The U. S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation submitted comments to the Department of Transportation opposing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed changes to driver hours of service rules published in the Federal Register on December 29, 2010.
The comments were prepared by the Joint Poultry Industry Safety & Health Council, which is made up of members from U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation. Collectively, the three organizations represent companies that produce 95 percent of the nation's poultry products and employ hundreds of thousands of workers.
“The regulations proposed by FMCSA would further restrict the time truck drivers may drive and be on duty,” the statement reads. “If implemented, the regulations would have a substantial, negative impact on productivity and the economy. Our members operate as private carriers and would need to put additional trucks and drivers on the road to deliver the same amount of product. This would add to final product costs and increase congestion on the nation’s already clogged highways; potentially doing so with less experienced drivers, and thereby increasing the risks to highway safety.
“FMCSA’s proposal seems to ignore the simple fact that the American Trucking Association reports trucking’s safety performance has improved at an unprecedented rate while operating under the current hours of service regulations that became effective in 2004. Both the number and rate of fatal and injury accidents involving large trucks have declined by more than one-third and are now at their lowest levels in recorded history. The remarkable reduction in the number of truck-involved fatal and injury crashes occurred even as truck mileage increased by almost 10 billion miles. Clearly the current hours of service regulations are effective.
“The poultry and egg industry operates 24 hours per day. The proposed revision to the ‘restart’ provision, requiring two consecutive midnight to 6 a.m. off duty periods to begin a new work week for hours of service calculation, is particularly troubling as a result. Many of our drivers normally work evening or night shifts and are accustomed to resting during the day. Requiring two consecutive nights of sleep would disrupt drivers’ circadian cycles and may actually lead to increased driver fatigue. Depending upon the individual driver’s schedule, the restart period may actually be as much as 53 hours. This extended restart requirement could significantly reduce driver pay, as there will be reduced wage earning time each week.”
In-depth details regarding the comments can be viewed on U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s website, www.poultryegg.org/positionpapers.
Source: U.S. Poultry & Egg Association
Bad weather blamed on falling Restaurant Performance Index in January
The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.2 in January, down 0.8 percent from its December level. Despite the decline, January marked the fourth time in the last five months that the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.
“The RPI’s January decline was due in large to part to dampened sales and traffic levels as a result of extreme weather in some parts of the country,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the Research and Knowledge Group for the National Restaurant Association. “Although restaurant operators reported softer same-store sales and customer traffic results in January, their outlook for sales growth and the economy remained optimistic.”
“Overall, the economic fundamentals of the restaurant industry remain positive, which will likely lead to stronger sales and traffic levels in the months ahead,” Riehle added.
The RPI is constructed so that the health of the restaurant industry is measured in relation to a steady-state level of 100. Index values above 100 indicate that key industry indicators are in a period of expansion, and index values below 100 represent a period of contraction for key industry indicators. The RPI consists of two components, the Current Situation Index and the Expectations Index.
The Current Situation Index, which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labor and capital expenditures), stood at 98.6 in January – down 1.1 percent from its December level. The Current Situation Index remained below 100 for the third consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators.
Due in large part to extreme weather conditions in some parts of the country, sales levels were dampened in January. Thirty-nine percent of restaurant operators reported a same-store sales gain between January 2010 and January 2011, down from 48 percent of operators who reported higher same-store sales in December. In comparison, 44 percent of operators reported a same-store sales decline in January, up from 35 percent of operators who reported lower sales in December.
Restaurant operators also reported a net decline in customer traffic levels in January. Thirty-five percent of restaurant operators reported an increase in customer traffic between January 2010 and January 2011, down from 43 percent of operators who reported higher traffic in December. In comparison, 44 percent of operators reported a traffic decline in January, up from 34 percent in December.
Despite the softer sales and traffic levels, restaurant operators continued to report relatively steady levels of capital spending. Thirty-nine percent of operators said they made a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling during the last three months, roughly on par with the levels reported in the last two monthly surveys.
The Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operators’ six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 101.8 in January – down 0.5 percent from December’s 45-month high of 102.4. Despite the decline, the Expectations Index stood above the 100 level for the sixth consecutive month, which signifies expansion in the forward-looking indicators.
Restaurant operators remain optimistic that their sales levels will improve in the months ahead. Forty-seven percent of restaurant operators expect to have higher sales in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), down from 55 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, 14 percent of restaurant operators expect their sales volume in six months to be lower than it was during the same period in the previous year, up from eight percent who reported similarly last month.
Restaurant operators are also relatively optimistic about the direction of the overall economy. Forty-two percent of restaurant operators said they expect economic conditions to improve in six months, compared to 46 percent who reported similarly last month. In comparison, 10 percent of operators said they expect economic conditions to worsen in the next six months, up slightly from eight percent who reported similarly last month.
Buoyed by a positive outlook for sales and the economy, restaurant operators’ plans for capital expenditures remained relatively steady. Forty-eight percent of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, compared to 50 percent who reported similarly last month.
For the fourth consecutive month, restaurant operators reported a positive outlook for staffing gains in the months ahead. Twenty-four percent of restaurant operators plan to increase staffing levels in six months (compared to the same period in the previous year), while just 11 percent said they expect to reduce staffing levels in six months.
The full report is available online at www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/index/201101.pdf.
OSU schedules course on thermal processing of RTE meats
The 12th Annual Ohio State University Thermal Processing of Ready-to-Eat Meat Products Short Course will be held April 5-7, 2011, at Ohio State University.
This course is designed for anyone in the meat industry who is responsible for producing safe ready-to-eat (RTE) meat products. All technical and regulatory aspects of cooking, chilling and post-package handling of RTE meat products are covered in this course, with presentations by meat industry experts.
To access program details and the online registration go to http://meatsci.osu.edu//calendar.html.
For more information, contact Professor Lynn Knipe at firstname.lastname@example.org or (614)292-4877.
Sources: OSU, AMI
Food microbiology symposium scheduled for July
The 4th Annual Molecular Methods in Food Microbiology symposium will be held June 27 - July 1, 2011 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The hands-on workshop will specifically focus on the use and application of DNA sequencing, including conventional Sanger and next generation sequencing, for the molecular detection and subtyping of food-associated microorganisms.
Dr. Martin Wiedmann (Cornell University), Dr. Haley Oliver (Purdue University), Dr. Sarita Raengpradub-Wheeler (Silliker Inc.), and Dr. Kendra Nightingale (Colorado State University) will serve as co-directors of the symposium and workshop. This year’s program will include:
• A two-and-a-half day hands-on laboratory session entailing 16S rDNA sequence-based identification, multilocus sequence typing, design of a custom multiplex detection method for STEC or other targets of interest, and application of commercially available multiplex real-time PCR assays to detect foodborne pathogens.
• A half-day discussion and evaluation of commercially available assays for the detection and subsequent characterization of non-O157 shiga toxin encoding Escherichia coli (STEC).
The overall goal of the symposium and workshop is to address and fill-in knowledge gaps regarding molecular detection and subtyping of foodborne pathogens and spoilage organisms for current and future food safety professionals from industry, regulatory agencies and academic institutions. An advisory committee assisted event organizers in identifying challenges the food industry and regulatory agencies face today with respect to molecular methods in food microbiology.
For more information, including the detailed schedule and online registration, please log on to http://ansci.colostate.edu/department/Events/MMFM_2011/mmfm_2011.html.
Source: Silliker Inc.
CattleFax members elect new leadership
Members of CattleFax, a member-owned and member-directed cattle market information and research organization, recently elected John Ferguson, Kensington, Kan., as its new president and Kent Bamford, Haxtun, Colo., as its president-elect.
Ferguson is owner/manager of Ferguson Brothers, Inc., a diversified cattle and farming operation. Ferguson Brothers includes a commercial cow/calf enterprise; a back grounding and stocker operation; and ownership of a portion of the cattle through the finishing phase.
Ferguson has served the beef cattle industry in many leadership positions throughout his career. He is a past president of the Kansas Livestock Association. He has served as chairman on several councils within the Kansas Livestock Association since 1987. Additionally, he has been a member of the Kansas Beef Council’s executive committee since 1994.
Ferguson has served on several committees and task forces within the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Specifically, he served as NCBA treasurer; NCBA Executive Committee; NCBA Board of Directors; NCBA Governance Task Force and the NCBA Agricultural Policy Committee.
President-elect Kent Bamford is also the Intermountain Director for CattleFax. Bamford is the owner of Bamford Feedyard, a 15,000 head feedyard and diversified farm, both irrigated and dryland. Bamford also owns a trucking company in Colorado.
Bamford is a past president of Colorado Livestock Association; Board Member and Treasurer for Colorado Beef Council; Board Member for NCBA and a graduate of Colorado State University.
Hot Dog & Sausage Council releases how-to videos
The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council today unveiled 10 new cooking and recipe videos as part of two different series -- one on regional hot dog preferences and recipes, the other focusing on a tailgating theme.
The videos were produced in coordination with, and currently housed on, MonkeySee.com, which hosts thousands of high-quality, lifestyle- focused “how-to” and “advice” videos covering a wide range of topics, including food and drink, recipe and cooking videos.
The regional hot dog videos include information and “how-to’s” about how people in different parts of the country like to eat their hot dogs. Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, shows viewers how to cook and prepare hot dogs and sausages just the way people like them in New York, Chicago, the Midwest, Southwest and down South.
To view the regional hot dog videos, visit www.monkeysee.com/play/19718-regional-hot-dog-recipes.
In the second series, Riley shows how to cook six recipes that one can either partially or entirely cook at home the day before a tailgate party. From appetizers, to sides to main dishes, Riley demonstrates how to prepare these recipes, using a variety of hot dogs and sausages: Frankly Fabulous Dip, Char Dog Chicago Salad, Grilled Knockwurst with Golden Mustard, All-star Chili Dogs, Heisman Potato Salad with Grilled Sausage and Sausage and Vegetable Kebabs with Mustard Sauce.
To view the tailgating recipe videos, visit www.monkeysee.com/play/19730-tailgating-recipes. The videos are also available on the Council’s YouTube site at www.youtube.com/hotdogcouncil.