DG Foods Ltd., based in Hazlehurst, Miss., has announced plans to open a plant in Bastrop, La., which will create 317 jobs. The company will spend $9.7 million for the plant, reports Bloomberg News, and will also receive state economic incentives. DG Foods plans to renovate an 88,000-square-foot building with full operations beginning in July 2011.

"This is a tremendous win for us," said Kay King, head of the Morehouse Parish economic development agency. "It will diversify our economy. It's good to have something besides the pulp and paper industries." In 2008, the parish’s largest employer, International Paper, closed a mill that had employed 550 people.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, "Today is a big step in the right direction for Bastrop, but our work is not done and we will continue to work aggressively to pursue more job opportunities for the people of this community."

DG Foods was founded in 2004 by three veteran poultry executives. Duffy McKenzie, CEO, said the Bastrop location will allow it to serve customers in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. The company announced earlier this year that it was expanding its plant in Jackson, Miss., adding 200 jobs and investing $2.78 million in the project.

Source: Bloomberg

Food safety bill passes House, again

The biggest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades took a major step toward becoming law on Wednesday when House Democratic leaders folded it into a must-pass bill to fund the U.S. government, Reuters reports.

The House passed the spending bill on Wednesday and the Senate was expected to consider it over the next few days as lawmakers push to complete their legislative session by the end of next week.

Both chambers of Congress have approved a food-safety overhaul but with some differences. The version of the Food Safety Modernization Act that the Senate passed last week contained a provision requiring companies to pay a fee if there was a product recall. That portion of the bill would have been considered unconstitutional due to a provision requiring spending bills to originate in the House.

Sources: Reuters, Food Product Design

Ground beef purchase program food safety report released

A National Academies National Research Council report titled, “An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program,” has been released.

This Research Council report reviews the scientific basis of USDA/AMS’s ground beef safety standards and evaluates how the standards compare to those used by large retail and commercial food service purchasers of ground beef. In its assessment, the Research Council concluded that validated cooking processes provide greater assurance of ground beef's safety than would additional testing for pathogens.

The Research Council also recommended that AMS assess the usefulness of its microbiological data as a scientific basis for testing for indicators and base its requirements on standards supported by the International Commission on Microbiological Safety of Foods, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the Research Council itself.

National Meat Association issued a statement supporting the concept that safety requirements should be strengthened using scientific methods.

“Through scientifically sound production practices and by ensuring meat is properly cooked before it is served, we can better prevent future illnesses,” read the statement. “This report represents a timely and thorough review of the AMS purchase program specifications.”

The report was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. It can be accessed in its entirety online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13069.

Source: NMA

Pilgrim's Pride announces pricing of $500 million of senior unsecured notes due 2018

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. announced that it has priced its private offering of $500 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes due 2018. The $500 million aggregate principal amount of the Notes is an increase from the $350 million offering amount previously announced by Pilgrim's Pride. The Notes will bear interest at a rate of 7.875% per year, payable semi-annually in arrears on December 15 and June 15 of each year, beginning on June 15, 2011.

The Notes will be issued at a price of 99.271% of the face amount in a private placement conducted pursuant to Rule 144A and Regulation S under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended. The Notes will be issued by Pilgrim's Pride and will be guaranteed on a senior unsecured basis by Pilgrim's Pride Corp. of West Virginia, Inc. and any other existing or future domestic subsidiary of Pilgrim's Pride that incurs or guarantees any other indebtedness (with limited exceptions). The offering is expected to close on December 14, 2010, subject to the satisfaction of closing conditions.

Pilgrim's Pride intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to repay borrowings under its existing term loan credit facilities and to pay fees and expenses incurred in connection with the offering.

Source: Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.