The Environmental Protection Agency will allow gas stations to sell a gasoline blend with 15 percent ethanol, an increase from the current level of 10 percent. However, the agency is recommending it for use with cars and light trucks made since 2007 and noted that older cars may risk engine damage by using the new blend.

Gas stations, if they choose to sell the new blend, will have to use special pumps and signs to make sure their customers don’t use the wrong fuel in their cars, reports the AP.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said Wednesday that "wherever sound science and the law support steps to allow more homegrown fuels in America's vehicles, this administration takes those steps."

The EPA has said a congressional mandate for increased ethanol use can't be achieved without allowing higher blends. Congress has required refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels, mostly ethanol, into auto fuel by 2022.

Many food industry trade groups, including the American Meat Institute and the National Meat Association, have argued that raising the ethanol blend makes animal feed more expensive, which in turn raises the prices at grocery stores.

“E15 – which would be a 50 percent increase from the currently permitted level of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline – will result in dramatic increases in the portion of the U.S. corn crop used to make fuel rather than food and, when fully implemented, could result in more than 40 percent of the nation’s corn crop being diverted to ethanol production. The corn ethanol industry has received over $30 billion in federal subsidies over the last three decades,” they wrote in a joint statement.

“The EPA’s decision will have an impact on American farmers, food manufacturers and, most importantly, American consumers, who will face price increases at the grocery store and when they go out to eat in a restaurant. EPA took this step without sufficient regard for the inevitable effect on the price of food and feed.

“After decades of federal subsidies and fuel mandates, the corn-based ethanol industry should stand on its own two feet and stop depending on the United States taxpayer for unneeded and unwarranted support. Enough is enough.”

Tyson Foods Inc. spokesman Gary Mikelson e-mailed a statement to Reuters indicating that the result will likely lead to an increase in meat and poultry prices.

“It means burning food for fuel,” he said. “While this policy improves demand for corn, it is also contributing to higher consumer prices for food, including meat and poultry.”

The National Corn Grower’s Association, meanwhile, called the move a good start, but maintains that the increased ethanol blend has been shown to be suitable with a range of older and new model cars.

“We’re disappointed in the very limited scope of this approval, but pleased the EPA has finally taken action to partially approve the waiver request to allow higher blends of ethanol in some motor vehicles,” said NCGA President Bart Schott, a grower in Kulm, N.D. “We believe this bifurcation of the approval process, and the labels that are expected to be placed on higher-blend fuel pumps, can lead to general consumer confusion and therefore act counter to the original intent.”

Source: Associated Press, AMI, NCGA, Reuters

FSIS inspectors to record supplier information at time of collection for E. coli

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issuedNotice 58-10: Collecting Supplier Information at the Time of Sample Collection for E. coli O157:H7. This notice instructs Inspection Program Personnel (IPP) to record information on the source materials and on the suppliers at the time they sample ground beef or bench trim forE. coliO157:H7.

“IPP are no longer to wait for a positive test result before they gather supplier information,” the notice states. “These instructions will better serve FSIS’s goal to respond to FSIS presumptive positive results by identifying all affected product and all potential suppliers as quickly as possible to protect public health. IPP are to have knowledge of the establishment’s production practices which includes knowledge of the establishment’s raw beef supplier base.”

The instructions in this notice supersede the instructions in FSIS Directive 10,010.1, Chapter III, Section I, 1., b., and Section II, 1. and 2.

This new instruction applies to FSIS sampling programs for raw ground beef (MT43) or bench trim (MT55) or any follow–up sampling to these programs (MT44, MT52, or MT53).

IPP are to document this information in a memorandum of interview (MOI) and are to maintain the MOI in the official file. If the sample is reported as presumptive positive, IPP are to provide a copy of the MOI to the establishment and notify them of the presumptive positive. They are also to make note of any information that the establishment is unable to provide.

John Munsell, founder of Foundation for Accountability in Regulatory Enforcement and R-CALP HACCP Committee chair, praised the decision.

“Finally, after a battle for more than eight years, FSIS is requiring documentation of source information at the time of evidence gathering,” he said. “This new policy will correct the problems associated with USDA’s historical policy of focusing its enforcement actions primarily against small, victimized processors further downstream.

“The agency’s insulation of the large source plants from liability has reaped predictable results: ongoing E. coli outbreaks and recurring recalls,” he added. “USDA’s historical policy has provided a comfort level to the agency, circumventing any need for delicate FSIS enforcement actions against the large source plants which enjoy political clout and substantial economic largesse. USDA has been paralyzed with fear of potential litigation emanating from the largest source slaughter plants.”

Source: AMI, R-CALF

Sara Lee debuts mobile site for Hispanic moms

Sara Lee Corp. has launched "More Choices. Healthier Lives." a dual-language mobile site ( or designed for Hispanic moms who are looking to discover more choices for their family meal times. "More Choices. Healthier Lives." encourages Hispanics to make a pledge to take a balanced approach to healthier eating and lifestyles and provides consumers the tools and resources needed to uphold the pledge. The site features better-for-you Latin-inspired recipes and tips for Hispanic moms and their families to make mealtime even more nutritious.

"'Familia' is the single most important element of the Hispanic culture and food is a big part of family. Many moms ask me how they can whip up a better-for-you dish that preserves their traditional cuisine without sacrificing flavor," said Chef Ana Garcia, spokesperson for "More Choices. Healthier Lives." "There is clearly a need among Hispanic moms for convenient, nutritious meal choices. The mobile site offers ideas for hearty snacks and nutritious lunch solutions so that moms can feel good about every meal they prepare for their family."

Consumers can opt-in to receive monthly mobile phone text alerts which include suggestions on how to pair selected products from a variety of brands to make fresh, tasty meals for any time of the day. Once consumers opt-in they have the chance to enter a sweepstakes to win a one-year supply of the following Sara Lee Corporation brands: Jimmy Dean D-Lights breakfast bowls and sandwiches; Hillshire Farm Deli Select Ultra Thin Lower Sodium lunchmeat; Ball Park franks, or Sara Lee Soft & Smooth.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.