Stephanie Smith, a 23-year-old former dancer that became paralyzed after anE. coliinfection caused by a tainted hamburger, has reached a settlement with Cargill Inc., the processor of the meat.

Smith’s story became well-known after a New York Times article about her illness and how the tainted meat reached the marketplace. After becoming ill, Smith suffered kidney failure and seizures and was placed in a medically induced coma for three months.

Her Seattle-based attorney, Bill Marler, said Smith's case continues to generate public and industry discussion about the importance of better food safety, reports the Associated Press.

"Stephanie's tragedy has taken on a life of its own, and hopefully it will continue to focus people on why food safety is so important," Marler said.

"This settlement will allow Stephanie to continue her fight to return to her greatest passion, dance," he added in a joint statement with Cargill. "The Smith family appreciates this resolution and looks forward to Stephanie's continued rehabilitation.”

Smith and Cargill agree that the confidential settlement will provide for Ms. Smith's care throughout her life, Cargill said in a statement. “Cargill deeply regrets Ms. Smith's injuries and is also hopeful for her continued rehabilitation. Cargill has invested more than $1 billion in ongoing meat science research and new food safety technologies and interventions to eliminate E. coli and other naturally occurring pathogens that can lead to food-borne illnesses,” it added.

The parties' settlement now will be presented to the federal court for approval and dismissal of all claims.

"Cargill continuously invests in food safety technology," said Mark Martin, a spokesman for Cargill Meat Solutions. "There certainly are things that have preceded the situation with Stephanie Smith, things that will continue to evolve into the future. Food safety — as you can imagine being an agriculturally based company for much of our business — is a top priority and always will be."

Source: Associated Press, Cargill Inc.

CAB president honored by K-State

John Stika, Certified Angus Beef president since 2006, was named 2010 Outstanding Young Alumnus at the K-State Agricultural Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, May 8, as part of the “Wild 4 Ag Weekend.”.

The Lincolnville, Kan., native and Kansas State University meat science graduate (1993, MS ’98; PhD Kentucky ’03) traveled from company headquarters in Wooster, Ohio, arriving a couple of days ahead to address the K-State animal science faculty, including several who once taught him. On “Building and Managing a Brand in the U.S. Beef Industry,” he noted that CAB owns nothing else, so its strategy is to add value to that brand, build equity in it and make it more relevant.

In the face of unemployment at a 25-year high, with most consumers eating out less and 37% budgeting retail purchases more closely, 76% still say they are not willing to compromise on food quality, Stika noted.

“Consumer spending is based on a price/value relationship,” he pointed out. “Beef costs more than other proteins, and CAB costs more than most beef, but a 2009 study showed demand for CAB outpaced commodity Choice. That suggests brand resilience.”

The study showed that CAB sales have added half a billion dollars to the beef industry since 2005, compared to selling as commodity Choice.

“To be successful a brand must address a basic need, deliver on an expectation, offer value and be available,” Stika said. In this case, the need is food with an expectation of taste at a premium price.

Stika previously served as the assistant meats judging coach at K-State and head livestock judging team coach for three years at Kentucky. As a graduate student, he taught a variety of undergraduate classes on livestock selection, function and evaluation.

The Animal Science Department’s nomination for the award said, “From his early involvement in the meat business to his current role in leading CAB, Stika has shown the vision and ingenuity to face future challenges, and the practicality to take steps one at a time.”

Stika was pleased to share the weekend honors with industry icon Max Deets, Beloit, Kan., (K-State ’51), former National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, cattle feeder and CAB consultant, who was named 2010 Outstanding Alumnus.

Source: CAB

Arby's names new president

Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. announced that Hala Moddelmog, 54, has been named President of Arby's Restaurant Group, Inc. Moddelmog is a seasoned restaurant industry executive with a proven track record and she has extensive experience leading successful, high performance organizations, according to a statement from the company.

She will begin her new duties on May 20 and report to Wendy's/Arby's Group President and CEO Roland Smith.

Moddelmog's extensive leadership background includes service from 1995 to 2004 as President of Church's Chicken. At Church's, where she previously held the position of vice president of marketing, she completely re-imaged the brand and drove eight consecutive years of same-store sales growth.

From 2006 to 2009, she was president and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the largest grassroots network working to eradicate breast cancer. Most recently, Moddelmog served as CEO of Catalytic Ventures, LLC, a firm she founded to provide strategic and operating consulting services in the foodservice, healthcare, franchising, retail and nonprofit categories.

Moddelmog started her business career as a Market Research Manager for the AFA Service Corporation, which is Arby's franchise marketing association, from 1981 ultil 1984. She later returned to the AFA in the early 1990s as vice president product development and strategic planning.

"We welcome Hala to our team. She will lead the ongoing turnaround of the Arby's brand as we focus on increasing customer traffic in our restaurants," said Smith. "She is an accomplished leader whose proven restaurant and business experience will be a tremendous asset to our organization. Her familiarity with the Arby's brand and our franchise system will enable her to quickly immerse herself in brand-building strategies to grow store sales and profitability. Hala is known for her multi-dimensional leadership skills with areas of strength in strategic planning, marketing and product development, as well as assembling and managing strong, results-oriented teams."

"I am very excited to return to Arby's, where I started my business career," said Moddelmog. "Arby's is a premier quick-service restaurant brand and I look forward to working with the leadership team and franchisees as we execute a turnaround of the business. I have analyzed the brand's current priorities and can't wait to lead our most important initiatives to grow sales and profits for our restaurants."

Sources: Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc., MarketWatch

Pretzel dog maker thinks small

Pretzelmaker/Pretzel Time has introduced Mini Pretzel Dogs, its newest pretzel creation. Mini Pretzel Dogs, miniature all-beef hot dogs wrapped in Pretzelmaker's original pretzel dough, are currently being featured in stores across the country. The new product rollout is supported by NexCen Franchise Management Inc., a subsidiary of NexCen Brands Inc.

The new Mini Pretzel Dogs are offered in 6-piece and 12-piece servings. According to Michael Curtis, vice president and head of NexCen's Research & Development department, the company began developing the Mini Pretzel Dog after two of Pretzelmaker's other signature products, the Pretzel Dog and Pretzel Bites, were enthusiastically embraced by both customers and store owners.

"Our R&D team works tirelessly to develop and test concepts that are not only delicious, but also live up to Pretzelmaker's reputation of high quality and innovative products," said Curtis. "The new Mini Pretzel Dogs' flavor is second to none and we believe that they will quickly become a customer favorite."

Jenn Johnston, senior vice president of brand marketing for NexCen Franchise Management, added that the introduction of the Mini Pretzel Dogs also fulfills a growing consumer demand for "portable" snacks.

"One of the trends we've seen with our customers is an increasing demand for snacks that can be enjoyed on the go," said Johnston. "The Mini Pretzel Dogs are another versatile option from Pretzelmaker perfect for shopping with friends at the mall, a bite between errands or any other occasion requiring a quick snack."

Source: Pretzelmaker

Popularity of snacks increasing at restaurants

Recent research from Mintel Menu Insights found that snacking is the new way to order at restaurants. Menu items that contain the descriptors "snack," "snackable," or "snacker" have increased by a staggering 170% since 2007 and growth is expected to carry on as restaurants continue to explore this new trend.

"Snacks are providing a huge opportunity right now for restaurants ranging from quick service to fine dining," notes Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel. "By innovating menus with various snacking options, restaurants can boost sales throughout the day and drive guest traffic during non-peak hours."

Consumers are more likely to visit restaurants in the early and late afternoon for snacks, the 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. time slot being most popular with 37% of Mintel's respondents. Spending, however, peaks in the early evening. Only 19% of respondents purchased snacks from a restaurant between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., but the average amount spent is $4.26 per person versus only $3.79 across all other time periods.

"Snack options need to be appropriate for the time frame," adds Eric Giandelone. "Heartier and pricier fare may have more appeal later in the day, while light options may work best in the morning or early afternoon."

The majority of snackers (64%) look for a beverage when snacking, whereas 61% opt for something portable. Meanwhile, just over half (52%) crave an indulgent snack and 50% want something salty to nibble on. Only 32% of snackers choose a healthy option, which counteracts the health conscious trend that is being seen in the restaurant industry.

Source: Mintel

Puff pastry products pulled by processor

Galant Food Co., a San Francisco, Calif., establishment, is recalling approximately 250 pounds of chicken puff products and beef puff products because they contain an undeclared allergen, egg, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced. Egg is a known potential allergen, which is not declared on the label.

The chicken puff products also contain soy and yellow #5, to which some individuals have an allergic response or intolerance. Neither soy nor yellow #5 is declared on the recalled chicken puff products' label.

The products subject to recall include cardboard trays featuring 24 puffs of Galina's Piroshki Chicken Provance and Beef & Farm Vegetables Puffs. Each package bears the establishment number "P-9014" inside the USDA mark of inspection. Partial orders may have been placed, in which case the cardboard trays contain fewer than 24 puffs per tray.

The chicken and beef puffs were produced on various dates between March 2010 and May 11, 2010, and were distributed to retail establishments in the San Francisco, Calif., area. The products would have been prepared and sold individually to customers at bakeries, delis and similar establishments.

The problem was discovered by FSIS during a routine Food Safety Assessment. FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS