Source: Walmart.

Walmart Stores Inc. adding level to already strict beef safety measures

Bentonville, AR-based Walmart Stores Inc. announced recently that it will implement additional beef safety measures designed to further protect customers against foodborne illnesses. The new process controls, standards and goals are additions to a food safety program that already requires ground beef suppliers to test for E. coli O157:H7 and achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.

“As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we go further than many US retailers in requiring leading-edge food safety standards throughout the entire food production chain,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president for food safety. “In light of recent beef recalls, we determined it was prudent to require an additional layer of protection for our customers.”

The new program requires Walmart and Sam’s Club beef suppliers to implement controls that would reduce potential contamination levels and validate that the measures they’ve implemented are effective through specialized testing. Suppliers who do not operate slaughter houses must be in compliance with the new standard by June 2011. For beef slaughterhouse suppliers, a two-step approach will be implemented, with the first step to be completed by June 2011 and the second by June 2012.

“Walmart has taken steps to provide its customers with the safest possible beef products,” said James Marsden of Kansas State University. “Consumers across the United States will benefit greatly from this timely food safety initiative.”

The retailer is taking a progressive approach to ensure safe food products, adds Jim Dickson, professor of animal science at Iowa State University. “The lessons learned from Walmart’s approach will be applicable to ground beef sold everywhere.”

Tom Vilsack. Source: USDA.

USDA announces new performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new performance standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens (broilers) and turkeys, fulfilling another key recommendation of the President’s Food Safety Working Group. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also released a compliance guide to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter and a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle.

“There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the President’s Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness,” said Vilsack. “The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter.” The standards are the first-ever standards for Campylobacter; they mark the first revision to the Salmonella standards for chicken since 1996 and for turkeys since the first standards were set in 2005.

The performance standards set a level in percentage of samples testing positive for a given pathogen an establishment must achieve and play a key role in reducing the prevalence of foodborne pathogens and preventing harm to consumers. The President’s Food Safety Working Group has set a goal of having 90 percent of all poultry establishments meeting the revised Salmonella standard by the end of 2010.

By revising current performance standards and setting new ones, FSIS is encouraging establishments to make continued improvement in the occurrence and level of pathogens in the products they produce. FSIS developed the stricter performance standards using recently completed studies that measure the baseline prevalence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chicken and turkey carcasses nationwide.

FSIS has developed the third edition of a compliance guide for poultry slaughter, which includes recommendations for controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter, as well as a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle. Both documents are priorities for the President’s Food Safety Working Group and are available at FSIS’s Web site.

FSIS is seeking comment on the performance standards and compliance guides announced in the Federal Register Notice and expects to begin using the standards after analyzing the comments and, if necessary, making any adjustments.

“Preventing foodborne illness is the core mission of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, and today’s announcement will help us reduce the incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter,” said Jerold Mande, deputy under secretary for food safety. “We welcome comments on today’s announcement.”

Comments regarding the compliance guides document must be received within the 60-day comment period through the Federal eRulemaking portal at, or by mail to: Docket Clerk, U.S. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center,
5601 Sunnyside Avenue
, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474. All submissions received through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail must reference the Food Safety and Inspection Service and include the docket number “FSIS-2009-0034.”

Research says popcorn more effective than chocolate for curbing snack attacks

Recent research released by ConAgra Foods shows that eating a filling but calorie-controlled snack like popcorn leaves people feeling fuller than those snacking on the same caloric amount of milk chocolate.

A ConAgra Foods research team led the study, which was presented at the Experimental Biology Conference, held last month at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA.

The study found that participants who ate a 100-calorie portion of popcorn versus a two-nugget, 100-calorie serving of milk chocolate were significantly less hungry, had less desire for a second snack and were more satisfied with the amount of food after eating the popcorn.

“We know that feeling hungry is a barrier to weight loss. Our findings show that low-fat popcorn is a smart snack choice for managing weight because it helps people feel less hungry and more satisfied,” said Kristin Reimers, nutrition manager at ConAgra Foods.

The study included 49 female participants, aged 20 to 50 years old with a body-mass index between 18 and 25 (normal weight). All participants followed the same consumption protocol in a controlled testing facility. After an overnight fast, they arrived at the testing facility, ate a controlled breakfast, and then ate a snack three and a half hours after breakfast.

In April 2009, a similar study found that subjects who ate up to six cups of low-fat popcorn - 100 calories - 30 minutes before lunch consumed the same amount of total calories from the popcorn snack and a subsequent meal as those who consumed only water before the meal. In contrast, when subjects ate a 150-calorie cup of potato chips before the meal, they ate significantly more total calories including the meal.

Turn organic waste into energy

According to the US EPA, one full-size dairy cow, depending on the breed, will put out somewhere between 120 to 150 lbs. of manure on a daily basis. Multiply this number times 6,000 cows, and the result is the amount of manure being processed by an aerobic digester at Bettencourt Dairy’s B6 farm in Jerome, ID. It all adds up to 1 million kW-hours of electricity each month.

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