Perdue Farms Inc. announced it is introducing Perdue fresh, all-natural chicken products with the premier third-party stamp of approval, the USDA Process Verified Seal, in North Carolina. Perdue is the first and only chicken company to receive this seal of verification for its practices and be allowed to make the claim on its product packaging. Products carrying the seal include Perdue fresh, all-natural whole chickens and bone-in parts as well as Perdue Fit & Easy boneless, skinless chicken products.

"In our pursuit to provide families the highest quality product, Perdue has made a commitment to undergo the rigorous process to develop the USDA Process Verified Programs," says Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue. "We know that today, Americans don't just care about their own diet; they also care about the diet of the foods they eat. The seal verifies our chickens are fed an all vegetarian diet, with no animal by-products. It also verifies they are raised cage free and humanely raised. All of this adds up to a tastier Perdue chicken."

"We know that our consumers are looking for an added level of assurance in the poultry products that they purchase," Perdue adds. "The USDA is a trusted resource for consumers and we believe the USDA Process Verified seal will make it easier for consumers to choose chicken products they can feel good about feeding their families. We're proud to be the first and only chicken company to provide this added level of assurance to our consumers."

The USDA Process Verified Seal indicates that USDA has audited the company's processes behind claims made on the product's packaging. "We are pleased to allow Perdue to use the USDA Process Verified Program Seal in recognition of their adherence to their vegetarian diet and humanely raised process points," says Charles Johnson, Poultry Programs Grading Branch Chief of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). "AMS has reviewed and audited Perdue's production processes and determined that they comply with the requirements of the USDA Process Verified Program and the criteria outlined in their approved quality management systems."

Products carrying the Humanely Raised claim are verified to come from birds raised in accordance with the Perdue Farms Poultry Welfare Program, which ensures humane treatment of chickens from hatching through processing. The program is based on the poultry welfare guidelines of the National Chicken Council and Perdue's own best practices to create scientifically sound, industry-leading standards for the humane treatment of poultry. Perdue is the only chicken company with third-party audits by the USDA to verify a humanely raised claim.

Source: Perdue Farms

Smithfield, union, Paula Deen deliver 150,000 protein servings to food bank

Smithfield, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Food Network celebrity cook Paula Deen and volunteers will deliver 150,000 servings of protein to the San Francisco Food Bank. This donation is a part of their "Feeding The Hungry" coast-to-coast tour, during which 20 million servings of much-needed protein will be delivered and unloaded to food banks around the country.

Smithfield and the United Food and Commercial Workers will address the need for hunger relief in San Francisco on February 17, and will continue this work across the nation in an effort to donate and deliver more than 1,600,000 pounds of protein, or more than 6,400,000 servings each year, to help families and individuals become more food secure.

"We want to get as much food as possible to as many needy families as possible," said Paula Deen. "I feel so grateful that my partners at Smithfield are helping me deliver protein to the pantry."

"Although Smithfield Foods has long been a supporter of hunger relief initiatives, we felt the need to help shine a spotlight on an ever-increasing problem for American families," said Dennis Pittman, public affairs director, Smithfield. "Providing hunger relief through our Helping Hungry Homes initiative will continue to remain a priority."

"Meat donations are greatly needed for their nutritional value but are often the hardest to come by, making this donation all the more critical for our community," said Leslie Harless Bacho, Deputy Executive Director of the San Francisco Food Bank. "As more and more families are relying on the Food Bank for assistance, donations like this make it possible to meet the increased demand."

Safeway will be donating more than 20,000 pounds of food that were collected during their Holiday Food Drive to the San Francisco Food Bank.

"The UFCW is committed to ensuring that families across the country have the relief and the opportunities they need to weather the current economic crises," said Joe Hansen, UFCW International president. "All across the country UFCW members are on the frontlines of efforts to improve and strengthen their communities, and this new partnership reflects their unwavering commitment to protect and advocate for families during tough times. This partnership is about bringing together organizations with the resources, the relationships and the know-how to ensure that vulnerable communities across the country have access to well-supplied food banks. Our goal is simple: Get good, nutritious food to as many families, in as many communities, as possible."

"Feeding the Hungry" is one of Smithfield Foods' "Helping Hungry Homes" initiatives. "Helping Hungry Homes" was established to help ensure that American families in need do not go hungry. Smithfield Foods and its independent operating companies have a long history of stocking food banks, supporting after-school nutrition programs and providing food relief in the wake of natural disasters.

Source: Smithfield Foods Inc.

Seven associations partner with NAMP to co-sponsor E. coli mini-conference

Seven leading industry associations have accepted NAMP Executive Director Phil Kimball’s invitation to co-sponsor theE. coliO157:H7 Mini-Conference on March 18 at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. They include the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP), the American Meat Institute Foundation (AMI), the American Meat Science Association (AMSA), the National Meat Association (NMA), the Southeastern Meat Association (SEMA), the Southwest Meat Association (SMA), and the Chicago Mid-West Meat Association (CMMA).

Their members qualify for the lower members-only registration fee for the Mini-Conference as well as the Meat Industry Management Conference presented by NAMP that follows. In turn, NAMP members will qualify for lower members-only rates to many of these associations’ events during the year.

Last year, six associations accepted NAMP’s invitation to co-sponsor the E. coli workshop before the management conference. More than 100 people attended the workshop, and many stayed for the management conference that followed.

This year’s mini-conference takes a comprehensive look at a company’s food safety system, focusing on the best controls available to prevent E. coli O157:H7 from being present in meat products. Featured speakers include Dr. James Marsden, regent’s distinguished professor at Kansas State University and NAMP’s senior science advisor; Dr. Dennis Burson, professor meat extension and food safety specialist, University of Nebraska; and Bobby Palesano, vice president of technical services, International HACCP Alliance.

Source: NAMP

Hog futures gain on declining animal supplies

For a third straight session hog futures rose yesterday on signs that the North American herd is declining in size. The Canadian hog herd, as of January 1, shrank 4.5 percent from a year earlier to 11.6 million animals, Bloomberg reports. Additionally, U.S. meat packers processed 13.1 million hogs through February 13 this year, down 8 percent from the same period last year.

“Lower hog numbers have been a general theme for a while, and that’s the product of liquidation,” said Lawrence Kane, a market adviser at Stewart-Peterson Group in Elmwood, Illinois. “We don’t have a sword hanging over our heads of very many Canadian hogs, so certainly that is a supportive factor.”

Sources: Business Week, Bloomberg