Food Business News - Dec 12, 2006 - (Page 1)

FoodBusinessNews ® NEWS, MARKETS AND ANALYSIS FOR THE FOOD PROCESSING INDUSTRY von Eschenbach confirmed as F.D.A. commissioner 8 Pilgrim's Pride buys Gold Kist 16 Cadbury Schweppes plots course 22 December 12, 2006 Functional food fight WASHINGTON - The debate regarding whether foods and beverages developed with a goal of providing health benefits are delivering on their promises reached a crescendo last week as food industry and consumer groups met at a public Food and Drug Administration hearing to air their differences. The F.D.A. first announced it would hold the hearing in an Oct. 25 Federal Register notice, saying the purpose of the meeting was for the agency "to share its current regulatory framework and rationale regarding the safety evaluation and labeling of conventional foods being marketed as 'functional foods,' and to solicit information and comments from interested persons on how F.D.A. should regulate these foods under the agency's existing legal authority." Functional foods, which are geared toward consumers looking for extra vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, have grown to be a $27 billion a year business. And, perhaps most importantly, the category has branched out from small niche players to include many of the nation's largest food and beverage manufacturers. Several consumer groups have accused some companies of taking advantage of the F.D.A.'s loose regulations to Continued on Page 28 MARKET WATCH 2006 Pecan production New E. coli O157 outbreak focuses on green onions million lbs New Mexico 46 Georgia 45 Texas Taco Bell supplier stops green onion production 36 U.S. 201.4 Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture New Mexico passed Georgia as the top pecan producer in 2006. WASHINGTON - Green onions became the latest form of fresh produce, joining spinach and tomatoes, to be associated with food safety problems for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration said it was assisting in the investigation of an outbreak of E. coli O157 infection in consumers who ate food from several Taco Bell restaurants in Northeastern states. By Dec. 7, cases associated with the outbreak had been reported in 6 states: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina and Utah. A Taco Bell supplier, Ready Pac Produce, Inc., Irwindale, Calif., announced Dec. 6 it voluntarily stopped production and shipments of green onions. Ready Pac said it cooperated with the F.D.A. and local health officials when they visited the company. Ready Pac produces green onions in a limited production run exclusively for Taco Bell in one section of the Ready Pac plant in Florence, N.J. Green onions are not used in any other Ready Pac product sold to either food service restaurants or for retail product distribution. "Even though the test results are not Continued on Page 14

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Food Business News - Dec 12, 2006