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Vidalia onions featured in Applebee’s new farm-to-table menu item

The Vidalia Onion Committee and Applebee’s have partnered to bring consumers a unique summer dish that boasts Georgia pride and farm-fresh flavor with the introduction of the new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin, part of Applebee’s new summer menu.

Applebee’s is offering this promotional menu item, which features a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce, through Aug. 17.caplbApplebee’s will offer a new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin as part of its summer menu. The dish will feature a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce.

The Kansas City, MO-based, 2,000-unit casual-dining brand of DineEquity Inc. estimated it will use as many as 23,000 pounds of onions per week during peak times this summer.

To launch the new dish, Applebee’s hosted a press conference at its restaurant in Dunwoody, GA, near the very first Applebee’s location in Decatur, GA. The restaurant was aptly named “VidaliaBees” for the day on April 25 as it accepted the ceremonial first Vidalia onion from representatives of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Applebee’s Executive Chef Michael Slavin and brand representatives showcased the recipe.

“We are thrilled to provide our unique, sweet Vidalia’s to Applebee’s,” Susan Waters, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said in a press release. “This flavorful dish provides a great opportunity to educate consumers on the seasonality and versatility of Vidalia onions.”

The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990. Applebee’s has a special connection to Georgia, as Bill and T.J. Palmer opened the original T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Atlanta in 1980.

“Forget the polar vortex, and bring on summer fun,” Peter Czizek, Applebee’s vice president of culinary and menu strategy, added in the press release. “Our new menu is full of authentic flavors, and we can’t wait for our guests to taste how Vidalia onions take our steaks to the next level.”

Applebee’s is promoting the new menu item with a national television ad campaign combined with public relations and social media outreach.

The Vidalia Onion Committee and representatives from Applebee’s also introduced the Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin to food bloggers during a luncheon event on April 26 as part of a weekend field tour in Vidalia, Georgia. The committee will continue to promote the Applebee’s menu item on their social media platforms as well.

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

Vidalia onions featured in Applebee’s new farm-to-table menu item

The Vidalia Onion Committee and Applebee’s have partnered to bring consumers a unique summer dish that boasts Georgia pride and farm-fresh flavor with the introduction of the new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin, part of Applebee’s new summer menu.

Applebee’s is offering this promotional menu item, which features a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce, through Aug. 17.caplbApplebee’s will offer a new Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin as part of its summer menu. The dish will feature a seven-ounce sirloin topped with a grilled Vidalia onion slice and served with garlicky spinach, smashed and crisped red-skinned potatoes and a Hawaiian-style barbecue sauce.

The Kansas City, MO-based, 2,000-unit casual-dining brand of DineEquity Inc. estimated it will use as many as 23,000 pounds of onions per week during peak times this summer.

To launch the new dish, Applebee’s hosted a press conference at its restaurant in Dunwoody, GA, near the very first Applebee’s location in Decatur, GA. The restaurant was aptly named “VidaliaBees” for the day on April 25 as it accepted the ceremonial first Vidalia onion from representatives of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

Applebee’s Executive Chef Michael Slavin and brand representatives showcased the recipe.

“We are thrilled to provide our unique, sweet Vidalia’s to Applebee’s,” Susan Waters, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee, said in a press release. “This flavorful dish provides a great opportunity to educate consumers on the seasonality and versatility of Vidalia onions.”

The Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable in 1990. Applebee’s has a special connection to Georgia, as Bill and T.J. Palmer opened the original T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs in Atlanta in 1980.

“Forget the polar vortex, and bring on summer fun,” Peter Czizek, Applebee’s vice president of culinary and menu strategy, added in the press release. “Our new menu is full of authentic flavors, and we can’t wait for our guests to taste how Vidalia onions take our steaks to the next level.”

Applebee’s is promoting the new menu item with a national television ad campaign combined with public relations and social media outreach.

The Vidalia Onion Committee and representatives from Applebee’s also introduced the Grilled Vidalia Onion Sirloin to food bloggers during a luncheon event on April 26 as part of a weekend field tour in Vidalia, Georgia. The committee will continue to promote the Applebee’s menu item on their social media platforms as well.

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

ShopRite employee featured on Wheaties box

ShopRite associate Derrick Noble, a Special Olympics New Jersey flag football player, is featured on a limited-edition Wheaties box sold exclusively in ShopRite stores.

Noble, 21, will compete in the 2014 USA Special Olympics Games, scheduled June 14-21 in Mercer County, N.J., and feature nearly 3,500 athletes from the U.S. competing in 16 different Olympic-style sports.

Also appearing on the limited-edition box is Derrick’s twin brother and flag football teammate, Delon. Both Noble brothers were featured during FOX Sports 1 Super Bowl preview shows in promotion of the upcoming 2014 USA Games.

Derrick Noble, 21, from Bloomfield, N.J., has participated in Special Olympics for the past five years. In addition to flag football, he competes in basketball and softball.

Derrick has been an intern of the Brookdale ShopRite in Bloomfield for the past three years and works in the ShopRite from Home department.

“I am so honored and grateful to be on the box, as it is such a great honor,” Noble said in a statement. “Being on the box makes me feel famous —like my brother and I are celebrities.”


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Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


ShopRite, a Founding Partner of the 2014 USA Games, worked with General Mills to create the signature box. In addition to the Nobles, several other members of Team New Jersey who will be competing in the 2014 USA Games, are featured on the back of the Wheaties box.

ShopRite is a member of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative.



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ShopRite employee featured on Wheaties box

ShopRite associate Derrick Noble, a Special Olympics New Jersey flag football player, is featured on a limited-edition Wheaties box sold exclusively in ShopRite stores.

Noble, 21, will compete in the 2014 USA Special Olympics Games, scheduled June 14-21 in Mercer County, N.J., and feature nearly 3,500 athletes from the U.S. competing in 16 different Olympic-style sports.

Also appearing on the limited-edition box is Derrick’s twin brother and flag football teammate, Delon. Both Noble brothers were featured during FOX Sports 1 Super Bowl preview shows in promotion of the upcoming 2014 USA Games.

Derrick Noble, 21, from Bloomfield, N.J., has participated in Special Olympics for the past five years. In addition to flag football, he competes in basketball and softball.

Derrick has been an intern of the Brookdale ShopRite in Bloomfield for the past three years and works in the ShopRite from Home department.

“I am so honored and grateful to be on the box, as it is such a great honor,” Noble said in a statement. “Being on the box makes me feel famous —like my brother and I are celebrities.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON TWITTER

Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.


ShopRite, a Founding Partner of the 2014 USA Games, worked with General Mills to create the signature box. In addition to the Nobles, several other members of Team New Jersey who will be competing in the 2014 USA Games, are featured on the back of the Wheaties box.

ShopRite is a member of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative.



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Supermarket News

Minnesota’s Parkers Farm Recalls All Products With Code Date

A Minnesota company that makes peanut butter, cheese spreads and dips, bagel spreads and salsas has recalled all its products for possible Listeria contamination. Parker Farms is asking consumers not to consume any of its products with a code date.

The Coon Rapids, MN-based company said problem with its products was discovered through testing by the State of Minnesota. The Parkers Farm products can either be returned for credit at retailers or discarded.

The list of recalled products includes:

16-ounce Parkers peanut butter in square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy, crunchy, honey creamy and honey crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

34-ounce Parkers peanut butter in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy and crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

12-ounce Parkers spreads in round or square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including jalapeño and pimento varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;

8-ounce and 16-ounce Parkers cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, bacon, onion, smoked cheddar, Swiss almond, horseradish, garlic, port wine, and “Swiss & cheddar” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

16-ounce Parkers salsa in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including hot, mild, garlic, and fire-roasted varieties with a sell by date before 7/20/2014;

10-ounce Parkers cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar, port wine, ranch, and “smokey bacon” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

10-ounce Happy Farms cheese balls (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

16-ounce Happy Farms cold pack cheese in round plastic containers  (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

8-ounce Central Markets cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, horseradish, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

12-ounce and 20-ounce Hy-Top cheese spread in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including pimento and jalapeño varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;

8-ounce Amish Classic cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

14-ounce Say Cheez beer cheese in round plastic container (tub with snap on lid), including regular and hot varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

10-ounce Win Schuler original variety cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap) with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;

8-ounce,12-ounce, and 14-ounce Bucky Badger cheese spreads (tub with snap-on lid) including cheddar, port wine, bacon, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015; and

5-pound foodservice products including cold pack cheese foods, cheese spreads and peanut butter with a sell by date before 3/20/2015.

The products are distributed nationwide under the Parkers Farm, Parkers, Happy Farms, Central Markets, Hy-Top, Amish Classic, Say Cheez, Win Schuler, and Bucky Badger labels. These products were sold at several retail stores including but not limited to Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Byerly’s, Lunds, Target, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Nash Finch, Costco, ALDI, Wal-Mart, and Brookshire stores.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infection in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individualls suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

No illnesses have yet been associated with the recall.

Food Safety News

Cheese Sickens 8 in MD and CA with Listeria; One Dead

At least eight people have been sickened with Listeria monocytogenes infections after eating cheese produced by Roos Foods under a number of brand names, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Seven patients were hospitalized in Maryland, while one person in California has died. Five of the illnesses involved a pregnancy: two sickened mother-newborn pairs and an additional sickened newborn.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene put out a warning on Wednesday advises people not to eat cheese products made by Roos Foods of Kenton, DE.

Roos Foods include the following brands:

  • Santa Rosa de Lima
  • Amigo
  • Mexicana
  • Suyapa
  • La Chapina
  • La Purisima Crema Nica
Dates of illness diagnosis range from August 1, 2013 to November 27, 2013.
These are presumably pasteurized cheese products, not products made using raw milk.
Persons infected with the outbreak-associated strain of Listeria monocytogenes, by state as of February 21, 2014
Below are some of the labels associated with recalled cheeses:

Food Safety News

Foster Farms Reopens California Poultry Plant

After more than a week of voluntary closure to expand “manufacturing procedures and monitoring systems,” Foster Farms today reopened its poultry plant in Livingston, CA.

Operations at the plant were originally shut down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 8 for a cockroach infestation. Before that, the plant was one of three tied to an ongoing Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 430 people in 23 states.

The company put a voluntary hold on plant operations Sunday, Jan. 12, to ensure that its USDA-approved preventive plan was fully implemented

In the company’s press release, Foster Farms President Ron Foster said, “Although this has been a challenging time, we remain committed to the highest level of quality and food safety through all aspects of our plant operations and will emerge a stronger company.”

Food Safety News

Tyson Recalls Mechanically Separated Chicken in Salmonella Outbreak

Tyson Foods is recalling 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The chicken is facing recall after being connected to Salmonella illnesses at a Tennessee correctional facility where the chicken was served. Seven patients have been identified with Salmonella infection, including two who have required hospitalization.

The chicken was produced on Oct. 11, 2013 and packaged in 40-pound cases containing four 10-pound chubs of “TYSON MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN.”

The recalled products bear the establishment number “P-13556″ inside the USDA mark of inspection, with a case code of 2843SDL1412 – 18.

The recalled products were only shipped “for institutional use” nationwide and are not available for consumers to purchase at retail.

Food Safety News

Safmarine kicks off the New Year with yet another award

Safmarine kicks off the New Year with yet another award

Shipping line Safmarine has celebrated the start of 2014 with yet another award, this time a 2013 bronze Hellmann Worldwide Logistics Carrier of the Year award. The award – presented to Safmarine at an event held in Hamburg, Germany – marked the fifth consecutive year in which Safmarine has received awards from Hellmann.


From left to right: Marcus Leaver (Hellmann Director Global Seafreight), Jost Hellmann (Managing Owner, Hellmann), Michael Amri (Hellmann Vice President Seafreight Europe), Steve Knight (Safmarine Global Head of Sales) and Sammy Reynaert (Safmarine Director Key Accounts)

According to Safmarine CEO, Grant Daly, “The consistent recognition of Safmarine as one of Hellmann’s top three carriers is proof that the Safmarine team’s hard work, customer care, passion and commitment is being recognized by Hellmann and we greatly appreciate their acknowledgement thereof.”

Michael Amri, Hellmann’s Vice President Seafreight Europe, expressed similar sentiments and also lauded Safmarine for its excellent Key Client Programme and relationships at country level. “Together we go places and look forward to doing so in 2014, thanks to Safmarine’s continued support,” he concluded.

For more information please visit www.safmarine.com

Publication date: 1/10/2014

FreshPlaza.com

E. coli Sickens 7 in Connecticut; No Source Confirmed

Seven people in Connecticut are confirmed ill with E. coli infections in the Windham/Willimantic area, according to local news station WFSB.

The source of the illnesses is not known.

Two of the cases have developed into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal kidney disease associated with severe E. coli outbreaks. Those two patients remain hospitalized.

Health department authorities suspect the illnesses occurred around mid-December.

Food Safety News

Primarily, Levarht wants to be director of the chain

Primarily, Levarht wants to be director of the chainLevarht in Aalsmeer has been importing and exporting fruit and vegetables to and from all over the world for eighty years. Nowadays the company is much more than a trader. It is moving away from this role and growing towards becoming a director in the trade. CEO Frank Pijpers and commercial manager Claas van Os speak open heartedly about their mission and ideas. “We are convinced that we can do this together with the grower and retailer.”


CEO Frank Pijpers and commercial mananger Claas van Os

What does Levarht do exactly?
Frank: “Traditionally, we are known mainly as an importer of melons and export of greenhouse vegetables, but we do far more than this. Our main goal is to serve the retailer as quickly as possible. To achieve this, we collaborate closely with the source, the grower. Together with our Dutch and Belgian growers of Van Nature we market a high quality and varied assortment. We have our own production in New Zealand, Costa Rica and Mexico, among others. Why? Because what we do from Holland, we can’t do all year round. And our goal is to execute the process from the grower as well as possible, and to do this all year round.”

What are your main sales areas?

Claas: “As far as markets are concerned we have a good spread. Besides the domestic market, we supply Europe and various overseas markets. Whereas many Dutch companies are mainly focused on Germany, we do not do much there at all. For us, Holland, Belgium, England, Scandinavia and of course the overseas markets are our main sales areas.”

Do you consciously seek out the shade, so that you don’t have to compete with colleagues?

Frank: “No, because in the end, we do business with Scandinavia and England two, and there are a lot of exporters there too. So it’d not like we’re avoiding competition.”
Claas: “Everyone is everywhere. But what we have been doing in recent years, is placing ourselves in the market differently. We have really started to focus on added value. I think this has contributed to our continual growth.”


The big office in Aalsmeer

In what way have you placed yourselves in the market differently?
Claas: “A number of years ago we asked ourselves who we wanted to be as a company. The main points that came forward were partnership and trust. We are a very open organisation and through this openness we link a lot of cultivation straight to specific customers or market. The growers know our customers and markets. Sometimes you need special varieties for the overseas sales markets. Because we are brave enough to be the director of the chain, we include both the grower and the final user very closely. In the market you often see a lot of holding back: cultivation and trade do not trust each other. But our way works well.”

Does this mean that you have become more of a director than a trader?
Frank: “As a trader you are too dependent on what happens every day. We consciously look at what we need, where we are going to get it from and where it has to go. The retailer wants us to supply them with a fresh product and do so all year round. What products can we best do this with, what do we not have enough off, how do we fill that in? By having more awareness you can tell the retailer
the story too.”


Part of the packing area

But does this mean that the company is specialised only in a certain amount of products and cannot offer the full range?
Frank: “On the contrary. On one side, we are very good at a number of core products, but besides this we are also good at working widely. In the Middle East for instance, we work with a retailer to whom we supply between eighty and one hundred different products, six days a week. Meanwhile, many people still link us to Dutch greenhouse vegetables. But we are more than our greenhouse vegetables and are setting up more and more direct importing lines. This means you have to make sure you have the right source, which are certified and understand what the market wants.

Is it correct that you mainly work with yearly programmes to keep as much calm in the chain as possible?
Claas: “We do want a streamlined process. We also want the grower to be able to make money and draw as many activities for specific customers or markets as possible.”
Frank: “It’s not like we’re already there, but it does give us peace of mind and control within the whole chain. and of course there are always retailers who prefer weekly of seasonal programmes.”

Do you say goodbye to retailers like that?
Frank: “Well, you learn from it. First of all you look to see whether you can fill in the collaboration in a different way. Of course, we continue to play into the specific needs and possibilities of our buyers. In the end it’s about all three of you winning!”
Claas: “What is happening more and more, especially among retailers, is that they let you know at what level the consumer price should be. When you can make a one on one deal with the grower and the retailer for an entire season, you can take out so much messing around. By making good deals about various varieties or a certain packaging, you are shortening the chain. And this means by definition a better and fresher product. We have gained a lot of new retailers as customers. But there is also a better product.”


Private label Take a Pep

What are your thoughts on private label?
Claas: “There is a trend towards private labels. We too work with a lot of private labels. For instance, beans from Kenya are processed and packaged locally under their label for certain retailers. We do the same from Costa Rica, Mexico, New Zealand and the Middle East. It extends your collaboration with your growers and retailers. When you have the cultivation to the point that you can supply the customers own label, you can really offer a lot of added value. It also takes a lot of costs from the chain. You can put this profit back into a better product and cultivation.”
Frank: “You have to try and add as much value as you can close to the source.”

But are your growers so market orientated that they want to offer their products in every packaging?
Frank: “See, we know that we are better off offering two packagings than ten. So too much fragmentation doesn’t work. You also have to give it time and give the growers a lot of attention and guide them.”
Claas: “This movement from retail to the source started years ago. You can argue about it all you like, but the retailer needs this. We are able to help our growers with this development. The result is that they have understanding and flexibility. But we remain rational. In the end no one wants twenty different packagings. It has to make sense.”

Are you not afraid you will become superfluous if the grower has direct contact with the buyer?
Frank: “No, because we are convinced that if we continue to offer enough added value as a director the retailer will not sit down to arrange everything with the growers themselves.”
Claas: “We have committed ourselves to supplying that added value. The core that we believe it’s about, is trust, partnership and knowing exactly what the customer needs. So that you can play into this from the source. As long as we keep doing what we do well and supply a good and fresh product, we are not superfluous.”

Is it as easy to confront the grower with the retailer abroad as it is in Holland?
Claas: “That depends on the growers. It isn’t so much linked to the country as to the specific grower’s way of thinking. There are growers who are ready for it and therefore can switch more easily and there are growers who want to, but are not quite ready for it. Together we will find the middle way to make is possible. But the will is there. You can see that abroad too. We have proven that it is important to build something with both the grower and the retailer. we need to think outside of the box and outside of the distrust of each other. We all have the same goal, which is bringing a fantastic product to the market and making money.”

You have been suppliers of a number of large retailers from all over the world for years. How did you manage that?

Claas: “I think it’s mainly because we are a very good director for the chain, who looks at the needs of the customers and isn’t afraid to enter a partnership.”
Frank: “It comes down to how you do your job. And you bet that we aren’t judged any different from another supplier. But as long as we keep doing well, which means that we can offer the right products for the right price, if we continue to supply them. We realise that the demands are very high but you know what it’s all about? We’re dedicated.”

Does the retail not just look at the price?

Claas: “I don’t agree with that. Retailers want the best value for their money. But our growers also have to make money. Because we are open to including the grower in the demands from our retailers, as much as possible can be supplied directly.This way costs are taken out of the chain and you can make sure that you make the required price level and supply the freshest product according to all parties’ desired price. A big advantage of this customer group is that they make a very good prediction. This is because they are very steady and choose continuity of the relationship. People can say what they want about retail, but they stick to their predictions and are 100% predictable. This means you can base your chain on this. But you have to include the grower in it. And we do.”

For more information, please visit: www.levarht.nl

Publication date: 12/19/2013

 

FreshPlaza.com

Prime Time increases mini-sweet peppers

Prime Time Sales LLC in Coachella, CA, which specializes in bell peppers grown in both Mexico and the United States, first ran trials of mini-sweet peppers as an expansion of its line in mainland Mexico during the 2010-11 season, crossing the products into Nogales, AZ.

The trials went well, and the company increased production in 2011-12 and again in 2012-13, according to Mike Aiton, marketing manager.

This year, the company has again increased its mini-sweet pepper production, Aiton said Nov. 19. “We have never had as many mini-peppers in Mexico as we have this winter. That is one item we have grown considerably across the board, maybe 20 percent from last year.”

The little mini-sweets are typically about one and a half inches long, he said. Like the company’s full-sized colored bell peppers, the mini-sweets come in red, yellow and orange.

02-Nogales-PrimeTime-Mike-A

Mike Aiton


“Right now, the mini peppers are very active [with] very high prices,” Aiton said. “In advance of the holidays, the markets are high” as demand exceeds supply. “We are just now coming into what I would call good volume, and it is going to get bigger for us with every passing week,” he said. “[It is] a great item. We have quite a good following on that particular item right now.”

Apart from the mini-sweets, “our program is largely unchanged” from last year for the Nogales deal, Aiton said.

Prime Time’s Mexican production consists of red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers plus the mini-sweets and, in addition, round vine ripe tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes.

The acreage this season is “fairly static” on the bell peppers and up about 20 percent on the tomato products, but while the bell peppers are grown in the state of Sinaloa in mainland Mexico, the tomato products are grown on the Baja Peninsula. They cross into the United Sates at San Diego rather than Nogales.

Prime Time has both hothouse and field-grown bell peppers, Aiton said. “We have both elongated and blocky” styles. “The biggest item we have are the field grown elongated red peppers. Next is green bells, then our hothouse varieties — red, yellow and orange — are next in terms of volume.”

The company began receiving hothouse peppers from Sinaloa in early November. “Volume is going to continue to increase as we move deeper into the season,” Aiton said.

The green bell peppers were expected to start around the first week in December, with the field-grown red bells starting around Christmastime. Those are “fairly typical starting dates,” he said.

Prime Time was currently receiving tomato products from its grower in the Vizcaino area of Baja. “Those are all loading in San Diego right now” and will go all the way through winter, he said. The company also has a spring deal out of La Paz in southern Baja.

One advantage for Prime Time in its Mexican production, according to Aiton, is that it is very consistent with the company’s California production. “The packinghouse that we have in Sinaloa, for example, is the exact duplicate of the one we have in Coachella,” he said. “The standards are the same. The people are the same. The policies and procedures are the same. Our customers tell us it is very seamless to move from one area to another just because of the consistency and the quality and the sizing and the packs that we put up. So having complete control, I think, is an advantage for us.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

FAQ: What’s Going on with Chinese Chicken Processing?

Many people have had something to say about chicken and other poultry destined for U.S. tables potentially coming from or through China.

The latest concerns come from 14 members of the House of Representatives who wrote to the chairmen and senior Democrats of subcommittees responsible for funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Since the issue is a complicated one, Food Safety News wanted to offer a primer on poultry slaughtered and processed in China.

Was my chicken slaughtered in China?

No. In November, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that its audit of China’s poultry slaughter system found that it’s not equivalent to America’s. This means that poultry slaughtered in China is not allowed to be imported to the U.S.

Is China allowed to process U.S. chicken?

Yes. In August, USDA reaffirmed that China’s processing system in equivalent to ours. This wasn’t exactly news since China’s processing had been established as equivalent back in 2006. But, regardless of the timing, it means that poultry raised and slaughtered in the U.S. or another approved source (Canada or Chile) could be shipped to China where it’s processed and then shipped back to the U.S.

Then was my chicken processed in China?

No. China has to certify plants to process chicken for export and give a list of them to FSIS. The country hasn’t done this or signified that they intend to. In addition, U.S. companies have not expressed the desire to have China process their poultry.

If, in the future, our chicken is processed in China, will we be able to tell?

USDA says the products would have a label reading “Product of China,” but there are a number of loopholes to existing labeling rules that could leave consumers in the dark on this one.

If our chicken is ever processed in China, will it be in school lunches?

Maybe, but not through USDA. Food that comes to schools through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is required to be 100-percent domestically grown and produced. But schools don’t get all their food from NSLP, and, if China ever did start processing our chicken, there would be the possibility that private vendors could sell it to schools.

Food Safety News

Q&A: US Rep. Louise Slaughter Discusses Antibiotic Resistance

About 80 percent of all antibiotics distributed in the U.S. are for food animals. They’re commonly used to promote growth and to prevent, control and treat disease. Overuse can promote the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the food supply and ultimately cause resistant infections in humans.

In September, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report noting that, although the majority of drug-resistant infections occur in healthcare settings, concern is growing over antibiotic-resistant infections from food.

Most recently, at least 389 people in 23 states and Puerto Rico have been sickened by strains of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg in connection with chicken produced by Foster Farms.

In March of this year, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the fourth version of her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act to the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would ban non-therapeutic uses of medically important antibiotics in food animal production.

Food Safety News recently caught up with Slaughter for a conversation about the seriousness of antibiotic resistance and the path forward to a ban.

FSN: How would you summarize the gravity of ever-increasing antibiotic resistance?

LS: One of the greatest breakthroughs ever in the field of medicine is seriously compromised by this. We need to stop this overuse in livestock, and, frankly, I don‘t think it does the livestock any good either. The most important thing that I want to convey is the instant need to do this. We haven’t got time to waste.

FSN: In your bill, you note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first concluded that feeding livestock low doses of antibiotics used in human disease treatment could promote the development of antibiotic-resistance in bacteria back in 1977. Why do you think it’s been 36 years and we haven’t done much to address the issue?

LS: Because 88 percent of the lobbying done on this bill was from people opposed to it. And we can’t get anywhere with either the FDA or USDA to make changes – even though we have over 400 outside groups supporting us, including every major scientific  group in the country and medical groups. But we simply can’t crack that code of why do the producers have more clout than the consumers.

FSN: What is it that the producers are concerned about?

LS: What they believe is that it makes the animal grow faster and heftier – they get a better price for it. I don’t think that that’s at all conclusive because countries such as Denmark figured this out years ago. They are doing a better job of containing diseases on farms and their meat is healthier, and people are willing to pay for that.

Certainly one of the reasons that we believe that the American agribusiness uses so many antibiotics is that they keep the livestock in despicable, filthy, dirt-ridden conditions. And then they try to make up for that.

FSN: So what is it going to take to get action on this issue?

LS: We have no idea. I tried to make the case that this needed to be done, that this is an emergency, that we are really destroying the efficacy of one of the most important medical breakthroughs in the history of the world. And all I got back [from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration] was, “We’re going to give them three more years.”

FSN: Is there something that could sway Congress or FDA into action?

LS: We need to get consumers to say, “We’re not going to eat it. We will not feed this to our families. Cut it out.” Already there are some companies that don’t use antibiotics and hormones in their food. [They’re] hard to find, but we really have to make the case, as they have done in other countries, that you just can’t do that anymore.

I learned from another bill that I was carrying how much the publicity matters, and the only way I could ever get the majority in the House to even take up a bill like that would be an outcry from the public.

FSN: Lastly, I’d like to ask for your reaction to the situation with Foster Farms.

LS: Foster Farms blamed the consumer. They said they don’t know how to cook this chicken, and they suggested 160 degrees. But Costco had their chicken and cooked it to 180 degrees, and it was still contaminated. Given that Foster Farms has 15 facilities in the country and that none of them were closed down, however, nothing was basically done about it.

As a microbiologist, I’m angry. As a member of Congress, I’m furious.

Food Safety News

Sage Fruit apples featured on ‘The Biggest Loser’

The Nov. 12 episode of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” included a segment dedicated to creating nutritious family meals using fresh fruits and vegetables. Apples from Sage Fruit were among the featured items as part of The Biggest Loser’s Farm Fresh partners.

BiggestLoser SagePosterFinaAs part of the weekly challenge, contestants competed in a cook-off to see who could create the tastiest, healthy meal. Sam Kass, the executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and senior policy advisor on nutrition, as well as season 14 child ambassadors Sunny, Lindsay and Biingo, served as guest judges. The winning team was awarded a year’s worth of free groceries sponsored by Biggest Loser fresh fruit and vegetable suppliers associated with Giraffe Interactive, including Sage Fruit.

Giraffe Interactive is a licensed partner of NBCUniversal Television Consumer Products and Shine America for fresh fruits and vegetables in the “Biggest Loser” brand. Products include apples, pears and cherries from Sage Fruit, carrots from Grimmway Farms, celery from Duda Farms and tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers from Mastronardi.

“Connecting with NBC and ‘The Biggest Loser’ brand is another way for us to help spread the word about healthy eating and encourage consumers to make healthy choices that include more fruits and vegetables,” Kaci Komstadius, social media director for Sage Fruit Co., said in a press release. “The on-air challenge was a perfect way to show consumers how to make healthy meals and connect the dots between our fresh foods in the store and ‘The Biggest Loser’ brand.”

Sage Fruit has been the supplier of “Biggest Loser” apples, pears and cherries since April 2012. Along with Biggest Loser-branded packaging, Sage Fruit offers a variety of Biggest Loser-themed secondary display bins and point-of-sale marketing materials. All packaging and materials feature Biggest Loser messaging aimed at educating consumers about the health benefits of apples, as well as how they can include more fruits and vegetable in their diets.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Canadians Warned About Townsend Farms Hepatitis A Outbreak

Roughly 1,200 Canadians traveled to the U.S. and purchased Townsend Farms frozen berries at Costco, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The berries were not sold in Canada, but citizens of British Columbia and Alberta had traveled south and purchased the berries on shopping trips.

Approximately 240,000 people in the U.S. bought the berries, of which Costco and Townsend Farms has recalled 330,000 3 lb. bags.

No one in Canada has been found ill and Canadians are at little risk of illness, the health agency said.

Thus far, at least 87 people in the U.S. have fallen ill as part of the outbreak.

Food Safety News

Hepatitis A Outbreak Sickens Target Pharmacist; Customers May Have Been Exposed

A Target pharmacy employee who works at two locations in Alameda County, California handled medications after being infected with hepatitis A as part of the multistate outbreak linked to frozen mixed berries, according to a local Patch report.

The individual that is part of the outbreak works at pharmacies in San Leandro and Whipple Road in Hayward and possibly exposed customers via drugs prepared between May 5 and May 24, the Rockridge, CA Patch reported on Wednesday, citing Alameda County health officials.

Read more about the outbreak, which has sickened at least 49 people in seven states here.

“The county public health department has recommended that the pharmacies contact customers who had prescriptions filled by the employee during that time period when the person was likely contagious,” read the report. “Health officials said transmission of the disease was likely low, however customers are advised to stop taking medications that could have been handled by the infected employee. Customers who took medicine filled by the ill employee are advised to see a doctor and get a hepatitis A vaccination if they are not immunized.”

The pharmacist is just one of several cases in the Bay Area, according to the report. There are also cases in Contra Costa County and Santa Clara County.

Hepatitis A symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain, pale stool and jaundice. Anyone concerned about exposure or showing symptoms should contact their health care provider or local health department. Those exposed to hepatitis A may benefit from a vaccination if it is administered with 14 days of exposure.

Food Safety News