American Food Service, a Pico Rivera, Calif. establishment, is recalling approximately 3,170 pounds of fresh ground beef patties and other bulk packages of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

FSIS inspection personnel were made aware of the problem when contacted by another federal regulated establishment who believed they had received suspect product.

Products produced on Jan. 31, 2011 that are subject to recall include various ground beef patties under the “American Companies” label. The products subject to recall bear the establishment number "EST. 1913" inside the USDA mark of inspection. These products were distributed to restaurants throughout southern California.

FSIS and the establishment are concerned that some product may be frozen and in restaurant freezers.

Source: FSIS

Butterball joins in salt reduction efforts

Partnering with the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI), Butterball LLC joins a nationwide effort to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent by 2014 – an achievement that would help reduce the nation’s salt intake by 20 percent. While the majority of Butterball’s products already fall within the NSRI 2014 guidelines, the company is actively working to make further sodium reductions.
Even though Butterball Whole Turkey, traypack and lunchmeat products already fall within NRSI guidelines, Butterball plans to further reduce sodium in those products and has committed its deli meat and turkey franks to meet NSRI guidelines by 2014:
•         Butterball plans to reduce the sodium levels of turkey ham and turkey pastrami by 20 percent by 2012
•         Sodium in the remaining deli products will be reduced on average by 10 percent, which will exceed 2014 goals

In addition to being recognized as a prominent company to partner with the NSRI, Butterball also offers 27 turkey products that have been certified by the American Heart Association (AHA) as meeting its criteria for saturated fat and cholesterol.

“Whether they are celebrating a special holiday with a Butterball Whole Turkey or enjoying an every day family meal with Butterball Ground Turkey, consumers deserve a variety of better-for-you choices that fit their needs and preferences,” said Kari Lindell, director of retail marketing for Butterball. “By working with partners like the NSRI and AHA, we show consumers that Butterball turkey can be a healthier option for their meals.”

Source: Butterball LLC

ICE targets Chipotle restaurants

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc has received U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notices of inspection for restaurants in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, co-Chief Executive Monty Moran told Reuters on Friday.

The new notices follow ICE inspections of the restaurant chain's Minnesota employees that resulted in dismissals of workers whose documents to prove eligibility for legal employment in the United States could not be verified.

The gourmet burrito chain declined to say how many Minnesota workers were fired.

"Because this is an ongoing issue with ICE, we are not disclosing details like that," Moran told Reuters in an email.

Minnesota labor leaders say that as many as 700 Chipotle workers were fired after ICE inspection in that state.

Source: Reuters

Canadian Cargill plant approved to ship to Russia

Russia has allowed beef imports from Cargill's plant in Guelph, Ontario, Canada's agriculture minister said on Friday. Access to Russia, the world's No. 2 beef importer after the United States, will mean an additional C$2 million in annual sales for Cargill, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said.

Cargill already sends beef to Russia from its High River, Alberta plant, but gaining access for the Ontario plant provides a new market for Eastern Canadian beef, Cargill said in a release.

Source: Reuters

Judge calls Postville prison sentences “travesty”

A federal judge in Iowa says he was embarrassed the day he sentenced to prison several dozen illegal immigrants who had been working at a Postville meatpacking plant, reports the Associated Press.

The Des Moines Register says that, in a documentary film, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett described the 2008 proceedings as a travesty. The film by Luis Argueta is titled "Abused: The Postville Raid." In it, Bennett says that after the 2008 raid at the Postville plant, prosecutors pressured the workers into signing plea agreements that included five months in prison.
He says in the documentary that he found the agreements "personally and professionally to be offensive, and I thought it was a tragedy."

Bennett and prosecutors declined subsequent interview requests.

Source: Associated Press, The Des Moines Register

NCBA Convention includes new officers, new policies

The 2011 Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show wrapped up Sat., Feb. 5, 2011, with the NCBA board of directors and membership meetings. Bill Donald, a third-generation Melville, Mont., rancher, was officially elected to succeed Steve Foglesong as NCBA president during the association’s board of directors meeting.

“It is a great honor to be elected to lead NCBA for the next year. There is tremendous opportunity out there for U.S. cattlemen and women, and we plan to make every opportunity a reality,” Donald said. “We’re a diverse outfit. NCBA represents the entire industry – from packers to cow-calf producers and everyone in between – but to be profitable it takes all of us working on the same issues.”

J.D. Alexander, Pilger, Neb., was elected as NCBA president-elect, and Scott George, Cody, Wyo., is the new NCBA vice president. David Dick, Sedalia, Mo., was elected chairman of the NCBA Federation Division, and Craig Uden, Cozad, Neb., is the new federation vice chairman. The new NCBA Policy Division chairman is Bob McCann of Victoria, Texas, and Don Pemberton of Hopkinsville, Ky., is the new policy vice chairman.

Despite a blizzard that hit many regions of the United States earlier this week and freezing temperatures in Denver, more than 5,600 U.S. cattlemen and women attended the industry’s convention.

“It was as cold as 25 below zero this week. Kansas City, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, O’Hare, and many other airports were shut down, trying to keep cattlemen from attending,” said Marvin Kokes, NCBA Vice President of Association Marketing. “But the education, engagement and entertainment of the 2011 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show proved to overpower what the snow and the cold could dish out.”

In addition to electing the new officer team on the final day of the convention, NCBA members also voted on new and expiring policy issues, including resolutions on cattle health and well being; food safety; immigration; cattle marketing and trade; federal lands ranching and more.

During the annual board meeting, NCBA members approved a beef industry statement of principles. The statement was developed as a part of a check-off funded issues management project and include the following principles: preserving the environment; protecting our livestock; providing quality food for consumers; enhancing food safety; investing in our communities; embracing innovation; and creating a sustainable future.

“We’ve had a tremendous convention this year, and I’m excited for what’s to come for this organization,” Donald said. “The challenges – from dealing with weather extremes like we’ve experienced this week to educating elected officials and consumers about our industry – aren’t going away. But like the challenges we’ve faced in our past, we will put our differences aside; we will succeed; we will move our industry forward.”

Source: NCBA