Catching up

After refuting the claim that sprouts grown at a farm in northern Germany may be the source of the E. coli outbreak that made hundreds ill, German public health officials reconfirmed on June 10 that sprouts from the farm may be the source and recommended that consumers should not eat raw sprouts, no matter what the source. German officials also lifted the recommendation that consumers not eat cucumbers, tomatoes or leaf lettuce from northern Germany, reports Food Business News. To date, it has not been possible for public health officials to detect contamination in any foods on the market, and it has not been possible to identify the entrance of the pathogen into the food chain ... ConAgra Foods Inc. paid $57.5 million for the Marie Callender Pie Shops brand trademarks, after holding a license to sell some frozen foods under the Marie Callender's name since 1994, reports Reuters. ConAgra sells Marie Callender's frozen pot pies, desserts and entrees in grocery stores. Sales have grown to nearly $800 million annually and the brand is now ConAgra's second-largest retail brand after Banquet. The announcement came just a day after restaurant chain owner Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc. filed for bankruptcy in a Delaware court ... John P. Bilbrey was named president and CEO as well as a director of The Hershey Co. Bilbrey was named interim president and CEO in mid-May. He succeeds David J. West who left to become CEO of Del Monte Foods ... Sara Lee Corp. will spin off its international coffee and tea business, but will keep its North American meats businesses after previously saying it would spin off both businesses to create two publicly traded companies. Sara Lee also said the sale of its North American bakery business to Mexico's Grupo Bimbo is expected to close in early fiscal 2012 ... Diamond Foods, Inc. announced that the waiting period for U.S. antitrust review under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 for its pending acquisition of the Pringles business from The Procter & Gamble Co. expired on June 20. The acquisition, which first was announced on April 5, remains subject to regulatory approval by competition authorities in various jurisdictions outside the U.S. As part of the agreement, Diamond Foods has agreed to acquire the Pringles business from The Procter & Gamble Co. in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction valued at $2.35 billion. The transaction, which is expected to close by the end of 2011, is also subject to satisfaction of other conditions, including approval by Diamond's stockholders ... PepsiCo Inc., aims to raise prices of its soft drinks in the U.S. as the economy improves, said CEO Indra Nooyi. PepsiCo is working to increase prices "right now as we speak," she said. The company in April vowed to increase beverage prices from July 4 to offset higher commodity costs, with rival Coca-Cola Co. also saying prices would increase 3 percent to 4 percent in the second half ... Gathering support for a clash over an agricultural spending bill that could affect what millions of public school children eat every day for breakfast and lunch, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment to repeal language in the bill that would require the Agriculture Department to revisit proposed nutrition regulations, reports the Hill's Healthwatch. While the appropriations language is couched in fiscal terms -- it prohibits the new standards from increasing school lunch costs -- it would also roll back the federal government's efforts to improve nutrition standards. The proposed standards would increase the cost of school breakfasts by 50 cents and school lunches by 14 cents per person per day, according to the USDA. The school nutrition act that the President signed into law earlier this year increased federal spending per student by only 12 cents per student per day for both meals ... PepsiCo is undergoing a major transformation in its beverage marketing ranks, reports Advertising Age. The company is restructuring its marketing department to include three new marketing roles, with an eye toward embracing a more global approach. The three executives will take on various duties handled by Jill Beraud, chief marketing officer-PepsiCo Beverages America. She has chosen to leave the company amid the restructuring, according to executives close to PepsiCo. Brad Jakeman, will be taking on the role of head marketer for the Pepsi trademark globally. A second executive is expected to be the global chief marketer for beverage brands, not including carbonated soft drinks, Gatorade or Tropicana. That would leave brands such as SoBe, Aquafina and Propel. Simon Lowden, who currently has a chief marketer role for Pepsi International, is said to be taking on the role of CMO for the U.S. beverages business ... John Agyekum Kufuor, former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil, have been named the winners of the 2011 World Food Prize at a June 21 ceremony at the U.S. State Department. The former presidents were recognized for creating and implementing government policies that alleviated hunger and poverty in their countries ... Tamarind, lemon pepper, and soursop are just a few exotic flavors that helped rocket Tang to its new billion-dollar status. The world's favorite powdered beverage brings Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods' menu of "billion dollar" brands to an even dozen, joining the ranks of Oreo cookies, Milka and Cadbury chocolates and Trident gum.