The American Meat Institute Foundation is strongly urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to revise decade-old foodborne illness statistics which are widely referenced by public health officials, regulatory agencies and congressional staff when discussing foodborne illnesses.

“In order to improve food safety and further reduce the risk of foodborne illness, it is absolutely critical to have the most accurate estimation of foodborne disease as the cause of illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” said AMIF Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren, Ph.D., in a letter to the CDC. Booren notes that the meat and poultry industry has been successful in making a tremendous reduction in the pathogen risk profile of their products and that updated foodborne illness estimates could show tangible results to these efforts.

Data from the Mead et al. “Food-Related Illness and Death in the Untied States” report, published in 1999, estimates 76 million cases of illness, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths per year are attributed to the consumption of food products. However, the recently released CDC analysis of reported illnesses in the U.S. for 2008 indicated approximately 100,000 illnesses for the same food-related notifiable diseases. These discrepancies may be caused by the fact that the 1999 estimates were derived using adjustments for underreporting of foodborne illnesses, which are likely no longer valid given the changes in public health reporting over the past two decades. These 11-year old estimates also virtually ignore the newer, more accurate and specific methods of detecting microorganisms and the vast progress made by the food industry in improving the safety of their products over the last decade.

AMI and the Foundation have been eagerly awaiting the update to the Mead et al. report, which has been in preparation since before 2007.

Booren also reinforced how accurate and timelier foodborne illness attribution data is critically needed to improve the safety of the U.S. food supply. “This objective data allows food safety stakeholders to allocate food safety resources and scientifically justify the decisions made in their food safety system,” Booren writes. “By having timely, credible food attribution data, the food industry can accurately identify and improve any food safety gaps that may exist. It also may help to identify emerging foodborne risks, especially when such risks have not been previously associated with specific foods. This rapid adjustment to improve food safety can only occur if accurate data is made available as soon as possible to all food safety stakeholders.”

“AMI Foundation recognizes the challenges of accurately estimating the burden of foodborne disease and accurately attributing these burdens to food types, but these metrics are essential. The last decade has shown the important role cooperation and communication between public health officials, regulators, the food industry and other allied stakeholders has had on improving food safety. This collaborative story of success could be affirmed through the update of the Mead et al. estimation of the burden of foodborne disease,” Booren concludes.

To view a copy of AMIF’s letter in its entirety, go to

Source: AMI

Diamond Ranch begins exports to Mexico

Diamond Ranch Foods Ltd., a meat, poultry and seafood processing and foodservice distribution company, announced that the company will commence exporting products into Mexico.

It has secured purchase orders which they project will bring an additional $400,000 in monthly revenue, approximately $5M annually. This will represent an increase in sales of nearly 40% and an increase in the gross profit margin of 20% annually.

Diamond Ranch Foods’ CFO/COO, Victor Petrone, has extensive experience in shipping into Mexico and other regions abroad and internationally. “These initial secured purchase orders are only the first step in entering this lucrative and underserved marketplace,” stated Mr. Petrone.

Mexico’s hotel and restaurant business, including Baja, California is heavily dependent on tourism. Almost 90% of the foreign tourists in Mexico are from the United States and many show a preference to purchase US food products. Petrone added, “Diamond Ranch Foods is at the forefront to capitalize on this growing need for products.”

Source: Diamond Ranch Foods Ltd.

Claim Jumper chain files for bankruptcy

Claim Jumper Restaurants LLC, which operates 45 Claim Jumper restaurants in eight states, has files for bankruptcy reorganization. The restaurants will stay open, reports theReno Gazette-Journal.

Claim Jumper Restaurants LLC said in a statement it agreed to sell its assets and operations to Private Capital Partners, an affiliate of Canyon Capital Advisors LLC, and voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware.
“Claim Jumper Restaurants is expected to emerge from Chapter 11 in approximately 60 to 75 days with new ownership and a significantly strengthened balance sheet,” the company said in a statement. “As a result of this transaction, the business will be adequately capitalized and debt-free.” The company added that it expects to emerge from bankruptcy in two months without any debt.

Source: Reno Gazette-Journal

GMA panel discussion to tackle FDA food safety modernization

A session at the Grocery Manufacturers Association Manufacturing Excellence Conference, co-located with PACK EXPO on November 1&2, 2010 at McCormick Place Chicago, is titled “Welcome to the New World of FDA Food Safety Modernization!” The panel will help consumer products companies manage their expectations of the impending impact of the 2009 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, specifically at plant level.

A stakeholder panel composed of regulatory and food, beverage and consumer products manufacturing professionals will address some of the Act’s key components including facility hazard evaluation & preventive controls, food facility re-inspection, and allocation of inspection resources based on risk profiles of food facilities.

Panelists will include: Robert E. Brackett, Ph.D. director and vice president of the National Center for Food Safety and Technology at Illinois Institute of Technology; Dr. Matilda Freund, Senior Director Food Safety, Kraft Foods; Joseph Levitt, partner, Hogan Lovells; and Brent Brehmer, corporate manager regulatory compliance and HACCP, Hormel.

For more information about all the sessions at the GMA Manufacturing Excellence Conference go to

Source: GMA