PHAC looking into leafy greens as source of E.coli outbreak

The Public Health Agency of Canada announced that it is collaborating with federal and provincial public health partners to investigate an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7, commonly called E.coli, with a possible link to leafy greens. The agency said that a specific product has not been identified yet and the investigation is ongoing.

"There have been 12 cases of E.coli with a matching genetic fingerprint reported in Alberta (nine), Saskatchewan (one), Ontario (one), and Newfoundland and Labrador (one)," the agency said in a statement. "The illness onset dates range from March 13 to March 31."

PHAC said that exposure to leafy greens — including all varieties of lettuces and other green leaf vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula, or chard — has emerged as a possible source of illness based on the investigation findings to date.

While the agency said the risk to Canadians is low, PHAC said it will continue to monitor for and investigate any new cases of E.coli that may be related to this outbreak as part of its routine surveillance activities.

SUNSET celebrates 20 years of flavor with Campari

It’s been two flavorful decades since SUNSET has introduced the Campari tomato. In 1995, the greenhouse company introduced the unique European variety. Unlike other tomatoes on the market, it was small, about golf-ball sized, and not at all watery like its bigger counterparts at the time. SunsetCampari20

“One of our customers had approached us one day and said ‘let’s throw out all the rules that say big, big, big. Let’s just focus on flavor," Paul Mastronardi, chief executive officer, said in a press release. "See what that looks like."

That sparked something for the fourth-generation CEO, which began a two-year quest for the perfect tomato.

Hundreds of varieties later, as well as countless taste tests done by employees, family members and customers, SUNSET finally found Campari. A deep shade of red, it has a balance of sweetness and acidity and is incredibly juicy. Because of its unique size, it’s a versatile tomato in the kitchen, ideal for everything from a breakfast omelette to fresh pasta sauce. Like all SUNSET products, Campari is non-GMO verified.

“When we first introduced Campari, many people weren’t sold on the unique size or look; it wasn’t your typical tomato at that time,” Mastronardi said in the release. “It wasn’t until people tasted it, that they were truly convinced it was the real deal. Then they were hooked. We’ve never slowed down since.”

Today, Campari tomatoes are requested by thousands of chefs, retailers and consumers who look to the brand for reliable and consistent flavor.

“Nearly every day we receive emails, letters or calls from consumers thanking us for growing such a fantastic product,” Daniela Ferro, communications coordinator for SUNSET, said in the release. “It’s pretty amazing when people share that they’ve always hated tomatoes until they’ve tried Campari.”

To honor 20 years of the Campari, SUNSET is launching an all new 20-week sweepstakes. The winner will receive a trip for two to Tuscany, Italy.

Martin’s to launch small-format banner

Martin’s Super Markets, headquartered in South Bend, IN, will open its newest store, a Martin’s Express, on May 7 in Goshen, IN. It will be the company’s 22nd store; however, the 26,200-square-foot location will be Martin's first execution of a new smaller format. martin

The company said the store's easy-to-shop layout will feature everything fresh that shoppers have come to expect from Martin’s as well as the rest of what is needed to complete meals, including a produce department with a comprehensive range of the most popular selections.

“It’s been a team effort to focus the best of what Martin’s offers into a smaller footprint,” Phil Plummer, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “At Martin’s Express, we’ve assembled a group of specialists who will be dedicated from day one to presenting the best, freshest and highest quality favorites shoppers have asked us to offer.”

The new Goshen Martin’s Express will feature all Martin’s regular weekly ad specials and customer reward programs.

“We thank the community of Goshen for their patience during the construction process,” President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Bartels said in the release. “Our hope is the community agrees that it’s been worth the long wait.”

The store will employ approximately 85 employees both full- and part-time. 

Peri & Sons Farms launches ‘eat brighter!’ onion packs

Nevada-based Peri & Sons Farms is embracing the national movement to ‘eat brighter!’ by offering consumers a "Sesame Street" branded package of premium onions beginning in May 2015.

“One reason we decided to adopt the ‘eat brighter!’ message this year is that it aligns with our company’s recent efforts to internally promote health and wellness at Peri & Sons Farms,” Teri Gibson, director of marketing and customer relations, said in a press release.PSF-eat-brighter-Premium-Bag-Mockup

Pamela Peri, executive vice president of Peri & Sons Farms, initiated the company’s health and wellness program earlier this year and actively promotes the idea that even small steps lead the way to improved health and well-being. “A company cannot thrive without strong and healthy employees," Peri said in the release. "Our team members are learning that making better food choices, for themselves and their children, can help them to live healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.”  

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, almost 20 percent of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Children become overweight and obese for a variety of reasons but research has shown that unhealthy eating patterns are a contributing factor.

“There are many fruits and vegetable that kids are immediately drawn to; we thought it would be interesting to see how they react to the familiar 'Sesame Street' characters when it comes to a vegetable outside their comfort zone,” Gibson said in the release.

Peri & Sons will be offering its white, yellow and red onions in two-, three- and five-pound packs printed with large colorful images of Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Ernie characters.

The company said kids are known to wrinkle their noses at onions, but Peri & Sons is hoping to aid families in their effort to incorporate more healthy veggies into their home-cooked meals. “While the bag's front side aims to connect with kids, the bag's back side provides information adults can feel good about," the company said. "Such as recipe tips and the fact that onions not only provide flavor; they also provide health-promoting phytochemicals as well as nutrients.”

Onions are a major dietary source of quercetin; studies have shown that the quercetin our bodies absorb from onions is more than three times that from apples.

Voting opens for Opal’s Youth Make a Difference initiative

Public voting is now open for Opal Apple’s Youth Make a Difference initiative, a campaign designed to provide financial support to causes led by youth ages 6 to 25. Voters are being asked to help select charities to receive up to a combined $150,000 in funds at www.opalapples.com.opal

For the third consecutive year, Opal Apple’s Youth Make a Difference initiative is giving funds to youth-led projects that address issues in food security, nutrition, agriculture, food politics or food education. Numerous applications were received from non-profit and school-based organizations and narrowed down to 24 charities for public voting. Voters are encouraged to vote one time between April 15 and May 15. More about these inspiring charities is available at the Opal website.

"We discovered so many worthy projects while reviewing the Youth Make a Difference Initiative applications and are so proud of where we are after three years,” Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FruitsFruits of Washington, said in a press release. “While the voting process is a way for us to select charities, it also raises awareness for food security and inspires others to get involved and make a difference in their own communities."

Opal apple is known as the apple with a purpose — a portion of sales from each case of Opal apples sold is put toward the Youth Make a Difference initiative. This season, up to $150,000 will be distributed through the initiative, doubling last season’s amount. In July, funds will be distributed to the winning charities based on consumer votes and consistency with criteria. Nomination guidelines, criteria and funding details are available online.