Ongoing Listeria recalls demand stepped-up FDA action

The Listeria monocytogenes recalls associated with Jensen Farms in Holly, CO, which include shipments of cantaloupes across 17 states from July 29 to September 10, continue, according to FDA. Fruit Fresh UP, Inc. of Depew, NY is recalling 4,800 individual packages of fresh-cut cantaloupe and cut mixed fruit containing cantaloupe because they have the potential to be contaminated with the Listeria bacteria. As of the same date, there have been recorded 96 illnesses and 18 deaths attributed to Jensen Farms cantaloupes.

“The tragic deaths from Listeria monocytogenes that are linked to tainted Colorado-grown cantaloupes is an urgent reminder that consumers are waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to release guidelines and regulations to help keep pathogens out of produce,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “Since 1990, melons have caused at least 36 outbreaks, although this one is the first attributed to Listeria.”

This pathogen is super-virulent for older or immune-compromised consumers. It has a hospitalization rate of over 90 percent. It has a high mortality rate of 16 percent and can also cause miscarriages when pregnant women are exposed, says DeWaal.

According to CSPI, FDA should move rapidly to release its guidelines and regulations for the production of safe produce, currently due for release in January 2012 and January 2013, respectively. “Congress should fully fund FDA to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, to ensure that outbreaks like this stop breaking records,” says DeWaal.

The existing system consists of three J420 generators. Source: GE.

Whiskey production fuels itself

Not a newcomer to creating electricity from malt waste, Scottish distilling company William Grant & Sons is adding a fourth biogas-powered generator to its generating capacity at its Girvan, Scotland facility. The GE Jenbacher J620 generator will create 3 megawatts (MW) of additional power to the existing system consisting of three J420 engine/generators, bringing total generation capacity up to 7 MW. Two of the smaller units were commissioned in 2009 and one this summer.

The generators run on biogas processed from the residual malt materials used in the distillation process to create whiskey. With the additional unit, Grant’s will be one of the cleanest and largest independent power producers in the region.

“Our ability to generate on-site power at the Girvan distillery has been critical in our continued efforts to reduce our carbon footprint while increasing efficiency,” says Conn Lynch, William Grant & Sons site leader. “The addition of the J620 also qualifies this site for Renewable Obligation Certificates, once again adding to our extensive green credentials.”

When operational in early 2012, the generator will run at excess of 43 percent electrical efficiency operating on biogas. The engine’s exhaust will be captured and recovered as thermal power to produce steam used in the distilling process.

PROCESS EXPO beef food safety seminar looks at Non-O157 STECs

The North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP) will conduct a beef food safety seminar at PROCESS EXPO (November 1-4, 2011 at
McCormick Place, Chicago

Non-O157 STECs will be the primary focus. 

Topics to be covered include:

  • Background and known information on non-O157 STECs;
  • Challenges in controlling these pathogens in beef products; and
  • The recent declaration by USDA that the “Big 6” (E. coli serogroups O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145) will be considered adulterants in beef products.

The presenters are:

  • Dr. Jim Marsden, Regent’s Distinguished Professor of Meat Science at KansasStateUniversity, and senior science advisor for NAMP; and
  • Mohammad Koohmaraie, CEO of the Meat Division of IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group.

“We are honored to have NAMP and these distinguished speakers present a seminar at PROCESS EXPO” says Scott Scriven, president of Weber, Inc. and chairman of the Food Processing Suppliers Association, sponsors of PROCESS EXPO. “We look to NAMP to provide cutting-edge education and research in the meat industry, and this seminar is an example of the fine work they do,” concludes Scriven.

Attendance at this NAMP seminar, as with all educational sessions at PROCESS EXPO 2011, is free of charge for all registered attendees. For more information and registration for PROCESS EXPO, go to

Winning University of Florida-Gainesville students in the PMMI U Student Packaging Solutions Contest include (left to right): Colleen Watson, Justin Simmons, Kent Kolegue and Natasha Najdovski. Source: PMMI.

University of Florida students win packaging solutions contest

Four students from the University of Florida-Gainesville won first price in the PMMI U Student Packaging Solutions Contest, sponsored by B&R Industrial Automation Corp. The prize was awarded to Kent “Max” Kolegue, Natasha Najdovski, Justin Simmons and Colleen Watson at the recent PACK EXPO Las Vegas.

The first-place team shares $4,000 in scholarship funds from the PMMI Education & Training Foundation. The second- and third-place teams from California Polytechnic Institute and PurdueUniversity at Calumet, respectively, also received scholarship prizes.

The contest began when student teams from six schools accepted the challenge to devise a packaging solution for corn starch. The six schools include Cal Poly, ClemsonUniversity, PurdueUniversity at Calumet, University of Wisconsin-Stout, University of Florida-Gainesville and WisconsinIndianheadTechnicalCollege.

“The students’ assignment was to design and recommend a packaging machinery system for a contract packaging company that orients, fills, caps and check-weighs rigid plastic packages of corn starch. They had to be certain that when executing the filling, there would be minimal product giveaway and powder contamination of the package exterior,” says Maria Ferrante, PMMI vice president, education & workforce development.

The students began researching solutions in July. They went to PACK EXPO to finalize their research, meet with solutions providers and present their conclusions to a panel of three judges: Scott Macario and Paul Redwood, Church & Dwight; and Lot To, Unilever.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas beats 2009 figures

PMMI, owner and producer of the PACK EXPO trade shows, reports that with more than 26,000 attendees, 1,559 exhibitors and nearly 630,000 net square feet, PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011 broke records on these and several other counts.

Preliminary figures show 2011 attendance figures about 15 percent greater than 2009, and a jump of nearly one-third in international attendance (including Canada). Net square footage was up more than 20 percent.

PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2011 (Preliminary Figures) 2011* 2009* Growth
Visitor Attendance* 26,084 22,721 +14.8%
Exhibitor Personnel* 13,186 11,246 +17.2%
Total Attendance* 39,240 33,967 +15.5%
International Attendance 4,755 3,580 +32.8%
Number of Exhibiting Companies 1,559 1,140 +36.7%
Net Square Footage 627,853 521,147 +20.5%
*Attendance figures include co-located events.

PROCESS EXPO heads to Chicago bigger than 2010 show

The Food Processing Suppliers Association reports this year’s PROCESS EXPO has doubled the exhibit space of the 2010 show.


The state of food manufacturing

Staff expansions and production efficiencies are bright spots in an industry feeling the effects of economic forces beyond its control.

Tech Update: Pumps

The right pump used for the right application can make a significant difference in energy consumption.

Legacy Systems: Weighing the costs, benefits and risks

Most replacement systems will, or at least should, provide marginal benefits over your legacy system.

Engineering R&D: GE salmon swim upstream

Genetically engineered grains are mainstream, but gene splicing in livestock remains experimental. A Boston area biotechnology firm hopes to change that and end its 18-year quest for commercial approval.

People, Plant and Industry News

Smithfield Foods announced that Don Butler, director of government relations and public affairs for Murphy-Brown LLC, was appointed to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee (ATAC) for animals and animal products.


Sara Lee Corp. provided an update on its agreement to sell its North American Fresh Bakery business to Grupo Bimbo. The deal was originally announced in November 2010. Sara Lee confirmed the companies are finalizing discussions with the US Department of Justice, and is confident the transaction will close in the coming weeks.


Baltimore Aircoil Company promoted Michael Swiderski to the position of president. He succeeds Steve Duerwachter, who announced his retirement.


Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods Inc. is selling its Burlington, Ontario pork processing facility to Florida-based private investment firm Sun Capital Partners Inc.


Nestlé Waters North America received the US GreenBuilding Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification, verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.


Rice Lake Weighing Systems purchased a 29,700-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Fernley, NV to expand truck-scale manufacturing and improve service to its Western heavy-capacity customers.


Intelligrated, a North American-owned automated material handling solutions provider, appointed Michael Snyder as sales engineer for the company’s Somerset, NJ-based Eastern regional operation. 


Danfoss opened its new logistics facility in Loves Park, IL.


Win Plastic Extrusions, a division of TMI, LLC, announced the addition of Bill Habeck, who joins the company as its Eastern regional sales and new business development manager.


The Kennedy Group (Willoughby, OH) acquired Label Technique Southeast based in Pensacola, FL.


Chilworth Global expanded its process safety services with the addition of new offices and laboratories in Germany, China, Japan and Brazil.


J C Potter Sausage Company’s processing facility in Durant, OK was awarded food safety certification by the Global Food Safety Initiative.


Nick Wilson, president of Morrison Container Handling Solutions, is the 2011 recipient of the Professional Achievement Citation in Engineering (PACE) award from Iowa State University (Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering).