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Fresh Market Newswatch: Stronger Mad Cow Measures Urged

YONKERS, N.Y. — In the wake of a new case of mad cow disease reported in California in April, Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, has urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to take new measures to prevent and to detect mad cow disease in U.S. beef and dairy cows. Consumers Union strongly advocates USDA testing of more cattle The number of cattle in the U.S. tested for mad cow disease has fallen almost 90% since 2005, according to USDA’s own statistics. CU also has urged the prohibition against the use of chicken coop floor waste, cattle brains from any cows and other high-risk materials that can be used in cattle feed.

Artisan Food Bill Moves Ahead

SACRAMENTO — California’s Homemade Food Act has moved one step closer to a vote by the full legislature. The so-called Cottage Food Bill passed the California Assembly’s Committee on Health and now goes under review by the Appropriations Committee. Current regulations require small-batch manufacturers and artisans to hire commercial kitchen space. One of the main points of the legislation removes that financial and logistical barrier, and otherwise creates a more entrepreneurial environment for start-ups. According to the Sustainable Economies Law Center, 32 states allow the sale of homemade, non-potentially hazardous food; grassroots efforts in several other states are working to implement similar laws.

PMA, United Continue Merger Talks

DALLAS — The Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh say they are continuing merger discussions after erroneous reports circulated at last week’s United Fresh show that the two organizations had reached an agreement. In a statement, Steffanie Smith and Mike O’Brien, co-chairs of the joint task force leading the negotiations, said that no final decisions had been reached, though talks remain active. “While we appreciate that there is interest in our discussions, we respectively request a chance to complete our work in confidence,” the pair stated. Both groups took up negotiations last fall in what has become a regular on-again, off-again occurrence. PMA and United last considered a merger in 2007.

Riesbeck’s Hits New Paczki Record

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio — Riesbeck’s Food Markets’ in-store bakeries set a new record for paczki sales this year, reported the 16-unit independent. Riesbeck’s had projected 2012 paczki sales at $310 thousand companywide, and beat that by just over 7% with total sales of $332 thousand. While most retailers sell paczki just a week or so before Lent, Riesbeck’s in-store bakeries begin turning them out five weeks ahead, and, also unlike other grocers, continues to offer paczki on weekends right up to Easter. Sales taking such a jump this year above projections was a little surprising, John Chickery, Riesbeck’s bakery director, told SN, especially since weather in his market area — eastern Ohio and the northern part of West Virginia — has been unseasonably warm this year.  “We had practically no winter here, and people don’t generally like to eat doughnuts when the weather is warm,” Chickery said.  He attributes this year’s record-setting dollar sales, and unit sales of more than 440,000 individual paczki, to a new flavor — peanut butter — as well as an improved regional economy.

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