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December 4, 2013 | By David Pierson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new plan Wednesday to reduce the number of salmonella outbreaks linked to meat and poultry. The effort comes weeks after Foster Farms chicken was found to have sickened at least 389 people nationwide with a virulent strain of salmonella found to be resistant to some antibiotics. An estimated 1.3 million Americans are sickened by the bacteria each year. “Far too many Americans are sickened by salmonella every year. The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer,” Undersecretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen said in a prepared statement.
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BUSINESS
April 21, 2014 | By David Pierson
Kraft Foods Group Inc. is recalling 96,000 pounds of Oscar Mayer Classic Wieners because they may contain cheese, federal inspectors said. The recall, which amounts to nearly 1 million hot dogs, occurred after the Madison, Wis.,-based company labeled Classic Cheese Dogs incorrectly by distributing the product as the traditional cheese-free wiener. Cheese can act as an allergen because it contains milk, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said in a statement Sunday.
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BUSINESS
January 10, 2014 | By David Pierson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lifted its suspension of a Foster Farms poultry plant in Central California that was cited for cockroach infestation, a spokesperson said Friday. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service cleared the way for the plant in Livingston to reopen after the poultry producer submitted a mitigation plan. Foster Farms said in a statement the plant would resume work Saturday morning. [Updated 4:52 p.m.] “FSIS has determined that Foster Farm's corrective action plan addresses the agency's concerns,” the spokesperson said.
BUSINESS
March 13, 2014 | By David Pierson
A food safety group filed a lawsuit in hopes of forcing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release documents in court that could explain why the federal agency approved genetically engineered alfalfa despite its misgivings about environmental safety. The Washington-based Center for Food Safety said Thursday the USDA may have come under pressure by seed giant Monsanto Co. to grant approval of its Roundup Ready alfalfa, which is designed to withstand multiple applications of herbicide.
SCIENCE
June 28, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Public schoolchildren have exactly one more school year to buy high-calorie sandwich cookies and sugary energy drinks from vending machines and snack bars at school. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, public schools across the country will have to comply with new standards for snacks sold on their campuses. Those new standards include limits on calorie, fat, sodium and sugar for all foods and drinks sold during the day at 100,000 schools. Doughnuts and cookies will be out, baked chips and granola bars will be in. Sugary drinks like fruit punch and sports drinks will be replaced by no-calorie flavored water and diet sodas.
OPINION
September 11, 2010
While the outrage over salmonella-tainted eggs was rightly focused on Congress' failure to pass long-overdue food safety legislation and the Food and Drug Administration's refusal to require vaccination of chickens, something equally appalling but less noticed had been going on at the two Iowa egg farms involved. Even though U.S. Department of Agriculture employees worked full time at both filthy facilities, there was no word from them about the rodents, maggots and piles of leaking manure.
BUSINESS
February 4, 2014 | By David Pierson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $20 million available to California farmers to boost water conservation efforts amid one of the worst droughts in state history. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the program was the first of more to come to assist California's growers and ranchers, some of whom are faced with fallowing land and liquidating herds because of the lack of water. “We are doing everything within our power to support those farmers and ranchers affected by this intense drought,”  Vilsack said in a media briefing Tuesday.
NEWS
April 28, 2013 | By Jonathan Gold
Are weeks gray without a sliver of Tuscan lardo? Do you crave coppa made from Cinta Senese pigs? Have you ever considered attaching a gold chain to a whole prosciutto in an attempt to persuade a customs inspector that it was a kicky Fendi bag? You may be in luck. According to the Italian wire service ANSA, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services announced Friday that the long-standing USDA ban on the import of Italian cured meats will be lifted starting May 28, and presumably the flood of salami, bresaola and pancetta will start washing into U.S. markets and restaurants not long thereafter.
BUSINESS
August 13, 2012 | By Ricardo Lopez
In its latest move to provide relief to drought-stricken farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture  announced Monday that it would buy up to $170 million of meat from affected livestock producers.  The prolonged Midwest drought has driven up feed costs for livestock farmers in affected areas, and the purchase of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish will provide some relief, the USDA said in a statement. The purchases will assist "producers who are currently struggling due to the challenging market conditions and the high cost of feed resulting from the widespread drought," Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak said in a statement.
BUSINESS
October 7, 2013 | By Tiffany Hsu
The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a public health alert Monday afternoon, saying it had linked some raw chicken products produced in California to a salmonella outbreak. The agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service said it had associated chicken produced by Foster Farms at three California facilities with strains of Salmonella Heidelberg. So far, 278 illnesses have been reported in 18 states, with most cases occurring in California. The outbreak is ongoing, according to the USDA . Investigators have yet to trace the illnesses to a specific product or production period, but said that raw items from the plants in question will bear one of the establishment numbers P6137, P6137A or P7632.
BUSINESS
February 20, 2014 | By David Pierson
Rancho Feeding Corp., a Petaluma meat processor under federal investigation after recalling nearly 9 million pounds of beef earlier this month, is being bought by an artisanal Marin County farm specializing in pasture-raised livestock. Marin Sun Farms in Point Reyes Station, which is located along a national seashore 40 miles north of San Francisco, has submitted a request to take over Rancho Feeding's operations, federal inspectors said Thursday. “Rancho Feeding has submitted a letter stating it is ceasing operations and voluntarily withdrawing from inspection,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service said in a statement.
BUSINESS
February 12, 2014 | By David Pierson
The developing world has largely usurped U.S. manufacturing, but emerging economies are increasingly big customers of American farmers. Between 2000 and 2013, American fruit, grain, meat and dairy sold overseas nearly tripled to $140.9 billion, making agricultural products one of the hottest exports in the last decade, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Wednesday. Developing countries with growing middle-class populations and strengthening currencies powered the binge on U.S. food, which has been a boon for California almond growers, Iowa soybean farmers and others.
BUSINESS
February 11, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's inspector general has opened an investigation into the Northern California firm behind a massive recall of nearly 9 million pounds of beef products, raising the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by the company.  A spokesman for the the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service confirmed the investigation to The Times on Tuesday.  Rancho Feeding Corp. of Petaluma on Saturday announced a recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef products processed at its plant over the last year and sold in California and three other states.
NEWS
February 5, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey
WASHINGTON--The Obama administration has selected the locations for seven new regional centers that will help farmers and ranchers adjust to the increasing risks and extreme weather associated with climate change. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will announce the sites Wednesday, according to a White House official. President Obama unveiled the  program this summer as part of his broader plan to address global warming. The centers, which the Agriculture Department calls climate hubs, will link local agriculture producers with universities, industry groups, state governments and federal agencies such as the Department of Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
BUSINESS
February 4, 2014 | By David Pierson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $20 million available to California farmers to boost water conservation efforts amid one of the worst droughts in state history. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the program was the first of more to come to assist California's growers and ranchers, some of whom are faced with fallowing land and liquidating herds because of the lack of water. “We are doing everything within our power to support those farmers and ranchers affected by this intense drought,”  Vilsack said in a media briefing Tuesday.
BUSINESS
January 10, 2014 | By David Pierson
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has lifted its suspension of a Foster Farms poultry plant in Central California that was cited for cockroach infestation, a spokesperson said Friday. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service cleared the way for the plant in Livingston to reopen after the poultry producer submitted a mitigation plan. Foster Farms said in a statement the plant would resume work Saturday morning. [Updated 4:52 p.m.] “FSIS has determined that Foster Farm's corrective action plan addresses the agency's concerns,” the spokesperson said.
BUSINESS
February 11, 2014 | By Ricardo Lopez
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's inspector general has opened an investigation into the Northern California firm behind a massive recall of nearly 9 million pounds of beef products, raising the possibility of criminal wrongdoing by the company.  A spokesman for the the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service confirmed the investigation to The Times on Tuesday.  Rancho Feeding Corp. of Petaluma on Saturday announced a recall of 8.7 million pounds of beef products processed at its plant over the last year and sold in California and three other states.
BUSINESS
October 9, 2013 | By David Pierson
A U.S. Department of Agriculture letter to Foster Farms highlights a series of food safety violations that may have led to the recent outbreak of salmonella that has sickened nearly 300 people across the nation. Foster Farms was cited 12 times between Jan. 1 and Sept. 27 for fecal material on poultry carcasses and was found to have "poor sanitary dressing practices, insanitary food contact surfaces and direct product contamination. " The letter, known as a Notice of Intended Enforcement, was sent Monday and threatens to close three Foster Farm facilities deemed to be the origin of the outbreak.
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