Illnesses from a deadlyE. colibacteria strain fell to a five-year low in the U.S. last year amid government and industry efforts to curb contamination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Laboratory-confirmed cases of E. coli O157, which can cause severe diarrhea, occurred in less than 1 of every 100,000 people, the CDC said in a report. The agency’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network identified 459 cases in 10 states, reports Bloomberg. Data from the network, known as FoodNet, is generally representative of the U.S., the CDC said.

“We are gratified that our ongoing and aggressive efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate E. coli O157:H7 in beef products may have contributed to the achievement of this important public health goal,” said AMI Executive Vice President James H. Hodges. For a decade, AMI’s members have treated food safety as a non-competitive issue and have had a comprehensive food safety research program in place to identify new strategies to reduce and ultimately eliminate key foodborne pathogens.

The incidence of E. coli O157:H7 infections in Americans dropped from 1.12 cases per 100,000 people in 2008 to .99 cases per 100,000 people in 2009. This represents an overall 51 percent reduction since 2000. The U.S. public health goal was one case per 100,000 people and was set a decade ago. During this same time period, the number of U.S.D.A. ground beef samples that tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 has declined by 63 percent to less than one third of one percent. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations, which the Institute asked USDA to mandate, were fully implemented in 2000 and triggered significant food safety progress.

CDC called an increase in Listeria monocytogenes illness from 0.29 cases per 100,000 people in 2008 to 0.34 cases per 100,000 people in 2009 “concerning,” but noted that the incidence of Listeria infections continues to be substantially lower than at the start of the FoodNet surveillance program.

“It is noteworthy that since 2000, the Listeria incidence rate in ready to-eat meat and poultry products has dropped 69 percent to less than one half of one percent. It is also noteworthy that there have been no recalls of ready-to-eat meat or poultry products triggered by a listeriosis outbreak since 2002,” said Hodges. He added that there likely are other causes for the increase besides ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

“We are eager to see improved food attribution data that will definitively link foods to illnesses,” Hodges said. “When we can better understand the foods that are directly linked to illnesses, we can better target our public health strategies to make our safe food supply even safer. As pleased as we are with this progress, we realize the battle is not over. We are committed to making even further improvements.”

Sources: Bloomberg, AMI

Mountaire expansion to create 51 jobs

Mountiare Farms Inc. announced it will spend $17.9 million to expand its chicken processing plant in Lumber Bridge, N.C.  It will create 51 jobs over the next three years, reports theTriangle Business Journal. The new jobs will pay an average wage of $27,553 plus benefits, which is higher than the average Robeson County wage.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue awarded the company a $150,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, a state economic development incentive program.

The One North Carolina Fund grant must be matched by a local government group for Mountaire to receive it, and companies must meet job creation and investment performance goals before funds are distributed.

“With help from the state, Robeson County and many others, expanding operations in North Carolina will provide us with the most cost-effective means of expanding production, improving logistics throughout our value chain and growing our position as a globally competitive food producer,” said Scott Varner, director of operations for Mountaire in North Carolina, in a statement.

Source: Triangle Business Journal

Sadler's Smokehouse offers healthier BBQ options

Sadler's Smokehouse announces it has significantly reduced sodium in its top-selling "Dinner For Two" and new "Slow Roasted Meals" products and will soon launch new packaging to identify its gluten-free offerings.

"Our customers want the convenience and quality of our authentic pit-smoked meats, but they also want healthier options," said Sadler's Smokehouse Executive VP of Marketing, Greg Klein. "Our lower sodium offerings give consumers a flavorful, easy alternative when trying to eat better."

Sadler's reduced sodium by 13 to 52 percent in its Dinner For Two line, which includes barbecue pork loin and beef brisket dinners, by preparing them with lower sodium sea salt rather than refined salt. Its Slow Roasted Meals, introduced this year after the successful reformulation of the Dinner For Two line, also feature low sodium entrees, ranging from 360 to 600mg.

Additionally, Sadler's will introduce new packing in the next 60 days to indicate the majority of its briskets are gluten-free.

Source: Sadler’s Smokehouse Ltd.

NMA lauds California Supreme Court decision

The National Meat Association issued a statement praising the Supreme Court of California acted prudently yesterday in denying a petition for review of a lower court’s determination that California’s Proposition 65 is expressly preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

NMA joined American Meat Institute in filing suit in 2005 to seek a declaratory judgment that the FMIA preempts Proposition 65 with respect to the labeling of meat products. And the associations’ request was affirmed late last year by a California appellate court. The defendant petitioned for review earlier this year, but that petition has now been denied.

"This is good news for sound business practices,” said NMA CEO Barry Carpenter. “The FMIA provides national standards for meat safety. It’s important that those standards not be undermined.”

Source: NMA

Vintage Natural Beef wins burger tournament

Vintage Natural Beef has announced that it is the primary beef supplier of blanc burgers + bottles and applauds the Kansas City-based restaurants for recently being named the “2010 Burger Bracket National Champion” by is an authority on burger menus and marketing. Its expertise is recognized nationally by such sources as USA Today, MSN Money, NPR Marketplace and many others. Its contest pits 64 of the top burger chains and independents in the country in four regional divisions. Competition is fierce and to win is an achievement. The complete bracket can be found at A newcomer to the Burger Bracket, blanc burgers + bottles’ victory in 2010 was in no small part due to the use of a proprietary blend of Vintage Natural Beef in its burgers.

“We really like using Vintage Natural Beef,” says Josh Eans, chef / partner of blanc burgers + bottles. “We sampled many beef programs out there and found that Vintage has superior flavor and consistency.”

Vintage Natural Beef’s exceptional flavor and consistency is a result of pure, single breed genetics with no added hormones or antibiotics and a 100% vegetarian diet. No other natural beef can match its tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.

“This is where top quality product meets craftsmanship,” adds Dave Crum, culinary sales consultant with Arrowhead Specialty Meats, the Kansas City area distributor for Vintage. “Vintage is a breed apart from other beef programs just as blanc burgers + bottles is a breed apart from other burger restaurants. We look forward to working with them to create more bracket busting burgers now and into the future.”

Source: Vintage Natural Beef