Randolph Packing Co. Inc., an Asheboro, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 96,000 pounds of 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 bin packages of "Randolph Packing Co., Inc. Boneless Beef," combo bin packages of "Randolph Packing Co. Knuckles 90% & 94%," and 30-pound boxes of "Beef Ribeye Rolls." Each package label bears the establishment number "EST. 6590" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The products were produced on February 25, 2010, and were distributed to federal establishments for further processing in Ill., Mo., N.Y., Ohio, and Va. None of these products are available directly to consumers. The problem was discovered through FSIS microbiological sampling.

Source: FSIS

Perdue, poultry farm hit with pollution lawsuit

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Perdue Farms and a chicken farm, accusing them with pollution waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The Assateague Coastkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance are claiming that harmful levels of bacteria and nutrient pollution are flowing from a drainage ditch on the farm into a branch of the Pocomoke Rover, reports theBaltimore Sun. The groups had previously stated that they would file a lawsuit after spotting an uncovered pile of what they claimed was chicken manure draining into the ditch. The Maryland Department of the Environment said that the pile was treated “biosolids” from the Ocean City sewage treatment plant.

"The Pocomoke River is already impaired with nitrogen, phosphorus, E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria, Kathy Phillips, the Assateague Coastkeeper said. “That's exactly what we have pouring off this facility, and the Pocomoke River is carrying it to the Chesapeake Bay.”

The chicken farm, owned by Alan and Kristin Hudson, raises 80,000 chickens a year for Perdue. Neither the Hudsons nor Perdue Farms had a comment on the lawsuit.

Source: Baltimore Sun

U.S., Russia continue poultry import talks

A USDA official is remaining in Russia to continue discussions after a second round of talks between the two countries on chicken imports. Russia originally enacted a ban on U.S. chicken imports due to a chlorine rinse used by U.S. processors, which violates Russian food safety standards. The U.S. maintains that the rinse is safe and that the ban is not supported by science.

After two days of talks, Jim Miller, the USDA's undersecretary charged with trade matters, will remain in Moscow, Vilsack said.

"Hopefully, we get something done in the next couple of days," he told reporters on the sidelines of a hearing on Capitol Hill.

According to AP reports, Gennady Onishchenko was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Russia and a visiting U.S. delegation reached common ground on unspecified points Tuesday. The second round of talks started Monday after unsuccessful discussions in January.

Vilsack added that he is “very optimistic” that the two countries can also resolve a disputes over pork imports that had shut all but six U.S. processing plants out of the Russian market.

Sources: Reuters, Associated Press

Chipotle founder presents at Senate briefing against agricultural antibiotics

In a presentation made at a Senate briefing in support of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), Chipotle Mexican Grill founder, chairman and co-CEO Steve Ells argued that restaurant companies can be successful while eschewing harsh agricultural practices, including the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock farming.

Ells presentation drew on his own experiences and Chipotle’s food supply practices that have the company looking for more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients it uses. Ells calls this philosophy “Food with Integrity.” Chipotle began this program more than 10 years ago after Ells decided to start serving naturally raised pork (from pigs raised on open pasture or in deeply bedded barns, without the use of antibiotics or added hormones) in all Chipotle restaurants.

“After making that initial decision, I had an epiphany,” Ells said in his remarks. “If you want to serve the best tasting food you can, it’s important to understand how animals are raised and how vegetables are grown, as these variables impact the taste of the food.

“While it costs more to serve food made from these better ingredients, we made the decision early on that we would fight hard to find efficiencies in other areas of our business, so we could afford to buy food made from sustainable sources, without charging premium prices to our customers,” said Ells.

PAMTA was introduced in March 2009 and proposes to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to preserve the effectiveness of medically important antibiotics used in the treatment of human and animal diseases by banning sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill