USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said he was hoping for “meaningful” talks with Russia over the country's ban on U.S. poultry products, saying that relations between the two countries would be harmed if the issue is not resolved.

"Our hope is that they (Russia) first and foremost recognize the difficulties that this is going to create for the industry in our country and their country and their consumers, and hopefully understand the impact this will have generally on our relationship," said Vilsack, without giving details, Reuters reports.

A team of U.S. technical experts was due in Russia around January 17 to discuss the ban, which was caused by Russia's ban on chlorine as an anti-microbial treatment for poultry. The U.S.'s stance is that the treatment is scientifically proven to be a safe and effective treatment and that Russia's law goes beyond the standards set by the World Trade organization – of which Russia is not a member.

Source: Reuters

Pork skin products recalled

Rudolph Foods Company Inc., a San Bernardino, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 205 pounds of pork skin products because they were inadvertently mislabeled and contain an undeclared allergen, milk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. Milk is a known potential allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The product being recalled is 3.5-ounce packages of "Pepe's Gigante Louisiana Hot Sauce Flavored Cracklins." Each package bears a use by date of "03/19/2010," as well as the establishment number "EST. 0525" inside the USDA mark of inspection.

The pork skin products were produced on December 18, 2009, and were sent to distributors in the Southern California region.  The problem was discovered by the company following a product check. FSIS has received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Harris Ranch, California Polytechnic State clash over class

Newly released documents show that Harris Ranch Beef Co. lobbied to have a faculty member at California Polytechnic State university quit teaching a class called “Issues in Animal Agriculture” that criticized the practice of factory farming. Harris Ranch executives criticized Professor Robert Rutherford for his views on sustainable farming, which the company considers unrealistic and anti-big business, reports the Fresno Bee.
Rutherford, who said that he is retiring, did not teach the class in the spring, a decision he said was voluntary. He helped to develop the class curriculum in the 1980s. It has covered topics like global climate change, animal rights, the livestock industry's use of public lands and food safety. Harris Ranch chairman David Wood and his assistant, Michael Smith -- who both studied animal science at Cal Poly -- say students need a balanced view of agriculture. Cal Poly officials say their program provides that. Last fall, Harris Ranch Beef Co. threatened to withdraw $500,000 in donations to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, after nationally known agribusiness critic Michael Pollan was invited to speak. The university changed the format of Pollan's presentation to include a broader range of speakers, although it denied bowing to donor pressure.

Source: Fresno Bee