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  • Published reports say that Ontario’s provincial government is looking to back off a recently passed ban on raw sushi. The law had required that all sushi fish be frozen in order to kill off parasites, but sushi chefs had objected, saying it ruined the texture of the fish. After public outcry followed passage of the ban, the government now apparently is looking for ways to back off the rule without losing face.

  • US and Japanese trade officials reportedly are meeting in Colorado this week to negotiate an end to Japan’s ban on US beef, which followed the discovery late last year of a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, in the Pacific Northwest.

  • The Sacramento Bee reports that California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have required the state government to make public information about potentially tainted meat. Rather, state officials have been directed to work with federal officials to provide recall information to public health authorities, but not to the general public.

    Ken Kelly, an attorney with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), criticized the veto. "Federal and state (officials) should be more concerned with protecting consumers from unnecessary ... food-borne illness, and less concerned with protecting grocers and meat producers from bad publicity."

  • The Cincinnati Business Courier reports that as talks between the Kroger Co. and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) continue in the Cincinnati market, there seem to be different opinions about how they are going. The UFCW says that things are not going well, but Kroger management says it believes that an agreement will be reached without a strike being called.

    The current contract expires on October 9.

  • The National Cooperative Bank released data yesterday saying that the largest grocery cooperatives in the US generated $28.1 billion in sales in 2003, a 7.7 percent increase over 2002.

  • CIES reports that the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) has released a 4th Edition of its Guidance Document, which “includes new criteria designed to improve the management of food safety standards. Specifically, the new elements tighten rules for how standard owners should manage standards in coordination with auditors and accreditation bodies.”

    Chris Anstey, product integrity manager at Tesco and chairman of GFSI, says that the new edition is “a major step forward to toughen up and streamline the auditing process and maximise efficiency in the whole food chain.”

    GFSI is a retailer-led initiative, managed by CIES – The Food Business Forum, that seeks to strengthen consumer confidence in food by implementing a scheme to benchmark existing food safety standards.

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