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Wisconsin Names Two Farms That Sourced Raw Milk Linked to Outbreaks

Wisconsin state officials have released the names of two farms that supplied raw milk linked to Campylobacter outbreaks of the past few years.

In September 2014, 38 people were sickened after attending a potluck meal for the Durand High School football team. According to the state Department of Health Services memo released Friday, a farm operated by Roland and Diana Reed of Arkansaw, WI, was the source of the unpasteurized milk served at the meal.

Officials also stated that milk from Schaal Dairy Farm was linked to 16 illnesses that occurred at North Cape Elementary School in Franksville, WI, in 2011.

The information was released following a public record request from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The newspaper reports that the health department plans to release their report on the Durand outbreak on Monday, following which the state’s Agriculture Department will decide whether to take enforcement action.

Food Safety News

Michigan-based Meijer shakes up retail scene in Wisconsin

Grand Rapids, MI-based Meijer, a retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now setting its sights on its next target — southeast Wisconsin.

As a pioneer in the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer will be taking its full-service stores into Wisconsin’s highly competitive grocery market next summer by opening its first grocery/general merchandise supercenters in the region.

Plans for expansion into Wisconsin include opening stores in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Grafton and Kenosha in 2015, followed by locations in Waukesha, Greenfield and Sussex in 2016.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Hank Meijer, co-owner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the retail chain, told the Journal Sentinel. “We’ve been in the five [states] for what, 20 years now. It’s been a long time since we’ve opened up a new frontier for our company.”

The company is investing $ 750 million and adding 7,000 jobs in order to establish itself in the state of Wisconsin, according to J.K. Symancyk, president of Meijer.

The supercenters include expanded fresh produce and meat departments; clothing for men, women and children; sporting goods; Meijer-branded products; and seasonal merchandise such as grills and landscape supplies. The stores will also have on-site pharmacies and gas stations.

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

Michigan-based Meijer shakes up retail scene in Wisconsin

Grand Rapids, MI-based Meijer, a retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now setting its sights on its next target — southeast Wisconsin.

As a pioneer in the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer will be taking its full-service stores into Wisconsin’s highly competitive grocery market next summer by opening its first grocery/general merchandise supercenters in the region.

Plans for expansion into Wisconsin include opening stores in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Grafton and Kenosha in 2015, followed by locations in Waukesha, Greenfield and Sussex in 2016.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Hank Meijer, co-owner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the retail chain, told the Journal Sentinel. “We’ve been in the five [states] for what, 20 years now. It’s been a long time since we’ve opened up a new frontier for our company.”

The company is investing $ 750 million and adding 7,000 jobs in order to establish itself in the state of Wisconsin, according to J.K. Symancyk, president of Meijer.

The supercenters include expanded fresh produce and meat departments; clothing for men, women and children; sporting goods; Meijer-branded products; and seasonal merchandise such as grills and landscape supplies. The stores will also have on-site pharmacies and gas stations.

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

Michigan-based Meijer shakes up retail scene in Wisconsin

Grand Rapids, MI-based Meijer, a retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now setting its sights on its next target — southeast Wisconsin.

As a pioneer in the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer will be taking its full-service stores into Wisconsin’s highly competitive grocery market next summer by opening its first grocery/general merchandise supercenters in the region.

Plans for expansion into Wisconsin include opening stores in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Grafton and Kenosha in 2015, followed by locations in Waukesha, Greenfield and Sussex in 2016.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Hank Meijer, co-owner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the retail chain, told the Journal Sentinel. “We’ve been in the five [states] for what, 20 years now. It’s been a long time since we’ve opened up a new frontier for our company.”

The company is investing $ 750 million and adding 7,000 jobs in order to establish itself in the state of Wisconsin, according to J.K. Symancyk, president of Meijer.

The supercenters include expanded fresh produce and meat departments; clothing for men, women and children; sporting goods; Meijer-branded products; and seasonal merchandise such as grills and landscape supplies. The stores will also have on-site pharmacies and gas stations.

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

Michigan-based Meijer shakes up retail scene in Wisconsin

Grand Rapids, MI-based Meijer, a retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now setting its sights on its next target — southeast Wisconsin.

As a pioneer in the “one-stop shopping” concept, Meijer will be taking its full-service stores into Wisconsin’s highly competitive grocery market next summer by opening its first grocery/general merchandise supercenters in the region.

Plans for expansion into Wisconsin include opening stores in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Grafton and Kenosha in 2015, followed by locations in Waukesha, Greenfield and Sussex in 2016.

“It’s a big deal for us,” Hank Meijer, co-owner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the retail chain, told the Journal Sentinel. “We’ve been in the five [states] for what, 20 years now. It’s been a long time since we’ve opened up a new frontier for our company.”

The company is investing $ 750 million and adding 7,000 jobs in order to establish itself in the state of Wisconsin, according to J.K. Symancyk, president of Meijer.

The supercenters include expanded fresh produce and meat departments; clothing for men, women and children; sporting goods; Meijer-branded products; and seasonal merchandise such as grills and landscape supplies. The stores will also have on-site pharmacies and gas stations.

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

Health Officials Say Raw Milk Probably Caused Campylobacter Outbreak at Wisconsin School

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services say that unpasteurized (raw) milk served at a potluck team meal is the likely cause of a Campylobacter outbreak that sickened close to a couple dozen Durand High School football players and coaches this past month.

At least 22 members of the football team were sickened after attending a team dinner on Thursday, Sept. 18. State and county health officials investigating the outbreak had compiled a list of all food and drink they had consumed, and raw milk was apparently on the list.

Subsequent lab tests revealed that the bacteria causing the illnesses was Campylobacter jejuni, which is often found in the digestive systems of poultry and cattle and in animal feces.

State health officials interviewed all members of the football team and the coaching staff to determine what activities, foods and beverages, or anything else they may have commonly been exposed to before being sickened. Those interviews revealed that raw milk consumption was the only food item associated with the illnesses.

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collected manure samples from the farm where the raw milk was produced, and the test results showed that the bacteria causing the illnesses among those who drank the raw milk was the same strain found on the farm.

Campylobacter is a bacteria which causes gastrointestinal symptom including diarrhea (possibly bloody), cramping and fever within two to five days of exposure. Symptoms typically last about a week, although some of those infected do not exhibit symptoms.

Confirmed Campylobacter cases are usually associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Other exposures can come from unpasteurized dairy products and contaminated water, produce or animals. Exposure is also possible from person-to-person, although that is less common.

Food Safety News

Petition: Wisconsin Supreme Court Should Rule on Raw-Milk ‘Right’

Anyone may purchase a cow and drink its raw milk, but do the people of Wisconsin have a “right to purchase and drink raw milk”?

That’s what the losers in a recent Wisconsin Appeals Court case want to know, and they’ve petitioned the state Supreme Court to see if they can get their question answered.

It’s the latest scheme by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund to carve out some “rights” around food and thereby advance the food freedom movement. In their world, raw milk is one of pillars of that campaign.

Wisconsin prohibits the retail sale of raw milk because, until it’s pasteurized, milk may contain potentially harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7. But about 1 percent of all consumers think pasteurization also kills beneficial bacteria found in raw milk, and they believe there are health benefits derived from drinking it.

The case the Wisconsin Supreme Court is being asked to review was a two-for-one loss for raw-milk advocates because it was the result of two consolidated cases.

The decision being appealed to the high court resulted from the consolidation of two cases involving Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund plaintiffs. The combination of issues, however, did not result in the court offering any opinion on whether there is a right to purchase and drink unpasteurized milk in Wisconsin.

For the part of the case known for the “Zinniker plaintiffs,” the appeals court’s Aug. 7 decision upheld state agriculture’s revocation of the license of a Walworth County raw-milk dairy that was involved in a 2009 outbreak. The dairy then attempted to get around the license requirement with a limited liability corporation called “Nourished by Nature.”

State regulators  called that arrangement a “sham,” and Farm-to-Consumer filed the lawsuit. The 4th District Appeals Court decision agreed with the trial court, finding that the distribution of raw milk without a state producer’s license is a crime.

“Even assuming that the members of Nourished by Nature have a right to consume unpasteurized milk, the Zinnikers do not have a legal right to operate a dairy farm as milk producers without a license,” the appeals court ruling stated.

In the part of the decision involving the “GrassWay plaintiffs,” both the facts and the outcome were similar. An organic farm store wanted to sell raw milk to members of an association who paid a fee to the store, but, under a producer’s license, the department said the store was not allowed to sell or distribute the product.

Food Safety News

Wisconsin Raw Milk Dairy Farmer’s Business Improves After Prosecution

What’s Wisconsin’s “raw milk outlaw” been up to since the state appeals court upheld his misdemeanor conviction on July 17 and imposed a $ 1,000 fine?

Well, according to a recent profile by the Wisconsin State Journal, Vernon Hershberger is back home on the farm with his 10 children building up membership in his raw milk buyers club called Grazin Acres LLC.

Since the Loganville, WI, raw milk dairy farmer was found not guilty 13 months ago of producing milk, operating a dairy plant, and selling food in a retail establishment, all without licenses, his raw milk business has increased by 25 percent to about 325 families.

All the charges stem from a 2010 raid on his dairy farm, including breaking the holding order the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection placed on products. That’s the only charge that resulted in a conviction by the Sauk County jury, and Hershberger lost on appeal.

Hershberger credits his business growth with the relationships he built while the state pursued charges against him, including jurors, sheriff’s deputies, and others. The State Journal reported that Hershberger has emerged from his confrontation with prosecutors as “the face of the growing raw milk industry in Wisconsin and the nation.”

The newspaper states that raw milk advocates believe there has been a dramatic fall-off in enforcement actions since the Hershberger trial. Because he was acquitted on the licensing counts, Hershberger came out against Rep. Sen. Glenn Grothman’s bill to ease restrictions on licensed raw milk dairies.

Food Safety News

Maglio & Co. donates salad bars to local Wisconsin schools

Maglio logo RGBMaglio & Co., a regional distributor, repacker and fresh-cut processor of produce, has contributed $ 5,000 to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign. This donation will fund the equipment for a salad bar in two Wisconsin schools: the Academy of Excellence in Milwaukee and Black Hawk Elementary School in Sauk City.
 
Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is a grassroots effort of the Food Family Farming Foundation, the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance, the United Fresh Produce Association Foundation and Whole Foods Market in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative.
 
Maglio & Co. selected the Academy of Excellence and Black Hawk Elementary to receive its contribution so that the company could support an urban school as well as a rural one. The Academy and Black Hawk are two of more than 3,400 schools that have received a salad bar donation as part of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.
 
“Not only does this program provide an opportunity for healthy change in schools, but it allows children to experience fresh foods that they may not have access to otherwise,” Sam Maglio Jr., company president, said in a press release. “Donating to a school in close proximity to one of our facilities allows us to support our local community. Involving a rural school brings this great fresh fruit and vegetable opportunity to a new constituency.”
 
The goal of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is to implement 6,000 salad bars over the next three years. To learn more about how to support a salad bar, visit www.saladbars2schools.org.

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

Wisconsin Salami Products Recalled for USDA Misbranding Problem

Bolzano Artisan Meats LLC, of Milwaukee, WI, is recalling approximately 5,723 pounds of salami products for misbranding and because they were produced without the benefit of federal inspection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

Products produced under the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) inspection program are eligible for sale within the state of Wisconsin when they bear the Wisconsin state inspection shield on the immediate package.

However, the products being recalled incorrectly bear the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) program version of the USDA Mark of Inspection, which requires federal acceptance into the program. Because the establishment is not part of the CIS program, products they produced and distributed bearing the CIS program version of the USDA Mark of Inspection cannot be sold through interstate commerce.

The products subject to recall include:

  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, Old School Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7935 7389 6360)
  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, Pamplona Runner Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7935 7389 6353)
  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, Fin Oh Kee Oh Na Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7935 7320 3564)
  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, Pig Red Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7935 7320 3571)
  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, Pitzotl Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7935 7322 1698)
  • 6-oz. or 12-oz. packages of “Bolzano Artisan Meats All Natural Uncured, RauchZwiebel Salami,” 6/6-oz. or 3/12-oz. packages per case (UPC 7395 7320 3588)

The products subject to recall were produced between Sept. 20, 2013, and March 15, 2014, include batch numbers 1208 to 1214, and bear the CIS program version of USDA Mark of Inspection with the establishment number “EST. 692SEWI.” Cases containing the products subject to recall may bear the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) inspection label, but the individual product packages may be misbranded with the CIS program version of the USDA Mark of Inspection.

Products bearing the Wisconsin state inspection shield on the immediate package are not subject to this recall.  The recalled products were distributed for institutional and retail sales nationwide as well as sold over the internet.

The problem was discovered by FSIS personnel after receiving information about the product being in commerce. The company began using new packaging labels with the CIS program USDA Mark of Inspection before implementing all federal requirements that would authorize use of the USDA Mark of Inspection through the CIS program. Wisconsin state inspection personnel were not aware of the application of labels and have been assisting FSIS in the investigation of this issue.

FSIS and the company have received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact company owner Scott Allen Buer at (414) 238-4874.

Food Safety News

Spudmobile in the works for Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers

The much-anticipated traveling billboard for Wisconsin’s potato and vegetable industry, also known as the Spudmobile, is now well on its way to completion as the growers announce their partnership with two Wisconsin-based companies to finish the interior and exterior elements of the project.

CGS Premier in New Berlin and Cineviz in Green Bay both have extensive experience taking everyday vehicles and turning them into unique promotional tools that are fun and educational for those who go through them.

CGS Premier will design, re-model, fabricate and be responsible for the execution of many creative design elements. Cineviz will create the digital technology, the educational elements and much of the interior design.

“The Spudmobile will have something for everyone,” WPVGA Executive Director Duane Maatz said in a press release. “There will be interactive games for children, cooking tips and recipes for families. We are very confident we have chosen the right companies to accomplish our goals.”

The announcement to work with CGS Premier and Cineviz comes about one month after the WPVGA purchased a 2012 Holiday Rambler Ambassador specifically for the development of the Spudmobile.

After several discussions with the potato and vegetable industry, the two companies say they’re privileged to work with a group so committed to the education of our youth and consumers.

“We couldn’t be more excited to work with the Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers on this exciting project,” CGS Premier Director of Business Development Trey Patterson said in a press release. “While we have been building vehicles and displays for the past 20 years, this project is especially exciting for our team as it is helping a Wisconsin association raise awareness about the benefits of buying locally grown potatoes.”

“The opportunity to bring to life the dream of the WPVGA is a real honor,” said Scott Koffarnus, Cineviz chief executive officer and creative director. “We look forward to developing an immersive mobile experience for all ages to enjoy and learn about potato agriculture in Wisconsin.”

Ultimately, Maatz said this is a forward-thinking set of objectives, looking into the future: “This Special Project is brought to you by farmers who care about their consumers as well as providing for future generations. They’re farmers who plan to continue to produce a safe, wholesome and affordable food supply for families across the country,”

Updates for the Wisconsin Spudmobile will be posted on its Facebook page and new website.

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

Letter From The Editor: Raw Milk Wars Return to Wisconsin

Briefly during the decade when I was doing public affairs work on my own hook, I did some preliminary work for a group that wanted to build a NASCAR track.

It exposed me to NASCAR’s scoring system for weighing the merits of one driver against the others as the season progresses. If the bosses would just give me a couple weeks off with pay, I could develop such a scoring system for “raw milk wars.”

As changes are made to state laws and regulations involving raw milk, I really haven’t been able to tell who is ahead on a net basis. I am pretty sure we could come up with a point system to solve that problem, but without it there are just too many pieces to this subject to say without a system, who on a 50-state basis is winning this never ending war.

In the upcoming week, it takes another turn in Wisconsin—America’s Dairy State.

As promised, State Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, has introduced Senate Bill 236 to allow commercial sales of raw milk into Wisconsin’s year-round Legislature and on this coming Wednesday, Sept. 11, the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions will hear the bill.

It appears to be pretty much the same bill Grothman introduced more than two years ago, before pulling it back and laying the weeds for a better time.

His latest effort comes after a Wisconsin jury found raw milk outlaw Vernon Hershberger not guilty of various bureaucratic infractions like doing business without licenses, and guilty solely of breaking a state hold on his product.

It’s an up time for food celebrities and raw milk adherents in Wisconsin. So, its best for Grothman to move now before the state sees its next outbreak from raw milk products.

The last time the Wisconsin Legislature voted to make commercial sales of raw milk legal was in 2010, but former Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed the bill and his veto held up. His outgoing administration then named the Raw Milk Policy Working Group that came up with a 261-page report telling how raw milk might be produced and sold in as safe as possible manner.

Sen. Grothman continues to ignore that report. Indeed, there is no evidence that he has ever read it.

His bill requires dairy farmers who want to sell raw milk to register with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, use clean containers, label it as non-pasteurized. The dairy would have to post a sign saying, “Raw milk products sold here. Raw milk products are not pasteurized.”

After that, it gets a little complicated.  A “Grade A” dairy selling milk to a licensed dairy plant could also divert some raw milk for direct sale to the public. If the dairy does not have a “Grade A” permit, it would still be required to meet those standards for appearance, odor, bacterial count, drug residues, somatic cell count, temperature, pesticides and water supply.

But the fiscal note prepared for the bill says the department is going to face a challenge of applying those “Grade A” requirements to a “Grade B” producer who opts to sell raw milk. The bill presents unknown costs not covered by fees, according to the analysis.

The bill, which runs just over three pages, also allows the sale of buttermilk, kefir, yogurt, whey, ice cream, butter and cheese made with raw milk.

Lining up against SB 236 are the Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and Wisconsin Grocers Association along with health advocacy organizations including Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Public Health Association, and Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.

The Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Board also oppose it.  The public hearing begins at 2 p.m., Sept. 11 in Room 411 South of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.

Like NASCAR, I think there are enough twists and turns to state raw milk policy that we are going to have to come up with a scoring system for keeping track of it all.   I’ll get back to you on that one.

 

Food Safety News

Strong demand and good prices on tap for Wisconsin spuds

ANTIGO, WI — Strong, very early potato markets provided cause for Wisconsin potato growers to weigh their marketing options, with a small volume of earlier-than-expected shipping.

But Tamas Houlihan, managing editor and communications director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, based here, said that September will still, as per normal, be the key month for harvesting and developing marketing and related storage strategies for Wisconsin’s potato growers.

Tamas-Houlihan-WPTamas HoulihanAt the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, Houlihan’s primary responsibility is producing the WPVGA’s trade publication, The Badger Common ‘Tater.

Houlihan estimated that Wisconsin’s 2013 potato crop will be 25 million hundredweight. He told The Produce News that a typical production volume for the state is in the 25 million- to 30 million-hundredweight range. Wisconsin growers planted 62,000 acres of spuds in 2013, which was down about 1,000 acres from 2012. National potato acreage in 2013 is down 6 percent, he noted.

Combined with poor growing conditions for some Red River Valley growers, “this will lead to a reduction in overall production. If there are fewer acres and lower yields (nationally), there should be strong demand and higher prices. Generally, we should expect strong demand and good prices for the fall, winter and spring.”

In August, Houlihan said it was “a little too early” to accurately generalize a guess about the tuber size characteristics of Wisconsin’s 2013 potato crop. But, he said, “The early returns are that the crop will have a good size distribution. We have excellent quality because of the cool nights we’ve had this summer.”

Fresh-market shippers want potatoes in the range of six to 12 ounces per potato. A size range is a healthy feature so different customer needs can be met. “The early returns are that we have that as well as big bakers. A 60- to 70-count carton will get a nice return on the market. We will have good supplies.”

But he noted that bad weather — excessive heat or rain — could still interfere with Wisconsin’s potato crop.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Growers pleased about Wisconsin potato crop quality

PLOVER, WI — As September digging swings into full tilt, Wisconsin’s potato crop is expected to be of very high quality.

At Okray Family Farms Inc., located here, President Mike Finnessy said Wisconsin’s potato crop this year “looks like much higher quality. Last year there was a high percentage of culls. There was a lot of grade-out. This year we have a very good quality crop and the yields are equal to or better than last year.”

HarvestOkray2Harvest operations at Okray Family Farms in Plover, WI. (Photos courtesy of Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association)Bob Johnson, president of Katz Produce Sales LLC, based in Rosholt, WI, characterized the 2013 Wisconsin potato crop as having a really heavy set. “If we could sell vines, we’d all be millionaires,” he said. “Wisconsin will have a high-volume crop, but the size profile can’t be too big with a set like that; consumer packs should be fairly plentiful.

“That’s not the case on bigger-sized cartons,” Johnson said. “But Washington is the exact opposite. The two states could balance each other.” Idaho’s potato crop size profile is similar to Wisconsin.

Johnson noted that the long-term forecast through August was “not one day over 80 degrees and every night 50, or a few degrees warmer. That’s as ideal as you can get.”

Potato prices were very high when The Produce News toured the Badger State in early August. But on Aug. 9, Finnessy said prices were quickly falling to the norm. “In the last two days, reds have fallen from $ 42 to $ 30 per cwt.” He said no red potatoes were available in July and the price was too high. “Now the price is heading to be too low.”

Russet prices were inching down at a less dramatic rate. Whatever happens in the near term, “I expect a good market in the winter,” he said.

Finnessy indicated that through the summer, potatoes were so scarce that retail chains had nothing to offer at promotable prices. “For the chains, now at least there is availability to run an ad. Retailers will follow as the prices go down, so there should be good pricing for consumers.”

Johnson said in early August that demand for potatoes was strong with short national supplies. Some Wisconsin growers were harvesting smaller spuds for immediate high prices — a sacrifice over higher volume at a later time. The trade-off, of course, was known payoff of high prices on a small early volume.

In the first week of August, produce buyers were unable to “source any other place” at lower prices, Johnson said. “Supplies are really, really, really tight.”

He added that the old crop in Idaho had gone a little flat. Meanwhile, new crops in Idaho and Wisconsin were not quite to the point of harvest volume.

“Supplies are ridiculously short. The prices are higher than anyone dreamed they would be,” Johnson continued. “Prices are almost at record levels. That doesn’t help consumption any. Now the retail prices are reflecting the costs.”

Johnson said some retailers were charging $ 6 or $ 7 for five pounds of red potatoes and $ 4.99 in stores for five-pounds of russets.

“Will the retail price follow when f.o.b. costs come down? The (f.o.b.) costs won’t stay this high for long,” he said.

As those numbers inevitably drop, Wisconsin growers “will have the option of selling out of the field or put them in storage,” Johnson noted. “If they’re too cheap they will put them in storage.” About Sept. 10 or 15 “if they’re not moving, they’ll go into storage.”

In the Wisconsin northlands, “when Jack Frost comes, that will be the end of the deal,” as far as most of the harvesting is concerned. “After October 5 you’re on borrowed time,” hoping that a frost doesn’t freeze unharvested potatoes. There have been unusual years that there was no freezing of Wisconsin soil until Thanksgiving.

Johnson projected that if retail prices stay high for too long, the storage deal could run late into 2014.

In the first days of August A-sized red potatoes were selling in the low $ 40s and B-sized potatoes were in the low $ 50s. “The prices were in the mid-$ 20s a year ago.” Johnson indicated that $ 30 for a 100 pounds of red potatoes is a typical early-August price.

Wisconsin’s red potato harvest would enter “big volume” in mid-August, Johnson said. Russet harvest in Wisconsin would go into large volumes between Aug. 19 and 26. “In September, growers will be deciding whether to pack or store.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Texas Listeria Case Linked to Wisconsin Cheese Outbreak Strain

A sixth person – this one in Texas – has been sickened by Listeria monocytogenes with the same DNA fingerprint as the outbreak strain from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, LLC.  One of its two Minnesota victims later died, and another person sickened was a pregnant woman who miscarried.

The cheese was pasteurized, not sold as a raw product.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio have each reported one victim associated with the Crave Brothers outbreak.

Based on victim interviews and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s July 2013 inspection of the Crave Brothers facility in Waterloo, WI, the CDC has concluded that the company’s Les Frères cheese was contaminated. FDA collected a sample with the same DNA as the outbreak strain.

Crave Brothers on July 3 recalled its Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses with make dates of July 1, 2013, or earlier due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. CDC continues to warn consumers against eating any of the recalled cheeses, a warning that is especially important for pregnant women, older adults or anyone with weakened immune systems who are at the highest risk for infections and acute symptoms.

The six Listeria victims range in age from 30 to 67 years of age, with the median age being 55. Five of the six were women. The average time to become ill with Listeria is two to three weeks after exposure. CDC says it’s possible that someone who becomes sick after about Aug. 10 might not yet be included in the outbreak.

In addition to CDC and FDA, the states with cases have been involved in the investigation.

About 800 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis are reported each year in the U.S., and usually three or four involve multi-state outbreaks investigated by CDC. Mexican-style soft cheeses, imported ricotta salata cheese, whole cantaloupes, raw sprouts, and pre-cut celery have been linked to recent outbreaks.

Food Safety News

Cyclospora in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas and New Jersey

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  announced late Wednesday that a total of 275 cases of cyclospora infection have been reported in nine states since mid-June.

The number of cases identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (127), Nebraska (68), Texas (65), Wisconsin (4), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1), Kansas (1), and New Jersey (1).

The cases in Kansas and Illinois may have been acquired out-of-state, CDC says.

Illness onset dates range from the middle of June through early July, according to health officials.

Of those sickened, at least ten have been hospitalized in three states, according to CDC.

“No food items have been implicated to date, but public health authorities are pursuing all leads,” CDC notes in its outbreak report. “Previous outbreak investigations have implicated various types of fresh produce.”

CDC says it is still not clear whether all of the reported cyclospora cases are linked to the same outbreak.

The agency expects more cases to be reported, and will post them on its outbreak page as it becomes aware of them.

 

Food Safety News