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Ask This Old House features special segment on Idaho potatoes


Ask This Old House, a popular home-improvement show on PBS, recently aired a six-minute segment exploring how Idaho potatoes are grown and thoroughly explaining how potatoes from Idaho differ from potatoes grown in other states.

Landscape contractor Roger Cook, a veteran of the show for over 30 years, traveled to Idaho Falls to meet fourth-generation potato farmer and Idaho Potato Commissioner James Hoff. With Hoff’s help, Cook showed millions of his loyal viewers how Idaho potatoes are harvested and stored and offered a few tips on growing potatoes in home gardens. 

“We continually look for new and different venues to tell the Idaho potato story to our target audience, which includes both men and women,” Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the Idaho Potato Commission, said in a press release. “James’s deep knowledge of and passion for Idaho potatoes, paired with Roger’s enthusiasm and curiosity, created a very informative and entertaining segment.”

The segment was filmed in October of 2015 during the end of the harvest season and aired the following spring.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Local Farmers Market program helps retailer boost produce sales

Summer is peak produce season, and Associated Retail Operations banners — Macey’s, Lin’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market and Fresh Market — are adding Utah love to the produce department with its Local Farmers Markets program, which launched July 1 and has been successful in increasing produce sales and guest count in each store

The in-store program includes signage highlighting Utah-grown produce and the farmers who supply them, as well as parking lot tent sales on Saturdays.

“Buying from Utah farmers and growers allows us to offer our guests the freshest produce at great prices, since it doesn’t have to travel as far,” Danni Barnhart, produce manager for Associated Retail Operations, said in a press release. “As locally owned retailers, it is important for us to support other local businesses, especially our farmers and growers. Our guests love that we offer a wide variety of Utah grown products.”

The Local Farmers Market program is made possible through a partnership between Associated Retail Operations and 33 Utah farmers and growers, including Bangerter Farms, Houwelings Tomatoes and Hartley’s Best Onions.

Each of the farmers is GAP certified or in the final stages of achieving the certification, which was set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the new food-safety regulations. The program aligns with industry trends that show local is the new organic according to consumer preferences.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

U.S. Mushroom Council enters partnership with Cabot Creamery

The mushroom organization will cross-promote the company’s cheeses in its recipes, and vice versa.

The Mushroom Council expects a co-marketing partnership with Cabot Creamery Cooperative will build awareness of its Blend model, which promotes the use of finely diced mushrooms into proteins to improve health and flavor.

At the same time, the council will also promote Cabot’s cheese varieties including naturally-aged Cheddar, Muenster, Monterey Jack and more in bars, shreds, slices and spreads.

“We are excited to work with the Mushroom Council,” explains Cabot Creamery retail promotions and events manager Ian Ormon.

“It is great to be able to provide our consumers with new usage ideas like The Blend.”

The Council is equally pleased with the partnership.

“The Blend and Cabot’s cheese varieties add more flavor and nutrients to meals,” says Mushroom Council president Bart Minor.

“By cross marketing our products, we can reach new consumer groups that gain exposure to The Blend and many cheese varieties. It will help drive consumers to the dairy, meat and produce departments.

Retailers can use or modify Blend recipes for their meat, foodservice and deli departments, enabling consumers to enjoy  their favorite foods while reducing their intake of fats, sodium, cholesterol and calories, while adding a portion of produce.

To promote The Blend, the Mushroom Council will feature Cabot’s Portobello Alpine Beef Burger. A Grilled Cheesy Portobello Caps with Turkey Sage recipe will also be featured on the council’s consumer site, with links to Cabot’s website.

Cabot Creamery will include the Council’s Blended Lasagna Roll Ups recipe using Cabot Legacy Alpine Cheddar and a Cheeseburger Pizza using Cabot Vermont Sharp cheese on their website, with links to the council’s site.

Australia plans to double mango exports to U.S. in 2016-17

While Australian mangoes only represent a tiny percentage of the U.S. market, the relative newcomer is set to expand its presence in North America this year.

Speaking with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) CEO Robert Gray said hopes were high the sector could double U.S.-bound shipments this year from last season’s 100 metric tons (MT).

In addition, Northern Territory mangoes are expected to be exported to the market for the first time with four businesses registered from the Katherine region.

“Last year we only used Queensland fruit, which meant we only had half the season to supply,” Gray told the broadcaster.

“The aim this year is to start in October and have product going into the US for the full four or five months of the Australian mango season.”

In June, Gray told the industry would also be testing new trade routes into the U.S. market this year.

Australia currently has a testing protocol for mango exports to the country.

Chinese officials destroy Philippine banana shipment

As tensions continue over the South China Sea ruling, yet another Philippine banana shipment has been intercepted on pest risk grounds.

Qingdao News reported Shandong officials destroyed 21 metric tons (MT) of the fruit, which had a value of US$ 21,683.

bananas dumped - Qingdao news

Photo: Qingdao News

The story reported the fruit was put into landfill because the gray pineapple mealybug Dysmicoccus neobrevipes was found in the consignment of 1,556 boxes.

It is the same pest reported in interceptions of Philippine bananas that took place in March.

While the official reason behind the destruction of fruit is pest threats, these types of SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) announcements often coincide with international disputes.

Amid a territorial conflict over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China placed restrictions on Philippine bananas alleging mealybug detections.

Last year the Philippines shipped 686,904 metric tons (MT) of bananas to China, accounting for 64% of total imports. However, this represents an 11% reduction year-on-year while the second-largest supplier Ecuador raised its shipments by 22% to reach 283,006MT.

Other suppliers include Myanmar (55,683MT), Thailand (26,115MT) and Vietnam (10,133MT).

Eduardo Ledesma of the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE) told the problem between China and the Philippines could generate more demand for Ecuadorian fruit.

“Hopefully that happens as it would help strengthen Ecuadorian bananas, and in the end it would generate more investments and jobs in Ecuador,” he said.

“This year we’ve fallen by more than half in China, mainly because prices from the Philippines are cheaper and the distance for them is much shorte. We also have some domestic problems – we have to be more agile. We must have procedures and processes that are less cumbersome.

China-Philippines conflict flows over to social media

Philippine mango growers have also suffered from the conflict, with some Chinese fruit traders refusing to stock the country’s dried mango products amid calls for a boycott.

Also on social media, Chinese netizens have slammed a Japanese YouTuber for a video (which you can see below) eating 137 Philippine bananas, in what some saw as a reference to China’s population of 1.37 billion people, Mingpao reported.

“During this sensitive period, you eat 137 bananas from the Philippines to insult China – do you have brains? Do you think us Chinese people can be easily bullied?” one comment said.

Headline photo:

U.S.: Limoneira expands direct sales program

California-based Limoneira Company will now build on its direct lemon sales programs with oranges and other specialty citrus items.

Chief operating officer Alex Teague tells the move ties into Limoneira’s One World of Citrus program, meeting the needs of customers not only in the U.S. but throughout the globe.

He says the direct sales method outside the lemon category – in citrus referred to as “round fruit” – has been in trials for a couple of years, but now the it would make up 100% of volume.

“One of the big drivers is the foodservice industry. Whereas probably 70-80% oranges go to retail, only about 20-30% of lemons go to retail,” Teague says.

“So bringing the foodservice-size oranges to coincide with our foodservice business in the lemons is a big help.”

In addition to Navel and Valencia oranges, Limoneira will provide Cara Cara Navels , Moro Blood oranges, Pummelos and Star Ruby Grapefruit from its groves.

The company will partner with Cecelia Packing Corporation for packing Limoneira oranges and specialty citrus.

“Limoneira via Sunkist used to have an orange house up until 2001 – for a variety of reasons it was shut down and we had always planned to going back to packing and selling direct ourselves with the oranges – now just appeared the opportune time with Cecelia to go do it,” he says.

“Like our lemon packing house in Santa Paula, they have a state-of-the-art facility in Orange Cove that’s close to our orange and specialty citrus groves,” Teague says in a release.

In the release, Limoneira director of global sales John Carter says global lemon customers have been asking Limoneira to sell its other citrus varieties for quite a while.

“We look forward to the opportunity to grow the category and connect shoppers to other citrus trees,” he says.

“Customers have appreciated the quality and consistency that they receive with Limoneira’s lemons, and we will deliver these same benefits with our oranges and specialty citrus.”

When asked about the current citrus market, Teague is still upbeat despite some short-term challenges this year.

“I would say the round fruit, because of unusual crop size, some maturing issues, there was a struggle this year,” he says.

“But of course we think that’s only temporary and it’ll work its way out. It was more a seasonal crop condition than it was a market condition. We still have strong confidence in the marketplace and consumption.

“The lemon market is continuing to be very strong. Consumption, from what we can tell comparing stores and restaurants, consumption continues to rise. We continue to have a lot of interest from retail and foodservice to have more fresh lemon programs.”

In terms of the upcoming California deal, he says orchards are getting enough heat units to have good-tasting oranges, and Limoneira has a full water allocation in the San Joaquin Valley.

“For fruit condition we’re very much looking forward to the 2016-17 season,” he says.

Year-long hunt finds almost 200 Peter Pan, Great Value victims

Close to 200 victims of the Salmonella serotype Tennessee outbreak that ended in early 2007 are in line for restitution when ConAgra Grocery Products Co. appears in federal court for sentencing.

Credit for finding so many documented victims of a nearly decade-old outbreak goes to federal Judge W. Louis Sands, who has delayed proceedings in the case for more than a year to give the government time to reach out to victims and their families.

peterpan_406x250According to the latest status report filed with his U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, more than 150 victim statements and victim claims for restitution were ready in April. An additional 42 claimants were filed with the court as of June 8 and were immediately disclosed to defense counsel.

ConAgra owns the Sylvester, GA, peanut processing plant that late in 2006 and early 2007 was associated with the 44-state outbreak of Salmonella Tennessee that sickened at least 425 people. Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter, sold in retail stores, were blamed for the outbreak.

On May 20, 2015, the government charged ConAgra with one misdemeanor count of violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Justice Department and the company filed a signed plea agreement with the court, with ConAgra agreeing to plead guilty.

“Both the government and counsel for the defendant are in the process of reviewing and evaluating the statements and supporting documents submitted by potential victims, including those submitted on June 8,” said Graham A. Thorpe, assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, in the latest status report.

The parties expect to complete the review and provide an assessment of the materials no later than July 29.

“At that time, and in consultation with the U.S. Probation Office, both counsel anticipate requesting a hearing and/or status conference with the court to address the issues of victim restitution, and timing in relation to either a single hearing date or both entry of a guilty plea and sentencing or alternatively a hearing date for the entry of a guilty plea and sentencing date,” Thorpe added.

Under the plea bargain, ConAgra has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to the misdemeanor and pay a fine of $ 8.01 million and forfeitures of $ 3.2 million, in addition to any restitution ordered by the court.

The agreement does not include any probationary period for the company, largely because it has been operating the Sylvester, GA, peanut butter plant for almost a decade since the outbreak without problems. ConAgra will be required to report on the anniversary date of the executed agreement with written confirmation that its food safety and quality program are being followed.

Multiple failures are believed to have contributed to the contamination of Peter Pan and Great Value branded peanut butter. An older peanut roaster was not sufficiently heating raw peanuts, a sugar silo was storm-damaged, and birds and bees were taking advantage of a leaky roof.

ConAgra Grocery Products Co., a unit of ConAgra Foods, has annual sales of $ 15.8 billion and 20,000 employees. Long based in Omaha, NE, ConAgra Foods is relocating to Chicago this summer.

Peanut butter from different manufacturers became poisoned three times between 2006 and 2012.

  • The outbreak involving Peter Pan and Great Value, both made in the Sylvester, GA, plant, was first in 2006-07.
  • Two years later, peanut butter and peanut paste made by the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America at nearby Blakely, GA, was blamed for the Salmonella serotype Typhimurium outbreak that sickened 714 people in 46 states. Nine people died. A 76-count federal criminal indictment led to convictions of five former executives involved with PCA. They are now serving prison sentences that total 62 years for the group.
  • In 2012, Sunland Inc. in Portales, NM, was blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney involving 42 people in 20 states. FDA suspended Sunland’s food facility registration before the plant was sold. No criminal charges were filed.

The now-closed Portales peanut processing plant was purchased out of the Sunland bankruptcy for $ 26 million in March of 2014 and then resold to Ready Roast a year later. Ready Roast has three plants in California, where the company is based. The Portales facility reopened as the Ready Roast Nut Company’s fourth plant in September 2015, returning as many as 200 jobs to the small New Mexico community.

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Food Safety News

Canadian market to reopen for Italian table grapes

Italy’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy (Mipaaf) has announced a deal has successfully been completed to regain access to the Canadian table grape market, which was blocked in 2010.

In a release, Mipaaf said the agreement follows the successful outcome of evaluations from Canadian phytosanitary experts who visited the country in October last year.

The inspectors visited fields in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily.

In summary, the ministry said producers and exporters interested in shipping to Canada would undertake the necessary steps.

“This is a major achievement for the whole Italian table grape sector, and is the fruit of the work of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy in close cooperation with producer associations and regional institutions,” Mipaaf said.


Giant recalls Own Brands 3 bean salad because of Listeria

My Giant Food Stores logoGiant Food Stores Inc. is recalling store branded 3 bean salad because an unnamed ingredient from an unnamed supplier may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The salad may have been sold in bulk or in 1-pound prepackaged containers from service deli cases and/or from “Grab 7 Go” deli cases in Giants and Martin’s stores, according to the recall notice on the Giant website.

The recall notice on the Giant website does not include product photos or details about distribution. The retailer is offering consumers full refunds when they return the recalled salad to stores.

Identifying information for the recalled “Own Brands 3 Bean Salad” includes:

  • OB 3 Bean Salad BULK – 1 LB; UPC 23700600000; Codes: ALL CODE DATES
  • OB 3 Bean Salad PREPACK – 1 LB; UPC 23657100000;  Codes: ALL CODE DATES

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Walmart to introduce new food label, with an eye toward reducing food waste

This month, Walmart plans to introduce a new food label that it hopes will help reduce food waste while keeping food prices low.

“With 795 million people in the world reportedly going hungry, food waste is an ugly problem to face,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety for Walmart. “In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that consumers throw away $ 29 billion worth of edible food each year in their homes. Walmart is especially concerned with reducing food waste, not only because we’re the world’s largest grocer, but also as an integral part of our [everyday low cost] philosophy that provides you everyday low prices. Two culprits of food waste are confusion caused by food labels and the tossing of imperfect — but perfectly usable — fresh produce.”

According to Yiannas, current labeling is confusing to consumers as food-safety indicators. “Most of the labels are created based on peak quality,” he said in a recent blog. “Adding to the confusion is the different language used on labels, including ‘best by,’ ‘use by’ and ‘sell by.’ That’s why, in the last year, we started requiring suppliers of nonperishable food products under our Great Value private label to use a standardized date label, ‘Best if used by’.”

The switch will go into full effect this month and involves thousands of products. Yiannas said the change was motivated by the release of a report by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America in 2013.

“My team has been working on a solution since then,” he added. “I expect the standard labels to have an even bigger impact on waste reduction since many of our suppliers sell products under their own labels outside of Walmart. This is significant, as the global economic impact of food wastage comes to about $ 750 billion each year.”

John Forrest Ales, Walmart’s director of corporate communications, spoke with The Produce News in mid-July to talk about the problem of food waste and ways in which the company is addressing the issue. “At the heart of who we are is everyday low cost,” he said. “We take that incredibly seriously.”

Ales said Walmart has developed its own distribution system to source fresh produce on a global basis. “We have a unique supply chain. We have standards beyond the Food and Drug Administration as to what produce should look like,” he said. “Our farmers pack and sort according to these standards.”

Recently, questions have arisen about food waste and what has been termed “ugly” or “wonky” produce. Fresh produce that falls into this category may not look perfect on the outside, but still provide consumers with high-quality fresh produce when consumed because the flaws are cosmetic only. An example, Ales said, is a three-legged carrot growing from a common green top.

“Farmers find alternate uses for these in most cases,” he explained, saying that the volume of product that does not fit with Walmart’s standard is relatively small. “There’s not a lot of that moving through the supply chain. You can’t just create three-legged carrots.”

In some instances, Ales said Walmart works with its network of farmers to move whole lots of produce that may have been affected by weather conditions. Freezes are examples, he said, of more global events that might have an impact upon the quality of fresh produce.

In the meantime, Jordan Figueiredo, a municipal recycling agent in Castro Valley, CA, and food nutritionist Stefanie Sacks are planning to submit a petition to Walmart at its Bentonville, AR, headquarters on July 20 signed by persons who encourage Walmart to address food waste by making produce that is less than perfect cosmetically available at its stores.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Lead contamination spurs recall of water bottles from L.L. Bean

Thousands of insulated water bottles designed for children and sold by L.L. Bean are under recall for lead content because the Chinese manufacturer used the wrong kind of solder material.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

About 6,700 of the recalled bottles were sold online, at retail stores and through the L.L. Bean catalog from July 2015 through May of this year, according to the recall notice on the Consumer Products Safety Commission website.

“The lead solder at the exterior base of the bottle contains high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues,” the July 21 notice states.

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and contact L.L.Bean for a full refund.”

When sold, the recalled 13.5-ouncerecalled L.L. Bean kids water bottle insulated water bottles carried label stickers with the item identification number 297684 on the bottom of each bottle. The stickers also had the codes “PO#844” and “BB2D2-LLB-R45-0413.”

The bottles were available in five printed graphic patterns:

  • Dino Bones;
  • Flower Power;
  • Orange Grid camo;
  • Purple Tie Dye Butterfly, and
  • Robo Shark.

“Routine testing by the manufacturer resulted in a positive reading for the presence of lead on the outside bottom of the bottle where the outer vacuum layer is sealed,” according to a statement on the L.L. Bean website.

“It was determined that some of the water bottles provided to L.L. Bean were erroneously sealed on the bottom with a solder bead containing lead instead of the lead-free solder bead originally specified. This could potentially expose the user of the bottle to the lead seal on the outside bottom of the water bottle. For your child’s safety, immediately stop using the water bottle and return the bottle to L.L. Bean,” the company stated.

GSI Outdoors Inc. of Spokane, WA, imported and distributed the Chinese water bottles, according to the recall notice.

Federal officials warn that even very low levels of lead can harm children.

“Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Two E. coli cases linked to livestock close Washington school

Two young Washington state girls are hospitalized with complications from E. coli infection and their school has been temporarily closed for cleaning. One of the girls has reportedly developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney condition linked to E. coli infection.

Health officials said the source of their exposure to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria was probably not food but contact with animals.

Contact with livestock can be a source of E. coli infection. (Photo illustration)

“The exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District.

A health district Facebook posting indicated that, “… based on our Communicable Disease team’s initial investigation and interviews with family, we do not believe this was caused by a food source.”

The Monroe Montessori School in Monroe, WA, was temporarily closed on Wednesday, and nobody answered the phone there on Thursday. Approximately 60 students and staff members were said to have potentially been exposed to the bacteria and were being tested for the infection.

A health district statement issued Wednesday noted that the school “has temporarily closed for disinfecting as a precaution,” and that the school, the district, the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Early Learning were coordinating on the E. coli testing.

Contact with livestock in a rural area, a farm, or a petting zoo are common sources of E. coli bacteria. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infection last year in Washington state was traced to a fairgrounds dairy barn in Lynden, WA. That outbreak sickened 25 people, mostly young children, and hospitalized 10 of them.

Symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is less than 101 degrees F. Most people get better within five to seven days as infections can be mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening.

Young children and the elderly are more likely to experience serious illness. People with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are also at risk for serious illness.

Between 5 and 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develop the potentially life-threatening complication of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people who develop HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. Adults should supervise young children to make sure they don’t put their hands in their mouths and make sure that their hands are washed thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom.

The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E. coli, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. It is also important to avoid swallowing water when swimming and playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

More information about STEC and other types of E. coli can be found here.

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Eliminating out-of-stocks requires attention to detail

If you went to an automobile dealer and the salesperson told you, “Sorry, we’re all out of cars,” what would you do? Without a doubt, you would go to another automobile dealership.

Prior to the July 4 holiday, I was shopping at a supermarket for a planned family cookout. Upon entering the produce department, it was evident that several displays were depleted. I immediately had a bad feeling about my shopping list.1-OOSOut-of-stocks, which can originate at various levels of the supply chain, can cause millions of dollars in lost sales annually.

As I approached the corn display, I was surprised to see it was totally empty. I asked a nearby clerk if it was going to be restocked soon and was told, “Sorry, we’re all out of corn until our delivery tomorrow.” All out of a popular summer favorite for the holiday at 1 p.m.?

Besides the sweet corn, several potato varieties were unavailable, the mushroom section was just about wiped out and the cherries that were on ad were down to only eight bags remaining in the display.

Having a retail supermarket mentality, and especially as a former director of produce, this scenario disturbed me.

An “out-of-stock” is an item that a customer wants to purchase but is not physically available to them at the time of shopping. Out-of-stocks cause millions of dollars in lost sales annually.

When customers are asked why they did not make supermarket purchases of items they wanted, the majority respond by saying that the items were not on displays.

Retail businesses surrender approximately 4 percent of sales due to items not made available for consumers to purchase. With some retailers, that number is even higher. It may not sound like much, but with stringent budget pressures these days, a mere 1 percent improvement could make a great difference in achieving the numbers.

One of the most important functions of a produce department is to keep fully stocked at least the top 20 popular items that customers want to buy the most. Nothing is worse than customers seeing holes and breaks throughout the department while shopping.

Out-of-stocks can originate at various levels of the supply chain, from the grower, shipper and wholesaler to the distribution center, warehouse and, of course, the supermarket.

Here are some basic causes of out-of-stocks and how to avoid them:

Careless ordering — Making out a rush order will cause out-of-stocks every time. Not considering all the essentials like sale items, holidays, special promotions and weather opens the door to running out of product. Prevent it by taking time to calculate specific items on hand as well as checking past history and current trends. Plan and write solid intelligent orders to do ample business.

Stocking oversight — A delay in replenishing displays will rapidly lead to an empty hole. Keep close attention to fast sellers, especially basics like bananas, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. Always be ready to restock your most popular items repeatedly.

Space allocation — A small display will sell less product, and if it contains a top-20 item, it will quickly lead to an out-of-stock. Avoid allowing every item to be allotted the same amount of display space. Expand on those that customers want the most.

Inaccurate data — Incorrect inventory counts at the warehouse or store level can distort the numbers required in ordering product. Buyers and produce managers need to double check and concentrate on accuracy. This applies to product suppliers as well as retailers.

Layout compliance — Failing to follow the company produce plan-o-gram layout can lead to possible out-of-stocks. Each item is assigned a specific amount of allocation space. If space on faster-moving items is less than shown on the layout plan, that item could easily lead to an out-of-stock. Adhere to the size of item space according to the company plan-o-gram.

Inventory and shrink control — These programs are necessary, but can also lead to running out of product. When management hangs tough on reducing inventory assets, produce managers frequently become overly cautious in writing an order. This can cause item shortages. Be sensible and smart by using skills in accommodating programs as well as satisfying customers’ needs.

We have been wrestling with stubborn out-of-stock situations for many years. It’s understandable when weather plays havoc on crops and causes a supply disruption. Outside of that, each level of the supply chain has to be more diligent in getting the goods to consumers.

This is where the responsibility lies on everyone. Reducing out-of-stocks can mean the difference in meeting sales and profit budgets, but mostly in satisfying customers.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Higaki and Van Valkenburg honored at FPFC expo

ANAHEIM, CA — Longtime industry veterans Harry Higaki of Bay City Flower Co. Inc. in Half Moon Bay, CA, and Rich Van Valkenburg of Van Valkenburg & Associates in Capistrano Beach, CA, were honored with their respective industry’s top award at the Fresh Produce & Floral Council’s Southern California Expo, held here July 19 at the Disneyland Hotel.20-RichRich Van Valkenburg (right) of VVA was awarded the FPFC’s Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Award during the FPFC Southern California Expo. He is shown with Matt Christ of the Allen Lund Co. and Jason Paez of Cal Poly-Pomona.

Higaki is largely credited with opening up supermarkets to floral merchandising when he sold potted mums to Ralphs Grocery Co. in the 1950s. His son and past winner Harrison Higaki presented the FPFC Floral Achievement Award to his father, outlining his personal story and the vital role he played in transitioning the more than 100-year-old company from a cut-flower grower to a provider of potted blooming plants to the mass market.

When 95-year-old Harry Higaki strolled to the podium, he noted that he has been retired for 30 years and indicated that while the award was appreciated, he was a bit dumbfounded by its presentation at this point in his life. But he quickly revealed his continued interest in the floral industry, touting a technology currently being tested that will eliminate the wilting of roses. Higaki called it a “game changer.”14-HarryHarrison Higaki (right) of Bay City Flower Co., presented the 2016 FPFC Floral Achievement Award to his father, Harry.

Van Valkenburg received the Norman H. (Buz) Bolstad Produce Achievement Award, named after one of the founders of the FPPC, who was a longtime Southern California retailer. In fact, Bolstad was one of Van Valkenburg’s early mentors in the industry.

Besides a long career in produce retailing, Van Valkenburg has operated his own food brokerage business for the past decade. He has been a longtime supporter of the FPPC, first serving on the board and the Executive Committee in the 1980s. After increased workload required him to step down from the Executive Committee before serving as chairman in the late 1980s, Van Valkenburg continued to be a constant presence at FPFC events and once again made an appearance on that committee in 2012, serving as chairman of the council in 2014.

The one-day expo, which is the grandfather of the ever-expanding regional produce show movement, attracted 2,000 produce professionals to its location at the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center in Anaheim.

Chef Fabio Viviani gave the keynote speech at the opening breakfast, exhorting the crowd of many in-store produce and floral personnel to go way beyond the bare minimum in doing their jobs. He said that while everyone can’t and shouldn’t be an entrepreneur, everyone is the CEO of themselves and responsible for what they accomplish and how far they go in their careers and lives.

Viviani told of his inspiring career that began as an 11-year-old in a bakery in Florence, Italy. Forced to work at an early age because of a family financial crisis, he made the most of it and has emerged as a rock star in the restaurant business, owning many locations and being featured as a regular on many cooking shows.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Innovate today for tomorrow’s success

Foodservice operators are increasingly thinking “innovation first” as they move to capture market share and deliver exciting culinary options that appeal to today’s marketplace and consumers.

This year, the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference & Expo will give attendees an opportunity to hone their skills, discover strategies that have direct real-time impact on delivery, close gaps and build important relationships for the future.ConventionOV4Consumers are increasingly becoming experimental in their own kitchens as they learn more about meal preparation and flavor handling through cooking shows and magazines. Photo courtesy of the Produce Marketing Association.

The conference is being held in stunning Monterey, CA, at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa, July 29-31. Last year, the conference saw 1,870 attendees, including more than 200 operators and over 480 distributors/wholesalers at the convention’s intimate atmosphere.

The 2016 conference promises to deliver new insights and help solidify relationships between the foodservice sector and the fresh produce industry.

Attendees will have a chance to take advantage of some social pre-convention activities sponsored by the Center for Growing Talent by PMA. These include the Talent Tournament and Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament. Activity kicks into high gear on July 29 with the 5K Race for Talent, designed to get the juices flowing.

This year’s educational sessions have been designed to focus on foodservice trends. “Hands-On Fruit & Vegetable Training” will provide attendees with some of the latest menu trends, as well as tips on care, handling and usage of fresh fruit and vegetables items that can help restaurants “innovate the plate” with global flavors.

The emcee for this session is Jill Overdorf, corporate executive chef and director of business development, Coosemans LA Shipping.

Attendees should prepare for a full day of intensive activity on Saturday, July 30 with four sessions available.

The session, “Turning Your Customers Into Advocates” will be presented by Professor Jonah Berger of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Find out why the marketing landscape is changing and discover strategies that companies can use to solidify consumer relationships.

Tim York, chief executive officer of Markon Cooperative Inc., will moderate a discussion on “Food Safety: Positioning Yourself as a Trusted Source.”

During this session, you’ll learn about the latest best practices in food safety and gain real-world strategies for sharing information with consumers while positioning your company as a source for high-quality fresh produce. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively with buyers and consumers, using the right channels and the right information, to build a trusted brand. Session speakers are Bob Whitaker, chief science & technology officer, Produce Marketing Association; Lance Donny, chief executive officer of On Farm; Robert Stovicek, president of Primus Labs; and Chef Kyong Carroll, executive chef, Bon [email protected]

The world of flavor explosion will be discussed at “Fascinating Flavors: Enticing Customers with Tastes and Trends.” Consumers are increasingly exploring new and exciting flavor options as they dine out and are becoming more experimental in their own kitchens as they interact with the world of cooking shows and magazines. Session speakers are Patty Johnson, global food and drink analyst; Mintel Carol Christensen, director of institutional advancement, Monell; and Chef Tony Baker, Montrio Bistro.

And finally, attendees will learn what will be hot when it comes to the rising stars of fresh produce. The session, “Menus of Change: From Seed to Stalk” will discuss factors influencing fine and casual dining, and trends consumers are taking advantage of today. This session, presented by Celebrity Chef Richard Blais of Juniper and Ivy, is designed to be both fun and educational.

PMA will host its Women’s Fresh Perspectives Reception the evening of July 30.

The convention will wrap up on July 31 with a number of activities including the Foodservice Produce Expo.

Networking opportunities will be available throughout the course of the conference.

For further information, visit

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Seattle outbreak sparks nationwide public health alert

Overnight, the Seattle Salmonella outbreak traced to pork from Kapowsin Meats broke into a nationwide public health alert about the use and consumption of whole hog roasters prepared for barbeque.

The health alert was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and specifically concerns concerns about illnesses  caused by Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:-.

On July 13, FSIS was notified of the Kapowsin Meats investigation in Seattle. The Washington State Department of Health notified FSIS on July 19 of confirmed case patients involved in an illness outbreak of Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i-.

The Good Vibe Tribe Luau July 3 included pork from Kapowsin Meats, which was linked to a five-state Salmonella outbreak in 2015 that sickened 192 and resulted in a recall of more than 115,000 pounds of whole pigs.

The Good Vibe Tribe Luau July 3 included pork from Kapowsin Meats, which was linked to a five-state Salmonella outbreak in 2015 that sickened 192 and resulted in a recall of more than 115,000 pounds of whole pigs.

Working in conjunction with the Washington State Department of Health and local health departments, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a possible link between the roaster hogs for barbeque from Kapowsin Meats and this illness cluster.

Based on epidemiological investigation, three Salmonella I 4,[5],12:i:- case-patients have been identified with illness onset dates ranging from July 5, 2016 to July 7, 2016. Traceback investigation indicated that three case-patients consumed whole hog roasters for barbeque from Kapowsin Meats. It is not known at this time if this outbreak strain has any drug resistance; results are pending.

This investigation is ongoing. FSIS continues to work with public health partners at the Washington State Department of Health, local health agencies and the CDC on this investigation. Updated information will be provided as it becomes available.

FSIS moved forward with a Public Health Alert because company representatives were not available to participate in a recall committee conference earlier in the day. FSIS is working with the company to identify specific products to be removed from commerce. In the meantime, FSIS recommends the following guidance associated with roasting pigs.

Roasting a pig is a complex undertaking with numerous potential food handling issues. FSIS urges consumers to keep the four food safety steps in mind: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

  • CLEAN: Obtain your pig from a reputable supplier. Have the supplier wrap it in plastic, or a large plastic bag to contain the juices. Keep the pig cold until it is time to cook it. If you can’t keep it under refrigeration or on ice, consider picking it up just before you are ready to cook it.
  • SEPARATE: Anything that comes into contact with whole pig should be washed with hot soapy water afterwards. This includes hands and utensils.
  • COOK: FSIS recommends that all pork products are cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145º F with a three minute rest time. Make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in numerous places, including near the bone. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.
  • CHILL: Once the meat is cooked, transfer to clean serving dishes. Pack leftovers in shallow containers and refrigerate within 1-2 hours. It is not necessary to cool before you refrigerate it.

FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume pork and whole hogs for barbeque that have been cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F with a three minute rest time. The only way to confirm that whole hogs for barbeque are cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature,

For whole hogs for barbeque make sure to check the internal temperature with a food thermometer in numerous places, including near the bone. Check the temperature frequently and replenish wood or coals to make sure the fire stays hot. Remove only enough meat from the carcass as you can serve within 1-2 hours.

Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after exposure to the organism. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

Recommendations for Preventing Salmonellosis:

Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.

Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and egg products and a separate one for fresh produce and cooked foods.

Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures before eating. The safe internal for groundmeat is 160º F, and 165º F for poultry, as determined with a food thermometer.

Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90º F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

Food Safety News

Machinery hiccup hits Colombian pitahaya exports to Korea, Japan

Despite a free trade agreement (FTA) coming into effect between Colombia and South Korea, a machinery deconfiguration has put dragon fruit exports to the country and Japan on hold along with U.S. negotiations. Grower group Asoppitaya is seeking investments to rehabilitate its vapor heat treatment (VHT) equipment to get back on track with these prospective markets. 

pitahaya zoom

When visited Asoppitaya’s packing plant in Pereira in August last year, the group’s general manager Sandra Garcia was excited for an upcoming inaugural shipment to South Korea.

But it did not come to pass.

“Last year we managed to have everything ready to export to Korea, but unfortunately we had an electrical failure and the machine was deconfigured,” she says.

The VHT machinery is supposed to keep the fruit, also known as pitahaya, at 46°C (115°F) for approximately three hours to meet the East Asian country’s specifications.

The treatment is also required for exports to Japan, and forms a vital part of negotiations for U.S. access.

“We didn’t manage to configure it because it has to be done by a Japanese technician, so our attempt failed.

“It cost us a lot of money but we’re still going to try again and we’re looking for foreign investment to bring a Japanese technician.

“It’s a large investment that has to be made in repairs, we’re talking about US$ 50,000 and as small growers for us that’s a lot of money.”

Garcia says discussions are underway with a South Korean company to provide the capital necessary to get the machine back on track, but she is open to further support.

She hopes the funding can be secured for repairs by the end of this year, getting the machine operational for the 2017 season.

In the 2015-16 deal, Asoppitaya exported 28 metric tons (MT) of pitahayas worldwide, to markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Canada.

When asked about the FTA with South Korea, Garcia says tariffs will be gradually reduced to zero over the next five years, and she will also try to use the agreement to improve some aspects of the export protocol.

“Specifically for pitahaya, the phytosanitary rules are not negotiated as it’s a sovereign right of every country. But what can be negotiated in line with the FTA would be the reduction of some costs to be able to comply with the rules,” she says.

“In this case it’d be about organizing the feesof the inspector which are very high, between transport, food, overseas calls. It cost us almost 30 million pesos (US$ 10,230).

“An important message is that as small growers and business, we want to know the opportunities of every agreement very well. A lot of the time growers don’t make the most of these agreements because they’re not known in the productive sector.”

What else could benefit from the Colombia-South Korea FTA?

In a search of Korea International Trade Organization (KITO) statistics, bananas appeared as the main fruit crop Colombia has shipped to the country in the past.

However, the last registered exports were in 2013 when 164MT were shipped, down from 360MT in 2011 and a much higher figure of 908MT almost two decades prior in 1993.




Hawaii Hepatitis A cases up to 74; vaccine being redistributed

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has updated to 74 its confirmed case count in the ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak, which is an increase of 22 new cases since the department’s previous update last week. of the sickened individuals are Oahu residents, DOH noted, except for two people who live on the islands of Hawaii and Maui but were on Oahu during their exposure period.

Twenty-six of the 74 people have been hospitalized. Onset of the illnesses ranges from June 12 to July 14.

DOH is calling the following two local businesses “places of interest” because an employee at each of them has been diagnosed with Hepatitis A infection:

  • Baskin-Robbins at Waikele Center, where possible exposure dates were June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30 and July 1 and 3, and,
  • Taco Bell at 94-790 Ukee St. in Waipio, where possible exposure dates were June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30 and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 11.

Department officials cautioned that this doesn’t indicate that these businesses are sources of the outbreak, and that no Hepatitis A infections have so far been linked to exposure at the two businesses.

“The likelihood that patrons of these businesses will become infected is very low,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, adding, “However, persons who have consumed food or drink products from these businesses during the identified dates of service should contact their healthcare provider for advice and possible preventive care.”

“Identifying the source of infection continues to be a challenge because of the long incubation period of the disease and the difficulty patients have in accurately recalling the foods consumed and locations visited during the period when infection could have taken place,” according to a DOH website page about the outbreak.

Meanwhile, some pharmacies on Oahu have apparently run low on supplies of the Hepatitis A vaccine and are either having to redistribute on the island or get additional supplies from the mainland.

“What we’re telling people is that we have a list on our website of vaccinating pharmacies and to call before they go in because some pharmacies might be temporarily out but have requested or ordered more,” said Gail Ogawa, a public health educator with DOH in Honolulu.

A single dose of single-antigen Hepatitis A vaccine, or immune globulin, may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure. A list of frequently asked questions about Hepatitis A can be found here.

Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes, and symptoms typically last several weeks to as long as two months. Most people will recover without complications.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News

Chile expects to double China-bound avocado exports

The Chilean Hass avocado industry is looking to build on last season’s exports of around 90,000 metric tons (MT), particularly in China where volumes are still small but are growing very quickly.

Chilean Hass Avocado Committee managing director Juan Enrique Lazo told the industry only shipped one container when the market was opened for the 2014 season, but shipments have increased significantly since then.

“Last year we reached 5,300 [metric] tons, and this season we expect to at least double that,” Lazo said.

He said the sector would be undertaking much larger promotion campaigns in China to keep up with the extra volume.

“We will hit points of sales, we’ll do cooking activities, and we’ll have a presence on social media,” Lazo said, adding the promotions would take place during the Northern Hemisphere fall through to November.

He said the first harvests were expected in the first week of August, and it was possible that would also coincide with the first shipments to China.

From a production perspective, Lazo said while Chile had been experiencing a cold winter, there had not yet been reports of frost damages from orchards.

“We haven’t had any serious frosts, but the cold always has an effect, for example in delays for starting harvests – sizing takes a bit more time, and the metabolism is slowed during these months,” he said.

Last season Chile produced 180,000 metric tons (MT), and Lazo expected this figure to rise to 200,000MT in 2016-17, provided no unexpected weather events occur.


More than 600 sick in 45 states because of poultry pets

Salmonella traced to backyard flocks and pet chicks and ducklings continues to claim victims, with public health officials now tracking eight outbreaks across 45 states.

chick-nuzzler-406Since the outbreaks were reported on June 2, there have been 287 confirmed cases added, bringing the total to 611 people sickened, according to an update this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 138 outbreak victims had to be hospitalized, according to information available on 496 of the outbreak victims. The illnesses began Jan. 4 and are ongoing. People who became ill after June 16 may not yet be reflected in the outbreak statistics because of the lag time between onset of symptoms and data being reported to federal officials.

“These outbreaks are expected to continue for the next several months since flock owners might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from live poultry or participate in risky behaviors that can result in infection,” according to the CDC.

In interviews, 434 of 493 ill people told health officials they had been in contact with live poultry, including chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings, during the week before they became sick.

Victims reported buying live baby poultry from several suppliers, including feed supply stores, Internet sites, hatcheries and friends in multiple states. Some of the places ill people reported contact with live poultry include their home, someone else’s home, work or school settings.

“Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings have linked the eight outbreaks to contact with live poultry such as chicks and ducklings sourced from multiple hatcheries,” CDC reported.

“Regardless of where they were purchased, all live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean.”

To help prevent the spread of Salmonella bacteria, the CDC advises consumers to:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where the birds live and roam;
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house; and
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Food Safety News