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Monsanto knocks back Bayer’s second takeover offer

Despite a promised US$ 1.5 billion reverse break-up fee, Monsanto has deemed Bayer’s revised acquisition bid as “insufficient to ensure deal certainty”.

Last week, German seed and crop protection group Bayer increased its offer for the U.S. company by 2.5% to US$ 125 per share.

“Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously views Bayer AG’s revised proposal as financially inadequate and insufficient to ensure deal certainty,” Monsanto said in an announcement today.

“Monsanto remains open to continued and constructive conversations with Bayer and other parties to assess whether a transaction that the Board believes is in the best interest of Monsanto shareowners can be realized.

“There is no assurance that any transaction will be entered into or consummated, or on what terms.”

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Second restaurant worker confirmed in Hep A outbreak

An employee of a Taco Bell on Oahu has been confirmed as the second foodservice worker included among the 52 victims of a Hepatitis A outbreak that Hawaii’s health officials expect to grow.

Map of Oahu

As of July 15, employees of two restaurants in central Oahu (rough area outlined in green) were confirmed as being among the victims of a Hepatitis A outbreak.

The Taco Bell restaurant in Waipio at 94-790 Ukee St. where the infected employee works is less than a mile and a half from the Baskin-Robbins ice cream store at the Waikele Outlet Center. An employee at the Baskin-Robbins was announced last week as the first confirmed foodservice worker case in the outbreak that is believed to have begun June 16.

“It is important to note that neither the Waikele Baskin-Robbins nor the Waipio Taco Bell have been identified as the source of infection for this outbreak,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park in a news release.

“These are merely places where the victims were employed. The likelihood that patrons of these food establishments will become infected is very low, but to prevent possible additional cases, we are notifying the public so they may seek advice and help from their healthcare providers.

“Additional food service establishments may be affected as the number of cases continues to grow. Individuals, including food service employees, exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis A should stay home and contact their healthcare provider.”

The health department is advising people who consumed any food or beverages at the Taco Bell recently that they may have been exposed to Hepatitis A and should therefore ask their doctors if they should consider receiving a shot of vaccine or immune globulin. The specific dates in question for Taco Bell customers are June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 11.

“Unvaccinated individuals should contact their healthcare providers about the possibility of receiving hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin, which may provide some protection against the disease if administered within the first two weeks after exposure,” according to the health department, which issued a similar notice last week after the Baskin-Robbins employee was confirmed as part of the outbreak.

Possible exposure dates for customers of the Baskin-Robbins store are June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3.

Updated numbers on confirmed cases are scheduled to be posted Wednesday, following weekly on Wednesdays until further notice, a spokeswoman at the state’s health department said Monday morning.

When the health department announced the outbreak on July 1, there were 12 cases, with six having required hospitalization. As of last week’s update, there were 52 confirmed cases. All confirmed cases are on Oahu and involve adults. Sixteen have had symptoms so severe that they required hospitalization.

“Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea and yellow skin and eyes, and typically last several weeks to as long as two months,” according to the health department.

“Treatment of Hepatitis A is supportive, and most people will recover without complications. While vaccination provides the best protection, frequent hand washing with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper and before preparing food can help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A. Appropriately cooking foods can also help prevent infection.”

For a list of vaccinating pharmacies, call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1 or visit http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/files/2013/07/IMM_Adult_Resource_List.pdf.

Additional information about Hepatitis A can be found on the Hawaii Department of Health website.

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Food Safety News

Animal rights mean no second chance for downer calves

vealcalve_406x250For the veal calf headed to market, it’s a distinction without a difference. If all goes according to plan, the animal will go to slaughter without incident, which means the producer will be happy. If the veal calf, however, falls down and cannot get up, the animal will be “promptly euthanized,” which means the Humane Society of the U.S. and other animal rights groups will be happy.

Currently veal calves that fall down and cannot get up are given time to see if they can rise from a recumbent position and walk after they’ve been given time to rest or a place to warm up. Then, if USDA veterinarians find they are free from disease, they can be sent down the chute to the “knock box” for slaughter as human food.

But the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and others have long viewed the second chance at slaughter as a “loophole” and have kept up the pressure to eliminate it. The change means any veal calves that fall down will have to be destroyed with the economic cost falling on the producer.

The annual economic impact analysis shows the cost for the veal industry will range between $ 2,368 and $ 161,404 per year. HSUS says closing the “loophole” gives producers a financial incentive to treat calves better through the slaughter process.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) would save between 70.5 and 428 hours in agency time that is now going to “downer veal” re-inspections to see if the animals might get up and therefore be fit for slaughter as human food.

“FSIS is dedicated to ensuring the veal calves presented for slaughter at FSIS-inspected facilities are treated humanely,” said USDA Administrator Al Almanza. “Prohibiting the slaughter of all non-ambulatory veal calves will continue this commitment and improve compliance with the Human Methods of Slaughter Act.”

FSIS found that while cattle younger than 30 months do not present a serious risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, veal calves are vulnerable to “other systemic and metabolic diseases and and injury because of inadequate immunoglobulin transfer, nutritional inadequacies of an all-liquid iron-deficient diet, activity restriction and stress.”

It said veal calves are “acutely susceptible to enteritis, which is the inflammation of the small intestine caused by infection that may lead to diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and dehydration.” FSIS said under the new rule, it will eliminate the time that was being taken to see if calves are non-ambulatory because they are tired or cold.

Animal agriculture groups said the existing system is more humane because it gives the animals time to rest and gain warmth.

Prior to 2009, FSIS used a case-by-case review to determine if a “downer” cow could be accepted for slaughter. After adult downer cows were banned, HSUS petitioned to eliminate downer veal calves, claiming the failure to require immediate euthanasia is an incentive for abusive conduct because a non-ambulatory disabled calf is worthless unless slaughtered.

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Food Safety News

Second wave of California figs brings more volume

The California fig season started strong with great sizing and quality. While bigger sizing brought optimism to retailers looking for a premium at checkout, a lack of volume kept figs from being promotable.

The second season is also sizing well with the bonus of more volume, according to Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager for Stellar Distributing, based in Madera, CA.KurtKurt Cappelluti

“It could be the best one we’ve ever had as far as growth and production on our 300 plus acres of young trees,” Cappelluti said. “That means we’ll have figs as late as anyone. The young trees will give us a ton of production, which was missing during the first season, and sizing looks to be better. That’s good news for retailers looking to satisfy fig fans.”

Regular rain through California’s 2016 spring season benefitted the young fig trees, according to Cappelluti. After several years of severe drought, routine rain pushed growth on the young trees and is now pushing good volume.

“This year’s quality will be as good as our 2015 season and the great volume will give us strong supply into November,” he added. “It’s exciting when nature and our plans come together for a season like this. The people who love figs will love the 2016 season.”

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

Second annual ShopRite Sprouts Awards

The ShopRite Sprouts program, an eight-week incentive program designed to encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables, held a special awards ceremony earlier this month.

In this year’s program, participating children tried more than 104 varieties of fruits and veggies combined, including varieties of fresh, frozen, canned and dried product, as well as 100 percent juice. Those that topped the list were bananas, apples, carrots and tomatoes.shoprShopRite of Little Falls, NJ, announced the top three winners of its second annual ShopRite Sprouts Awards at a special ceremony at the Totowa Library.

Heather Shasa, full-time store dietitian at Little Falls ShopRite initiated the program as a potential avenue for parents and guardians to have the resources, educational materials and recipes necessary to embark on their own fruit and vegetable journeys for their children and families.

“According to a 2009 study by researchers at Ohio State University, just 16 percent of children ages 6 to 11 meet the government’s guidelines [for fruits and vegetables],” Shasa said in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which are important for proper growth and development. It is essential that healthy eating habits are established at a young age as these eating behaviors tend to continue into adulthood. Little Sprouts is a fun way to get these kids engaged and thinking about healthy eating.”

Each time a child tried a fruit or vegetable, they filled out an activity sheet and received a stamp on a stamp card. Once they received five stamps, they received a prize, and a new stamp card was issued. The activity sheets then decorated the windows of Little Falls ShopRite.

Cooking classes were added at the Totowa (NJ) Library where children could create and sample recipes featuring produce in a fun and inviting atmosphere amongst their peers. Topics included Fun with the Veggetti, Pizza Pizazz with Cauliflower Pizza Crusts and Healthy Halloween. In addition, in-store events featuring fruits and vegetables allowed participants to receive extra stamps on their stamp cards.

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

Second annual ShopRite Sprouts Awards

The ShopRite Sprouts program, an eight-week incentive program designed to encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables, held a special awards ceremony earlier this month.

In this year’s program, participating children tried more than 104 varieties of fruits and veggies combined, including varieties of fresh, frozen, canned and dried product, as well as 100 percent juice. Those that topped the list were bananas, apples, carrots and tomatoes.shoprShopRite of Little Falls, NJ, announced the top three winners of its second annual ShopRite Sprouts Awards at a special ceremony at the Totowa Library.

Heather Shasa, full-time store dietitian at Little Falls ShopRite initiated the program as a potential avenue for parents and guardians to have the resources, educational materials and recipes necessary to embark on their own fruit and vegetable journeys for their children and families.

“According to a 2009 study by researchers at Ohio State University, just 16 percent of children ages 6 to 11 meet the government’s guidelines [for fruits and vegetables],” Shasa said in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which are important for proper growth and development. It is essential that healthy eating habits are established at a young age as these eating behaviors tend to continue into adulthood. Little Sprouts is a fun way to get these kids engaged and thinking about healthy eating.”

Each time a child tried a fruit or vegetable, they filled out an activity sheet and received a stamp on a stamp card. Once they received five stamps, they received a prize, and a new stamp card was issued. The activity sheets then decorated the windows of Little Falls ShopRite.

Cooking classes were added at the Totowa (NJ) Library where children could create and sample recipes featuring produce in a fun and inviting atmosphere amongst their peers. Topics included Fun with the Veggetti, Pizza Pizazz with Cauliflower Pizza Crusts and Healthy Halloween. In addition, in-store events featuring fruits and vegetables allowed participants to receive extra stamps on their stamp cards.

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

Has Supervalu’s second security breach in six weeks caused your company to better scrutinize its data systems?

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Supermarket News

Supervalu reports second security breach

For the second time in six weeks, Supervalu said it experienced a security breach in its data systems.

The Minneapolis-based wholesaler said Monday it has discovered that, since an earlier incident was reported in mid-August, an intruder installed malware into the portion of its computer network that processes payment-card transactions for some of its retail customers, including Shop ‘n Save, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy and corporate-owned and franchised Cub Foods stores.

The company said it believes the latest intrusion did not succeed in capturing data from any payment cards used at any stores other than possibly at four franchised Cub Foods stores in Hastings, Roseville, Shakopee and White Bear Lake, Minn., where implementation of enhanced protective technology had not yet been completed.

The malware may have been successful in capturing account numbers from those four stores, in addition to expiration dates, other numerical information and/or cardholders’ names, from transactions between Aug. 27 and Sept. 21, Supervalu said — though it has made no determination that any cardholder data was stolen, it noted.

The four Cub locations are offering customers who used payment cards during that period 12 months of complimentary consumer identification protection services through AllClear ID, Austin, Texas.

According to Supervalu, once it recognized the intrusion, it took immediate steps to secure the affected part of its network and said it believes it has eradicated the malware. The comapny also said it believes its enhanced protective technology significantly limited the malware’s ability to capture data from payment cards where the malware was installed.

The wholesaler said it has notified federal law enforcement authorities of the latest incident and is cooperating in their efforts to investigate the matter.

According to Sam Duncan, president and CEO, “We care greatly about our customers, and the safety of their personal information will continue to be a top priority for us. We’ve taken measures to install enhanced protective technology that we believe significantly limited the ability of this malware to capture payment-card data, and we will continue to make these investments going forward.”

The company also said it is continuing to take actions to implement further security enhancements and to improve its information security safeguards.

Supervalu said it believes this second incident was a separate intrusion from the one disclosed on Aug. 14, which involved stores operated by Albertsons LLC and New Albertsons, Inc.

Supermarket News

AALPUM to hold second grape symposium

The Asociación Agricola Local de Productores de Uva de Mesa, known commonly by the acronym AALPUM, announced that it will hold its second International Table Grape Symposium Feb. 5-6 in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

The organization said it hopes to improve on the quality and impact of the first event, which was held in January 2013. The event will cover a variety of topics suggested by producers, researchers and technical advisers, including best practices for producing early crops. In all, 18 presentations are planned for the two-day event.

Sonora is the largest production area for table grapes in Mexico, and product is primarily intended for the export market. As such, farmers there have a particular focus on quality and sustainability.

For more information or to register for the symposium, log on to www.simposium.aalpum.org.

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

Brazil’s Second Cow With BSE Is Likely An Atypical Case

The animal with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) recently found in Brazil was probably an atypical case, according to the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory in Weybridge, England.

Atypical BSE, or “mad cow” disease, is a form of the prion disease not associated with the animal’s consumption of feed.

The finding means it is unlikely the World Organization for Animal Health will make any change in Brazil’s “insignificant” risk status for BSE.

Brazil moved much more quickly to report the collapse of the 12-year-old cow with “nerve disease” discovered at a slaughterhouse in the cattle-producing state of Mato Grosso than it did with its first case of BSE in 2010.

It took two years for Brazil to report the existence of the first investigation, which was also ruled by OIE to be an atypical BSE case.

The lab work showing atypical BSE was not conclusive, meaning that OIE has not closed the case. There’s never been a finding for a classic BSE case in Brazil.

More than a dozen countries temporarily banned Brazilian beef after the first BSE case, and this second case has already caused Peru and Egypt to impose new 180-day beef import bans. Others may follow.

Egypt, which buys about 10 percent of Brazil’s exported beef, limited its ban to the state of Mato Grosso. Peru’s purchases amount to less than 1 percent of Brazil’s beef exports, which totaled 1.5 million tons last year.

USDA surveillance since 2003 has found four BSE-infected cows in this country. The last was an atypical case in 2012 involving an animal from California’s central valley.

Food Safety News

Second Auction for Sunland Plant Brings In Almost $6 Million More for Creditors

Sunland Inc.’s peanut-processing plant at Portales, NM, has been sold to Canada’s Golden Boy Foods, a move that could restart a facility closed after a 2012 Salmonella outbreak that sickened 46 people in 20 states.

Golden Boy’s winning bid came Wednesday at the second court-ordered auction held in the past week to dispose of Sunland’s physical assets. It’s opening bid was a $ 25-million cash offer made Friday after the first auction.

North Carolina-based Hampton Farms then upped Golden Boy’s bid with an offer of $ 25.1 million, but that was immediately trumped by another bid of $ 26 million from Golden Boy, and there were no other offers.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for New Mexico David Thuma immediately approved the sale to Golden Boy as final for the processing plant that at one time produced more organic peanut butter than any other facility in the U.S.

Hampton Farms, the largest peanut roaster in the U.S., said it was disappointed to have come in second in the second auction for the facility.

After last week’s first auction, when Hampton Farms initially prevailed with a bid of $ 20.05 million, Golden Boy captured the court’s attention with its last-minute $ 25-million cash offer, which caused the judge to order the second auction.

Golden Boy’s late entry into the bidding means that $ 5.95 million more will be available to satisfy Sunland’s creditors, especially the unsecured ones.

Paul Henderson, head of Golden Boy’s nut butter business unit, was not exactly new to the proceedings. Henderson was interested in acquiring Sunland’s physical plant as soon as he heard about the bankruptcy last November. Golden Boy was then owned by Tricore Pacific Capital Inc., but was in the process of being sold to Post Holdings Inc.

As a result, Henderson could not proceed, but was told to monitor the sale proceedings. At the time, it appeared that the bankruptcy trustee was going forward with a sale of the property to California-based Ready Roast Nut Co. Henderson then learned of the auction from another Golden Boy employee, who saw a March 18, 2014, article about the auction planned for two days later. (The only news outlet publishing such an article on that day was Food Safety News.)

Golden Boy’s new owners were now interested in the purchase, and Henderson, who had visited the Portales facility in late 2013, immediately tried to reach the bankruptcy trustee in Roswell. However, he couldn’t since the trustee was in Albuquerque preparing for the hearing to approve the bid from the first auction.

Golden Boy then made its $ 25-million cash offer on March 21, making the funds available through a local title company, and putting the judge in a position to call for the second auction.

Food Safety News

Second Auction May Fetch Millions More For NM Organic Peanut Processing Plant

The Portales, NM, processing plant that was at one time the largest producer of organic peanut butter in the U.S. was auctioned off last Thursday to Severn, NC-based Hampton Farms for $ 20.05 million. However, the Sunland Inc. plant will be auctioned off again today for at least $ 25 million, an amount offered to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for New Mexico from Canada’s Golden Boy Foods.

The unusual turn of events occurred just before the bankruptcy court entered a final sale order on last Thursday’s offer when Golden Boy Foods wired a counteroffer of $ 25 million to a trust account. That becomes the new opening bid for today’s auction. In addition to Hampton, California’s Ready Roast Nut Company LLC had bid in last week’s auction .

It’s left Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma with a tough decision to make. He said he was “loath to disturb the results of a judicial auction,” but, on behalf of the unsecured creditors of Sunland Inc., he did not want to lose the additional $ 4.95 million that Golden Boy Foods brought to the bankruptcy proceedings.

Sunland filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last October after peanut and nut butters it manufactured at the Portales plant in 2012 were found responsible for a 20-state outbreak of Salmonella. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended Sunland’s food plant registration for several weeks under the first use of a new government power found in the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Hampton Farms, the nation’s largest peanut roaster, has said that it plans to re-open the Portales plant. Golden Boy makes peanut and nut butters from several locations in Canada, but has not said how it would use the Portales plant.

Sunland once purchased much of the Valencia peanut crop grown along the Texas-New Mexico border for add-value processing. Many peanut growers in the area are waiting for the court’s decision on the sale as part of their decision on whether to plant a Valencia crop for the coming season. Soil temperatures are expected to be warm enough to plant peanuts in April.

Food Safety News

Denver Law Professors File Second Legal Challenge to ‘Ag-Gag’ Laws

A pair of constitutional law professors from the University of Denver has given themselves two shots at overturning so-called state “ag-gag” laws.

Among the common features of “ag-gag” laws is a prohibition against taking pictures or making videos without permission, sanctions for not being truthful in a job application, and short timeframes for reporting animal abuse to law enforcement.

UD law professor Alan Chen will find out sometime on or after a May 15 hearing whether the challenge he leads against Utah’s “ag-gag” law will proceed in that state’s U.S District Court. The Utah attorney general has asked that the lawsuit brought on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund be thrown out on the grounds that none of the plaintiffs has standing.

The lawsuit was originally brought after a Draper, UT, animal activist was charged under Utah’s “ag-gag” law, but the matter was dismissed, and attorneys for the state claim that none of the remaining plaintiffs comes anywhere near having legal standing to bring the case.

On St. Patrick’s Day, UD law professor Justin Marceau filed another “ag-gag” challenge, this one involving Idaho’s recently adopted law. The Idaho law contained an emergency clause, meaning it took effect immediately upon Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s signature.

However, the law has not been used as the basis to charge anyone yet, and it’s likely that attorneys for Idaho will claim that none of the non-profit groups or individuals on the plaintiffs’ list has standing to bring the lawsuit.

It’s not escaped notice, however, that animal activists represented by the University of Denver law professors now have similar lawsuits going in two different circuits of the U.S Court of Appeals. Utah is located in the 10th Circuit out of Denver, and Idaho is located in the 9th Circuit based in San Francisco.

Idaho recently became the seventh state to adopt a law containing at least some elements of an “ag-gag” law, named for its intent to prevent someone with possible knowledge of animal abuse from collecting evidence for authorities.

North Dakota, Montana and Kansas adopted such laws in 1990-91, and, since 2011, Utah, Iowa, Missouri and now Idaho have joined them.

Challenges to both the Idaho and Utah laws claim the statutes violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and its Supremacy Clause.

Food Safety News

Standard Market prepares second location

Chicago-based specialty store Standard Market said it would host a job fair later this month seeking staff for a new location and accompanying Standard Market Grill restaurant to open in Naperville, Ill., this spring.


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The store would be the second area location for Standard Market, which opened its first location in Westville, Ill., in 2011.

The new Naperville location will feature a scratch bakery, butcher shop and fish market, delicatessen, fresh produce, extensive wine, beer, and cheese selection, and a cheese aging cave. New features include an expanded wine and beer bar, gelato bar, full coffee shop, and confectionery with gourmet popcorn and fudge.

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Chicago plastic bag ban gets second chance

The sponsors of a long-stalled ordinance in Chicago that would ban retailers from using plastic bags said on Friday that it might be heading for a vote.


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Ald. Joe Moreno said he believe he has the votes needed to win full city council approval of the ordinance that would prohibit retailers with more than 5,000 square feet of floor space from putting merchandise in plastic bags. Twenty-six votes are needed to win full council approval.

An exemption for small retailers that had been a part of an earlier bill was dropped.

“We were letting smaller stores off the hook,” Moreno told the Chicago Tribune. He is a co-sponsor of the bill along with Ald. Chairman George Cardenas. “But some alderman were concerned. They said, ‘All I have is small stores in my ward. If you don’t cover them, my ward is still gonna look like crap with bags all over the place.’”

Moreno said he was confident that he has the votes to pass the ban in the Chicago City Council.

In the same story, Cardenas said he was initially worried about negative economic impact of banning plastic bags, but has been reassured by officials in cities with similar prohibitions that the impact was “doable.”

In a media statement, the Illinois Retail Merchants Association said banning plastic bags is tantamount to levying a “tax on retailers” because paper bags cost three times as much as plastic. Prohibiting the less expensive bags would stifle effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the city’s food deserts, said the organization.

Last year, Emanuel opposed the earlier version of the plastic bag ban, which exempted small retailers.

In this new version of the ordinance, small retailers may get an unspecified amount of time to come into compliance with the ban, perhaps up to three years.

Read more: Calif. retailers cope with bag restrictions

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