FTC’s move could help make ‘Made in the USA’ label meaningful again

A 60-day comment period for the Federal Trade Commission’s “Made in the USA” label ended Monday with 838 submissions that favor a crack-down on unqualified U.S-origins claims on product labels.

And the No. 1 maker of those unqualified claims was named in many of the comments — Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

“My name is Wade Fox I am a (South Dakota) cattle producer,” his comment said.   “The conflict is this: While the FTC wants to ensure that only products actually made in the USA bear a “Made in the USA” label, the Secretary of Agriculture has a policy that says a foreign beef product that enters the USA and is subject to only minor processing, such as being taken out of a big box and packaged in smaller boxes, can bear a “Product of USA” label.”

“This is the very kind of conflict the FTC needs to hear about,” … Read more

Blowback from industry and union on OSHA for Smithfield/JBS fines

Those OSHA fines for not protecting employees from the coronavirus are getting blow-back from both the industry and the union.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) issued a statement after Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls, SD, and JBS USA in Greeley, CO, were hit with fines totaling about $29,000. Both Smithfield and JBS are appealing those fines, which local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) believe are low enough that they might lead to bad behavior by the companies. JBS USA is known as Swift.

Mark Lauritsen, UFCW’s vice president, claims the OSHA fines for Smithfield and JBS are merely about politics, enough to cover themselves politically. He says until now, OSHA had turned a blind eye to the issue. UFCW’s local unions have also spoken out.

Kim Cordova who heads the local at the Greeley beef plant says “tiny fines” are  “an incentive to make these … Read more

OSHA fines JBS beef plant in Colorado for failing to protect employees from virus

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a second large meat production company for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus.

Nearly 300 JBS employees in Greeley, CO, were infected with the COVID-19 virus since March and seven died. Six worked in the beef plant and a seventh was assigned to theJBS USA corporate headquarters located nearby.

OSHA has proposed $15,615 in penalties for the JBS  beef plant in Greeley, CO.    Earlier it imposed a similar fine for the Smithfield Foods meat plant in Sioux Falls, SD.

JBS USA, which operates as Swift Beef Co., took sharp exception to the federal agency’s findings, saying in a statement  that “the OSHA citation is entirely without merit.”

“It attempts to impose a standard that did not exist in March as we fought the pandemic with no guidance,” the company said. “When OSHA finally provided … Read more

Industry can find FSA ‘frustrating and inconsistent’

Negative terms most commonly used to describe the Food Standards Agency (FSA) were “frustrating, challenging and inconsistent”, according to a survey.

The research was done because the FSA wanted to know how businesses in the meat, wine and dairy sectors in England and Wales viewed the agency and its official controls.

In February and March 2020, 54 qualitative interviews were conducted with meat and wine firms and 327 quantitative interviews with meat, wine and dairy businesses. A financial incentive was given to all companies who took part.

Sector differences
No wine operators said they were dissatisfied with their experiences of the FSA’s processes, but some meat firms had criticisms about enforcement.

Most rated their experience of working with the FSA as very good (29 percent) or good (44 percent), with a quarter saying it was average. Only 2 percent said it was poor and 1 percent very poor.

Almost half … Read more

Smithfield appeals OSHA fine for not protecting meat plant employees from COVID-19

 The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. in Sioux Falls, SD, for failing to protect employees from exposure to the coronavirus. OSHA proposed a penalty of $13,494, the maximum allowed by law.

Based in Smithfield, VA, Smithfield Foods Inc. will appeal the fine, which spokeswoman Keira Lombardo said is “wholly without merit” because the company took”extraordinary measures” to protect employees from the COVID-19 virus. And during the pandemic, Smithfield took direction from OSHA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But OSHA claims not enough was done to protect Smithfield employees at the Sioux Falls plant, which accounts for about 5 percent of the nation’s pork production. That production was lost during a three-week shutdown. Meat and poultry plants were put under the Defense Production Act on April 28, giving USDA extraordinary powers … Read more