Restaurants expected to decline
MeatAMI.com reports U.S. foodservice industry sales are forecasted to decrease in 2010 as consumers are more frugal with money. Sales were initially forecast at 0.8 percent lower than last year; new reports show a decline of 1.6 percent. Reports were conducted by the foodservice and consulting firm Technomic. The decline is directly tied to the current economy. Most foodservice segments will not see a major difference, but weaker sales are expected for fast food, business dining and vending sales.
Food safety post filled
President Obama announced his intent to nominate Elisabeth Hagen, M.D., as USDA’s under secretary for food safety. Hagen is currently USDA’s chief medical officer. Previously, she was a senior executive at the Food Safety and Inspection Service where she played a key role in developing and executing the agency’s scientific and public health agendas. Before joining the federal government in 2006, Hagen taught and practiced medicine in both the private and academic sectors, most recently in Washington, D.C. She holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a B.S. from Saint Joseph’s University. Hagen completed her specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania and is board certified in infectious disease.
USDA rejects carcass irradiation
After receiving a great deal of industry support from packers, the plan to use carcass irradiation to control the spread of food-borne pathogens has been rejected by USDA. Government officials broke the news last week to the executive committee of the North American Meat Processors Association (NAMP). “This issue is not currently moving forward as FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service] believes the petitioner has several concerns that need to be addressed,” a NAMP summary of the meeting stated. “The reason carcass irradiation is an issue is because the request is for it to be classified as a processing aid (no labeling requirement).” FSIS stated that because of other recent events, processing aids in general are under greater scrutiny right now. Keeping the word “irradiation” off labels or even changing its description to something like “pasteurization” have been suggested as ways to increase public acceptance.
Tyson launches new brand
Tyson Foods said last week that it is planning to launch a new line to capitalize on the success of the Angus brand. Tyson Fresh Meats said it plans to sell Open Prairie Natural Angus Beef nationwide. The product will be sourced from Angus-based cattle which have been audited by an independent verification process from the ranch of origin forward. Among the criteria will be requirements which prevent the use of added growth hormones, animal byproducts, antibiotics or artificial ingredients. Cattle must be fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet.
Sonic Corp. imposes welfare standards
Sonic Corp., the parent company of the drive-in restaurant chain, said last week it will start requiring suppliers to undergo independent audits of their livestock and poultry handling practices in an effort to promote the humane treatment of farm animals. The company, which recently had shares purchased by the Humane Society of the United States, said it is asking its suppliers to focus on employee training in humane animal-handling practices and ongoing verification of practices. Companies that continue to fail to meet Sonic’s animal welfare guidelines will be excluded from its supply chain. Specifically, Sonic said it will challenge its poultry suppliers to convert to an animal welfare-friendly controlled atmosphere killing system. Animal welfare-friendly is defined as no dumping or shackling live birds and using inert gases. Sonic said it will favor suppliers who raise hogs in a gestation crate-free environment. Egg suppliers will be required to meet United Egg Producer standards for housing and other poultry practices.
McDonald’s reports strong quarter
McDonald’s Corp. reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenues that topped analysts’ pre-report estimates as a result of global sales growth. The company said comparable sales in the quarter increased by 2.3 percent with all geographic areas reporting positive sales increases. For the year, comparable sales rose 3.8 percent. As a result, fourth-quarter earnings came in at $1.22 billion, or $1.11 a share, up from $985.3 million, or 87 cents per share, a year earlier. Per share earnings, excluding an 8 cent per share benefit from resolving certain liabilities, were $1.03 on revenues of $5.97 billion.