KAREN BANASIAK

Kraft to eliminate 6,000 jobs
As part of its new sustainable growth plan to strengthen company performance and improve long-term growth, Kraft Foods Inc. plans to close up to 20 of its production facilities around the world and eliminate approximately 6,000 jobs over the next three years. This loss of jobs at all levels of the Northfield, Ill.–based company represents about 6% of its total workforce. Kraft expects to eliminate about 1,300 salaried positions in North America during the first quarter and close three plants in Canton, N.Y., Farmdale, Ohio, and Central Europe.

In addition to eliminating jobs, Kraft will invest more in product innovation, competitive pricing, and marketing to help build its brand; align its portfolio of products with changing consumer and customer trends; and expand globally, especially in developing markets.

Group calls for voluntary country-of-origin labeling
Associations for food retailers and wholesalers and producers of produce, beef, pork, and seafood plan to develop a program to provide country-of-origin information on these products. The group, composed of the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Fisheries Institute, Food Marketing Institute, and National Grocers Association, will work with other food industry organizations to create a cost-effective, voluntary labeling program as an alternative to the mandatory label requirements passed by Congress two years ago. Congress recently delayed the implementation of that law until 2006 to analyze the effects of the law on the food processing industry and the prices of food.

Partnership addresses how to prevent foodborne illness
As more Americans are leaving their kitchens for restaurants, the number of leftover and carry-out meals is on the rise and, subsequently, so is the risk of foodborne illness. In an effort to protect restaurant patrons from this risk, the American Dietetic Association, Chicago, Ill., and ConAgra Foods Foundation, Omaha, Neb., formed a first-of-its-kind, national partnership with Italian restaurant group BUCA, Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., to tell consumers how to correctly handle leftovers. In January, BUCA began placing labels that feature safe food handling, storage, and reheating information on its take-out and leftover containers in its Buca di Beppo and Vinny T’s of Boston restaurants. For more information, visit www.homefoodsafety.org.

by KAREN BANASIAK
Assistant Editor
[email protected]