USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is meeting today with Japanese authorities in the hopes of restoring full U.S. access of U.S. beef imports. The United States has continually said that Japan’s restrictions against American beef older than 20 months has no scientific basis.

Vilsack indicated that the United States was amenable to incremental steps to revive the beef trade to address Japanese concerns, reports the New York Times. For instance, he said the United States would be willing to gradually raise the age limit on imports.

“It’s an effort on the part of the U.S. to convey a willingness to re-energize the dialogue about beef, to convey a sense of flexibility in how we approach the ultimate reopening of this market,” he said.

In a statement, Vilsack said that both himself and Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Hirotaka Akamatsu "share the view that U.S. and Japanese officials will continue the dialogue through a series of senior and working level meetings in order to establish a mutually agreeable framework for the import conditions for U.S. beef and beef products."

The U.S. agriculture secretary pointed to the Washington's commitment to seeking a "framework that is consistent with science and international standards."

Japan’s restrictions cost American producers about $1 billion in lost exports a year, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

American lawmakers have urged President Obama to do more to urge Japan to relax its stance. Last month, Senators Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) introduced a resolution pressing Japan to immediately expand market access for American beef.

Johanns, a former agriculture secretary, has contrasted Japan’s strict stance with what he said had been Washington’s more cautious handling of Toyota cars amid recalls over sudden acceleration problems.

He referred to “an inconsistency between Japan’s continued ban on safe U.S. beef and beef products compared to America’s fair treatment of Japan after reports of faulty Toyota vehicles,” in remarks after meeting Japan’s ambassador to the United States in March.

Akamatsu told reporters, “Whether food safety is strictly secured is the issue. The Japan-U.S. relationship is important, but that does not mean food safety can be neglected.”

Sources: New York Times, Xinhua

Process Expo shifts to biennial show in 2011

The Food Processing Suppliers Association (FPSA) announced plans to transition to a biennial show in Chicago, starting November 2011. This major shift to a two-year show cycle allows exhibitors to improve their exhibition ROI and focus on one worldwide show that will host premier suppliers of food equipment and technology.

According to Scott Scriven, chairman of FPSA, “the decision was based on extensive market feedback received from FPSA industry councils and then unanimously approved by the FPSA Board of Directors at our recent annual conference.”

During the council sessions, representatives from the world’s major food equipment suppliers and show attendees overwhelming expressed a strong preference to move from an annual show to a two-year cycle, hosted in a major show city during mid to late fall. “There are too many shows and a diminishing ROI for each show,” was the common sentiment echoed throughout these meetings.

This worldwide event is expected to be the largest Process Expo to date and has already garnered much excitement from some of the shows largest exhibitors. It will be held November 1 – 4, 2011 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The association continues its commitment to deliver solid results for attendees and exhibitors at the 2010 Process Expo show, which is co-located with IFT Food Expo. "Together, the two events will attract thousands of food professionals from around the world," said Scriven. “We are excited about the new opportunities for our members and look forward to sharing more information soon.”

Source: FPSA

Colorado State to host microbiology workshop

Colorado State University, Cornell University, and the Silliker Food Science Center will sponsor the third annual “Molecular Methods in Food Microbiology” workshop at Colorado State University (Fort Collins), June 28 - July 2, 2010. Designed for current and future food safety professionals, the symposium and hands-on workshop provides a thorough overview of molecular detection of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms.

Instructors and speakers scheduled to participate in the weeklong event include: Martin Wiedmann (Cornell University), Mark Carter (Silliker Inc.), Sarita Raengpradub-Wheeler (Silliker Inc. Food Science Center), Haley Oliver (Cornell University) and Kendra Nightingale (Colorado State University).

This year’s workshop will cover nucleic acid-based detection methods, focusing on PCR-based detection and confirmation methods (including PCR, multiplex PCR assays, real-time PCR), including DNA sequencing of PCR products. A major segment of the program will address new developments in technology and biological targets (e.g., detection of shiga toxin encoding Escherichia coli (STEC), multidrug resistant Salmonella etc.) using current examples. Attendees will become familiar with commercial DNA-based detection methods (including data interpretation and troubleshooting) as well as approaches to design custom PCR-based assays and protocols for foodborne pathogens and spoilage microorganisms. This one-week program includes a one-and-a-half-day lecture series and symposium (unlimited registration), as well as a three-day hands-on workshop (registration limited to 30 people).

A workshop advisory committee, consisting of representatives from private industry, academia, and professional groups, was assembled to help identify subject matter and ensure the workshop meets the needs of the food industry.

For more information, including a detailed workshop schedule and online registration, please log on to Reduced early registration fees are available for individuals who register before May 17th. To learn more about meeting, please contact Kendra Nightingale ( or Sarita Raengpradub-Wheeler (

Source: Silliker Group Corp.

Sanderson stock sale closes

Sanderson Farms Inc. announced the closing of its underwritten registered public offering of 2,300,000 shares of its common stock, including 300,000 shares issued in connection with the underwriters exercise of their over-allotment option following the pricing of the offering. The offering price to the public was $53.00 per share.

The company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering, together with other funds, to finance the construction of its new retail poultry complex in Kinston, N.C., and a potential new big bird poultry complex to be located near Goldsboro, N.C. Pending such uses, net proceeds from the offering may be used to reduce indebtedness and to invest in cash and cash equivalents. The company may use some of the invested proceeds as working capital and for general corporate purposes.

Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan acted as the joint book-running managers of the offering, and BMO Capital Markets and Stephens Inc. were co-managers.

Source: Sanderson Farms