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Northern Irish schools cook a better dinner

Date: Fri, 11 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Northern Irish school caterers have defended themselves from criticism by Jamie Oliver over the standard of food served to British pupils.

The TV chef received the sharp end of tongues as Northern Irish school cooks insisted the food produced by kitchens in his Channel Four programme does not reflect the dtandard of their own school dinners.

Jamie's School Dinners follows the chef replacing the processed 'rubbish' served at London schools with freshly cooked meals - but the Northern Ireland School Caterers Association (NISCA) says this kind of option is already available in schools in the province.

Janet McAllister, chair of NISCA, told BBC News that the association's staff were experts in providing a well-balanced meal.

"We would be somewhat concerned that parents in Northern Ireland would think we would have the same dependency on convenience foods that Mr Oliver has seen in his schools so far," Ms McAllister said.

She admitted that some 'convenience foods' like fish fingers and burgers may be on the menu in schools, but they are complemented by freshly-cooked stews, curries and soups.

NISCA has invited Mr Oliver to come and see for himself in Northern Irish schools.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Aeroplane food poisoning is thing of the past

Date: Fri, 11 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


The days of food poisoning from aeroplane dinners may well be behind us, new research has revealed.

The report by US scientists Dr Mark Gendreau and Dr Alexandra Mangili identified 41 in-flight food poisoning outbreaks over the last 58 years - but not one of these occurred after 1999.

Experts attribute the improvement in airline food to the increased use of pre-packaged frozen foods, as well as better food handling and inspection.

Secretary-general for the British Air Transport Association said: "Airlines do take all the regulations in this area very seriously and are continually monitoring their processes with their catering providers and improving their standards. So it is perhaps nice to hear that this has been recognised by this research."

Dr Gendreau and Dr Mangili said: "Good hand hygiene has been proven to reduce the risk of disease transmission, and air travellers should make it part of their normal travel routine."

The study revealed that salmonella accounting for most food poisoning outbreaks.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Asda chief steps down

Date: Fri, 11 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


The chief executive of Britain's second biggest supermarket, Asda, has resigned.

The Wal-mart-owned food retailer today announced that CEO Tony DeNunzio would leave after 12 years with the chain, in which he oversaw considerable growth and market share expansion.

Mr DeNunzio will take up a position as chairman of the executive board at Dutch retailer Vendex KBB.

A spokesperson for Asda told Reuters that the supermarket is still deciding who will step into the 44-year-old's shoes, and that an announcement will be made shortly.

In the past five years, Asda has overtaken Sainsbury's and become the UK's largest food retailer after Tesco. The growth - thanks in part to its "every day low price" policy and its George clothing brand - expanded its workforce from 100,000 to 140,000 during the same period.

John Menzer, president and chief executive of Wal-Mart's international division, said the company was "greatly appreciative" of Mr DeNunzio for his contribution to the company.

"ASDA is an extremely strong company and has a superb management team with the depth and expertise to continue our growth into the future," he said.

Vendex is the largest non-food retailer in the Netherlands.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Greggs toasts strong results

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


UK bakery chain Greggs announced record returns today, with pre-tax profits for 2004 up over 15 per cent on the previous year.

The company, which sells bakery goods and sandwiches in 1,250 Greggs and Bakers Oven stores, made £46.7 million in the year ending January 1st, compared with £40.5 million the year before.

Turnover for the same period rose to £504 million, up from £457m in 2003.

The strong performance follows a year of reshuffle and expansion for Greggs, which opened 56 new shops in 2004 - a net addition of 32 following re-sites and closures. Two new stores in Belgium doubled the bakery chain's portfolio in that country and helped consolidate its European presence.

"Our good progress during 2004 reflects the benefits of increasing core volumes through our established shops, the addition of a net 32 new units, and our continued focus on controlling costs," managing director, Sir Michael Darrington, told Just Food.

"A good consumer response to our marketing campaigns and generally favourable weather helped us to achieve better than expected like-for-like sales growth in the final quarter, despite the widely reported weakness of high street retailing over the christmas period."

Chairman Derek Netherton announced plans to expand the chain further. "During 2005 we plan to accelerate both the opening of new shops and the refurbishment of established outlets," he said.

"We will be supporting this retail development with substantial investment in our manufacturing facilities, including the construction of a new savouries plant in Newcastle upon Tyne."

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Sainsbury's names new financial chief

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Britain's third largest supermarket chain, Sainsbury's, today announced it has appointed Darren Shapland as its chief financial officer.

Mr Shapland, 38, replaces Roger Matthews, who resigned in October last year to pursue interests in both the private and public sectors. Mr Mathews will leave the supermarket after preliminary results in May, although the effective date of Mr Shapland's appointment has not yet been settled.

Chief executive, Justin King, told Just Food: "I'm delighted that Darren will be joining Sainsbury's. He has excellent experience in the retail sector and has undertaken a number of hands-on and broad financial roles. He will be a great asset to Sainsbury's and the company's management team as we continue to implement the plans outlined last October."

"I believe the Sainsbury's brand has great potential and look forward to being able to play a key role in the company's future plans," Mr Shapland said.

Philip Hampton, chairman of Sainsbury's, said he was looking forward to working with Mr Shapland and thanked Mr Matthews for his "significant contribution" to the company.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Creamy super-potato is consumer hit

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Sainsbury's is struggling to keep up with demand for an exclusive "built-in-butter" baking potato.

The supermarket claims its specially bred Vivaldi potato is so creamy in texture, most people feel they do not need butter with it.

A new-potato-sized version of the designer vegetable has been on shelves since 2002, but Sainsbury's introduced Vivaldis that are big enough for baking on an exclusive basis last month.

The potato appeals to low-fat diet trends and Sainsbury's has been struggling to keep up with consumer demand.

John Maylam, Sainsbury's senior buyer, told the Mail Online: "The potato industry has been trying to develop this potato for years and we've finally got it."

"A variety like Vivaldi only ever appears once in a blue moon. It's the perfect dish for everyone on a low-fat diet and tastes so good that adding anything to it isn't necessary."

The Vivaldi is the results of breeding between two existing potato varieties, both known for their creamy characteristics.

Sainsbury's charges £2.49 for a 2.5kg bag of the baking-sized version.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Shrinkwrap gets easier

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Stretch-wrapping developer, Lantech, has launched a shrink-wrapping machine that can deliver perfect lap seals without the need for adjustment.

A new self-threading head on the SW-5000 machine perfectly centres the lap seal every time, without any adjustments being made to the set up, Lantech claims.

"This machine breaks new ground in shrink packaging by eliminating operator intervention in setup of the lap-seal," Jean-Louis Limousin, Lantech's shrink packaging design leader told Food Production Daily.

The news will be of particular interest to the meat industry, which packs its products with oxygen-permeable film so meat retains its desired red look.

The SW-5000 offers 75 packages per minute and has been designed as a zero-maintenance machine.

It also promises to cut costs for food manufacturers, by using flat film that costs between eight and 13 per cent less than centre-folded film.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Sweet new bid for European sugar-alternatives market

Date: Mon, 14 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


The European sweetener market is set to face new competition, as Arla Food Ingredients bids for EU approval of its low-calorie sugar alternative, tagatose.

The milk-derived sugar alternative already has clearance for US, Australian, New Zealand and Korean markets, where it is popular with manufacturers of a diverse range of foods and drinks.

The Denmark-based company has not yet had tagatose approved for the Europoean market, but has applied to the UK's Food Standards Agency for clearance which Arla expects to come "within this year".

Tagatose - which was originally developed in the US - is designed for use with other high intensity sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame-K or sucralose and costs approximately three times as much as ordinary sugar.

It joins a new generation of sweeteners which allow food producers to cash in on the burgeoning market for healthier foods.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Scientists unlock green tea's anti-cancer secret

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


A chemical found in green tea could provide the basis of a new family of anti-cancer drugs, scientists have claimed.

Tests by UK and Spanish researchers have shown that polyphenol EGCG taken from green tea leaves inhibits cancer cell growth.

The effect was evident even at low concentrations equivalent to drinking two or three cups of green tea a day.

The naturally occurring chemical binds to the same enzyme targeted by chemotherapy drugs - dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) - and stops it promoting synthesis in tumour cells.

Previous studies have suggested that green tea drinkers are less likely to suffer certain forms of cancer, but this is the first time scientists have been able to establish the reason why.

Researcher Professor Roger Thorneley said: "This is a very exciting discovery...we may be able to develop new anti-cancer drugs based on the structure of the EGCG molecule."

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Sweet permission for Napier Brown

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Sugar giant Napier Brown Foods has been cleared to add James Budgett Sugars to its portfolio.

The UK's Competition Commission announced this morning that it is happy for Napier to fully integrate James Budgett into its group, after it formally acquired the company in a £17.5 million deal.

With James Budgett on board, Napier stands as the leading manufacturer of sugar in the UK. The company boasts a turnover in excess of £200 million and employs over 250 people at its production sites in Normanton and Runcorn.

"This is a very satisfactory outcome which we believe is good for our suppliers, customers, the industry as a whole and our shareholders," Napier chairman Pat Ridgwell told Just Food.

James Budgett imports and distributes refined and raw cane sugars from members of the European Union as well as African, Caribbean and Pacific 'sugar protocol' countries.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Farmers urge Brown for budget allowances

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


With the budget just a day away, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) believes more needs to be done to support the farming community.

The NFU wants to see more incentives rather than additional taxes and regulatory burdens.

There are signs that things are improving for farmers, but action is still needed to give them a sustainable future.

Farmers' incomes have improved in recent years, but last years' s rises were mainly due to the favourable exchange rate and the weather, neither of which form the basis for a sustainable recovery.

The NFU are therefore calling for production costs to be carefully managed, while the various forms of existing taxation relief are maintained.

Among the changes the NFU wishes to see is the development of the UK biofuel industry and it believes taxes on agricultural pesticides are adding to production costs too.

Therefore, the NFU believe that a voluntary supportive approach involving training, advice, education and positive action is the way forward.

First Year Capital Allowances on new pesticides items such as sprayers, specialist nozzles, and biobeds should be increased to 100 per cent to encourage business in their pursuit of environmental improvement, it claims.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

Cerestar expands soy product range

Date: Tue, 15 Mar 05 Type: DirectNews Item


Cerestar Food & Pharma Specialities Europe has launched a new range of functional soy flours for the bakery market.

The new soy products include C*Protall, whole bean soy flour (full fat soy flour), soy grits and the toasted and enzyme active soy flour, C*Prolia, defatted soy flour and C*Prosant , textured soy flour.

Cerestar hopes the new products will help expand the soy market, a burgeoning trend which saw European consumption of soy and dairy beverages rise by 20 per cent in 2002.

"In bakery products, healthy foods and many other food applications, soy flour offers proven advantages over animal proteins, including lower cost, increased functionality and greater shelf life," Cerestar marketing director, Mark Wastijn, told Food Ingredients First.

The soy flours are principally targeted for use in breads, muffins, doughnuts, whole-grain products, cereals and nutritional bars.

(C) DeHavilland Information Services plc, 1998-2003.

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