After a long battle with a number of health issues, William Burke Sr., founder of Burke Corp. and a pioneer in the fully cooked pizza topping industry, passed away on Friday, July 2, 2010, at the age of 81.

Born in St. Louis, Burke grew up in Wauwatosa, Wis., and served in the U.S. Army in Korea. Following graduation from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wis., he and his wife, Alice, made their home in Milwaukee, where their six children were born. While in Milwaukee, Burke worked for Patrick Cudahy and twice ran for U.S. Congress.

The Burke family moved to Dubuque, Iowa, in 1960. In 1964, Burke accepted a position at Supreme Foods in Ames, Iowa. The Burkes eventually bought the company and it became Pronto Food Kitchens, later Burke Corporation. In 1974, the company shifted focus from the manufacturer of frozen pizzas to producing and marketing custom pre-cooked pizza toppings.

When the company outgrew its Ames location in 1984, Burke Corp. moved to Nevada, Iowa, where numerous expansions have grown the company to more than 350 employees. The company has undergone numerous updates and expansions at this location, implementing new technologies and introducing new product lines.

In 1991, Burke transferred more of the day to day responsibilities to a cadre of senior team members, allowing him more time to focus on his wife Alice, family and several key civic causes for which he held great passion.

Source: Burke Corp.

Cargill touts regional burger tastes in summer promotion

Cargill’s summer 2010 retail ground beef promotion has kicked off and runs through the heart of the summer burger grilling season, July 5 to August 20. The promotion taps into consumers’ bigger-than-ever “urge” for burgers and their growing craving for gourmet burgers with unique toppings, the company says. The “What’s Your Burger Urge?” promotion is featured at more than 1,500 retail grocery locations across the country.

More than any other selection factor, consumers choose a burger to satisfy a “craving,” through burger customization, with themed burgers ranking as an important trend in the marketplace according to consumer research from Technomic Information Services. Cargill’s ground beef promotion provides burger creativity and inspiration by tapping into unique and sumptuous regional flavors from across the United States.

Regional tastes and ingredients are highlighted in four burger recipes: Hawaiian, Rajin’ Cajun, Tex Mex and New Yorker. The recipes incorporate a variety of unique burger toppings including teriyaki sauce, pineapple, Creole mustard, grated carrots and Buffalo wing sauce to create regional flavors.

“This program helps grocery retailers engage with consumers on factors that resonate with them, including variety and flavor in their meal options and, especially with ground beef, the cost-effectiveness of the product,” said Elizabeth Gutschenritter, Cargill brand manager. “Our goal for this promotion is to collaborate with retailers and ensure consumers have a positive and flavorful experience with burgers by supplying them with easy-to-prepare, great-tasting recipes that will provide a new experience with ground beef and encourage repeat purchases.”

Recipe pads located at the fresh ground beef case feature the four regional gourmet burger recipes. A website,, provides additional recipes and serves as the entry point for a consumer prize giveaway that further drives consumer interest. The prize giveaway allows consumers to enter to win an expenses-paid trip for two people to one of the four burger-themed destinations that mirror the burger recipes: Maui, New Orleans, Austin, Texas and New York City.

The “What’s Your Burger Urge?” promotion from Cargill also offers a variety of support for retailers including point-of-purchase materials for the ground beef case including large posters, 90-degree signs and on-pack stickers highlighting the promotion and containing an instant-win code to enter on the website for the prize giveaway.

Source: Cargill

McDonald's says McNuggets safe in China

In light of a report that China’s food regulator was testing Chicken McNuggets for potentially dangerous ingredients, McDonald’s issued a statement stressing the safety of the product. The company said it was cooperating fully with the regulator.

The ingredients at issue are dimethylpolysiloxane and tertiary butylhydroquinone, an anti-foaming agent and a petroleum-based chemical that are used in the chicken. Vivian Zhang, spokesman for McDonald’s China, said the McNuggets contain "a fractional amount of legal preservative and a miniscule drop of an additive" were used in vegetable oil to prevent foaming on the surface "that naturally occurs in cooking," reports AFP. "Customers can be reassured that these are common and fully-approved ingredients that are completely safe and have been used for decades," she said.

The chemicals, dimethylpolysiloxane and tertiary butylhydroquinone, could cause nausea, vomiting and even suffocation if taken in excessive amounts, reports said.

Source: AFP

Survey says moms unsure of natural/organic benefits

A new survey released by Applegate Farms, a leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses, finds that 45 percent of moms would buy more organic deli meats for their kids if they better understood the benefits.

"So many people are confused when it comes to what different terms like organic, conventional or natural mean," says Amy Marlow, MPH, RD. The survey found that 36 percent of moms were not sure, or thought that organic and natural mean the same thing on a deli meat label.

"And as the recession continues, it's tough to make a decision about buying more organic and natural foods, since they are sometimes more expensive. People need to know what they're getting for the money."

In fact, the survey found that 49 percent of moms don't buy organic deli meat because of price, while 26 percent said they can't find organic deli products where they live and shop.

Source: Applegate Farms

Dietary Guidelines need to promote organic foods, says organic foods association

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) called on the USDA and Health & Human Services (HHS) to encourage consumers seeking to minimize their exposure to toxic chemicals to look for the USDA Organic label wherever they shop by revising the draft Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.

In oral testimony at a hearing conducted by the Advisory Committee preparing the latest version of the guidelines, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO Christine Bushway pointed out serious concerns with statements in Resource 3 entitled “Conventional and Organically Produced Foods.” For one, although the Dietary Guidelines statement on organic foods references only limited research on nutrient density, it draws the broad conclusion that “Our current understanding of conventional and organically produced foods indicate that their nutritional value and contributions to human health are similar.”

“These conclusions are neither grounded in current science nor relevant to the mandate of the Dietary Guidelines,” Bushway said.

Also, the conclusions of the draft Dietary Guidelines are in direct conflict with the advice put forth by the recent President’s Cancer Panel report regarding ways to reduce environmental cancer risk. In its recent report, that prestigious scientific panel recommended that “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers… Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.” These attributes are all certified practices in organic agricultural production.

“It is inconceivable and alarming that the very document that is the under pinning of our nation’s policies regarding food and nutrition would include a statement that directly contradicts these recommendations and certainly does not meet the stated goals of the committee to speak with ‘one nutrition voice,’ Bushway told the Advisory Committee. She also testified that the guidelines should seek to arm parents with information that helps them reduce their children’s pesticide intake. Organic agriculture is the only system that uses a USDA certification program to verify that these chemicals are not used.

“As released, the guidelines confuse the consumer, contradict the President’s own Cancer Panel, and do not enhance dietary recommendations,” Bushway said, adding, “Because the reference to organic foods in Resource 3 offers no real value to the consumer, OTA respectfully requests that it either reflect the President’s Cancer Panel recommendations or be stricken from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.”

Source: OTA