deliver even higher levels of support to our restaurants, we were committed to ensuring our employees had input and involvement in shaping the development of this project," said Drew Madsen, president and COO of Darden. "We're proud of the fact that many of the amenities found in our new home were the ones most requested by our employees."

The three-story, 469,000-square-foot facility, situated on a 57-acre campus, will house 1,300 employees who provide support to nearly 1,800 Red Lobster, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52 restaurants throughout North America. Within its new RSC, Darden will bring together all of its support center personnel under one roof for the first time. Previously, employees worked in 12 different buildings spread across a two-mile radius.

Source: Darden Restaurants Inc.