The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from a former Tennessee poultry farmer who sued Tyson Farms after losing his contract to raise their chickens. Alton Terry claimed that Tyson cut him off because he helped organize area farmers and complained about the company’s practices. Lower courts had previously dismissed the lawsuit, according to AP reports.

Terry brought together a group of area farmers and told them they had the right to complain about Tyson's practices. He also raised concerns directly with Tyson, among the world's largest meat companies.

Terry says Tyson and other big companies have too much sway over farmers, and federal courts also have bowed to agribusiness interests by setting too high a standard for the farmers to succeed in court. He casts his fight as a "struggle between those who grow our food and those who process and market it."

Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company was not surprised at the high court's action. Tyson denied Terry's claims, "which we believe would have been ultimately disproven had the case gone to trial," Mickelson said.

The 6th Circuit court previously ruled that Terry had to show both that he was harmed by Tyson’s actions and that the company diminished competition by ending his contract and sending a message to other farmers.

The Associated Press does note that under proposed changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act, farmers would not need to prove industry-wide anticompetitive behavior to sue under the act.

Source: Associated Press

JBS' Rupp to give keynote speech at MEATXPO 2011

National Meat Association (NMA) and National Grocers Association (NGA) will co-locate the NMA MEATXPO’11 Suppliers’ Exposition and Annual Convention with the NGA Annual Convention and Supermarket Synergy Showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada February 13-16, 2011 at the Mirage Resort and Casino.

Bill Rupp, president of JBS USA’s beef division, will be NMA’s keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting taking place on Tuesday, February 15 from 9:30am to 10:45am. Prior to being president of JBS USA’s beef division on October 4, 2010, Rupp was CEO of Loveland, Colo.-based Meyer Natural Foods. He started with Meyer in February of 2009, just over a year after stepping down as president of Wichita, Kan.-based Cargill Meat Solutions. He was with Cargill in various capacities for more than 25 years.

NMA’s Annual Convention will also be packed with roundtable seminars. Topics include: STEC Surveillance, Exports, Donning & Doffing, PHIS, Industry Structure, and Industry Image.

More information regarding the MEATXPO’11 can be found at

Source: NMA

Outer packaging of chicken “covered” in bacteria: Study

UK food standards officials discovered than 40 percent of outer chicken packaging in supermarkets, convenience stores and butchers were covered with bacteria. Twenty packages of chicken were studied, and eight were found to have food poisoning bacteria on the outside of the package, and seven chickens were contaminated on the inside. One tested positive forSalmonella, reports The Telegraph.

Shoppers are now being warned to wash their hands after handling chicken cartons to combat the risk of catching the Campylobacter bug.

The test results have been delivered to the UK’s Food Standards Agency and major retail chains. An FSA spokesman said, “Tackling the high levels of Campylobacter on UK chicken is the Food Standards Agency’s number one priority.

“We are currently working with the food industry to minimize the spread of this bug at all stages of the food chain, from improved hygiene in farms to better leakproof packaging in the shops.

“These findings reinforce our advice to avoid cross-contamination when handling and storing raw chicken even if it is still in its packaging.”

Source: The Telegraph

McDonald's announces strong Q4, year-end results

McDonald's Corp. announced positive results for the fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2010, fueled by strong comparable sales.

"Every day, more than 62 million customers around the world choose our restaurants for the McDonald's experience – great tasting, high-quality food that's affordable, convenient and served in a contemporary and inviting atmosphere. During 2010, we continued our efforts toward becoming our customers' favorite place and way to eat and drink – and customers rewarded us by visiting our restaurants more often," said McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner. "As a result, we generated strong sales and delivered profitable market share growth, along with higher global revenues, operating income and earnings per share. McDonald's continued success demonstrates that our Plan to Win works in any environment and has positioned us to continue our performance in 2011."

Full year 2010 highlights included:
* Global comparable sales increase of 5.0%, with positive comparable sales across all geographic segments for every quarter
* Consolidated revenues up 6% (5% in constant currencies) to a record-high $24 billion
* Combined operating margin increase of 90 basis points to 31.0%
* Consolidated operating income increase of 9% (9% in constant currencies) with the U.S. up 7%, Europe up 8% (12% in constant currencies) and APMEA up 21% (11% in constant currencies)
* Earnings per share of $4.58, up 11% (11% in constant currencies)
* Return of $5.1 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends paid

Fourth quarter highlights included:
* Global comparable sales increase of 5.0%, with the U.S. up 4.4%, Europe up 3.4% and APMEA up 5.5%
* Consolidated revenues increased 4% (5% in constant currencies)
* Earnings per share of $1.16, up 5% (6% in constant currencies)

Skinner continued, "In 2011, we plan to invest about $2.5 billion of capital – roughly half dedicated to opening approximately 1,100 new McDonald's restaurants and the other half allocated to investing in our existing locations, including reimaging."

Source: McDonald’s Corp.