Daniele International Inc., an establishment with operations in Pascoag and Mapleville, R.I., is recalling approximately 1,240,000 pounds of ready-to-eat varieties of Italian sausage products, including salami/salame, in commerce and potentially available to customers in retail locations because they may be contaminated withSalmonella, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

FSIS became aware of the problem during the course of an ongoing investigation of a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella serotype Montevideo illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), FSIS, state health and agriculture departments, and Daniele International are cooperating in this investigation. The CDC has posted information about the multi-state outbreak on its website (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella) but the investigation is ongoing, and has not yet definitively identified a food vehicle(s).

The recall by Daniele International Inc. comes amid an outbreak that's sickened 184 people in 38 states since July. Daniele has been identified as the source of the ongoing outbreak by William Keene, a senior epidemiologist at the public health division in Oregon, where eight people have gotten sick, reports the Washington Post.
Keene said Saturday that the cause of the sickness was difficult to track and some questions remain, such as whether it was the meat or the pepper that was contaminated.

The product tested was similar to products bought by customers who later became sick in the Montevideo investigation, but currently there is not a direct link. The Salmonella strain in the tested product does not appear to be the Montevideo strain of interest and further testing of the sample is ongoing at a state health partner laboratory. FSIS is continuing to work with the CDC, affected state public health partners, and the company on the investigation and will update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available.

In addition, the company presented information to FSIS and took the additional action to voluntarily recall all products in commerce associated with black pepper, which the company believes is a possible source of contamination.

Daniele spokesman Jason Maloni said "there's no evidence that points to us" as the source. Maloni said 11 people who got sick ate salami from the Daniele Italian Brand Gourmet Pack, but that Rhode Island and federal officials have not linked the company's products with the outbreak. "We're taking the prudent step in the event that further evidence does point to us," he said of the recall. "It is our responsibility to take this aggressive step."

The products involved in the recall include numerous types of salami products, as well as other Italian deli meats, under Daniele, Dietz & Watson and Boar's Head brands. Each package bears a label with establishment number "EST. 9992" or "EST. 54" inside the USDA mark of inspection. The establishment is recalling all the products listed above which are currently in commerce. These products were distributed to retail establishments nationwide, as well as internationally.

Source: FSIS, Washington Post

Tyson shifts production, cuts 480 jobs

The continued growth of case-ready beef and pork sales in the southern United States has prompted Tyson Foods Inc. to make some adjustments in operations, company officials reported. "The changes are expected to enable the company to make more effective use of its existing case-ready production capacity," said a statement from the company.

Tyson plans to shift some production from its Council Bluffs, Iowa, case-ready plant to its facilities in Goodlettsville, Tenn., and Sherman, Texas. The two plants are closer to the company’s growing customer base.

“Our overall case-ready business is operating successfully, and we must continue to control costs and improve efficiencies,” said Gary Sheneman, senior vice president of case-ready beef and pork for Tyson. “We believe shifting some production from Council Bluffs to our other plants is the right thing to do for our overall business, which continues to grow and diversify its customer base. The unfortunate downside is the impact on some of our employees.”

A portion of second shift case-ready production at the Council Bluffs plant will be suspended in mid-March and subsequently handled by the company’s two other case-ready facilities, which have available capacity. The suspension will displace approximately 480 of the 1,300 people employed at the Council Bluffs plant. The workers will be encouraged to apply for openings within the company and also will be invited to a job fair Tyson officials plan to host. In addition, Tyson intends to work with state officials to ensure the employees are informed about unemployment benefits and any potential re-training opportunities.

“We believe the Council Bluffs plant will remain an important part of our case-ready beef and pork business and continue to benefit the local economy,” Sheneman said. “In fact, if enough additional case-ready business develops in the Midwest, we’ll consider reinstating the production we’re suspending at Council Bluffs.”

This is the second round of meat-related job losses to hit Iowa in a week. Last week, John Morrell & Co., a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, announced it was closing its plant in Sioux City in April, laying off nearly 1,500 employees.

Source: Tyson Foods Inc.

McDonald's Q4 profit rises 23 percent

McDonald's fourth-quarter earnings rose 23 percent, and the restaurant reported same-store sales growth in all regions. Same-store sales in the United States rose 1 percent in December after two months of decline, and the company reported that sales trends continued to improve in January.

The chain's new Dollar Breakfast Menu and its Mac Snack Wrap – a version of its Big Mac in a tortilla that sells for $1.49, helped to attract customers seeking value. McDonald's is complementing the value-items with premium products, like espresso-based coffee and Angus burgers, which are helping avoid having its average check decline.

McDonald's Chairman and CEO Jim Skinner did say that continued signs of improvement may be difficult with the current job market, according to Dow Jones reports. Skinner said on a call with analysts that until job creation materializes, "we're not going to see enormous pickups or a big change relative to trends in consumer spending."

Source: Dow Jones Newswire

Montana firm looks to open processing plant

A Montana food-processing company that has renovated an old meat plant says it plans to start making sausage, jerky and cooked ground beef as soon as it gets final approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

American Food Products plans to make the products at what was the old Montana Territory Meats plant that hasn't operated since 2002, according tp AP reports.

Company officials say they will market the products under the name Montana Cattle Co. The company wants to produce premium cuts of natural Montana boxed beef that it will market nationally and to the Asian Pacific.

Ron Oberlander is American Food Products CEO. He says he's confident the plant will succeed even though the state hasn't had a large meatpacking operation in 25 years.

Source: Associated Press