Activated lactoferrin launched in beef plant
National Beef®, one of the largest beef packing companies in the U.S., in October began using Activin™, a new food safety technology that uses an activated form of lactoferrin, a natural protein known for its antibacterial properties in developing infants and naturally present in beef. Consumers were expected to begin receiving product treated with Activin in early November.

Used in the company’s Dodge City and Liberal, Kans., plants, Activin is applied electrostatically and is followed by a water rinse to detach remaining pathogens from the meat surface. The technology has been approved by USDA and has received Generally Recognized As Safe status from FDA. aLF Ventures LLC, Salt Lake City, Utah, developed the technology. Its research showed the technology to be effective against Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria, and more than 30 other pathogens.

Food Technology covered this technology in its March 2002 article, “Activated Lactoferrin—A New Approach to Meat Safety.” 

Cargill focuses on increasing supplier diversity
Cargill Inc. has created the position of Director of Supplier Diversity to develop relationships with U.S. suppliers owned by minorities and women and those designated as small businesses. Timothy A. Thomas, former Senior Attorney in Cargill’s Law Dept., took the new position on October 1. 

Cargill currently does business with about 1,000 minority- and women-owned companies in the U.S. and is active in the National Minority Supplier Development Council, as well as several of its regional chapters. Thomas will add to this supplier base, while easing the obstacles that such suppliers may encounter when working with the international marketer, processor and distributor of agricultural, food, financial, and industrial products and services. 

NutraSweet reorganizes its global operations
NutraSweet Co., the world’s largest producer of high-intensity sweeteners, reorganized its global operations along its two major product lines: aspartame and neotame. 

William L. DeFer, head of the company’s manufacturing operations, was named President of the Core Products Business unit. This unit, based in Augusta, Ga., will be responsible for the company’s aspartame business. The company reduced its Augusta production staff and consolidated certain sales and administrative functions as part of the reorganization. 

Craig R. Petray, NutraSweet President, will serve as acting President of the New Products Business unit, which will be based in the Chicago area and will focus on the rollout of neotame. Its Chicago corporate headquarters will be combined with the offices of this new business unit. 

Listeria incidence in ready-to-eat products falls
Incidence of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products has fallen by 70% over the past five years and 25% within the past year, according to data released in October by USDA. Listeriosis cases have declined by 38% since 1996, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. is thus well on its way to achieving its target set for 2010: no more than one case of listeriosis per 400,000 people. 

The declines are attributed to the science-based approaches to meat and poultry inspection taken as early as 1998. These measures include comprehensive Listeria control workshops for industry and federal inspection staff; thermal treatment of products after packaging to destroy the pathogen; ingredients that inhibit growth of the pathogen on ready-to-eat meat and poultry; principles for the design of processing equipment that reduce the possibility of contamination; environmental sampling programs that target the pathogen in the plant environment; and free exchange of food safety information among industry competitors. 

Unilever/Best Foods opens new culinary center
Unilever/Best Foods Foodsolutions North America opened a new Culinary Center at its headquarters in Lisle, Ill. The center offers a wide range of menu, product, and recipe solutions to help foodservice operators run their business more efficiently. 

Overseen by Corporate Executive Chef Steve Jilleba, the heart of the new center is a kitchen filled with up-to-date foodservice appliances, including such specialty equipment as a combination oven and smoker. Formerly known as Unilever Best Foods Foodservice, UBF Foodsolutions encompasses many leading foodservice brands. For more information, see

Gates Foundation grants $25 million to IFPRI
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on October 14 announced a $25-million grant to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to combat malnutrition, a leading cause of child deaths in the developing world, by improving the nutritional quality of staple foods in developing countries. 

The grant will support HarvestPlus, a global research initiative to breed and disseminate crops for better nutrition, which is being spearheaded by IFPRI and the International Center for Tropical Agricultural Research (CIAT). Using an innovative approach called biofortification, agricultural and nutrition scientists will work together to breed crops that provide higher levels of micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin A. 

“Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which contribute to the deaths of millions of children each year, can be easily prevented by adding just a few key nutrients to staple foods,” said David Fleming, Director of Global Health Strategies at the Gates Foundation. “HarvestPlus, working with partners around the globe, has the potential to dramatically improve the lives of poor children and their families who depend largely upon these staples for their diets.” 

New edition of Food Chemicals Codex published
The National Academies has announced publication of the fifth edition of Food Chemicals Codex, the standards for quality and purity in food chemicals. The Food and Drug Administration and similar agencies in other countries reference the specifications provided in this document. The fifth edition contains updated monographs on substances in food that reflect changes in science and manufacturing since the previous edition, published in 1996. Each monograph describes the substance, its use in foods, purity requirements, appropriate tests to determine compliance, and packaging and storage guidelines. More information is available at

FSIS and Health Canada adopt BAX® system
Federal regulatory agencies in the U.S. and Canada in October approved the use of DuPont Qualicon’s BAX system, a genetics-based screening method, as an analytical tool to improve food safety. 

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service expanded its use of the BAX system, adopting it as an approved method to detect Salmonella in food plants that process raw meat and poultry. FSIS already uses the system for Salmonella detection in ready-to-eat foods and for Listeria monocytogenes detection in raw meat and poultry. Later this year, the agency plans to evaluate use of the system in detection of Escherichia coli O157:H7. 

Meanwhile, Health Canada approved the system for detection of Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, and E. coli O157:H7 in a variety of foods. 

The BAX system uses advanced molecular technology to detect target bacteria in raw ingredients, finished food products, and environmental samples. Assays are also available for Listeria genus and Enterobacter sakazakii. The automated system fits onto a laboratory benchtop.