Senate passes food safety bill
"I urge the House -- which has previously passed legislation demonstrating its strong commitment to making our food supply safer -- to act quickly on this critical bill, and I applaud the work that was done to ensure its broad bipartisan passage in the Senate," President Barack Obama said in a statement.
The Senate legislation represents the largest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades, Reuters reports. It would allow the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to order recalls when a company refuses to do so voluntarily, increase inspections at the riskiest food processing plants, expand FDA capabilities to trace the source of foodborne disease outbreaks such as E. coli and salmonella, and increase the number of FDA inspectors at food plants.
"Today's vote will finally give the FDA the tools it needs to help ensure that the food on dinner tables and store shelves is safe," said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, a sponsor of the bill.
A key difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill is an amendment introduced by Senators John Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) exempting small food producers and processors. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association stated that the exemption weakened the legislation and that basing exemptions on size, location and proximity to the market sets a dangerous precedent for the nation’s safety system.
“While the Food Safety Modernization Act will not have an impact on the day-to-day production practices of beef producers, it sets a dangerous precedent to exempt other food producers and processors from food safety regulations based on something other than sound science,” said Kristina Butts, NCBA’s executive director of legislative affairs. “S. 510 represents the most sweeping changes to food safety regulation in 70 years, and the Senate should have passed legislation to set appropriate standards for all products in the marketplace, no matter the size of the producing entity.”
“NCBA supports improvements to our nation’s food safety system that are based on sound science, focused on industry application and have a strong research foundation. But the Tester/Hagan amendment weakens S. 510 as food safety knows no size.”
Sources: AMI, Reuters, NCBA
Restaurant Performance Index rises to three-year highFueled by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels, the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index rose to its highest level in more than three years. The RPI – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.7 in October, up 0.4 percent from September and strongest level since September 2007. In addition, the RPI stood above 100 for the second consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
"October's RPI gain was driven by continued improvements in the same-store sales and customer traffic indicators," said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the Association. "Most notably, a majority of restaurant operators reported higher same-store sales in October, the first such occurrence since August 2007. As a result, the RPI's Current Situation Index reached the 100 plateau for the first time in more than three years."
"In addition to improving current situation indicators, restaurant operators are increasingly optimistic about sales growth in the coming months, and also reported a positive outlook for staffing levels for the first time in six months," Riehle added.
The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor, and capital expenditures), stood at 100.0 in October – up 0.6 percent from September and its second consecutive solid gain. In addition, the Current Situation Index reached the 100 level for the first time since August 2007, which meant 37 consecutive months below 100 in the contraction range.
Restaurant operators reported a net increase in same-store sales for the second consecutive month in October. Fifty-one percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between October 2009 and October 2010, up from 44 percent of operators in September and the first time since August 2007 that a majority of operators reported higher same-store sales. Meanwhile, only 33 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in October, down from 38 percent of operators who reported negative sales in September.
Restaurant operators also reported an increase in customer traffic levels in October. Forty-four percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between October 2009 and October 2010, up from 38 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in September. In comparison, 34 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in October, down from 37 percent in September.
While sales and traffic levels improved, capital spending activity remained relatively steady. Forty-two percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion, or remodeling during the past three months, matching the proportion of operators who reported similarly last month.
The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators' six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures, and business conditions), stood at 101.4 in October – up 0.3 percent from September and its strongest level in six months.
Restaurant operators remain solidly optimistic about sales growth in the months ahead. Forty-three percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared with the same period in the previous year), matching the proportion who reported similarly last month. Meanwhile, just 12 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, down slightly from 14 percent who reported similarly last month.
Restaurant operators also remain relatively optimistic about the direction of the overall economy. Thirty-five percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, down slightly from 38 percent last month. In comparison, only 12 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, down from 16 percent who reported similarly last month.
Along with a positive outlook for sales and the economy, restaurant operators' plans for capital expenditures also remained solid. Forty-eight percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up slightly from 47 percent who reported similarly last month and the strongest level in six months.
For the first time in six months, restaurant operators reported a positive outlook for staffing gains in the months ahead. Sixteen percent of operators expect to increase staffing levels in six months (compared with the same period in the previous year), and just 11 percent plan to reduce staffing levels in six months.
The full report is available online at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/index/201010.pdf.
Pilgrim's Pride announces proposed offering of $350 million of senior unsecured notesPilgrim's Pride Corp. announced that it intends to offer $350 million in aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes due 2018 in a private placement to be conducted pursuant to Rule 144A and Regulation S under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, subject to market and other conditions. The Notes will be issued by Pilgrim's Pride and will be guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by Pilgrim's Pride Corporation of West Virginia Inc. and any other existing or future domestic restricted subsidiary of Pilgrim's Pride that incurs or guarantees any other indebtedness (with limited exceptions).
Pilgrim's Pride intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to repay borrowings under its existing term loan credit facilities and to pay fees and expenses incurred in connection with the offering.
Source: Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.
Land O'Frost teams with TV stars to help Nashville flood recovery effortsRising stars from some of the hottest television shows on ABC, NBC and Disney have partnered with Land O'Frost to raise money for charity efforts benefitting Nashville-area residents. This philanthropic program is aimed to help those still in need six months after devastating floods damaged more than 10,000 properties in middle Tennessee.
Land O'Frost partnered with eight prominent child stars, asking them to custom design and autograph classic lunch boxes to be auctioned online at www.biddingforgood.com. The goal of this program is to raise much needed funds to support volunteers who are helping residents and business owners recover from the May 2010 floods and help keep the needs of the region in the national spotlight. All proceeds raised from this special program will benefit Hands On Nashville, the non-profit organization that took a leadership position in recovery efforts shortly after the disaster struck.
Program participants include many prominent child actors from both television and film. These celebrity contributors include:
* Molly Quinn (and the entire cast) from ABC's "Castle"
* Carissa Capobianco, who co-starred in Disney's major motion picture "Secretariat"
* Max Burkholder from NBC's "Parenthood"
* Kenton Duty from ABC’s "Lost"
* Atticus Shaffer from "The Middle" on ABC
* David Lambert from the Disney Channel original movie "Den Brother"
* Cassie Scerbo and Josie Loren from the ABC Family child drama series "Make It Or Break It"
"As a family-owned company, we feel a deep responsibility to give back, particularly to the communities where our employees and customers live and work," said David VanEekeren, president of Land O'Frost. "Through our contacts in the Middle Tennessee region, we know the continuing challenges facing Nashville residents are great and felt compelled to act to assist those people still in need and working very hard to rebuild their lives."
Source: Land O’Frost
AMI names IT directorThe American Meat Institute announced that Sean Stickle has been named director of information technology at the organization. In his position, Stickle is responsible for the management, oversight and support of AMI’s organization network and will oversee the support of all departments in meeting the ongoing information technology and network needs.
Stickle brings with him more than a decade of experience, previously serving as manager of information technology for the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, where he provided technical support to staff, general system administration and ad hoc analysis of data for marketing purposes. Stickle has also served as software engineering manager at CustomInk LLC, project manager and software developer for the American Society for Engineering Education, senior manager of information systems at the Corporation for Enterprise Development and software developer and systems administrator for Eggleston Mediscribe.
“The ability to properly use and manage technology is key to the success of modern trade associations,” said AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle. “Sean’s strong and diverse background will help ensure the Institute is on top of all of the latest technological advances to ensure the smooth operation of our databases, management information systems, websites, data sharing networks, internet and intranet and other equipment that are vital in today’s business landscape.”