Shares of Smithfield Fods Inc. rose more than 5 percent yesterday on reports that the company may be the subject of a takeover bid by JBS SA, parent company of JBS Swift and Pilgrim’s Pride. The Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico first reported that JBS would hold talks to acquire the pork processor, but the paper did not say where it got the information.

JBS bought Smithfield’s beef operations in 2008 for $565 million, as part of its emergence into the U.S. market. Representatives from both companies declined comment on the story.

Source: Associated Press, Business Week

Sanderson Farms ready to ship to Russia

Sanderson Farms stated that it is ready to start packing poultry products for export to Russia as soon as the USDA posts requirements for shipping to Russia.

"Our understanding is the export library will be updated [Tuesday]. As soon as it is we are going to begin packing product," said Mike Cockrell, Sanderson Farms' chief financial officer. The company has two plants that use an approved non-chlorine rinse.

The USDA said that it expected the agreement between the two countries to be signed very soon, Reuters reports. First, the FSIS must update the list of U.S. plants certified to export poultry to Russia and provide that information to Russia. Secondly, the agency must add the information to its website and provide instructions and forms to its inspectors.

On Monday, a Russian official estimated that it might take up to two months before U.S. chicken returns to the Russian market.

Source: Reuters

FSIS, FDA, CDC to hold food-safety meetings

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today took another step in the agencies' collaborative efforts to measure progress in reducing illness, harm, and death from contaminated food by announcing two joint public meetings to hear stakeholder presentations on measuring progress on food safety. The two meetings are being held in Chicago, Ill., on July 21, and in Portland, Ore., on October 20.

The first public meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 East Wacker Dr., in Chicago Ill. A second public meeting will be held on October 20, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at The Crowne Plaza Portland Downtown, 1441 NE Second Ave., in Portland, Ore.

The public meetings are extensions of the initial one-day public workshop held on March 30, 2010, where FSIS, FDA, and CDC discussed their collaborations on the methodological and data challenges involved in the development of feasible and effective food safety metrics. The agencies have been collaborating to reduce foodborne illness as part of the Food Safety Working Group, which has recommended a public health-focused approach to food safety based on the principles of prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement, and improving response and recovery.

At the two public meetings, the agencies will hear presentations from any interested stakeholder, including members of consumer groups, industry, public health experts, and state and local regulators on the measurements they recommend or are using to assess performance in food safety. The agencies will present information on the Food Safety Working Group's charge to create meaningful metrics to measure the effectiveness of the nation's food safety system. They also will present current thinking, focusing on how these metrics might be applied to evaluate the success of FDA's shell egg safety rule, FSIS implementation of broiler chicken controls, and CDC's efforts to collect and analyze human disease data. Additionally, the agencies will present information about the shared list of metrics that was developed by them to support the work of the Food Safety Working Group.

"What doesn't get measured doesn't get done," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold R. Mande. "To meet the president's food safety goals, we need clear, effective measures of food safety so that government and industry can be held accountable by the public."

Documents and agenda items related to the two regional public meetings will be accessible prior to the public meetings on the FSIS webpage at

Source: FSIS

Foster Farms takes anti-plumping campaign to Facebook

Foster Farms launched a tiered Facebook sweepstakes to raise widespread awareness of "plumping," or the practice of injecting fresh chicken with saltwater. The new "Say NO to Plumping, Say Yes to Free Groceries" sweepstakes will reward one lucky winner with a year's supply of free groceries (a $5,000 value) and five other fans with cash prizes for spreading the word about plumping. The sweepstakes is designed to encourage consumer action toward making sure that only truly natural, never plumped chicken is labeled "natural." As the cause's fan base grows, the value of the sweepstakes prizes will increase.

To enter the sweepstakes, consumers become fans of the Say No to Plumping Facebook page (, then enter their email addresses. The sweepstakes takes place in two stages. In the first stage, Foster Farms will randomly select three fans to receive prizes of $1,000, $500 and $250 once the Facebook page receives a total of 50,000 fans. The prizes will increase once the Facebook page reaches 100,000 fans in total during the second stage of the sweepstakes, with one lucky person winning a year's supply of groceries (a $5,000 value) and two others receiving prizes of $2,000 and $1,000. The contest is open to all residents of California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii or Alaska who are at least 18 years of age. The complete rules are available via the Facebook application.

"Our recent survey proved that consumers care about sodium in their diets and they feel deceived when they learn they could be purchasing chicken that's been plumped but still carries the 'natural' label," said Ira Brill, director of marketing and advertising for Foster Farms. "This sweepstakes rewards fans with prizes, of course, but it also helps them alert friends and family to the practice of plumping and shows them what to look for when shopping for fresh chicken."

Source: Foster Farms