JBS SA said on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the company's takeover of Pilgrim's pride. The company had announced in September that it intended to buy a 64 percent stake in Pilgrim's for $800 million, making JBS the world's largest meat company.

Pilgrim's Pride had declared bankruptcy last December, and the deal now depends on the bankruptcy court's final decision. Pilgrim's Pride said that it anticipates the plan to be confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court in time for the Debtors to emerge from bankruptcy before the end of December.

"Considering our success in the beef and pork areas in the United States, we believe we're well placed to bring this same energy to Pilgrim's Pride, its workers and clients," said Wesley Batista, executive officer of JBS USA, in a statement.

Sources: Reuters, Pilgrim's Pride Corp.

Former Agriprocessors plant to hire local residents, use E-verify

The new business that will operate at the site of the country's largest illegal immigration raid will hire local residents as its employees and will use a federal verification system to ensure the new employees are in the U.S. legally.

Hershey Friedman, the new owner of Agri Star Meat and Poultry LLC, told the Associated Press that he will hse the federal government's E-verify system for all new hires and will pay his employees from Postville and the surrounding area more than minimum wage. Friedman said, “That's not where our goal is. Anybody can go to McDonald's for minimum wage. We want better than that.”

Friedman says that he plans on avoiding the same mistakes that led to the Agriprocessors raid and the ensuing federal charges against former owner Sholom Rubashkin and other managers.

"The former ownership was pushing the plant beyond its true capacity," Friedman said. "The quality goes down when you over-push the capacity of a plant. It's the physical quality of the meat that goes out on the market. When you're over-pushing it, you're not cutting it properly, you're not packaging it properly, you're just pushing out product and you're not careful."

The new plant will be modernized and will employ 750 to 800 people.

Source: Associated Press

Spike Mendelsohn wins second Burger Bash with Allen Brothers meats

A total of 3,000 pounds of ground beef, 1,000 slices of bacon, 600 pounds of brisket, 550 pounds of short ribs, 150 pounds of Kobe beef, 200 pounds of sirloin, 42 pounds of fatback - all provided by premium meat purveyor Allen Brothers – were mixed with 12 chefs and food personalities and 1,500 burger-loving New Yorkers to create the 2009 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival's Blue Moon Burger Bash. The event was hosted by Rachael Ray presented by Allen Brothers Steaks.

At the second consecutive Bash, famed chef, Spike Mendelsohn, who rose to culinary stardom during his time competing on Bravo's “Top Chef” and now owns Washington, D.C.'s Good Stuff Eatery, sailed past the competition with his Obama Burger. The recipe featured a blend of Allen Brothers brisket, short rib and chuck. The beef patty was accompanied by red onion marmalade, applewood smoked bacon, bleu cheese and horseradish mayo, all on a toasted Pennsylvania Dutch potato bun.

"We are thrilled that Allen Brothers was able to play a part in Spike Mendelsohn's second Burger Bash triumph," said Allen Brothers President Todd Hatoff. "It confirms our belief that Allen Brothers USDA Prime beef makes the best burgers in the world."

In honor of his Golden Grill Award, Mendelssohn was the recipient of an engraved Christofle platter, $2,500 of Allen Brothers products and a donation of $1,000 on his behalf to the charity of his choice.

Allen Brothers Steaks is a sponsor of the 2009 Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, which raises funds for the hunger-relief organizations Food Bank For New York and Share Our Strength.

Source: Allen Brothers

Marie Callender's adds line of microwaveable meals

Marie Callender's, a brand of ConAgra Foods, announced that it is stepping out of the freezer case and onto the shelf to bring consumers the taste of a home-cooked meal at work with the launch of Marie Callender's Home-Style Creations. These microwavable meals can be found in the pasta or soup aisle at grocery stores nationwide and require no refrigeration or freezing.

"Our research tells us that people crave home-cooked meals when they are working or away from home. With new Marie Callender's Home-Style Creations, consumers can treat themselves with an authentic, home-style meal that's ready in minutes straight from their desks," said Laura Flanagan, vice president and general manager, ConAgra Foods. "The meals offer a delicious, everyday lunchtime option for busy, working professionals craving that special touch of home during the day," she added.

Marie Callender's Home-Style Creations feature premium ingredients such as whole beef strips, authentic cheeses, wine reduction sauces and savory herb and spice blends. The meals also utilize the same patented tray-in-tray steaming technology that is found in Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers, which creates fresh-tasting flavors and textures by separating ingredients during preparation - key to maintaining a homemade taste.

Marie Callender's Home-Style Creations are available in six satisfying varieties, including Classic Stroganoff, Creamy Parmesan Chicken, Garlic Herb Chicken, Meatball Lasagna, Sweet Sesame Beef and Traditional Stuffing & Turkey.

Source: ConAgra Foods