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Peter Pan to fly again


According to an Associated Press news story, three environmental events contributed to the Salmonella outbreak at ConAgra’s Peter Pan peanut butter plant in Sylvester, GA. A leaky roof and two sprinkler system sprayings due to a defective sprinkler caused excessive dampness, which promoted the growth of dormant Salmonella bacteria that came into contact with peanut dust and raw peanuts.

We will make significant investment in and changes to the manufacturing environment to ensure this situation does not occur again,” said Gary Rodkin, ConAgra Foods’ CEO. “We are committed to the highest possible standards of food safety throughout our operations and believe the measures we are outlining today will clearly strengthen that foundation.”

One measure to strengthen food safety is the creation of a new management position, vice president of global food safety. Paul A. Hall, a leading expert with more than 30 years of experience in microbiology, food safety and food quality, will take the helm.

ConAgra Foods also created a food safety advisory committee composed of third-party experts in food safety who will provide guidance to the company as part of its ongoing work with government agencies, research institutions and scientists in the areas of food production and testing.

ConAgra said it will reopen its Georgia plant in August after it thoroughly addresses all possible causes of the Salmonella outbreak. The company will install new state-of-the-art machinery, technology and designs to combat the problems.

Chinese soil survey targets food safety

According to a China Daily report, because potentially more than 10% of China’s farmland has been polluted, the Chinese government has begun a nationwide soil survey to insure food safety.

Sources with the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said the inspection, which begun last July, focuses on soil quality in some main grain-producing and industrial areas.

Areas being checked include Jiangsu and Zhejiand provinces in the Yangtze River delta region and Guandong Province in the Pearl River delta area as well as China’s Liaoning and Hunan Provinces.

Increasing reports about toxic food have led to soil pollution becoming a hot topic among the public and experts. Even though China has collected extensive data on air and water pollution, there has been no nationwide survey on soil pollution.

Hershey pursues healthy consumers

With competition from European dark chocolate makers, The Hershey Company has expanded its Goodness Chocolate line with the debut of Hershey’s Antioxidant Milk Chocolate and Hershey’s Whole Bean Chocolate.

According to Hershey Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Michele Buck, “Consumers are very interested in the goodness benefits of chocolate, including the antioxidants found naturally in dark chocolate.” With the explosive interest in dark chocolate, Hershey has been adding antioxidants to its milk chocolate offerings.

Its Antioxidant Milk Chocolate contains 260 mg of flavanol antioxidants in a 40-gram serving, compared to 110 mg of antioxidants in the leading dark chocolate bar. One 40-gram serving of Whole Bean Chocolate has seven grams of fiber and 180 mg of flavanol antioxidants.

Webinar to focus on continuous improvement

A Food Engineering Webinar, “How to Accelerate Continuous Improvement with Real-Time Performance Management,” will feature a real-world success story showing how a processor increased operational efficiency by 20% by implementing a real-time performance management system.

In the Webinar, scheduled for May 22 at 2:00 p.m., Berner Foods will describe how it transfers critical information collected at the plant floor into actionable manufacturing intelligence throughout the organization, significantly improving performance, reducing manual intervention and costs and improving the bottom line.

Seventy percent of food and beverage manufacturers manage the most critical part of their supply chain based on incomplete, inaccurate and or out-of-date information. The Webinar will show the need for continuous monitoring of critical areas that have a negative impact on performance and explain how to transform plant data into information that leads to better business decisions. Click here to register.

Global village goes flat

Manufacturers that take a “wait and see” attitude toward taking advantage of a Web-based world will lose business rapidly to competitors who embrace Web technologies.


Plant of the year: Opportunity knocks for T. Marzetti

Long on cash and short on capacity, T. Marzetti Co. took the plunge two years ago and began construction of its first new plant in more than half a century. Now it intends to exploit its new asset.

Savvy maintenance strategies

You can wait ‘till it breaks, but what will it cost you in downtime?


Redefining process control

Today’s process control systems must be holistic in nature.


The certification conundrum

Be careful when spending money on certifications. In some cases, they aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.


People, Plant and Industry News

Crown Holdings promoted Raymond McGowan to president of its North American food packaging business. Previously he served as president of Crown Food Packaging USA.


Nestlé has agreed to acquire the Gerber baby food brand from Novartis for a total amount of $5.5 billion. With net proceeds of sales for 2007 estimated at $1.95 billion, Gerber is a well-recognized brand in the US and is widely distributed in Mexico, Poland and Central America. Gerber is also a provider of baby care products and juvenile life insurance in the US.


J Lieb Foods purchased Welch’s plant operations in Kennewick, WA. The plant covers 210,000 sq. ft. and includes four complete packaging lines, a repack line and over 2 million gallons of bulk ingredient storage.


Jerky Snack Brands acquired Pioneer Snacks, a global meat snack company. Pioneer Snacks is a full-line manufacturer of premium meat snacks, specializing in natural style beef jerky, snack sticks, steak tenders and hickory smoked sausage snacks.


Alcoa is expected to close its Reynolds Food Packaging plastics manufacturing plant in Mt. Vernon, KY, by the middle of this year. The closing, which impacts 115 people, will align production systems in the company’s food-packaging business.


YoCream International completed a 14-month, 21,000-sq.-ft. expansion in Portland, OR. The project connected an existing manufacturing facility with a neighboring dry warehouse and added 7,000 sq. ft. of production space, 10,600-sq.-ft. of freezer, a new shipping dock and a quality assurance lab.


Otis Spunkmeyer plans to spend $8 million to expand its Cayce, SC, bakery.