Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay a $4 million criminal penalty to resolve an investigation into improper payments by company representatives to government-employed inspection veterinarians in Mexico, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

“Tyson Foods used false books and sham jobs to hide bribe payments made to publicly-employed meat processing plant inspectors in Mexico,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “The penalty and resolution announced today reflect the company’s disclosure of this conduct, its cooperation with the government’s investigation and its commitment to implementing enhanced controls.”

A criminal information filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia in connection with a deferred prosecution agreement charges Tyson with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and with violating the FCPA. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the department, Tyson acknowledged responsibility for the actions of its subsidiaries, employees and agents who made improper payments to government-employed veterinarians who inspected two of its chicken processing plants in Gomez Palacio, Mexico.

Any company that exports meat products from Mexico must participate in an inspection program, supervised by the Mexican Department of Agriculture. According to court documents, the inspection program at each facility is supervised by an on-site veterinarian employed by the government of Mexico to ensure that all exports conform to Mexican health and safety laws.

According to documents filed in court, Tyson’s Mexican subsidiary, Tyson de Mexico, paid approximately $90,000 between 2004 and 2006, to two publicly-employed veterinarians who inspected its Mexican plants, resulting in profits of approximately $880,000. The payments were made both directly to the veterinarians and indirectly through their wives, who Tyson de Mexico listed on its payroll, although neither performed any services for Tyson. According to court documents, the bribe payments were made to keep the veterinarians from disrupting the operations of the meat-production facilities. When payments to the spouses were terminated in 2004, Tyson representatives agreed to increase the amount paid to the veterinarians to match the amount previously paid to their spouses.

The agreement requires that Tyson pay a $4 million penalty, implement rigorous internal controls, and cooperate fully with the department. The agreement recognizes Tyson’s voluntary disclosure and thorough self-investigation of the underlying conduct. If Tyson abides by the terms of the agreement for the two-year term, the department will dismiss the criminal information.

In a related matter, Tyson reached a settlement today with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, under which it agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in disgorgement of profits, including pre-judgment interest.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Kathleen M Hamann of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

U.S. Department of Justice

JBS to expand Utah plant

The state of Utah has approved an incentive of as much as $1.8 million for JBS USA, which is planning to invest more than $30 million in the development of a new and expanded meat packing and processing facility in Hyrum. In its application for state money, the company said it plans to add 420 new full-time workers within the next five years at an average pay of $28,500 including benefits. Company officials say about 1,000 people already are employed in Hyrum, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.

“We feel this expansion will help us sustain our presence in the state by improving efficiencies and adding production capacity that will provide a solid foundation for years to come,” Jerry Petersen, JBS director of operations in Hyrum said. The incentive is paid on a post-performance basis, meaning that JBS will have to report to Utah over the 10 years of the payment period. If it hasn’t met the state’s criteria in terms of employment and wages, it may not receive all of the state money it was promised.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Mike Brown named president of National Chicken Council

The next president of the National Chicken Council will be Mike Brown, currently senior vice president for legislative affairs of the American Meat Institute, NCC Chairman Bernard Leonard announced. Brown will join NCC in March to succeed George Watts, who is retiring after 38 years as president.

“The search committee considered many qualified candidates before recommending Mike Brown’s election to the NCC Executive Committee,” said Leonard, who is group vice president/Food Service of Tyson Foods, Springdale, Arkansas. “We believe that Mike is the person who can lead NCC as it addresses the issues that will shape the future of the industry.”

Brown, 50, currently represents AMI to Congress and the Administration on governmental matters. He also serves as the treasurer of AMI's Political Action Committee, AMI-PAC.

“I look forward to the challenge of working with the chicken industry and following the great tradition of service and effective representation and leadership set by George Watts,” Brown said. “I accept this position with enthusiasm.”

Brown joined AMI in May 1995, after serving eight years as a legislative assistant for former Sen. John Warner (R-VA), focusing on agriculture, food safety, labor, immigration, environment, and international trade issues. Brown also previously worked as a legal publication specialist for the Federal Register, where he was responsible for providing information to Congress, federal agencies, trade associations and others on federal regulations and office programs and publications.

Source: NCC

Jimmy Dean wins Product of the Year Award in Breakfast category

Jimmy Dean Hearty Sausage Crumbles has been awarded Product of the Year 2011 – Breakfast Category, voted on by over 60,000 consumers. Product of the Year recognizes the best in product innovation from a variety of different categories.

Executives from Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle USA, Colgate-Palmolive Company, S.C. Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Mars Petcare, as well as other consumer brands learned about retail and consumer insights at the 2011 Product of the Year USA awards ceremony held on Feb. 8 in New York City.

Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert and TNS Scientific Advisor for Global Retail & Shopper Practice Herb Sorensen, served as guest speakers delivering market trends while Chicago Improv comedians, Kate James and Greg Mills, served as hosts at the event that honored this year's winners from Jimmy Dean, M&M'S, McCormick, Air Wick, Pantene Pro-V, U by Kotex, LYSOL, Lipton, Gillette, Pampers and The LISTERINE Brand among other brands who were recognized by consumers for product innovation in the marketplace.

"Consumers are smarter than ever and watching what they spend more intelligently," said Lempert. "Even though mobile devices and social networks offer just about every product review possible, it is still the "human" social network that is the most powerful. With over 60,000 shoppers voting on the most innovative for a Product of the Year award, there is not a better recommendation."

Jimmy Dean Sausage Crumbles are fully cooked and packaged in a re-sealable zipper pouch, so consumers can keep Crumbles in the fridge and use whenever they’re looking to enhance breakfast or any meal with Jimmy Dean sausage. They come in three flavors: Original, Hot, and Turkey sausage.

As part of the nationwide survey with 60,000 shoppers conducted by TNS, Product of the Year winners receive a robust research study providing the latest insights into the mind of today's consumer. According to this survey, 80 percent of consumers are willing to try new products while 68 percent of shoppers say a consumer voted award means more for a new product than an expert's opinion. Recommendations from friends or family positively impacts purchase interest amongst close to half the population.

"Even though modern-day consumers are tasked with deciding which products to use on a regular basis, shoppers are willing to trust their peers when it comes to trying new products that provide great value," said Herb Sorensen, TNS Scientific Advisor for Global Retail & Shopper Practice. "The Product of the Year seal is a giant recommendation to consumers, by consumers."

Hosted in 28 countries, Product of the Year is the world's largest consumer-voted program that recognizes innovation in consumer packaged goods. 2011 marks the third annual round of Product of the Year in the United States with over 60,000 American shoppers voting on products in a survey conducted by TNS, the world's largest custom research agency.

Source: Sara Lee Corp.

AMI names environmental issues director

The American Meat Institute (AMI) announced that industry veteran Dennis Boik has been named director of environmental and sustainability issues for the association. Boik will monitor emerging and changing environmental regulations that affect AMI members. He will serve as staff liaison to the AMI Environmental Policy Committee and AMI Sustainability Committee.

Boik retired from Hormel Foods Corp. in December 2008 with 38 years of service. At Hormel, he was involved in plant engineering, energy management, environmental compliance and served as their first director of environmental sustainability. Boik’s accomplishments in those roles include the establishment of an Environmental Management System (EMS) nearly 20 years ago, due diligence efforts at more than a dozen acquisitions, working with more than 40 facilities to meet all environmental regulations and to attain significant reductions in water, energy and solid waste from manufacturing operations. He also provided data and details to assist the corporate communications group with publication of their first corporate sustainability report in 2006 as well as subsequent years.

At Hormel, Boik also served as liaison on sustainability issues with the Packaging Development group, Logistics and Supply Chain and met frequently with employee and customer groups to ensure that Hormel's sustainability efforts were clearly communicated to employees.

Source: AMI