West Missouri Beef LLC, a Rockville, Mo., establishment, is recalling approximately 14,000 pounds of fresh boneless beef products that may be contaminated withE. coliO157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The products subject to recall include combo bins containing approximately 2,000 pounds of fresh boneless beef identified as "75 1-M," (produced on October 26, 2009); "90 3-D," (November 25, 2009); "90 5-D," (November 27, 2009); "90 2-P," "90 2-R" or "90 2-V," (December 8, 2009); and "90 3-E" (January 13, 2010).

Each container is marked with the establishment number "EST. 5821" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The fresh boneless beef products were distributed to wholesalers in the Chicago area.

The problem was discovered by FSIS during a verification review performed at the establishment. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

USDA to reconsider haggis ban

The U.S. government will review its ban on haggis at the request of Scottish officials. The ban on the product — sheep’s offal rolled in oats and pepper that is stuffed into beef intestine (or sheep’s stomach) and boiled — came about as a result of the United Kingdom’s mad cow disease scare in the 1980s.

The request came from Scottish Rural Affairs minister Richard Lochhead, ABC news reports, who wrote to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for clarification on the ban, which includes Scottish beef, lamb and venison.

"We want to allow American consumers to sample our world renowned national dish," Lochhead said. "They should be assured Scotland has an excellent reputation in animal disease surveillance and prevention."

"This is long overdue and I'm glad the U.S. authorities are coming to their senses," said master butcher Neil Watt of Watt the Butcher in Montrose, on the east coast of Scotland. "The haggis you get in the States does not taste like proper haggis."

Jo Macsween, director of Macsween’s Haggis in Edinburgh, said there are an estimated 9 million Scottish Americans, making the U.S. a poteltially large, untapped market.

"But who knows how long it will be before the ban is lifted. It could take years," he says. "Americans are inquisitive and eager to try our product when they visit. Once they've tasted it they generally love it and become enthusiasts. The worst part is telling them they can't take it home."

Source: ABC News

South Korean retailer turns to American beef to get out of sales slump

South Korean retailing giant E-Mart is looking to U.S. beef as one of the key tools to help it rebound from stagnant sales in 2009, and the early returns look extremely positive, reports the Beef Checkoff Program.

Sales in the big-box retail sector lagged behind general economic growth in South Korea last year, and management at E-Mart has seized on the concept of Everyday Low Prices (EDLP) to help it attract new customers, differentiate it from other big-box competitors and drive sales. U.S. beef is one of the key products E-Mart has identified to adhere to the EDLP program throughout the year.

E-Mart promoted three U.S. beef items – chilled bone-in short rib, chilled chuck eye roll and frozen bone-less chuck short rib – at 123 of its stores between Jan. 15 and Jan. 20.

The promotion was supported by beef checkoff investments and USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funds by conducting sampling of U.S. beef at 30 targeted E-Mart stores and by making purchasers eligible for a drawing to win a trip to the United States to visit a U.S. ranch. In addition, the stores showed commercials from the “Trust” television advertising campaign on screens in the meat department.

U.S. beef was a popular purchase during the promotion, with sales in the six-day period reaching 1.86 billion Korean won (approximately $1.6 million), a 300 percent increase from the previous week.

In addition, the promotion helped U.S. beef rebound versus rival Australian beef. In the fourth quarter of 2009, Australian beef outsold its U.S. counterpart by a ratio of 79 percent to 21 percent of imported beef sales. During the Jan. 15-20 promotion, U.S. beef outsold Australian beef by a ratio of 57 percent to 43 percent.

“E-Mart prepared this full-scale U.S. beef promotion to expand overall beef consumption that has slowed due to the depressed economy,” says E-Mart Livestock Team Manager Young-sun Min. “With the success of this promotion, we see strong potential with U.S. beef and are willing to strengthen promotional programs.”

During the promotion, E-Mart sold frozen bone-less chuck short rib valued at 1.25 billion Korean won (just over $1 million), chilled chuck eye roll valued at 350 million won (more than $300,000) and chilled bone-in short ribs valued at 330 million won (more than $280,000).

“The willingness of E-Mart to partner with the U.S. Meat Export Federation and feature U.S. beef is a significant development,” says Jihae Yang, Korea director for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the beef checkoff contractor managing the project.  “E-Mart is a very influential retailer, and its long-term plan to feature U.S. beef is a clear sign that the market is more receptive to the message of the quality and safety of U.S. beef.”

Source: Beef Checkoff Program

New fees for inspection may raise costs for consumers, AMI fears

Two new meat and poultry inspection user fees are included in USDA’s proposed Fiscal Year 2011 budget, unveiled publicly this week. These fees would charge companies for services ordinarily funded by the federal government, reports the American Meat Institute.

Language in the proposed budget says, “[i]n addition, legislation will be submitted for two user fees. The first is a performance-based user fee, which will be charged to plants that have sample failures or require additional inspection activities due to a pattern of regulatory non-compliance. The second one is a flat fee for facility applications and annual renewal activities in order to cover the increased costs above those basic inspection services provided to meat, poultry or processed egg products establishments. The amount of this fee would be based on a plant's size.”

According to AMI, section 695 of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) notes that the “cost of inspection rendered on and after July 1, 1948, under the requirements of laws relating to Federal inspection of meat and meat food products shall be borne by the United States except the cost of overtime pursuant to section 394 of title 7.”

“User fees for meat and poultry inspection have been consistently and properly rejected by the U.S. Congress,” said American Meat Institute President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. Likening these proposed fees to a food tax, Boyle said that many meat and poultry companies will be forced to pass on the increased costs to consumers, who are struggling to make ends meet in very tough economy and challenging job market. “Consumers have already been taxed once for the operating budget of USDA and the food safety responsibilities of the federal government,” Boyle added.

Source: AMI

Chik-fil-A reports 42 years of sales growth

Despite the sluggish economy and its effect on the restaurant industry, Chick-fil-A ended 2009 on a positive note by marking the company’s 42nd year of consecutive sales growth. The Atlanta-based chain reported 2009 system-wide sales of $3,217,001,094, representing an 8.6 percent increase over the chain’s 2008 overall sales performance and a same-store sales increase of 2.52 percent. 2009 also marked the first time the company surpassed $3 billion in annual sales.

“Chick-fil-A has truly been blessed to have had another year of sales growth during these difficult economic times,” said Dan T. Cathy, Chick-fil-A president and chief operating officer. “While we by no means are immune to the economic challenges our country is facing, we do believe we will continue to remain healthy as long as we stay committed to the qualities that have shaped the Chick-fil-A brand thus far: providing exceptional customer service and unmatched product quality to every customer on every visit. We have sensed God’s continued blessings on this business, especially during these unprecedented economic times.

“2010 will be a banner year for Chick-fil-A; perhaps our most notable year ever,” he added. “We are enhancing our menu with new products, entering new markets, reinvesting in our current restaurants and giving back to our communities.”

Source: Chik-fil-A Inc.