VPP Group, a Norwalk, Wisc.-based company, has been cited with 38 alleged violations after two inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The violations carry a proposed fine of $369,500, reports theTomah (Wisc.) Journal. The company is contesting each of the violations.

OSHA issued four alleged “willful” citations with proposed penalties of $280,000. The citations include: failing to perform hearing tests on employees exposed to extremely high noise levels and failure to record more than 125 injuries that occurred from 2007 through 2009 in the required OSHA 300 injury log.

Also issued were 20 “serious” citations with proposed penalties of $75,500. The citations include: the company’s failure to provide proper fall protection and hand rails; failure to provide hazardous energy control and forklift training; lack of eye wash stations; improper hazardous chemical storage; overexposure to high noise levels; lack of proper personal protective equipment; and lack of required worker protection against bloodborne pathogens.

OSHA also issued $14,000 in proposed fines for 14 “other-than-serious” violations, involving failure to record injury/illness reports that occurred since 2007.

“The company’s disregard for OSHA’s injury and illness recordkeeping requirements could be seen as an attempt to hide poor health and safety practices,” said OSHA Area Director Kim Stille in a statement. “Indifference to safe practices and OSHA regulations is inviting tragedy into the lives of their workers.”

VPP Group, previously know as Valley Pride Pack Inc., primarily provides beef and other meat products to fast food companies and businesses that supply beef to school lunch programs. Since 1996, there have been nine inspections and 24 citations issued to the company.

Source: Tomah Journal

AMI Foundation to host Listeria workshop

Registration is now open for the AMI Foundation’s popular Advanced Listeria monocytogenes Intervention and Control Workshop in November. The workshop is scheduled for November 9-10, 2010, at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare in Chicago, Illinois.

This updated educational opportunity is designed to help manufacturers of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and meat products examine the issues surrounding control methods and to provide experience in developing appropriate sanitation protocols and testing plans for processing RTE products. In addition to assuring optimal product safety and implementing best practices for RTE process, the workshop offers a key benefit: helping to assure compliance.

Attendees will benefit from interaction with leading experts who have decades of experience in RTE production and sanitation, gain hands-on experience developing sanitation protocols and testing plans and learn how to successfully complete a routine risk-based Listeria monocytogenes sampling (RLm) and food safety assessment.

Registration is limited to 60 participants to ensure a quality learning experience. To register for the November workshop, visit www.meatami.com/education. To receive the special group rate of $130/night call the Chicago Marriott O’Hare directly at (773) 693-4444 by Monday, October 25, 2010. Direct questions regarding the workshop to Rosie Levine, manager, convention and exposition services, at rlevine@meatami.com.

Source: AMI

Niman Ranch awards scholarships

In an effort to help preserve the integrity of U.S. family farms and encourage the next generation of farmers to continue this traditional way of life, Niman Ranch established the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, in 2006. This fund is designed to support the children of rural communities who wish to attend college in order to pursue an education with a focus on sustainable or environmental practices and who plan to return to the family farm after graduation.

Niman Ranch partners, such as sustainable food advocates, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Whole Foods Market, among others, have generously contributed to the cause, helping Niman Ranch provide nearly $80,000 in scholarships to 54 students, since the scholarships inception four years ago.

This year, during Niman Ranch’s 12th Annual Farmer Appreciation Dinner, Niman Ranch awarded 13 deserving students with scholarships. Each student was recognized at the event for his or her accomplishments and presented with a Next Generation Scholarship award.

Niman Ranch’s founding hog farmer, Paul Willis, said, “I have been a part of the Niman Ranch network for more than 10 years. Raising animals humanely and sustainably has always made sense to me, and I am grateful that more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of what our network of hard-working farmers and ranchers are doing. As this generation’s farmers and ranchers near retirement, we are desperately struggling to persuade our children and grandchildren not to sell their family farm. We hope that this scholarship will help keep these family farms in the family.”

“Niman Ranch truly believes that U.S. family farms and ranches are vital to this nation’s economic success, but it’s about more than that. It’s about sustainable agriculture, raising animals humanely, and preserving this traditional American way of life,” Jeff Swain, CEO of Niman Ranch.

Source: Niman Ranch

Laura's Lean beefs up website

As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, Laura’s Lean Beef has launched a redesigned website including updated content, a new cooking and wellness blog and a wider selection of recipes that utilize its natural, lean beef products.

The website, www.laurasleanbeef.com, has also been configured to make accessing the new content as well as company and product information easier for consumers.

“Laura’s Lean Beef owes much of its success to our dedicated customers,” says Chris Anderson, director of marketing. “The best way to repay that passion is with the finest quality products and ideas for making red meat more delicious and nutritious. With the new website, we hope to provide consumers with both useful information and an enjoyable online experience.”

The new blog, which will reside on the site, will be updated weekly and contain several new recipes each month developed by chef and food writer Barb Freda. Freda, a professionally trained cook who has worked with Danny Meyer, Bobby Flay and Guy Fieri among others, will provide cooking tips, product reviews and healthy living ideas along with unique recipes incorporating Laura’s Lean Beef.

“I’m delighted to be part of the Laura’s Lean Beef website team and to have the opportunity to write for Laura’s fans,” says Freda. “Long before the products went national, I had the chance to interview Laura herself and have been a big believer in the product ever since.”

Freda will be joined, on occasion, by guest bloggers including Jenny Kramer, a pediatric dietician and diabetes educator at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. As a working mother of a 14-month-old toddler, Kramer will bring a unique combination of professional expertise and personal experience to help families find realistic solutions for balancing healthy meals with a busy schedule.

The blog can be accessed directly at www.laurasleanbeef.com/blog.

Source: Laura’s Lean Beef

Canadian cattle being wined and dined (upon)

Some cattle ranchers in British Columbia have been adding red wine to their beef cattle to enhance the quality of the meat. While the animals don’t get drunk, the wine does make the meat somewhat sweeter, the ranchers claim.

Janice Revndahl, operator of Sezmu Meats of West Kelowna, B.C., has fed a daily liter of red wine to her Angus beef cows during the final 90 days of their lives, according to an article by the Food Network. Ravndahl claims wine-fed cattle yield redder cuts of beef with a “slightly sweet” taste. The meat also has a more distinctive beef aroma—with a bit of a wine scent that’s noticeable when you first open the package, but doesn’t linger.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency had contacted Sezmu Meats to express its concern about the wine, but it hasn’t stepped in to stop the practice. In fact, John Church, cattle research chair at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops notes that the chemicals in wine could reduce methane and might reduce E. coli in cows. He is hoping to do more research on the subject.

Source: www.foodchannel.com