Heavy Outsourcing Complicates Recent Food Recalls

While most people are aware of the high profile headlines concerning the recent pet food and human food recalls,
few people realize the difficulty in tracking the sources, according to a recent AP report by esteemed journalist Andrew Bridges.
This is because if you take a look at the ninety-odd brands composing the recall of canned chili, stew & similiar food items, it all points back back to one manufacturer.
This was likewise the situation regarding the recalls of spinach, frozen meat and of course the now sad and infamous pet food recalls,
in which so many innocent animals were killed or severely sickened.
More than ever before, firms are outsourcing the food Americans consume, or at least the ingredients found in them — and then selling these items under many different brand names.
Many of these tainted ingredients come from China. To add insult to injury, many toys from that country have been found with toxic levels of lead in them.
The real issue here is that if individuals can’t trace a particular item back to it’s supplier, then that supplier has very little, if any, reason to keep their facilities or processing plants up to decent standards.
Oversight is remarkly slack. For example, the major brand in the pet food recalls was a co-regulator of the pet food industry along with the FDA.
Apparently, it all comes down to effeciency and simple economics: Outsourcing makes monetary sense for the firms who are unwilling to expand their existing manufacturing facilities. Established manufacturers may use excess capacity to fill the orders for others.
For some certain products which require expensive machinery — such as pet food for example — a limited number of contract manufacturers, like Menu Foods inc, make products which are then sold under many different brand names,
according to the AP report. The skeptics of this outsourcing believe that, in general, it creates increased vulnerability to our food supply. In essence, the manufacturer is no longer responsible to the consumer, but instead to other firms.
Meanwhile, various food safety advocates have repeatedly stated that when issues crop up with food items made under contract, sorting out who made what may delay recalls and public health warnings in general.
As an example, in July the FDA for a number of hours delayed issuing a consumer warning about botulism contamination in various canned food items until it could sort out the brands under which the Castleberry’s Food Co. product was sold.
In addition to this, there has been a fairly long delay in mandating that imported fruits & vegetables be labeled with their country of origin.

Some Economic Numbers to Ponder

Good to be back from Kauai, that wa s anice vacation rentals and some nice real estate also…According to statistics from BLS.gov,
non agriculatural payroll employment increased by about one hundred and fifty thousand in May, while the unemployment
rate was unchanged at around 4.5 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States
Department of Labor reported today.  The health care & food service industries both managed to adde jobs,
while employment declined in the manufacturing sector, unfortunately.  Meanwhile, the average hourly earning rate amanged to rise by
6 cents, or 0.3 percent, in May. Real estate was still taking abeating. By the way this kauai vacation rentals and real estate site is top notch overall.
In the same month, employment in general was unchanged at some 145.9 million, and the em-
ployment-population ratio held firm at around 63%.  The civilian labor force also
was the same, at 152,000,000, while the labor force participation rate
stayed at 66%.  Both the employment-population ratio and labor force
participation rate were down by 0.4% since the end of 2006.
Earning rates are important, but to get a wider perspective you should of course also
take a look at the inflation numbers, since inflation dicates spending power of that earned income.
According to Newsmax online, the MoneyNews publication as well as the Financial Intelligence Report, the dollar has been inflated recently – despite claims that the official CPI is “low”
I do not know if this claim is actually tru, but that was the report.
But whether these reports are true or not, I tend to view inflation a big threat to America’s global strength, and most importantly our wealth as American citizens. Not to switch topic or anything but if you are going to the island of Kaui and either need some vacation rentals or other types of Kauai Real Estate then I can endorse this leading site for real estate on Kauai.
I mean, if you get a 5% raise, but inflation jumps 10%, who really benefits from this. I also find that fact that our manaufacturing base shrunk (yet again)
to be truly troubling, especially in light of the recent reports that so many manufacturing jobs have gone to China and India in recent years.
While this may save some corporations some money and add a few nickels to investor’s dividends, it seems to me that this is bad for the long term economic health of the country. I wonder how the real estate market will fare overall.

Real Estate Woes Continue

Sorry to have to bring you more bad news, but In a St.Petersburg Times editorial entitled ‘The Real estate slowdown is coming home across area’,
journalist CHUIN-WEI YAP stated in his April 16, 2007 article that, sadly, sales are still down and the glut of unsold homes is way up, which is contradicting the optimists who predicted that the market would turn around by the spring 2007.

Only 2 years ago, 1 in 2 homes sold in any particular month. But today, the same period would see 1 in 20 sell.
He also reports that a new vocabulary is emerging in the real estate market, referring to terms such as “short sale,” which means a seller getting less from his home sale than what he owes
 in loans; and “home staging,” which means the art of dressing up a home to look model-pretty just so a buyer might take another look at it.
….”Foreclosures have more than doubled,” states one Linda Pichler, vice president of business development for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Central Florida.
Let us hope that this recent trend of negative news does not continue for very much longer.

Mobile Sites

It seems that on eof the leading trends in internet marketing this year is with building special websites that can market to mobile phones. The world wide web changes so rapidly it is truly difficult to keep up sometimes. Trying to learn whatever the latest marketing trend is, whether it be podcast advertising, RSS marketing, blogging or whatever can be quite exhausting or at least time consuming. But I will be researching the effectiveness of mobile website marketing in the coming weeks and will give you a report on this soon, so look out for updates on that…..don’t you just love guerrila marketing techniques?

Who will be the Top Economy in the Future?

At this time, the United States is the top economic power in the world, followed by Japan, Germany, China and France, respectively.Will another nation eventually overtake the U.S. in this role? It has been speculated by some that China is destined to take the top spot in terms of economic GDP if it can continue its bustling double digit economic growth. This is possible, but there are several factors to consider.

A double digit growth rate generally only happens to a younger, growing economy. When a national economy matures, it generally settles into a 2-3% annual GDP growth rate. That is about what we see in the U.S. and many western European nations, for example. In recent years Ireland grew at a double digit growth rate but has since settled to a more modest growth rate.

The same may happen with China. Obviously, if it can continue such a high growth rate it will eventually overtake the U.S in this regard, but it will have to maintain this rate for some time. Since the U.S. economy is larger to begin with, China and other rival economies must sustain a considerable larger GDP growth margin in order to catch up.

But there are other factors involved as well. One is current trend of trade blocks, such as that of NAFTA. If you were to include Canada (a member of the Group of Eight leading Industrialized economies) with a huge economy in it’s own right), Mexico (nearly ninety million consumers and very rich in natural resources such as Oil, Gold and Silver), and the various Central American nations which are seeking membership, this bloc would me much more difficult to catch up to in terms of market size and total GDP. In addition, there is a push in some circles for the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) which may one day include all nations in North and South America.

For that matter, the combined European Union is already a much larger economy than that of the U.S. The EU has some 450 million highly educated consumers compared to about 300 million in the United States, and it is adding new countries at swift pace. In any case, it should be noted that a number of top economists predicted back in the 1970’s that both Japan and the Soviet Union would overtake the U.S. economy.

This of course did not happen, due to bank mismanagement in the former case and political dismantling in the latter. As i write this article, Yahoo news reported that ‘China’s stock market plummeted from record highs as investors took profits when concerns arose that the Chinese government may try to temper its ballooning economy by raising interest rates again or reducing more of the money available for lending.

The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 8.8 percent to close at 2,771.79, its biggest decline since it fell 8.9 percent on Feb. 18, 1997. Since Chinese share prices doubled last year as investors poured money into the market after the completion of shareholding reforms, trading in Shanghai has been very volatile.’ It is certainly possible that China could eventually be the top economy, but wise economic policies will probably be a biggest long term factor of whether or not this occurs.

Worn Out

Have any of you ever suffered from Blogging burnout? If you run several weblogs, as I do, you likely have experienced this occurance at one time or another, It is very disconcerting when this happens, and at least with me, it is normally triggered when some error happens with WordPress or if I somehow manage to accidentally lose all of my work, It really sucks when that happens, it is demoralizing as hell. This phenomenom happened to me recently when I tried to achive a very ambitious self imposed deadline for writing fresh cont3ent for all of my blogs….but I went to the gym and got out of the house for a while and now I feel a lot better. In fact I am fairly fresh now…..so it is back to work for me, writing, writing and more writing!