On September 23, 2010, at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen outlined the USDA's vision on modernizing the Department's food safety efforts on behalf of consumers.

“Secretary [Tom] Vilsack has personally charged me and my team at USDA to look at any and every possible way to reduce foodborne illnesses. Nothing is off limits,” she said.

The three areas that will be the focus of food safety are prevention, tools and people. She noted that the Obama Administration has a commitment to food safety that has not been seen in more than a decade.

To read the speech in its entirety, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_092310_01/index.asp.

Source: FSIS

Beef Checkoff budget for 2011 approved

The Beef Promotion Operating Committee this week approved investment of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) Fiscal Year 2011 budget of $42.8 million on a total of 42 national checkoff programs and associated costs.

“Our September meeting is always a tough one, because there are certainly more valuable programs than we have funds,” said CBB and Operating Committee Chairman Dan Dierschke, a cattleman from Texas. “As a producer, however, I am pleased with the mix of excellent programs in which the Operating Committee chose to invest our checkoff dollars during the coming year.

“I think producers across the country can rest assured that the checkoff plan of work for Fiscal Year 2011 is a highly coordinated and integrated state and national effort that leverages our limited checkoff budget to the greatest extent possible,” Dierschke said.

The approved national checkoff programs for Fiscal Year 2011 include:
* About $18.1 million for promotion, including consumer advertising, retail marketing, foodservice marketing, new product and culinary initiatives; a Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative to build demand in densely populated Northeast states, and veal marketing and communications. Included in the promotion budget is some funding for an early summer grilling season radio and retailer “blowout” and a new product development and innovation program for new fresh beef solutions.
* Nearly $6.7 million for research projects, focusing on a variety of critical issues, including beef safety research, product enhancement research, human nutrition research, and market research. This funding also included $784,400 for a life cycle assessment – or environmental profile – of U.S. beef production.
* More than $4.6 million for consumer information programs, including a Northeast public relations initiative, national consumer public relations, the 2011 National Beef Cook-Off, and nutrition-influencer relations.
* About $3.3 million for industry information projects, comprising the National Beef Ambassador Program, beef and dairy-beef quality assurance programs and dissemination of accurate information about the beef industry to counter misinformation from anti-beef groups and others.
* More than $5.7 million for foreign marketing and education efforts about U.S. beef in the ASEAN region; the Caribbean; Central and South America; the Dominican Republic; Europe; the Middle East; China/Hong Kong; Japan; Mexico; Russia; South Korea; and Taiwan.
* A total of about $1.7 million in Beef Board dollars for producer communications, which includes producer outreach using paid media, earned media and communications through livestock markets.
* In addition to the program budget, other costs to operate the national checkoff program in Fiscal Year 2011 include $240,000 for evaluation of checkoff programs; $210,000 for program development; $263,000 for USDA oversight; and about $2 million for administration, which includes costs for all Board and committee meetings, as well as office rental, supplies and equipment, and administrative staff salaries – the total of which is limited to not more than 5 percent of projected revenues.

Source: Beef Checkoff Program

Rapid Recall Exchange program reaches 500th subscriber

More than 500 food retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers have subscribed to Rapid Recall Exchange, an online service introduced by major grocery associations and a standards organization one year ago this week.

The Food Marketing Institute and GS1 US developed the service to improve on recall notification methods such as e-mail and faxes, which have limited capabilities and are inconsistent and labor-intensive. The service is also supported by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Grocers Association.

Rapid Recall Exchange enables retailers, wholesalers and suppliers to quickly and efficiently exchange information about food and product recalls and withdrawals. Publix Super Markets Inc., is one of 100 major retailers that have adopted Rapid Recall Exchange as an integral part of their product-recall strategies and processes. The Florida-based chain has been encouraging its suppliers to join since the service was first developed.

“Rapid Recall Exchange is the most fully featured recall service available, and we would like even more manufacturers to use it,” said Michael Roberson, director of Corporate Quality Assurance for Publix. “Ideally it should be the industry’s primary source for recall communications, so we want and need adoption by the vast majority of our suppliers.”

Rapid Recall Exchange complies with the requirements of the FDA Reportable Food Registry, and features: secure user-authentication; two-way messaging between trading partners; anywhere, anytime Internet access; e-mail and text alerts; comprehensive information on recalled products, with product images for easy identification; and verification of notification, so recalling firms can be sure their trading partners have critical information.

“The fast and wide adoption of Rapid Recall Exchange demonstrates that companies need a standardized, more efficient process for handling product recalls,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “We welcome additional subscribers, so they too will benefit from industry collaboration. In the end, it’s all about retailers and suppliers improving the recall process and keeping the food supply safe for our customers.”  

The four not-for-profit organizations operate the service on a cost-recovery basis, enabling nominal subscription fees that are tiered for companies of all sizes.

Source: GS1 US

Lonestar Steakhouse promotes COO to president

Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Land & Cattle Steak House announced that Patrick Droesch, currently chief operating officer, has been named president and COO. As part of his new responsibilities, he will oversee the strategic direction, operations and evolution of the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Land & Cattle brands, starting with soon to be announced restaurant remodelings and promotions.

"Lone Star Steakhouse and Texas Land & Cattle are nationally recognized brands, with reputations for rich, high quality Texas flavors and a warm sense of hospitality," said Droesch. "I'm very pleased to be taking on this new role and I look forward to working with the team here to continue strengthening and investing in both brands, and delivering the everyday value, the high quality menu, service and environment our customers have come to expect."

Droesch joined Lone Star Management on June 1, 2010 as COO, leading the operating teams for the Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Land & Cattle Steak House brands. Prior to joining the company, he spent 14 years with Brinker International, where he became regional vice president of Operations for over 400 corporately owned Chili's Grill & Bars in the western half of the United States.

Source: Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon and Texas Land & Cattle