USDA Proposes Stricter Tracking Records For Ground Beef Producers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to require that all makers of raw ground beef products keep tighter records so that retailers can trace sources of ground meats.

USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm said, “By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak.”

Retail outlets regularly make ground beef by mixing cuts of beef from various sources. This proposal, if finalized, will require them to keep clear records identifying the source, supplier and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground beef products.

FSIS has concluded that recordkeeping by retail facilities that grind raw beef to date has not been sufficiently effective. FSIS has stressed the importance of maintaining appropriate records to aid in the identification of FSIS-regulated products associated with foodborne illnesses during recall traceback and trace forward or other food safety incidents.

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KeHE Acquires Nature’s Best

KeHE Distributors, Naperville, Ill., has agreed to acquire Nature’s Best, a California-based distributor of health and natural food products. KeHe officials said the combined resources of KeHE and Nature’s Best will expand its national distribution capabilities, broaden the company’s natural and organic expertise and enhance the company’s distribution solution across all food retail channels. KeHE President and Chief Executive Officer Brandon Barnholt said, “Nature’s Best’s two LEED Gold Certified warehouses, state-of-the-art warehouse management system and highly respected Cadia product line will be significant and immediate enhancements to our value proposition. Additionally, we are highly focused on continuing the tradition of service excellence the Nature’s Best group of world-class independent and chain customers have come to expect.”

KeHE also reported record attendance at its annual Holiday Show held at McCormick Place in Chicago. The two-day event brought together more than 3,000 retailers and suppliers focused on natural, specialty and fresh products or the upcoming holiday season. Mike Leone, KeHE’s chief commercial officer, reported the show saw a 25 percent increase in exhibitor booths, a 20 percent increase in retail customer attendance and a 256 percent increase in show floor orders placed. These were all records for a KeHE show, he said.

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FDA Releases Guidelines On Gluten Free Labeling

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a guide that provides a question-and-answer overview of FDA’s regulatory requirements for use of the term “gluten-free” on food labels. Starting Aug. 5, the compliance date of the rule, all FDA-regulated food products labeled on or after that date and bearing the gluten-free claim must comply with the rule’s requirements. Retailers should comply with FDA’s 20 ppm (parts per million) definition in the regulation.

The final rule defines the term “gluten free” to mean the food bearing the claim does not contain: a gluten-containing grain, which is defined to include wheat, rye, barley, or a crossbred hybrid of those grains; an ingredient that is derived from a gluten-containing grain that has not been processed to remove gluten; or an ingredient derived from a gluten-containing grain that has been processed to remove gluten but still contains 20 parts per million (ppm) or more gluten.

A food will also be deemed misbranded if it bears a “gluten free” or a similar claim and also bears the term “wheat” in the ingredient list or in a separate “Contains wheat” allergen statement, unless the reference to “wheat” is linked by an asterisk to a statement in close proximity that reads: “The wheat has been processed to allow this food to meet the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for gluten-free foods.”

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Latest Word in New Channels...

United Natural Foods of Providence, R.I., has completed the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods of California, a distributor of perishable food products. Tony’s is now a subsidiary of UNFI but will continue to operate as Tony’s Fine Foods.

• New Amsterdam Market, founded in 2005 at the site of Old the Fulton Fish Market in Lower Manhattan in 2007, has ceased operations. Robert LaValva, market founder, said the community of small businesses was dedicated to sustainable food production, regional economies and fair trade but he was unable to raise the necessary funding and support for the market to continue.

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