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DOJ Food-Safety Enforcement Role to Continue in 2015

When producers of such staple foods as beef, eggs, and peanut butter found they were the targets of federal criminal prosecution, it became a top food-safety story of 2014. But is it likely that food-safety enforcement will continue to rely on these U.S. Department of Justice-led (DOJ) criminal cases in 2015?

You can bet on it. Not only is it going to take 2015 and maybe beyond for the courts to fully adjudicate the cases that are underway, it’s likely we will see a new case or two involving criminal charges filed in the new year.

One additional possible criminal case we know about — and usually DOJ can prevent disclosure about a case until charges are actually filed — involves the 2006-07 Salmonella Tennessee outbreak caused by contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butters.

We know something might be stirring in that case because DOJ began contacting outbreak victims under the Crime Victims Rights Act last August, and also because Omaha, NE-based ConAgra Foods Inc. disclosed in its 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that a federal criminal misdemeanor stemming from the eight-year-old tainted peanut-butter incident remains possible.

The peanut-butter brands were produced by the $ 17.7-billion food conglomerate at a plant in Sylvester, GA. That Salmonella Tennessee outbreak, which ran from Aug. 1, 2006, to Feb. 16, 2007, sickened 425 people in 44 states. About one in five of them required hospital care, but none died.

When tainted peanut butter turned out to be the source of another Salmonella outbreak originating in Georgia, the manufacturer would not be so lucky. Nine deaths were attributed to the outbreak strain out of about 750 confirmed cases in that 2008-09 outbreak.

About 100 days have passed since a jury in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia found Peanut Corporation of America executives guilty of nearly 100 criminal charges. Post-trial action has included motions for directed verdicts of not guilty, or, as an alternative, motions for new trials.

For reasons not entirely clear or known, evidentiary hearings have been held in secret, and numerous motions made in the past 14 weeks were sealed by the judge. One possible reason for the post-trial secrecy could be defense attorney concerns that some jurors may have used the Internet to do their own research on PCA’s history during the course of the trial.

Stewart Parnell, who owned PCA; Michael Parnell, his peanut-broker broker, and Mary Wilkerson, the quality-assurance manager at Blakely, GA, were found guilty in mid-September and have been awaiting sentencing ever since, along with two other former PCA managers who pleaded guilty before the trial in a plea agreement with the prosecution.

K. Alan Dasher, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, has asked to have until Friday, Jan. 2, to respond to defense motions, some filed jointly, for a new trial. Meanwhile, defense attorney Thomas G. Ledford, who represents Wilkerson, wants to introduce yet another sealed motion.

Court documents apparently do not yet include filings of Pre-Sentence Investigative Reports (PSIRs) or dates for sentencing.

An ending may be closer for 71-year-old Austin “Jack” DeCoster, his 51-year-old son, Peter DeCoster, and their Quality Egg LLC, a family trust. The sentencing hearing for the trio will begin Feb. 9 in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa in Sioux City.

Whether there should be any kind of jail or detention, even home detention, is the major issue separating government and defense attorneys. The father and son have each pleaded guilty to individual misdemeanors and agreed to pay fines of $ 100,000 each. Quality Egg LLC pleaded guilty to bribing a federal egg inspection and agreed to pay a $ 7.8-million fine.

The government is contacting victims of the 2010 Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak about the February sentencing event.

What could be the most-watched food-safety trial of 2015 begins with jury selection on July 16 in San Francisco. Former Rancho Feeding Corporation co-owner Jesse J. (Babe) Amaral Jr., 76, will be tried alone, as other defendants in the federal criminal conspiracy case have reached plea deals with the government on charges that they conspired to sell cattle known to have eye cancers and other problems for human consumption.

Others charged in the case will likely appear at the trial, but probably as government witnesses. They are Felix Sandoval Cabrera, 55, who was the foreman of Rancho’s slaughterhouse at Petaluma, CA; Eugene D. Corda, the 65-year-old former Rancho yardman, and 77-year-old Robert Singleton, who was Rancho’s other co-owner.

Those three have entered guilty pleas to one misdemeanor count each involving the illegal distribution of adulterated, misbranded and uninspected meat.

Two other trials are scheduled in Iowa’s Halal beef cases. The Cedar Rapids-based Miramar Corporation, Islamic Services of America (ISA), and brothers Jalel Farris Aossey and Yahya Nasser Aossey are scheduled for trial on Feb. 17.

The two men are the sons of Miramar and ISA founder William B. Aossey Jr., who is scheduled for a separate trial on March 9. Both trials will take place in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa in Cedar Rapids.

Charges of conspiracy, forgery, wire fraud, and money-laundering all stem from alleged misrepresentation of Halal beef shipments to south Asia. While the charges are not strictly food-safety related, they do involve mislabeling and violations of statutes that are usually seen as essential to food-safety enforcement.

Halal meats are prepared according to specific standards of the Muslim faith, including those for slaughter.

Food Safety News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

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Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

2015 Prediction: Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories

After years of growth, private label is far from done. In fact, retailers will continue to push the limits on store labels in 2015 to enter new categories and battle retail competitors of all types. SN’s annual Center Store Survey in June of this year found that private label was a big driver in a more bullish outlook for the packaged foods business.  Asked how supermarkets can best fight rivals for Center Store sales, the biggest group of industry respondents, about 24%, said …

Why Subscribe To SN Digital Access?

Digital Access gives you unlimited online access to our most premium news and analysis such as Retailers continue to innovate in private label categories. This includes in-depth stories and insights from our team of editors and guest writers as well as free eNewsletters, blogs, real-time polls, archives and more. In addition you will also receive a complimentary copy of SN’s salary survey sent to you by email.

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Supermarket News

Idaho potatoes continue to strengthen brand nationally, expand it internationally

Idaho is known for potatoes. Idaho continues to lead the nation in potato production, as it has done for many years, and more than 96 percent of the Idaho Potato Commission’s target audience identify Idaho as the state best known for growing potatoes.

Internationally, people also associate the Idaho name with potatoes, as Frank Muir, president of the IPC, has observed on many occasions, and Idaho now ships fresh potatoes to more than 20 export markets.IPC-Frank-MuirFrank Muir

But “even though we are the No. 1 brand in potatoes, we are not resting on our laurels,” Muir said, in an interview with The Produce News Nov. 17. “We continue to grow our strength,” building the Idaho brand both nationally and internationally.

When The Produce News talked to Muir, he and other IPC staff members had just returned from a trade mission to Chile and Brazil. “We had a very successful trip, especially regarding dehy,” he said. “So I think we will be shipping dehydrated potatoes down to both countries shortly.” With fresh potatoes, “we’ve got a few more challenges there, particularly with Brazil, but hopefully we will be able to work some of those things out and ship Idaho potatoes fresh down south.”

Domestically, Idaho’s potato production represents about one-third of all U.S. potatoes harvested each year, Muir said. The state’s 2014 harvest, which was just recently completed, yielded about 13 billion pounds of potatoes from a little over 320,000 acres. “That is enough potatoes to fill 500 football stadiums 10 feet high,” he said.

The crop size is down from what was expected earlier in the season due to cool weather in the weeks before harvest. The weather also delayed the timing of the crop, which had been expected to be early. In the end, it turned out to be about a normal-sized crop with normal timing, and “what I would call a right-sized crop for this year,” Muir said. That has been good for the markets, as prices were rising approaching the holiday period, something that they typically may not do. “I think that is a positive indication for how this year will turn out.”

Idaho has a reputation not only for being the No. 1 potato-growing state but also for having a quality product, Muir noted. “Every time we conduct research, we will ask things like what word first comes to mind when you hear ‘Idaho potatoes,’ and the No. 1 word is always quality, so Idaho has a very strong, positive imagery in consumers’ minds.”

One of the things the Idaho potato industry is doing to strengthen the Idaho brand nationally and expand it internationally is to “expand our portfolio of potato offerings,” Muir said. Traditionally, Idaho has been known for its russet potatoes, but over the past decade, growers have diversified their offerings and many of them now offer an assortment of specialty potato varieties. In fact, the No. 1 grower of fingerling potatoes in the country today is an Idaho potato grower, and “Idaho has become the No. 2 grower of reds” in the United States. It is something we as an industry here in Idaho can be very proud of.”

So popular are Idaho potatoes that many people make the assumption that whatever potatoes they see in the market are most likely from Idaho, so they may often buy potatoes they think are Idaho-grown when, in fact, they are not. For that reason, one of the major messages the IPC pushes in its consumer outreach is the importance of looking for the “Grown in Idaho” seal .”We have created this incredibly strong brand imagery,” he said, “so we have to convince folks to always be looking for the ‘Grown in Idaho’ seal in order to make sure they are getting genuine Idaho potatoes.”

For its 75th anniversary celebration three years ago, the IPC launched a big flatbed truck with a giant Idaho potato on the back on a national tour. The tour was so successful that it was sent out across the country again in 2013 and then again this year. In all, the Big Idaho Potato Truck has travelled more than 75,000 miles, and there are plans to extend the campaign at least another two years. Everywhere the truck goes, it garners press coverage and attracts TV camera crews as well as crowds of spectators. “It has been incredibly successful,” Muir said.

For the 2014 tour, the 75th Anniversary logo on the side of the truck was changed to read, “You know it’s real when you see the seal,” encouraging people to look for the “Grown in Idaho” seal.

The commission has partnered with the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, reminding people that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and that message appears on the back of the truck. “It also helps that our truck is red,” Muir said.

Idaho potatoes are certified as heart healthy by the AHA and “can bear the Heart Check Mark on all of our advertising and promotions,” he added.

Playing off of the truck’s success, the IPC has launched for the 2014-15 marketing season, a new television commercial, the third in a series portraying an actual Idaho potato farmer, Mark Coombs, lamenting that the truck and the Tater Team went out across the country and were having so much fun that they won’t come home. People loved the first ad, so last year, a new ad depicted the farmer and his dog, a bloodhound, taking off across the country looking for the truck in a red and white vintage Studebaker pickup. In the new ad, Coombs and another Idaho potato farmer, James Hoff, fly across the country in search of the truck in a red and white 1943 Stearman biplane.

The commercial, which will air on national cable television through February, has been well received, Muir said. “People love the story line.”

In its foodservice promotions, the commission continues with its February Potato Lovers Month display contest, “probably the most successful retail contest in produce in the country,” Muir said. Now in its 24th year, the contest has grown from an average of 600 participants prior to 2005 to more than 4,500 displays the past two years.

“On the foodservice side,” he said, “we continue to work with chefs in a wide range of ways to expand their use of potatoes in very creative ways.”

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

Three Food Safety Rules Grow Moldy at OIRA as Import-Related Outbreaks Continue

About 15 percent of all foods we consume are imported. Looking at some particular categories, the numbers are far more striking: imports make up 91 percent of our seafood, 60 percent of our fruits and vegetables, and 61 percent of our honey. Most of these imports come from developing countries that lack any effective health and safety regulation—like China, which has had a seemingly endless run of food safety scandals and yet supplies 50 percent of our apple juice, 80 percent of our tilapia, and 31 percent of our garlic.

Unsanitary practices in these countries are well-documented: Vietnamese farmers are known to send shrimp to America in tubs of ice made from bacteria-infested water; and Mexican laborers are often given filthy bathrooms and no place to wash their hands before gathering onions and grape tomatoes for export. Despite the obvious risks of adulteration and contamination, the resource-strapped Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected only 2 percent of food imports and just 0.4 percent of foreign food facilities in 2011. Import-related outbreaks—like the 81 people sickened by Mexican cucumbers just a couple months ago—have become even more frequent in recent years.

The foodborne pathogens that make it to our tables often prove deadly for children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. In 2008, after undergoing chemotherapy and radiation, 67-year-old Raul Rivera was told by his oncologist that he would likely survive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He celebrated by taking his family out for dinner, where they ate pico de gallo. It was later discovered that the jalapeños in the salsa were imported from a Mexican farm that had used Salmonella-tainted water for irrigation. Rivera died two weeks later, not of cancer but of salmonellosis.

In January 2011, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a set of sweeping reforms that would be fleshed out in rules issued by the FDA. Two and a half years later, only two proposed rules have been released—one on produce safety standards, and the other on preventive controls for human food. The FDA has drafted three other proposed rules that could significantly improve the safety of imports, but they are currently languishing at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), an office inside the White House that is notorious for blocking, weakening, and delaying the rules that it reviews.

These three rules, described below, are already many months beyond their statutory deadlines, and OIRA has held them well past the 90-day limit established by Executive Order 12866. Whenever these rules finally emerge, we should be alert to the ways that OIRA may have undermined their effectiveness, just as it substantially weakened the FDA’s preventive-controls rule before it was released in February.

Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP)

(Final rule was due by January 2012; Proposed rule now stuck at OIRA for a year and seven months)

This rule would hold food importers liable for verifying that their foreign suppliers have adequate measures in place to prevent adulteration and contamination. In other words, U.S. companies that buy food products made in overseas facilities would be responsible for inspecting those facilities, periodically testing their shipments, and evaluating the supplier’s written safety plans. Any company that imports food without having an adequate verification program in place would face penalties.

Americans continue to be sickened by contamination that this rule might have prevented. In recent months, at least 120 people have been infected with hepatitis A after eating “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” of frozen fruit. Despite the pastoral image of an Oregon farm on the package, Townsend actually had many of the blend’s ingredients shipped in from foreign countries. The strain of hepatitis, commonly found in North Africa and the Middle East, suggests that the pomegranate seeds—processed in Turkey—are the likely culprit. With no supplier-verification rule in place, Townsend Farms had no obligation to ensure that the Turkish facility followed sanitary practices or had adequate employee-hygiene policies.

Accreditation of Third Parties to Conduct Food Safety Audits

(Final rule was due by July 2012; Proposed rule now stuck at OIRA for seven months)

This rule will describe the FDA’s “third-party certification” system for foreign food facilities. The general setup is reminiscent of those Russian nesting dolls: the FDA will recognize a number of accreditation bodies, which will then accredit certain third parties to be auditors—including private firms, individuals, and even foreign governments—and these auditors will then be hired by foreign facilities that wish to be “certified” as complying with U.S. standards. (See the diagram on page 13 of this report.)

In several ways, these third-party audits are central to the FDA’s new paradigm: (1) food from certified facilities will qualify for expedited entry into the United States, (2) the FDA may require certain “high risk” foods to be certified before importation, and (3) the FDA will use third-party audit reports to decide which facilities to inspect or which foods to test at the border.

The FSMA’s reliance on third-party auditors is deeply troubling because these companies have a shameful record of incompetence, inconsistency, and conflicts of interest with the facilities they audit. Case in point: a private auditor gave Colorado’s Jensen Farms a score of 96 out of 100 in 2011, right before the farm’s Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes sparked the deadliest foodborne outbreak in nearly a century, killing 33 people and sickening 147. The same kind of rubber stamps were given to egg, peanut, and ground-turkey facilities either before or immediately after they became the source of major outbreaks and recalls. 

In order for the third-party certification program to have any value, the FDA must issue a strict set of standards by which auditors should be judged, and exercise rigorous oversight of both accrediting bodies and auditors. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what the FDA has planned until the White House releases the rule from its grip.

Preventive Controls for Animal Feed (Including Pet Food)

(Final rule was due by July 2012; Proposed rule now stuck at OIRA for a year and a half)

This rule would require all facilities (domestic and foreign) that produce food or ingredients for animals to develop a written plan describing the steps they will take to identify and prevent contamination or adulteration. Under the FSVP (described above), importers would also be responsible for verifying that foreign suppliers of animal food comply with these requirements.

This rule would hopefully prevent at least some of the worst outbreaks resulting from imported pet foods. Each month the U.S. imports about $ 40 million worth of pet food, with 70 percent of it coming from China. In 2007, pet food ingredients from China containing melamine and cyanuric acid killed thousands of cats and dogs. And over the past two years, more than a thousand owners have seen their dogs become ill or die after eating Chinese-made jerky treats; the FDA has not yet been able to determine the cause of these reactions.

Contaminated pet food not only endangers pets, but also poses a serious threat to humans, who can be infected from contact with their pets or from handling the food, as several Salmonella outbreaks have demonstrated. The FDA has recently begun sampling domestic pet food for Salmonella—indeed, five brands of dry food were recalled earlier this week after a positive test result—but the same contamination in imported pet food is likely going completely undetected, as the White House continues to sit on this rule that could prevent it in the first place. 

When Can We Expect to See These Rules Released?

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the FDA last August over these and other delays, and a judge ordered the parties to agree on a new timeline for rolling out the remaining rules. They were unable to settle on a joint plan, so they each submitted their own timelines. The agency refused to set specific dates, instead promising to release two of these proposed rules by this “summer” and the other one by this “fall,” all of them to be finalized within roughly two years from their proposal. Since the FDA had these proposals fully written when it submitted them to OIRA 7 to 19 months ago, the agency’s reason for insisting on a vague and protracted timeline probably has more to do with how long it expects the OIRA review process to take than with its own ability to get the rules out.

Last Friday, the judge concluded that the FDA’s loose timeframes were inadequate and that new enforceable deadlines were needed—a significant victory for the public. But in setting the new dates, she deferred substantially to the agency’s projected timeline, at least as it applied to these three rules: all FSMA regulations must be proposed by November 30, 2013 and finalized by June 30, 2015. The judge also refused to excuse the rules from review by OIRA, as the CFS had requested, “absent some indication that [OIRA] is using its authority to unduly delay” the rules. One is left wondering how such “undue delay” might be shown, if 19-month holdups are not enough.

In his confirmation hearing last week, President Obama’s nominee for OIRA Administrator, Dr. Howard Shelanski, emphasized that one of his highest priorities would be ensuring the “timeliness” of OIRA’s reviews. If confirmed, he can begin to make good on his promise by immediately letting these food safety rules see the light of day—well before the FDA runs up against the court-imposed deadlines—and imparting a much-needed sense of urgency to OIRA’s review of regulations that quite literally deal in issues of life and death.

This article originally appeared on the Center for Progressive Reform Blog June 21, 2013. It has been updated to include the new timeline set forth by a federal judge for releasing the outstanding FSMA -mandated rules.

Food Safety News

FDA, produce community continue FSMA collaboration

The Produce Marketing Association applauded the FDA’s release of revised supplemental proposals for the Food Safety Modernization Act around produce safety, and preventative controls for human food, animal feed and foreign supplier verification programs.

“PMA’s members on our Science and Technology committee, as well as staff experts, are pleased that FDA has provided a second opportunity for industry to comment on these supplemental proposals,” said Dr. Bob Whitaker, PMA’s chief science and technology officer, in a media statement.

“We’re eager to review and assess them to assure that when these regulations are finalized and implemented they will best serve public health and our industry’s food safety needs.”

On Friday, Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for the FDA’s foods and veterinary medicine, led a call for the food industry to discuss the main components of the proposed rules.

Taylor pointed to the importance of ongoing discussions between the produce community and the FDA in developing the revised proposals and fact sheets.

“It’s all aimed at the goal that we have been very clear about throughout — that we want to implement this law in a way that makes a real difference for food safety, that meets those consumer expectations, but also do it in a way that is workable. That works across the diversity of the food system. That’s the goal that we’re all after,” said Taylor.

Some of the revisions would:

• Exempt small-farms making less than $ 25,000 in produce sales from the produce-safety rule.

• Exempt spent grains (leftover from alcohol brewing) from the animal food rule if the company is already following the human food rule.

• Change water testing provisions to “account for natural variations in water sources.”

• Allow more flexibility in foreign supplier verification.

PMA plans to hold a FSMA workshop with Taylor on the supplemental proposals at the Fresh Summit produce show in Anaheim, Calif. on Oct. 17.

The FDA comment period is 75 days after the rules are published on Sept. 29.

“We are on a very tight schedule to complete the rulemaking by court deadline that require us to issue final rules,” said Taylor.
 

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Supermarket News

US: Jet Precoolers continue growth

Jet-Ready Portable Precooler/ReCooler™
US: Jet Precoolers continue growth

After a product launch earlier this year, the Jet-Ready Portable Precooler/ReCooler™ has already proven itself against many competitive precooling designs. Jet users are cooling cherries, grapes, asparagus, herbs, citrus, apples, pears, apricots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and many other products.

According to one Pacific Northwest user (who presently operates six Jet Precoolers), “Committing to a program with your company allows for the end user to have a consistent set up of machinery, instead of a bunch of different repurposed fans. This consistency is huge, as once a warehouse is using consistent machinery you are able to create a standardized ‘recipe book’ for how long each package type and commodity takes to cool. No longer is it necessary to constantly send employees into the tunnel location and conduct temperature tests.”

In this installation, the Jet Precoolers were able to cool almost 4-times as fast as the legacy equipment. “The decrease in time necessary to complete the cooling process allows a facility to reduce truck load times,” according to the Shipping/Receiving manager, “and this is a piece of every warehouse’s internal metrics. If you can get the trucks out of the yard faster because you don’t have to wait so long on cooling, you’ll make a lot of warehousemen very happy.”

“The benefits to the packhouse owners are just over the top,” explained Jim Still, founder and president of Global Cooling Inc. “The products have much longer shelf life, there is greater net weight for retailers to sell, the fruit is more disease-resistant, the fruit stays pretty and doesn’t wrinkle so much, there are nowhere near as many tractor trailers backed up in the year, and it just goes on and on and on.”

Still, known to many as “Banana Jim” for his invention of Tarpless Ripening 20 years ago now, continued to explain. “Our Jet Precooler uses two 10 HP fan motors, and the fan propeller design is so unique, we deliver more than 30,000 cfm, running at over 2 inches of static pressure, with under 20HP. Our Jet Precoolers are so powerful and affordable,” explained Jim Still, who is also Global’s CVO, “they just flat out make money for everyone who owns one just about everywhere you could use powerful forced-air cooling in your operations.”

“Prompt and proper precooling,” Still explained, “is a postharvest magic that reduces produce and floral respiration, and in so doing, minimizes water loss, which is the key to maximizing shelf life and salable weight, and preserving curb appeal and flavour.”

“What goes unnoticed by many,” according to Still, “is that all postharvest gains, achieved by operating a better cold chain, drop straight to the bottom line as pure profit.” Continuing with his example, Still added “If a grower or packer can suddenly realize an extra 1% product weight to sell, if he or she sells by the pound or kilo, that additional revenue is all pure profit, in many cases adding 25% or more to the company’s total profit amount.”

For more information:
Jim Still
Global Cooling Inc.
Tel: +1 610-248-9800
Email: [email protected]
www.PreCoolers.net

Publication date: 9/12/2014


FreshPlaza.com

US: Jet Precoolers continue growth

Jet-Ready Portable Precooler/ReCooler™
US: Jet Precoolers continue growth

After a product launch earlier this year, the Jet-Ready Portable Precooler/ReCooler™ has already proven itself against many competitive precooling designs. Jet users are cooling cherries, grapes, asparagus, herbs, citrus, apples, pears, apricots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and many other products.

According to one Pacific Northwest user (who presently operates six Jet Precoolers), “Committing to a program with your company allows for the end user to have a consistent set up of machinery, instead of a bunch of different repurposed fans. This consistency is huge, as once a warehouse is using consistent machinery you are able to create a standardized ‘recipe book’ for how long each package type and commodity takes to cool. No longer is it necessary to constantly send employees into the tunnel location and conduct temperature tests.”

In this installation, the Jet Precoolers were able to cool almost 4-times as fast as the legacy equipment. “The decrease in time necessary to complete the cooling process allows a facility to reduce truck load times,” according to the Shipping/Receiving manager, “and this is a piece of every warehouse’s internal metrics. If you can get the trucks out of the yard faster because you don’t have to wait so long on cooling, you’ll make a lot of warehousemen very happy.”

“The benefits to the packhouse owners are just over the top,” explained Jim Still, founder and president of Global Cooling Inc. “The products have much longer shelf life, there is greater net weight for retailers to sell, the fruit is more disease-resistant, the fruit stays pretty and doesn’t wrinkle so much, there are nowhere near as many tractor trailers backed up in the year, and it just goes on and on and on.”

Still, known to many as “Banana Jim” for his invention of Tarpless Ripening 20 years ago now, continued to explain. “Our Jet Precooler uses two 10 HP fan motors, and the fan propeller design is so unique, we deliver more than 30,000 cfm, running at over 2 inches of static pressure, with under 20HP. Our Jet Precoolers are so powerful and affordable,” explained Jim Still, who is also Global’s CVO, “they just flat out make money for everyone who owns one just about everywhere you could use powerful forced-air cooling in your operations.”

“Prompt and proper precooling,” Still explained, “is a postharvest magic that reduces produce and floral respiration, and in so doing, minimizes water loss, which is the key to maximizing shelf life and salable weight, and preserving curb appeal and flavour.”

“What goes unnoticed by many,” according to Still, “is that all postharvest gains, achieved by operating a better cold chain, drop straight to the bottom line as pure profit.” Continuing with his example, Still added “If a grower or packer can suddenly realize an extra 1% product weight to sell, if he or she sells by the pound or kilo, that additional revenue is all pure profit, in many cases adding 25% or more to the company’s total profit amount.”

For more information:
Jim Still
Global Cooling Inc.
Tel: +1 610-248-9800
Email: [email protected]
www.PreCoolers.net

Publication date: 9/12/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Demonstations continue at Demoulas

Worker demonstrations in protest of the firing of Market Basket president Arthur T. Demoulas continued on Monday as some parties called for a customer boycott of the retailer’s stores and product shortages reportedly affected at least some stores.

Workers on Monday gathered in the parking lot of a Market Basket store near company headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass. At least eight veterans of the company — said by workers to have been involved in demonstrations late last week — were let go by the company over the weekend, sources said. Management in a statement provided to SN Monday said of the dismissed workers: “Their actions continued to harm the company, negatively impacted customers, and inhibited associates’ ability to perform their jobs.”

Multiple reports were posted to social media Monday of Market Basket stores being affected by out-of-stocks in produce and meat, resulting from disruption at warehouses. The dispute captured the attention of New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan, who in a statement Monday called on management to “quickly address the situation with a focus on keeping their dedicated workers employed and reducing the impact on customers.”

Workers have demanded the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas, who was fired late last month by the company’s board of directors. The board was scheduled to have met Monday but SN was unable to confirm whether that meeting went on as scheduled.

Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, newly named co-CEOs of the company, issued a statement Saturday in the form of an open letter to shoppers, apologizing for any impact to the customer experience the protests may have had. “We recognize transitions aren’t always easy and appreciate that this has been an emotional time for many associates,” the letter read. “Unfortunately, in response to the recent management changes, some have lost sight of the top priority — taking care of you — and instead have engaged in actions that harm

Arthur T. Demoulas, in his first statement since his June 24 firing, on Monday called for workers who have been fired since he left to be reinstated.

“The success of Market Basket is the result of two things: a business model that works and the execution of it by a dedicated and impassioned team of associates,” the statement read. “Their fierce loyalty to the company and its customers has always been deeply valued. In the final analysis, this is not about me.  It is about the people who have proven their dedication over many years and should not have lost their jobs because of it. I urge that they be reinstated in the best interest of the company and our customers.”

Supermarket News

Demonstations continue at Demoulas

Worker demonstrations in protest of the firing of Market Basket president Arthur T. Demoulas continued on Monday as some parties called for a customer boycott of the retailer’s stores and product shortages reportedly affected at least some stores.

Workers on Monday gathered in the parking lot of a Market Basket store near company headquarters in Tewksbury, Mass. At least eight veterans of the company — said by workers to have been involved in demonstrations late last week — were let go by the company over the weekend, sources said. Management in a statement provided to SN Monday said of the dismissed workers: “Their actions continued to harm the company, negatively impacted customers, and inhibited associates’ ability to perform their jobs.”

Multiple reports were posted to social media Monday of Market Basket stores being affected by out-of-stocks in produce and meat, resulting from disruption at warehouses. The dispute captured the attention of New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan, who in a statement Monday called on management to “quickly address the situation with a focus on keeping their dedicated workers employed and reducing the impact on customers.”

Workers have demanded the reinstatement of Arthur T. Demoulas, who was fired late last month by the company’s board of directors. The board was scheduled to have met Monday but SN was unable to confirm whether that meeting went on as scheduled.

Felicia Thornton and Jim Gooch, newly named co-CEOs of the company, issued a statement Saturday in the form of an open letter to shoppers, apologizing for any impact to the customer experience the protests may have had. “We recognize transitions aren’t always easy and appreciate that this has been an emotional time for many associates,” the letter read. “Unfortunately, in response to the recent management changes, some have lost sight of the top priority — taking care of you — and instead have engaged in actions that harm

Arthur T. Demoulas, in his first statement since his June 24 firing, on Monday called for workers who have been fired since he left to be reinstated.

“The success of Market Basket is the result of two things: a business model that works and the execution of it by a dedicated and impassioned team of associates,” the statement read. “Their fierce loyalty to the company and its customers has always been deeply valued. In the final analysis, this is not about me.  It is about the people who have proven their dedication over many years and should not have lost their jobs because of it. I urge that they be reinstated in the best interest of the company and our customers.”

Supermarket News

Organics continue double digit growth

While organic products in the marketplace continue to experience double digit growth, they still only represent a small percentage of overall business, meaning there is much room for more growth.

That was the take away message delivered by a trio of speakers at a workshop sessions during the United Fresh Produce Association convention in Chicago, June 10-12.

Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association, led the discussion and kicked off the session with some numbers about the growth of the category. In 2002, when the USDA came out with quantifiable organic standards and the USDA organic seal, the sector had gross sales in the United States of about $ 3 billion. Those standards, Batcha said, “created a platform for huge expansion.”

By 2013, the market had grown 10-fold and now there are sales of $ 35 billion, with fruits and vegetables leading the category by representing 36 percent of those sales. It is not only the largest sector within that category but it’s the fastest growing, according to the OTA executive.

Elaborating on the impact in the fresh produce industry were panelists Todd Linsky, vice president of organic sales for Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic Farms, and Michael Hollister, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc. Those two were respectively representing the top selling fruit and vegetable in the category: carrots and berries. Both confirmed that organic sales continue to increase.

Linsky said carrots generate a high velocity of organic sales year round. “They are doing very well,” he added.

Hollister said the great thing about shoppers who buy organic berries and other organic items, is they are “super heavy consumers” buying 25 percent more fruits and vegetables per store visit than their non-organic buying counterparts.

While there are heavy buyers of organic produce and other organic items, Batcha said penetration of organic products runs deep. An annual survey of 1,200 households that OTA has been conducting for the past seven years, reveals 80 percent say they have purchased at least one organic item in the past year. “The vast, vast majority (of households) are aware of organics and participate in some way.”

Batcha said what separates an organic shopper from a conventional one is that the organic shopper is much more likely to associate making a healthy choice with her food buying decisions.

Linsky said this emotional connection that most organic food shoppers associate with the purchase of these products is why he believes the potential for growth continues to be sky high. He said the value of that emotional connection in their food buying choices “is huge.”

Hollister agreed stating that many organic shoppers see a relationship between their food shopping behavior and their lifestyle. It is the urban/cosmopolitan resident that is more likely to be an organic shopper and is currently driving increased sales in the category.

Underscoring that connection, Batcha said the typical organic shopper is much more likely to diversify their buying habits, shopping at three different stores or more a week, presumably searching for the exact items they want. They are a younger buyer and their average spend in a store is $ 125 per visit compared to $ 110 for a non-organic shopper.

But she said the vast majority of organic fruit and vegetable shoppers will buy conventional product if organic is not available. The OTA research shows that 91 percent still make a purchase if an organic item that they are looking for is not available, with a majority of those buying the conventional option but almost 40 percent picking a different organic option.

Linsky believes the shopping at many stores and changing purchases at the grocery store because of lack of availability of the organic option points to the huge potential that remains for the category and retailers. He said no one appears to be offering the organic consumer exactly what they want at one place. Retailers should embrace that heavy produce-shopping consumers and “get her back in your store,” said the carrot salesman.

Hollister reiterated that the organic shopper is a very valuable customer. Natural food stores cater to those customers and if traditional supermarkets want more of that businesses they should find a way to communicate better with that consumer, he said.

Both Hollister and Linsky pointed out that keeping up with the demand for organic fruits and vegetables is one of their biggest challenges from the supply side. The Driscoll executive said they are seeing 20 percent year over year growth in their organic sales but getting the land to increase their production in that amount is difficult. For a grower, it takes three years to transition conventional land to organic production. “It’s a huge investment; it doesn’t happen overnight.”

Linsky concurred. “Ground is a huge challenge,” he said. “And it will continue to be a challenge.”

A question from the audience about Walmart’s contention that the nation’s largest retailer plans to bring organics into the marketplace at a cheaper price brought a warning from Hollister. He indicated that type of talk creates an expectation that is hard to meet. He said growing organic produce is an expensive proposition and it can’t always be delivered at that cheap price that Walmart is noted for. But he added that they love the attention the announcement brings to the category “and we’d love to have that conversation with them.”

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

Almond growers vote to continue marketing order

In an overwhelming show of confidence in the Almond Board of California, the state’s almond growers once again voted in favor of continuing the federal marketing order for California almonds. Federal Marketing Order 981 requires the continuance referendum to take place every five years.

Voting in the referendum took place from Feb. 18 through March 7; growers who produced almonds within the state of California between Aug. 1, 2012, and July 31, 2013, were eligible to vote.

In order for the referendum to pass, at least two-thirds of eligible producers voting or two-thirds of the volume represented by those voting needed to vote in favor of continuance.

In this referendum, 91 percent of eligible growers who voted and 94 percent of the volume represented favored continuing the marketing order, Martin Engeler, regional director of the California Marketing Field Office of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, wrote in a letter to ABC Chairman Bill Harp. USDA-ARS administers federal marketing orders.

“It is gratifying to know that the work of the Almond Board is recognized by the growers we serve as essential to their success, and contributes to keeping California almonds the nut of choice around the world, and a crop of choice here at home,” Harp said upon receiving the news.

The Federal Marketing Order for almonds was established in 1950 at the request of the almond industry. At that time, it dealt primarily with compliance issues, and accordingly, was called the Almond Control Board. In the 1970s, recognizing a need to address market development, the name was changed to the Almond Board of California.

While compliance is still a crucial part of its activities, the board now engages in production, environmental, food safety, nutrition and market research, as well as advertising and promotion in domestic and international markets, quality control and statistical analysis and dissemination.

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