Russia has banned imports of pork products from five plants, effective Dec. 15. The plants involved in the ban are Smithfield Foods facilities in Sioux Falls, S.D., Sioux City, Iowa, and Tarheel, N.C., a Tyson Foods plant in Madison, Neb., and Sioux Preme Packing Co. in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Those five plants, plus an additional two Smithfield facilities what were banned on Dec. 7, were found to have excessive levels of the antibiotic oxitetracycline in the meat produced there. Additionally, Salmonella was found in pork produced at one of the Smithfield plants.

Source: Reuters

Rep. DeLauro calls for Beef Packers plant to temporarily close

Following Fresno, Calif.-based Beef Packers Inc.’s second recall for ground beef this year due toSalmonellaconcerns, House Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has called for the plant to be temporarily closed. DeLauro, the chair of the House appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, wants the USDA to thoroughly inspect the facility, "identify and correct any major problems" before it produces more beef,USA Todayreports.

Beef Packers "continues to pose a health risk not only to the general population but to our children through the school lunch program," DeLauro said in a news release, citing a USA Today article about the company’s involvement with the Federal School Lunch Program and how beef sent to the program was not a part of the company’s August recall. Beef Packers is not presently participating in the program.

In a statement Tuesday, Beef Packers' parent company Cargill said it "will be convening a panel of respected food safety and public health experts" to evaluate the facility. Spokesman Mark Klein said the company has "undertaken a comprehensive examination of our processes" that "can continue without the closure of the Fresno operation."

Source: USA Today

“Supermarket Guru” offers seven 2010 trends

Americans expect their favorite brands to deliver simple and straightforward foods that taste great to the entire family, according to Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru. He says that food brands understand that without consumers' trust, their future is bleak.

Lempert works closely with ConAgra Foods and its retailers to analyze trends in the industry. Lately, he has seen many brands go back to their roots for inspiration or slim down their ingredient labels to provide the utmost quality to customers.

"Americans are taking a hard look at every aspect of their food, from where it comes from to what's on the ingredient label," said Lempert. "Major brands are responding in positive ways to ensure they meet these consumer demands in 2010."

Lempert has compiled his observations into seven trends that Americans can expect to see in 2010:
* Less is More - Food brands will continue to use "real foods" on ingredient labels while also shortening the label's length - less is more in the eye of the shopper. ConAgra Foods, for example, announced plans to reduce the use of salt by 20 percent across its entire portfolio of food products by 2015.
* The Changing Face of Private Label - In the wake of the recession, many Americans switched to private label or store brands because they offer better prices. In 2010, major food brands will develop co-branded private label foods with retailers that will feature brands' key ingredients. This will fuel industry innovation while putting major food companies back in grocery carts.
* Getting Back to Basics - In 2009, the economy sent millions of Americans back into the kitchen to prepare meals for their families. Lempert says that Americans have definitively returned to home cooking and have shifted away from the art and glamour of meal preparation to focus on preparing easy, great-tasting meals to nourish their families. The purer the ingredients and the less complex the ingredient label, the better.
* The Butcher's Back - Now more than ever, people want to know where their food is coming from, especially in the meat case where the labels can often list multiple countries of origin. Expect a renewed interest in local butchers, long viewed as a figment of the past, who almost always sell American-raised meat. Not only that, but at the butcher's counter, shoppers can select the cuts of meat they prefer and have them ground or sliced on demand.
* Power of the Collective - The 2009 Women and Social Media Study by, and Compass Partners reports that 75 percent of women visit social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, a world that is expanding to include husbands and grandparents. Expect that more shoppers will depend less on advertising and more on social networking and word-of-mouth to help them make decisions on what foods to buy.
* Relaxation Foods - More brands will focus on positioning their products as "relaxation" foods rather than "comfort," with the message of helping people relax and unwind. Look for this trend to quickly move to other categories, including "anti-energy" bars and snack foods, and it may even spawn a resurgence of calming after-dinner beverages.

Source: ConAgra Foods

OSI Group adds to management team, hires general counsel

OSI Group has added three executives to its corporate office.

Donna Bunch Coaxum has joined OSI Group as a vice president and general counsel. She was previously employed at OSI Group from 2001 through 2003 as senior counsel to corporate functions and affiliate entities including Nation Pizza, Fair Oaks Farms, and Oakland Foods. After leaving OSI, she worked as a solo practitioner in California and most recently as corporate counsel for the human resource consulting firm Towers Perrin Forester & Crosby in Philadelphia and Atlanta. Coaxum also has served as a guest lecturer at Chapman University for graduate level human resources classes on various employment law issues.

Ronald Bree has joined OSI Group as a senior vice president – sales and business development. In his new role, he leads the OSI Sales group and is a member of the North American Leadership Team. Bree most recently served as vice president/general manager of ArmourEckrich Meats, a division of Smithfield Foods and has 24 years of meat industry sales experience including past sales management positions with Sara Lee Corporation, Doskocil Companies Inc. and George A. Hormel & Co.

Michael Goldman has joined OSI Group as vice president national accounts, reporting to Ron Bree. He joins OSI with over 28 years of foodservice sales experience, including his most recent position as director of national accounts at Armour/Eckrich. Prior to this, Goldman was with ConAgra Foods where he was responsible for national account sales of branded and proprietary protein products, and he also spent 13 years with Sara Lee Foods where he held several positions including director of national accounts for both the east and central regions.

Source: OSI Group

NCBA warns against EPA's greenhouse gas regulations

The National Cattleman’s Beef Association issued a statement in the wake of the Environmental Protection Agency’s ruling that greenhouse gas emissions are a public health hazard. This sets the stage, the group says, for greenhouse regulation under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and would give the EPA unprecedented control over every sector of the U.S. economy.

“It’s premature to issue this kind of finding, especially given the recent controversy surrounding the scientific validity of alleged human contributions to climate change,” said Tamara Thies, NCBA chief environmental counsel. “Regulation of greenhouse gases should be based on science, and it should be thoughtfully considered and voted on by Congress through a democratic process, not dictated by the EPA.”

The NCBA notes that the endangerment finding does not itself regulate GHGs; but unless Congress acts, it sets in motion EPA regulation of GHGs from stationary sources and the setting of new source performance standards for GHGs. On October 27, 2009, EPA proposed a rule designed to regulate GHG emissions from sources that emit 25,000 tons per year or more, instead of the statutory 250 tons per year threshold for pollutants which is included in the Clean Air Act. The extent to which EPA can change statutory permitting requirements, however, is unclear. Only time will tell how our federal courts will address citizen suits to force regulation of all sources that emit GHGs in excess of the statutory thresholds. EPA indicated that it also would be developing an approach to regulate GHGs from hundreds of thousands of small operations, including farms and buildings.

While agricultural sources are currently generally not required to obtain permits for greenhouse gas emissions, regulation of GHGs under the CAA may for the first time trigger such regulation. Given the fact that America currently has over 2,000,000 farms, it would be virtually impossible to permit a majority of them. It would also impose massive regulatory compliance costs on producers, which could force many operations out of business.

“Congress never intended for the Clean Air Act to be used for greenhouse gas regulation,” said Thies. “While the Act has done a good job of cleaning up pollutants, it is not adequately equipped to address global climate change. Any attempts to use it for this purpose would be devastating to U.S. agriculture.”

According to the EPA, in 2007, GHG emissions from the entire agriculture sector represented less than 6% of total U.S. GHG emissions in Tg CO2 Eq. At the same time, land use, land use change, and forestry activities resulted in a net carbon soil sequestration of approximately 17.4% of total U.S. CO2 emissions, or 14.9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

“Agriculture actually provides a significant net benefit to the climate change equation,” said Thies. “Rather than being subject to overly-burdensome regulations, agriculture should be rewarded for the carbon reductions we provide."

Source: NCBA