Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. announced that it will implement additional beef safety measures designed to further protect customers against foodborne illnesses. The new process controls standards and goals are additions to a food safety program that already requires ground beef suppliers to test for E. coli O157:H7 and achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.

“At Walmart and Sam’s Club, our commitment to providing our customers with safe, quality foods is unparalleled,” said Vice President for Food Safety Frank Yiannas. “As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we go further than many U.S. retailers in requiring leading-edge food safety standards throughout the entire food production chain. In light of recent beef recalls, we determined it was prudent to require an additional layer of protection for our customers.”

The new program requires Walmart and Sam’s Club beef suppliers to implement controls that would significantly reduce potential contamination levels and validate that the measures they’ve implemented are effective through specialized testing.

Suppliers who do not operate slaughter houses must be in compliance with the new standard by June 2011. For beef slaughterhouse suppliers, there is a two-step approach with the first step to be completed by June 2011 and the second by June 2012.

Walmart and Sam’s Club will work closely with beef suppliers to ensure that the new requirement is implemented without additional cost to customers.

The protocol has been reviewed with numerous stakeholders including consumer groups, regulators, academicians, beef suppliers, and industry associations.

Dr. James Marsden of Kansas State University stated, “Walmart has taken steps to provide its customers with the safest possible beef products. Consumers across the United States will benefit greatly from this timely food safety initiative.”

According to Jim Dickson, Iowa State University Professor of Animal Science, "Walmart is taking a progressive approach to assuring the safety of the foods they sell. This is a win for the consumers, the beef industry in general, and Walmart. The lessons learned from Walmart's approach will be applicable to ground beef sold everywhere."

Several consumer groups have also expressed support for the measure.

Source: Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

JBS to sell $1 billion in shares

Three months after delaying the listing of its United States unit, JBS  is ready to raise $1.04 billion by selling new voting shares. The world’s largest beef producer, based in Brazil, will sell 230 million shares, Bloomberg News reported.

Through the offering, JBS joins a group that includes 12 other companies that scheduled share sales in Brazil so far this year. That figure is a sharp increase compared with the same period last year, when only two companies held share sales.

JBS previously postponed its $2 billion I.P.O. of JBS USA Holdings, citing deteriorated market conditions.

“A lot of international investors are suffering from deal fatigue right now,” Ed Kuczma, an analyst at Van Eck Associates told Bloomberg News. “There are a lot of offers being placed in the next 6 to 12 months” in Brazil, he said.

Source: Bloomberg, New York Times

Panorama Meats searching for more ranchers to keep up with demand

Panorama Meats Inc., the nation’s largest producer of USDA Certified Organic and 100 percent grass-fed and finished beef, is enlisting new family ranchers for its program. Panorama seeks to increase its supply of organic grass-fed and finished cattle in order to meet increased consumer demand.

“Panorama’s mission is to help family ranchers make organic grass-fed and finished cattle ranching a viable economic strategy,” said Mack Graves, CEO of Panorama Meats. “We are also committed to helping our rancher partners employ systems to protect delicate rangelands for future generations.”

Grass-fed beef ranchers can take advantage of Panorama’s strong retail presence to realize a premium price and a guaranteed market for their beef, Graves said. Panorama, he added, handles all the processing, marketing and merchandising to the consumer, allowing family ranchers to focus on ranching. Graves said Panorama also has systems in place for helping Panorama ranchers meet requirements for USDA Certified Organic status.

Panorama helps ranchers establish what Graves calls “holistic systems” to assess the status of their land, evaluate ranching practices and create record-keeping systems to meet Certified Organic requirements. The Certified Organic process can take up to three years if the history of a rancher’s grazing land has not been meticulously documented.

Panorama also educates ranchers in land management and rangeland preservation techniques based on the experience of its founding ranchers, who have won national environmental awards for rangeland stewardship. Earlier this year, Panorama founding rancher Darrell Wood and his family were awarded the 2009 National Environmental Stewardship Award at the 2010 Cattle Industry Annual Convention.

Panorama cattle are raised entirely on pastures of natural grasses, legumes and range forage. Cattle are never implanted with hormones, fed animal by-products or treated with antibiotics. All animals are raised in compliance with the Born and Raised in the USA verification program.

Its ranchers treat their animals humanely in low-stress environments and employ pasture-rotation and land-management practices that promote animal health and protect delicate rangeland ecosystems.

Ranchers who want to find out more about joining the Panorama program and becoming Certified Organic should contact Wayne Langston, Vice President, Production at (530) 310-1196 or by e-mail at langstoncattle@frontiernet.net.

Source: Panorama Meats Inc.

Steak-umms makes plans to go traveling

A new contest from Steak-umm Burgers asks travelers to take a picture of themselves holding a Steak-umm package anywhere in the world and submit it to the Steak-umm "Bon Voyage, Burger!" Photo Contest. The most creative photo gets the prize - the odder or funnier, the better.

The winning photographer will receive a Samsung DualView TL220 Blue 12.2 Megapixel Digital Camera - the much-talked-about $299.99 (MSRP) model with a front LCD screen that makes it easy to take pictures of yourself and a back LCD touch screen for quickly scrolling through photos and menus.

The contest runs from April 30 through August 15, 2010. Winners will be selected by August 25. All entries must include a photo with a Steak-umm box, and be time-stamped or postmarked no later than August 15. Entries can be submitted by mail, email, Twitter or Facebook, as outlined in contest rules at http://steakumm.com/.

Source: Steak-umm Burgers