The Wall Street Journal has reported that JBS SA, the parent company of JBS USA, is considering acquiring Sara Lee Corp. Sources familiar with the matter said that the Brazilian processor approached Sara Lee several months ago, and that talks have been on and off ever since. Sara Lee is reported to be considering the offer more seriously in recent weeks.

JBS SA has acquired Swift & Co., Pilgrim’s Pride and the beef assets of Smithfield Corp. since its entry into the U.S. market, making it one of the largest processors in the country, as well as one of the largest in the world. Sara Lee has recently trimmed its large portfolio of products and brands to focus on its core businesses of coffee and meat processing. The company has been without permanent management since CEO Branda Barnes stepped down this summer to recover from a stroke.

No final decision has been made on a JBS-Sara Lee tie-up, sources reported, and Sara Lee may decide against a sale. JBS has a market capitalization nearly equal to Sara Lee, which could make it challenging to finance a full takeover offer.

Once news of the possible acquisition became public, shares of Sara Lee rose 5.3 percent late Friday to $17.26 per share.

Source: Wall Street Journal

BPI invests in new biodiesel plant

A new company, Nature's BioReserves, is expected to begin construction this spring on a new, 60-million-gallon-per-year biodiesel fuel plant in South Sioux City, Neb., reports theSioux City Journal.

The fuel will be made not from soybeans, but from the tallow byproduct of the beef processing done at the Beef Products Inc. plant in the city's Roth Industrial Park. Nature's BioReserves will be constructed adjacent to the north side of BPI, making for efficient delivery of the tallow. BPI, the world's largest supplier of lean boneless beef, and its owner Eldon Roth were among investors in the initial project, the paper reports. The plant is expected to create as many as 40 jobs.

Source: Sioux City Journal

25,000 pounds of ground beef recalled

Winn Meats Co., a Dallas, Texas, establishment, is recalling approximately 25,600 pounds of ground beef products that were improperly labeled and potentially adulterated, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced. The products’ labels include “For Cooking Only,” indicating that they are intended for further processing to apply a full lethality at a federally inspected establishment. Because the products were distributed to non-federally inspected establishments where it cannot be verified that sufficient further processing occurred to remove foodborne pathogens that could have been present, these products must be removed from commerce.

The products subject to recall are 60-pound boxes of “Ground Beef for Cooking Only.” Each box bears the establishment number “EST. 2338” inside the USDA mark of inspection and can be identified by the case code “506093.” Boxes contain three 20-pound packages of ground beef. The ground beef products were produced between August 24, 2010 and November 30, 2010. They were sent to a distribution center in Albuquerque, N.M., who in turn sent the products to restaurants, central kitchens, and caterers throughout the state.

The problem was discovered as a result of an FSIS investigation and review of company records. FSIS has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products.

Source: FSIS

Teamsters accuses Pilgrim's Pride of “destroying” jobs

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has accused Pilgrim's Pride of trying to "destroy" jobs at its chicken processing and feedmill facilities in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky. The union arranged to have an airplane with a banner that read "No Clucking Way" flew over JBS USA headquarters during the Pilgrim’s Pride shareholders meeting.

The union states that JBS/Pilgrim's Pride is demanding that its workers allow their employer to make changes to their health care benefits at any time without bargaining with the employees' representative, and that they accept reduced overtime pay on Sundays and holidays. It also alleges that JBS Pilgrim's is also attacking workers' hard-earned retirement benefits and wants to stop paying into their pensions.

"The Pilgrim's Pride division of JBS has declared war on its American workers," said C. Thomas Keegel, Teamsters general secretary-treasurer. "It's not that it can't afford for its workers to have good healthcare and a dignified retirement. This is a very profitable company and its stock has skyrocketed over the last two years."

"We want Pilgrim's Pride shareholders to know that the dedication of these workers is one of the reasons for this company's success," said Fred Gegare, director of the Teamsters Food Processing Division. "It is an insult the way that Pilgrim's Pride is trying to treat the very people whose hard work they depend on as the company grows."

Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Rep. DeLauro re-introduces Single Food Safety Agency Act

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) has reintroduced legislation intended to create a single agency focused on overseeing the safety of the U.S. food supply. DeLauro first introduced this legislation in 1999 but reintroduced it after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest statistics on foodborne illnesses.

“The new figures released today by the CDC demonstrate that, while the methodology for estimating the number of foodborne illness has improved, foodborne disease remains a major public health threat,” she said in a statement. “With nearly 50 million illnesses, 100,00 hospitalizations, and over 3,000 deaths each year, these estimates show that significant work remains in identifying and combating the pathogens that cause foodborne illness.

“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act currently pending before Congress represents a good first step toward reducing the number of preventable illnesses and deaths. The bill takes a common sense approach in addressing our food safety system by giving the FDA greater authority to inspect food safety records relating to recalls, increasing inspections of high-risk facilities, improving traceability in the event of an illness outbreak, and creating a more accurate registry of food facilities.

“However, our efforts to reform the food safety system must not end there because the jurisdictional overlaps and complicated regulatory structure will continue to hamper our efforts to make our food supply safer. That is why I am re-introducing legislation that would create a single independent food safety agency that would help reduce the potential for future outbreaks, implement the best food safety practices, and eliminate the jurisdictional issues we have faced. Ultimately, a single food agency solely focused on protecting American consumers is critical to ensuring the safety of our food supply and protecting the public health.”

Sources: The Office of Rosa DeLauro, Food Navigator USA