View the latest edition of FE’s e-newsletter

Tyson Foods enters Brazilian poultry industry

Tyson Foods, Inc. signed purchase agreements with three companies in southern Brazil. Each is vertically integrated and offers the potential for domestic and international sales growth.

Tyson will acquire Macedo Agroindustrial and Avícola Itaiópolis (Avita), both located in the state of Santa Catarina, and will initially have 70% ownership of Frangobrás in the state of Paraná. Tyson expects to conclude all three transactions in the next 60 days.

“Our investment in these companies is a key part of our international strategy, especially since Brazil is currently the world’s leading chicken exporter and third largest chicken producer behind the US and China,” says Rick Greubel, group vice president and international president for Tyson.

The Brazilian population consumes about 81 pounds of chicken per person per year compared to 99 pounds in the US.

DuPont opens India corn research center

DuPont opened a corn research center in Bangalore to help farmers in India increase productivity to meet the growing demand for grain. The new center is the fifth research facility in India for the company’s Pioneer Hi-Bred corn line. The center will develop high-yielding hybrids adapted to the unique growing conditions in the area.

According to William S. Niebur, vice president-DuPont Crop Genetics Research and Development, India is the second most populous country in the world, but its corn yields are just 25% of those in other parts of the world where corn is actively being improved. With just a 10% improvement in corn production, farmers in India could produce an additional 1.5 million metric tons of corn grain per year.

PepsiCo drives sustainable water practices

PepsiCo Foundation announced two grants to WaterPartners and Safe Water Network programs to provide access to safe water and sanitation for individuals and communities in developing countries.

The grants, totaling $7.6 million, are a component of the ongoing commitment by the foundation to promote and accelerate sustainable approaches to water access, conservation and usage in underserved regions.

Automation News

Wireless still in the wings

Manufacturers in the machinery industry and other discrete industries are closely watching wireless developments in the process industries in hope that at least some of the outcomes will address their own requirements, says a report entitled Wireless Devices in Discrete Manufacturing: Worldwide Outlook from ARC Advisory Group.

Recent process industry developments such as introduction of a wireless version of the HART protocol for process sensors, plus the ISA 100 initiative for wireless process sensing, are of significant interest to discrete manufacturers.

However, numerous differences between discrete and process requirements will limit the applicability of wireless sensors for discrete applications such as packaging machinery. The worldwide market for wireless devices in discrete manufacturing is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.2% over the next five years.

The discrete wireless market for ISA SP50 levels 0 through 2 totaled $368.0 million in 2007 and is forecast to grow to more than $780 million in 2012.

According to ARC Vice President Chantal Polsonetti, while the business drivers are in place, including wireless as “the ultimate fieldbus” from the perspective of wiring reduction, the lag in technology and standards development suitable to meet discrete industry requirements will contribute to an ongoing fissure in growth prospects for discrete vs. the process industries for the next five years.

For more information, visit

Firewalls and plant floor security

Cyber security expert Eric Byres will present a seminar in conjunction with ISA Expo 2008 entitled, “Firewalls, ISA-S99 Standards and Plant Floor Security,” on October 13, 2008 during the ISA 2008 conference sessions. The two-hour seminar will be held at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. in Room 105, Reliant Center in Houston, TX.

Byres will demonstrate real security hacks and exploits on a control system, describe what the new ANSI/ISA-99 security standards mean to processors, discuss ANSI/ISA-99’s defense-in-depth security strategies and their application and provide hands-on experience configuring control system firewalls.
For more information, go to

Managing operations on a global scale

Managing global manufacturing operations and successfully collaborating across internal groups and external partners place big demands on executives to reduce the total cost of manufacturing. According to an Aberdeen Group report, Global Manufacturing Operations Management, many executives have been in the practice of synchronizing manufacturing operations by deploying a common platform to manage maintenance, production, quality and inventory.

New research shows how such a platform can provide the basis for managing not only manufacturing operations, but also quality and inventory across global supplier networks. The research found that best-in-class manufacturers are over 2.5 times as likely as industry average manufacturers to extend a manufacturing operations management (MOM) platform across all manufacturing operations.

To achieve and sustain best-in-class performance, companies must focus on improving manufacturing operations in two major categories. First, they must provide real-time visibility and establish automated workflows across manufacturing operations and supplier networks to manage adverse events. Second, they must leverage executive focus and collaboration across manufacturing, engineering, quality and corporate IT to ensure the successful deployment of a manufacturing operations management platform extending across the global manufacturing network.

For more information, visit or call 617-854-5200.

Food Safety News

FDA issues draft guidance on genetically engineered animals

The Food and Drug Administration released for public comment a draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals. The document is intended to clarify FDA’s regulatory authority in this field, as well as the requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived form GE animals.

The comment period for the draft guidance, titled The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs, runs for 60 days and closes November 18, 2008. The 25-page document is available online.

Genetic engineering generally refers to the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits into an organism. When scientists splice together pieces of DNA and introduce a spliced DNA segment into an organism to give the organism new properties, it’s called rDNA technology. The spliced piece of DNA is called the rDNA construct. A GE animal is one that contains an rDNA construct intended to give the animal new characteristics or traits.

GE animals can be divided into several classes based on their intended use. They include animals that produce human or animal pharmaceuticals (biopharm animals); animals that serve as models for human diseases; animals that provide high-value industrial or consumer products, such as fibers; and food-use animals with new traits such as improved nutrition, faster growth or lower emission levels of environmentally harmful substances (such as phosphate in their manure).

Under the draft guidance, in those cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. FDA will review this information as part of its food safety assessment, consistent with that recommended in the recently adopted Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA animals. Codex is a worldwide safety organization sponsored by the United Nations.

Just how FDA is regulating GE animals and how derived foods are labeled came into question during FDA’s September 18th press conference. According to FDA Senior Science Policy Advisor Dr. Eric Flamm, “We’re not regulating the animals as drugs; we’re regulating them as containing drugs. So under the legal framework we have the ability to ensure that the drugs are safe for the animals if the animals are used for food-that food from those animals are safe to eat.” When asked what the drug under regulation is, Flamm said the drug in all of these cases is the genetic constructs; the segment of DNA that was introduced into the animal to give the animal its new properties.

According to Flamm, food producers would not (under FDA regulations) need to identify the source of the food was genetically engineered. Rather, if for example, a genetically engineered pig delivered higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, “then you would have labeling of the meat to indicate that this meat is different than your ordinary meats from pigs.”

The lack of appropriate consumer labeling has not won any accolades from consumer groups such as the Center for Food Safety. According to Jaydee Hanson, policy analyst on cloning and genetics, “Under this draft, the public cannot know if the review of a product met the highest scientific standards until after its approval, and then they cannot avoid the product in the marketplace because it is not labeled. The FDA feels it deserves the public’s trust, but refuses to give us the tools to verify that it is doing its job fairly and adequately.”

So far, according to FDA advisors, there are currently no GE animals on the market, and if there were GE animals on the market, they would be illegal.

Melamine hits infant population in China

According to the China Daily, four children died from tainted infant formula containing melamine, the same material that poisoned dogs and cats across the US earlier this year, and was traced back to China through a broker in the US.

More than 6,000 infants were sickened by the tainted milk formula, and 18 arrests have been made for involvement with the product tampering. Although other companies were affected, milk product from Sanlu Group accounted for most of the sicknesses.

In addition, tests conducted on liquid milk from three leading dairy companies over a few days revealed 24 of 1,202 batches tested were contaminated, according to China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ). AQSIQ has already sent 1,644 teams and 387 working groups across the country to inspect the production process of dairy plants.

AQSIQ ran further quality tests on milk and other liquid dairy products made after September 14th and found them all to be free of melamine.

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said 29 provincial areas nationwide had set up special working groups to regulate the dairy product market in response to the recent tainted baby formula scandal. MOA has ordered local agricultural, animal husbandry and veterinary departments to take more effective measures to safeguard the legitimate interests of dairy farmers and to stabilize milk production.

According to FDA, no Chinese manufacturers of infant formula have sold melamine-laced products in the US; however, FDA officials are investigating whether Chinese-manufactured baby formula may have been distributed to Asian specialty markets in the US.

Chasing the White Rabbit

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) warned the public not to consume, distribute or sell White Rabbit brand candy as it may be contaminated with melamine.

White Rabbit brand candy, usually a product of China, is known to be available for sale in a variety of flavors throughout Canada in various retail stores. All White Rabbit brand candies are affected by this alert.

There have been, however, no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products in Canada.

In Canada, at least two other brands may have melamine problems. CFIA and Thai Indochine Trading Inc. are advising people not to consume Mr. Brown 3-in-1 instant coffee products. In addition, CFIA and Regent Long Marketing and Distribution Ltd. are advising people not to consume Nissin Cha Cha Dessert, which was made using Yili Pure Milk, in which melamine was detected by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s Centre of Food Safety.

E. coli flashes a red light

A West Lafayette, Indiana-based company developed a method to capture and detect foodborne illness-causing bacteria such as E. coli. The test promises to be quicker and less expensive than conventional technology now on the market.

Intelliphage, Inc., founded in 2008 by Purdue Associate Professor Bruce M. Applegate and Lynda Perry, a research associate in his group, modified a virus that can infect a specific E. coli bacterium. Applegate teaches at Purdue University’s Department of Food Sciences.

Applegate’s virus will identify the bacterium’s presence in food by turning it red or making it luminescent, allowing food companies to detect potentially contaminated food before it reaches the consumer. The virus, which is grown in a non-pathogenic lab strain of E. coli, attaches itself to bacteria it detects.

Applegate says he can locate just one bacterium cell in 25 grams of food. He is also working on methods to detect Salmonella, Listeria, Staph and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.