The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health division of the state Department of Labor has imposed a $1 million fine on Seaford, Del.-based Allen Family Foods, stating that the company has ignored warnings to improve a dangerous workplace for more than a decade.

The Baltimore Sun reports that the state inspectors found 51 violations at the company’s Hurlock processing plant while investigating a December incident in which a worker was seriously injured. Allen Family Foods announced last week that it was selling the Hurlock plant to Amick Family Farms LLC.

Labor and Industry Commissioner Ron DeJuliis said the state imposed such a high fine because the 90-year-old Seaford, Del., producer has racked up nearly 200 violations in the past dozen years, but has made little headway in correcting problems.

"The biggest problem we have here is repeated warnings over the years, and a lot of times they'd repair something or take care of the problem and then go right back to the same habits," DeJuliis said. "That flies in the face of the standards we set. They willfully ignored a lot of it."

An Allen executive said the third-generation family-run business plans to contest the citation, which it said resulted from the state adopting "a more aggressive enforcement policy."

"We have a good, professionally administered safety program, including inspections twice a year by an independent safety expert, which are monitored by MOSH's consultation unit," Tracy Morris, Allen's vice president of human resources, said in a statement. "The citation in this case is not an accurate reflection of our safety record."

The company has 15 days to appeal or pay the fine.

Source: Baltimore Sun

FSIS to host meetings on new draft validation guidance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it will hold a series of public meetings to discuss and receive public input on the Agency's draft proposed guidance concerning Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) Validation. FSIS made a preliminary draft of the validation guidance available in March in order to hear from the public earlier in the guidance development process, as requested by a number of stakeholders. The guidance does not create any new requirements on establishments, but rather clarifies existing requirements and provides direction on how processors, especially small processors, can meet them.

"USDA is deeply committed to enhancing food safety in a way that supports small processors," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "FSIS' transparent and open process for developing this guidance is designed to ensure that the agency can effectively help establishments of all sizes improve the safety of their products and reduce the incidence of foodborne illness."

The series will kick off with the first public meeting being held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 14, 2010, in the USDA South Building, Jefferson Auditorium, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250.

Comments on the preliminary draft are due June 19th. FSIS will review the public comments on the preliminary guidance, and then announce an updated draft document in the Federal Register in July for a second round of comments. As part of the second comment period, FSIS will hold two additional public meetings. Each meeting will include presentations, a question and answer period, and a public comment period.

"The guidance is being created to help establishments understand existing requirements, and they do not impose new testing or microbiological requirements on establishments," said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. "By receiving public input, we can ensure the guidance is helpful to plant owners and operators."

The preliminary draft guidance and more information on validation are available on the FSIS website at FSIS encourages establishments and the public to submit comments by June 19, 2010 to: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474.

FSIS will issue a press release with the details on the second and third public meetings once they are finalized. Pre-registration for these meetings is encouraged. To pre-register, access the FSIS website at Please indicate interest in providing public comment on the registration form. For any additional information regarding the registration process, contact Sheila Johnson, Congressional and Public Affairs Office, at 202-690-6498 or by email at

Source: FSIS

Chipotle adds to naturally raised beef supply

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that all of the beef it uses in its barbacoa, a spicy shredded beef, is now naturally raised, bringing its total of naturally raised beef to nearly 23 million pounds, including both steak and barbacoa. The move solidifies Chipotle as the largest restaurant seller of naturally raised meat.

In all, Chipotle expects to serve more than 75 million pounds of naturally raised meat in 2010, including all of its pork, more than 80% of its chicken, and 85% of its beef. All of its naturally raised meat comes from animals that are raised in a humane way, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed a pure vegetarian diet.

“When we started serving pork from naturally raised pigs more than a decade ago, we did it because we thought it was a better way to raise animals and it produced better tasting food,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle. “That gave rise to our commitment to find better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients we use. We call this commitment ‘Food with Integrity’ and it is one of the ways we are changing the way people think about and eat fast food.”

Chipotle had been serving naturally raised chicken in all of its restaurants but can no longer get enough chicken to meet its growing demand. The company hopes to be back to 100% naturally raised chicken by the end of the year.

“We are teaching our customers about the tastes and benefits of eating fresh, naturally raised foods, and the more they come to appreciate that, the more they are going to want them from others,” said Ells. “It is certainly challenging to find better ingredients from more sustainable sources, but we believe it’s the right thing to do and will continue to lead the industry in serving food made with these better ingredients.”

Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill

Sadler's Smokehouse to be featured on “Unwrapped”

The Food Network's "Unwrapped" features Sadler's Smokehouse, North America's leader in premium pit-smoked meats, on an episode airing June 5. The BBQ-inspired segment chronicles Sadler's exacting pit-smoking process. The system, perfected over 62 years, involves careful selection, hand-trimming, seasoning and pit-smoking of premium meats for up to sixteen hours over split hickory, pecan and mesquite woods.

In its tenth season, "Unwrapped" takes viewers behind the scenes in the test kitchens and production facilities of classic American food brands.

"We think viewers will be impressed by the care we take in preparing our Sadler's pit-smoked meats and meals to perfection," said Sadler's Smokehouse CEO Terry O'Brien. "We are proud to provide our customers [with] convenience and the great taste of authentic barbecue from their grocery's shelves, restaurants and deli counters. We simply will not compromise on our legacy of premium quality."

Source: Sadler’s Smokehouse Ltd.