Former Agriprocessors manager Sholom Rubashkin was acquitted by a jury on 67 counts of child labor violations at the Iowa meatpacking plant. However, he still faces sentencing June 22 in federal court, where he was convicted earlier of financial fraud. Prosecutors have asked for a 25-year sentence in that case, while Rubashkin’s attorney has asked for a six-year sentence.

After Monday's verdict, Rubashkin's defense attorney said his client had been "vindicated as a human being." According to AP reports, prosecutors had claimed Rubashkin, whose father owned the slaughterhouse, knowingly employed underage workers, exposed them to dangerous chemicals, allowed them to operate power machinery and allowed them to work more time per day and per week than is legal.

A total of 26 employees from Guatemale and Mexico testified that they worked at the Agriprocessors plant as teenagers and were hired after providing false documents stating they were older. The defense maintained the plant's hiring process was flawed and dysfunctional but Rubashkin didn't knowingly hire minors. Defense attorney F. Montgomery Brown said the jury's verdict was "a flat-out vindication that this man did not want young people in his father's plant."

Source: Associated Press, The Edwardsville Intelligencer

Burger King sells 10 million ribs in less than a month

Burger King Corp. announced that more than 10 million BK™ Fire-Grilled Ribs have been sold since the item debuted on May 17.

"We are proud to be the first national fast food hamburger restaurant to serve bone-in ribs and are pleased that they've been a big hit with our guests," said John Schaufelberger, senior vice president, global product marketing and innovation, Burger King Corp. "Their popularity proves that guests are hungry for authentic ribs at a competitive price point."

The ribs are served with a side of barbecue dipping sauce and are available in three serving sizes, including as a three-piece add-on to a BK Value Meal for $1.99. BK Fire-Grilled Ribs are also available in three- and six-piece serving sizes at a suggested retail price of $2.99 and $5.69 respectively. An eight-piece order is also available for a suggested retail price of $7.19.

Source: Burger King Corp.

McDonald's global sales increase 4.8%

McDonald's Corporation today announced global comparable sales growth of 4.8% in May. Performance by segment was as follows: U.S. up 3.4%; Europe up 5.7%; Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa up 3.8%

"May marks another month of sustained sales growth, demonstrating the ongoing appeal of McDonald's unique combination of convenience, value and variety," said Chief Executive Officer Jim Skinner. "Our focus on enhancing the McDonald's experience through affordable food choices, modernized restaurants and relevant marketing is giving customers even more reasons to visit McDonald's."

U.S. business momentum continued with May comparable sales increasing 3.4%. Results were fueled by McDonald's compelling food and beverage value offerings, the recent addition of Frappes to the McCafe line-up and the popularity of the Shrek-themed Chicken McNugget and Happy Meal promotions.

In Europe, the Company's strong performance continued as May comparable sales increased 5.7% driven by positive sales growth in France, Germany, the U.K. and Russia. Europe's focus on four-tier menus, daypart expansion and the introduction of relevant new products like the McWrap in Germany drove the segment's results.

Comparable sales were up 3.8% in Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) reflecting broad-based strength across the segment, led by Australia and China. APMEA's emphasis on convenience, value, menu variety and restaurant reimaging contributed to May's performance.

Systemwide sales increased 5.5%, or 6.2% in constant currencies for the month.

Source: McDonald’s Corp.

Northwest co-op to close up

The head of the Northwest Premium Meat Co-op says its Telkwa, British Columbia abattoir has a future -- but it'll likely be a different one than planned.

Paul Davidson says the Co-op has been selling off its assets to try to pay down its outstanding debt, and hopes to find a buyer for the abattoir or the larger meat-processing facility in Telkwa, reports Smithers News Service. He says both have a great deal of potential. "You could build a cut-and-wrap facility onto the abattoir, so you could run and abattoir and a cut-and-wrap facility there, and then there might be potential for diversifying some of the abattoir by-product into something, pet food potentially or take the hides and potentially make something."

Davidson says both the abattoir and a cut and wrap facility are valuable northwest assets for local ranchers.

"If the abattoir is running, then we have an inspected meat facility and the producers can then take their inspected meat product and sell it at farmers markets or sell it as farm-gate sales off their farms, and then there's also potential for someone to do some value-added product or potentially sell into retail markets."

He says as long as the area has an inspected meat facility, farmers can sell their meat to the local consumer. The abattoir will continue to run on an as-needed basis into the fall, to help local producers.

Source: Smithers