NYT Examines Bi-Rite’s Website As A Case Study For Small Businesses

BG Member Sam Mogannam is often called a model of successful retail operations. New York Times Small Business section took his San Francisco grocery store’s site as a case study in effective communication and marketing. Read the article on the NYT site here, with images. Hear how a good site can affect your business and a great site can affect your business, culture and community.

The Difference Between a Good Web Site and a Great Web Site

By GABRIEL SHAOOLIAN
Jed Jacobsohn for The New York TimesSam Mogannam plans to make some changes.

What’s wrong with this Web site?

 

In last week’s post, we featured the Web site of Bi-Rite Market, an extremely popular San Francisco grocery. One year ago, Sam Mogannam, the market’s owner, redesigned the site and upgraded its social media efforts as part of an overall branding program. Mr. Mogannam reported that he believed the redesign of the site — which promotes the store but does not sell products online — resulted in a steep increase in visitors to the site and a 20 percent increase in the store’s sales.

We asked readers to take a look at the site and at Bi-Rite’s social media efforts. Here’s what you had to say, along with my take and Mr. Mogannam’s response.

A good home page, I believe, should act as a gateway to all of the information on a site. It should offer a core business message — what makes you different from and better than your competition — and then provide easy navigation to pages that address specific interests or needs. Readers felt the Bi-Rite homepage did not do a great job of accomplishing this. The big problem, they said, is that the Bi-Rite blog is too dominant on the home page.

“A blog on the home page is kind of weird,” wrote artalacarte from Connecticut. “A home page should be a quick introduction to the whole Web site. Who you are, what you do, what you can do for ME …”

PW from Texas agreed: “The home page doesn’t make me want to go much further because it doesn’t make me hungry. Blogs and Twitter posts are great additions to a Web site but I don’t expect them to be their main features.”

What might replace the blog on the home page? Several readers mentioned a video produced by the Bi-Rite team that is  professional, entertaining and informative — but buried in a link on the bottom right side of the home page. In the video, Mr. Mogannam speaks passionately about food and Bi-Rite’s commitment to service.

“I love the video about the market that’s attached to the Bi-Rite Book,” wrote Eric Marcus from New York. “Glad I clicked on it because it’s terrific! Now I can’t wait to visit the store the next time I’m in San Francisco. If it were my site, I’d put that video front and center.”

Readers were also hungry for more photographs of the food. “Too much to read and not enough to look at,” wrote PW. “If you want to catch the attention and interest of your visitors, you should focus more on visual appeal. You can portray your commitment to your community with pictures as much as with words.”

Several readers pointed out how well the site presented critical information. “Hours and contact info are posted prominently on each page,” wrote Julie B. from McHenry, Ill. “So simple, yet so important! Nothing worse than hunting around on a small-business Web site for 10 minutes just to find out if they’re open.” But readers also noted that there are several typos in the copy, something they felt made the site look unprofessional.

For a market that does a good job of engaging visitors to its store, readers felt that it could do a better job engaging visitors online. “The site, and theFacebook page, which I looked at, are very one-way,” wrote Friend from New England. “The Web experience could be much more interactive and create a community atmosphere online to complement what it seems happens at the store. Maybe Facebook is the best place to do this so people don’t have to make a special visit to the store page. I think Bi-Rite could do a lot more to involve customers. ASK about what they buy, what they cook, what they want to buy, where they eat, etc.”

Friend used the example of Georgetown Cupcake as a company that does an excellent job of interacting with customers on its Facebook page. A great way to create user interaction is to have visitors provide user-generated content. “I feel that there is room here for a greater store-home connection,” Jen from New York wrote. “They have some recipes on the blog. Why not list the ingredients, perhaps even by store location/aisle? Make it easy for a consumer to print out the recipe, and to find, buy, bring home, use the items for a special dish.”

My Take

While I agree with many of the reader criticisms, I also want to say “Bravo!” to Mr. Mogannam and his team. This is a business that takes its online presence and marketing seriously, and it has paid off. Bi-Rite made a relatively small investment and increased both its site traffic and the store’s sales. In all likelihood, the store recouped its investment almost immediately.

That said, there are plenty of ways the site can still be improved, and I agree with the readers on its main flaws. I think it’s a mistake to let the blog dominate the home page. It’s great to have a blog, of course, especially one that is informative and well written, but it should be a secondary feature. Let visitors know you have a blog, tease them with a small amount of content, and then get them to click onto the blog page if they’re interested in reading more. I also agree with the comments about the video, which gives a real feel for the market’s culture. It should be prominently displayed on the home page; in fact, it should be the centerpiece.

The points made about recipes and engaging the audience were also on the mark. Get your customers sharing recipes with each other. This not only builds community, it gives visitors reason to come back to your store and to your site. This kind of “stickiness” goes a long way to enhancing your brand.

Finally, while Mr. Mogannam has chosen not to be a full-service e-commerce site, there might be more things he could be doing online to improve sales and customer relations. It might be great for business, for example, if you could place an order online either for pick-up or delivery. This might also work for the catering services.

Sam Mogannam Responds

Mr. Mogannam said he agreed with some comments but not with others. His biggest disagreement was about the placement of the blog on the home page. “Our blog posts are most demonstrative of who we are,” he said. “They tell the deeper story behind our food and the people who produce it. Nothing we’d rather have our audience see than that — assuming the nitty gritty info like store location, hours, etc. are easy to find — which the comments indicate they are.”

Mr. Mogannam said that the most helpful advice was to offer more images and less writing. “We’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a million times,” he said, “that people don’t have the patience to read much these days, and a picture says a thousand words. As interesting as we think a story about cheese making or teaching kids to plant their own food is, it will be lost if not shown through images to accompany the written word.”

Mr. Mogannam said he is taking many of the suggestions to heart and will make a number of changes, including:

  • Working on promoting more social media interaction, engaging the audience in conversation.
  • Putting video front and center.
  • Adding more photos of food to the recipe, catering, and deli pages.
  • Using spell check “religiously”

Would you like to have your business’s Web site or mobile app reviewed? This is an opportunity for companies looking for an honest (and free) appraisal of their online presence and marketing efforts.

To be considered, please tell me about your experiences — why you started your site, what works, what doesn’t, and why you would like to have the site reviewed — in an e-mail to youretheboss@bluefountainmedia.com.

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

Interview With Ryan Farr About His New Book & Butchery

SF Weekly Blog, SFoodie, sat down with BG Member Ryan Farr on the occasion of his first book’s publication.

Buy the book here. And go here to see the article (and images) at SF Weekly’s site.

Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats Talks Whole Beast Butchery

By Marla Simon Fri., Jan. 20 2012 at 10:00 AM

 

whole beast.jpg
Whole Beast Butchery: The Complete Visual Guide to Beef, Lamb, and Pork by Ryan Farr and Brigit Binns, $40 (Chronicle Books)

 

In the more than two years since Ryan Farr and his wife, Cesalee, founded 4505 Meats, the artisanal butcher has achieved nationwide fame. He has been called a “rock star butcher” by the New York Times and recently appeared on the Martha Stewart Show.

In Whole Beast Butchery, Farr provides step-by-step pictures and instructions for butchering cattle, lambs, and pigs, as well as tips on tools, techniques, meat storage, and master recipes.

In preparation for his talk this Saturday at Omnivore Books, SFoodie had the opportunity to chat with Farr about his experience working on the book.

SFoodie: Who is the book intended for?

Farr: Initially I created this for myself. My background is as a chef, and I have always felt there was a need for a book like this. There weren’t any other good references out there when I was learning, so I decided to make one myself. The book is geared toward anyone — from the professional tired of ordering cuts of meat in a bag to the adventurous home cook who wants to learn how to butcher or simply become educated on where cuts of meat they buy come from.

Why a picture book?

I’m a visual learner. I like to see things done. This is something that was missing from the available butchery books. I began my blog as a document board, and it got people interested. I don’t contribute to the blog anymore, but it is still on our website. You can type “beef tongue” into the search box and find a step-by-step guide to corned beef tongue with pictures.

How many cows/pigs/lambs did you have to cut up for this?

We butchered one cow, one pig, and two lambs over a period of two 14-hour days. It was an amazing experience. Ed Anderson, the photographer, took more than 2,000 pictures. It was difficult to pick the 500 shots we used in the book. I could have done a 500-page book on each animal, so it was challenging to narrow it down.

What do you think most cooks attempting whole-beast butchery get wrong when they start out?

Not having a plan. Meat is perishable, so you have to have a plan and know the direction you are going. The book has five recipes per animal. Each recipe is picked for a reason, and different techniques (braising, roasting, sausage-making) are used to target different types and cuts of meat. A sharp knife and cold meat are also very important.

What do you do with all the trim? Extra lamb and beef fat?

We use everything. Edible trim and fat get used in sausage. We use quite a bit of lamb fat in our merguez sausage. Pork skin gets used in chicharrones. We fry chicken and potatoes in beef fat. We even make dog food.

Have you had interest from home cooks who want to break down a steer themselves?

Yes, definitely. There is a lot of interest. People want to get closer to the farm-to-table process. We (4505 Meats) do offer a whole beef class, which is limited to only five students. Each student walks out with 100 pounds of beef. We spend nine hours together. It is a very intimate experience.

Where’s a good source for a bone saw, and are there special knives needed for butchering whole animals?

I’m a fan of F. Dick knives, which I get at Town Cutler in the Tenderloin. My favorite bone saw is the one that Wusthof makes. It has a nice handle and thick blade. It cuts cleanly.

For those interested in Ryan’s hands-on classes, which cover topics such as butchery, sausage-making, foie gras, and knife skills and are open to both home cooks and pros, visit the 4505 Meats website.

Marla Simon is a San Francisco-based chef, food stylist, and food writer. Follow her on twitter at @Marla_Simon Follow us at: @sfoodieand like us on Facebook.

Brooklyn’s Greene Grape Makes The Scene

Village Voice’s Fork In The Road Blog gives appreciation for the growing movement of local, artisinal products available in the metropolis. BG Member Greene Grape is right there in the mix. Read the post below or go here to see it on the Village Voice site.

FROM 

Bklyn Larder and the Brooklyneer might be one-stop shops for all edibles hailing from Brooklyn, but now non-New Yorkers can get their hands on the best of the borough. A new website called With Love, From Brooklyn sells all the twee foods the borough has become known for. “I just launched the site in mid-December,” explains founder Dara Furlow. “I am completely food-obsessed and love visiting the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg as well as local gourmet shops like Choice Greenethe Greene Grape, and Bedford Cheese Shop. I realized that there was an emerging movement of artisan producers who really care about what they’re making and are totally pushing the envelope with unique flavors.” Since many of these products were only available in New York, she decided to start a company to ship these foods nationwide.

Similar to the website Foodzie, which ships monthly packages of items from artisanal producers, Furlow’s site specializes in bundled products. “The Pig Island gift selection is a huge seller. How can you go wrong with Bacon Marmalade and Spicy Bacon Caramel Popcorn?” she says.

Furlow adds that she’s always on the lookout for new products and shops around Brooklyn and visits the shared communal kitchens that many of the artisans use to prepare their goods. Now that the site is in business, though, she’s beginning to get direct inquiries from vendors themselves. Of course, given the name, it’s a BK-only business for now, but Furlow says she’s open to expansion. “I would love to take my show on the road to other vibrant artisan food communities like Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Portland, Maine; and even Detroit,” she says. “To keep the experience authentic, I would assemble a tasting panel in each city to scout the newest and best offerings from local artisans. The ultimate goal is to create a viable online marketplace that represents artisans and tells their stories in addition to selling their products.” Sounds very Brooklyn, indeed.
For more dining news, head to Fork in the Road, or follow us @ForkintheRoadVV, or me@ldshockey.

“Leftovers” Is Not A Dirty Word!

Chicago Sun-Times gathered some wisdom about using leftovers from top Chicago chefs, including BG Charter Member Rob Levitt. Read below or go here to check out the article at the Sun-Times site.

Chefs are pros at turning scraps into a stunning second act

BY LISA SHAMES January 24, 2012 12:18PM

 In most households, “leftovers” is a dirty word. But to professional chefs, it’s anything but.

“I could talk all day about using up scraps,” says Rob Levitt, who’s referring not only to how he uses remaining bits of meat at his butcher shop the Butcher & Larder (1026 N. Milwaukee), but also at home with his wife, Allie, and their newborn daughter. “We pretty much survive on leftovers. We’re often impressed on how creative we can get.”

Charlie Trotter is well-known for his aversion to waste in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise it’s also a pet peeve of Matthias Merges, who put in 15-plus years at Trotter’s restaurant before opening up Yusho, 2853 N. Kedzie.

“Creativity lies in the ability to use scraps and elevate them into something delicious and interesting,” says Merges, who finds ways to use everything from chicken cartilage and salmon skin to roots of herb plants and even the rinse water from rice at his Avondale restaurant. “It helps in the cost of running a business and it’s respect for the product,” he says. “That speaks louder than just the food.”

But even if you’re not ordering cases of produce or butchering whole pigs and sides of beef, there still are plenty of ways you can take advantage of the waste-not mentality of chefs.

One of the easiest things you can do is to buy whole chickens instead of parts, says Melissa Trimmer, pastry chef at C-House,166 E. Superior. “I freeze the bones and eventually I’ll make a big vat of chicken stock,” says Trimmer, who bought a small chest freezer to store her leftover ingredients. “I’m a parent as well as a chef, so I try to use everything at home too.”

An extensive artisanal cheese program is part of the charm of Vera, 1023 W. Lake. As for those inevitable odd pieces of cheese, chef Mark Mendez doesn’t let them go to waste. He soaks them in white wine and then purees them with a few garlic cloves and, if he’s dealing with a mild cheese, butter and herbs. The mixture is spread on toasted bread slices, stuck under the broiler and — voila! — Fromage Fort, a changing special at the West Loop restaurant.

Over at Bar Toma, 110 E. Pearson, chef Tony Mantuano combines leftover Parmesan pieces with olive oil and herbs to create the spread that’s paired with raw vegetables in his Pinzimonio bar plate. He’s just as passionate about the rind of the cheese. “That is a magical ingredient,” he says, great for adding another level of flavor to soups (Whole Foods seem to think so too, with Parmesan rinds available for purchase).

Leftover rice can be made into arancini balls, which can be stuffed with nubby ends of prosciutto, adds Mantuano. As for pasta, he fondly recalls a dish his grandmother used to make that combined leftover spaghetti with olive oil and beaten eggs for a noodle-based frittata.

Pasta gets a second life at the home of Hearty Restaurant, 3819 N. Broadway, say owners Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh, whose son is fan of plain noodles (“It kills me,” confesses chef Smith). Rather than throw out the extra pasta, it gets mixed with vegetables on the verge of going bad, cheese ends, cream custard and an egg and then it’s baked. “It makes a great casual main dish that also helps clean out your refrigerator,” says Smith.

“Italians are the kings of thrift in the kitchen,” says chef Andrew Zimmerman of Sepia, 123 N. Jefferson, who uses that mentality in his kitchen. Leftover short rib trimmings get mixed with braising liquid, Parmesan and fresh herbs and ground together for ravioli filling. Or, if you don’t want to go that far, says Zimmerman, loosen the mixture with chicken stock and turn it into a sauce for pasta.

A good rule of thumb, says Shaw’s Crab House ( 21 E. Hubbard) chef Steve Lahaie, is to buy things that have bones or shells, which gives the product a dual purpose. At the restaurant lobster meat goes into the lobster roll, while the shells gets used to flavor the broth for bisque, and water left over from steaming clams becomes the base for clam chowder.

Meat bones can serve the same purpose, says C-House chef Nicole Pederson, who suggests using a leftover leg of lamb bone to make a stew with beans, kale, leeks and baby tomatoes.

Day-old bread is another ingredient that can be easily transformed. At Floriole Cafe & Bakery, 1220 W. Webster, chef Sandra Holl combines it with roasted carrots, parsnips and kale for panzanella salad. At 312 Chicago, 136 N. La Salle, chef Luca Corazzina uses it to make strozzapretti, a dish similar to gnocchi, and the restaurant’s chocolate chip banana bread pudding has leftover croissants to thank for its indulgent factor.

Got some spent vanilla pods or citrus leaves lying around? Don’t throw those away, says, Trimmer. Instead, wash them and place in a container of sugar and sprinkle on your morning oatmeal or cookies, or add to salt — vanilla fleur de sel, anyone?

To get the most out of your leftovers, keep them in their simplest form, suggests Merges, leaving elaborate sauces on the side. Thinking ahead while you’re shopping helps, says Levitt, as does not expecting your leftovers to be the same as the original dish. “Thinking of fun ways to transform them is more rewarding,” he says.

When it comes to storage, Cafe des Architectes (20 E. Chestnut) chef Greg Biggers is a big believer in labeling, including the date and description of the item. He uses Glad containers at home —“It’s good to keep thing as separate as much as you can since things deteriorate at different levels,” he says — and recommends vacuum sealers as an inexpensive way to prolong leftovers’ shelf life. But, Biggers adds, “It’s amazing what a little plastic wrap can do.”

 

Lisa Shames is a local free lance writer.

Edible Brooklyn Reader Sings Tiberio Custom Meats’ Praises

When Edible Brooklyn asked their readers to tell them about their favorite butcher shops, one man shared his glowing regard for Tiberio Custom Meats. Read what he had to say below and go here to check out the post on Edible Brooklyn’s site.

FROM:

 

 

 

 

 

Now back to last week’s contest winner: Your answers were amazing, calling out butcher shops and shopkeepers from both Brooklyn and Manhattan that both know their trade and choose their proteins wisely. (We encourage you to read about them both here and on Edible Manhattan.com.) It was tough to pick a winner, but we chose Peter Durnin, a commenter on this site, because, well, he told us about a butcher shop that wasn’t even open yet. Impressive.

Durnin suggested Tiberio Custom Meats, a little shop currently run in the window of Sauce restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side by former Dickson’s Farmstead Meats man Adam Tiberio.  (Dickson’s is in Chelsea Market, and it, along with the Meat Hook in Williamsburg and Staubitz in Cobble Hill, was a top choice among commenters.) Tiberio, who is hoping to open a USDA-inspected cut-and-wrap meat processing facility in New York City to serve not just us but restaurants, Greenmarket farmers, and other meat companies–even ran a workshop this year at New Amsterdam Market on meat cutting and getting more sustainably raised meats onto city plates.

Writes Durnin: “Tiberio Custom Meats. Adam Tiberio knows his trade. Has collaborated with Frank Prisinzano at Sauce Restaurant. Head butcher at Dickson’s Farmstand. Creator of the Tiberio Steak. And, from what I have read, is planning to open a storefront in Brooklyn. Would make sure to keep an eye out for more news of this venture.”

Denver Gets Even More IMV Salumi To Love

BG Charter Members IMV Salumi in Denver, CO are expanding both their wholesale dry-curing facility and opening a new retail spot. We couldn’t be prouder or more jealous of all those lucky Denver salumi-eaters!

Check out the news from the IMV blog below:

The Phase 1 dry cure room expansion at Il Mondo Vecchio So Cherokee is final! We broke on through our original dry cure room and into the new one last weekend!! We now have one large L shaped dry cure room which will at minimum allow us to more than double our current capacity. The original dry cure room will house more long term whole muscle salumi such as pancetta, guanciale, coppa, beef bresaola and finally a full production series of an Il Mondo Vecchio – Colorado Culatello. The large whole muscle items take from 3 months to upwards of 1 year. The original IMV magic dry room is well suited for that while the newly expanded space will allow us to increase the volume of production of our dry cure sausage varieties.

IL MONDO VECCHIO – SALUMERIA
The IMV Salumeria is still on task with tile work and minor plumbing work being finished along with other basic needs. DeNittis is diligently working on a streamlined menu that will please “Back-Easter’s” that have longed for a real salumeria reminiscent of home. All the while introducing the Midwest and Rocky Mountain region to new and delicious food memories that we (as Back Easter’s) fondly grew up with in the Italian American city neighborhoods and grandparents or aunt/uncles kitchens back in Massachusetts, New York., New.Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania.
Although from the start we will be opening sans adult beverages we have applied for the proper licenses and at minimum we recently tasted a fine selection of small family estate wines from a variety of regions from the mother country (Italy). Trust these are far from pretentious you can look forward to a diverse, fun and affordable variety that will more than compliment IMV’s fine meats that come from the cases! Jenna is working on etching the  IMV “bicchiere” (glassware) that most of us grew up drinking wine out of or what you would experience in the small salumerias or trattorias of Italy or the greater Italian-American cities of Back East.

The Foie Gras Fight: Reason TV takes on the controversy

Mark Pastore, business partner of BG Member Chris Cosentino, and owner of Incanto in San Francisco, Ca., shares his view, along with the opposition.

Consumers Care About Their Meat! NYT Says It & We Always Knew It!

We love reading about how consumers are getting to know the meat they eat and making the choice to buy local, honest meat! We especially love that they are finding that meat from Butcher’s Guild members. NYT singles out The Local Butcher Shop and Bi-Rite, as well as our friends at Soul Food Farms. Feel good news on a Tuesday!

Increasingly, Meat’s Origins Are Valued

By JESSE HIRSCH
Published: January 19, 2012 READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE

When Jonathan Lewis was the owner of a fashion company, he suspected that the high-end zippers he imported were being surreptitiously replaced with lower-quality models.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of the San Francisco Bay Area for The New York Times. To join the conversation about this article, go to baycitizen.org.

Now Mr. Lewis runs a San Francisco meat-buying collective called Pastoral Plate, distributing humanely raised chickens from local farmers. He had hoped his days of distrust were over.

“I learned that whether you’re selling handbags or chickens,” he said, “it pays to be careful.”

Last year, Mr. Lewis believed that one of his farmers was getting birds from unknown sources and passing them off as her own. He also visited a ranch where, he said, cattle were supposed to get organic food but were instead receiving much less expensive conventional feed. Mr. Lewis declined to reveal the farms’ identities but took his business elsewhere.

Among a small group of aware consumers, concern about their meat’s origins is growing, according to Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. Though factory-farmed meat is still the big seller, some shoppers are willing to pay two or three times as much as supermarket prices to guarantee that the animals they eat were raised on organic or foraged food or both, had ample living space and sufficient time outdoors, and were not fed antibiotics or growth hormones.

Sam Mogannam, owner of the upscale Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, said his customers were very savvy about where their meat came from.

“It’s pretty easy to display a heavily edited picture of a happy pig in a pasture,” he said. “You ultimately have no idea how their animals are treated.” So Mr. Mogannam encourages his head butcher, Chili Montes, to spend time developing close relationships with farmers. Mr. Montes visits most of the farms, traveling as far as Uruguay. He inspects the animals’ housing conditions and the types of feed they receive.

The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley sells only meat that has been humanely raised locally. The animals must also live outdoors all the time. Monica Rocchino, the owner, said that she decided against one farm because chickens were kept in pens made of netting to protect them from predators.

Alexis Koefed, owner of the small, family-run Soul Food Farm in Vacaville, said that the vast majority of farmers were straightforward about their animals’ living conditions and diets. “Even if we wanted to be dishonest, our customers demand transparency,” she said. “It’s very easy to just drive over and inspect our farm.”

When Mr. Lewis inspected the Amber and Sons farm in Sebastopol last year, he recalled, Amber Faur, the owner, thrust a slaughtered chicken into his hands and told him it had been the leader of the flock — and a mean bird.

Though Mr. Lewis said he was initially caught off guard, he realized Ms. Faur had developed an intimacy with her chickens. It was because she “hated that hen that I realized how much she loves her animals,” Mr. Lewis said. “We’re buying all our chickens from her now.”

Know Your Butcher, It’s For Your Own Good!

The Butcher’s Guild hates to participate in fear-mongering but the meat-stream is full of scary news. We can’t help but point out that knowing a butcher that knows a farmer is the best way to combat a dinner full of MRSA bacteria. Organic animals aren’t habitually fed antibiotics and small-farmed, pasture-raised animals generally are not habitually fed them (always ask, if you want to know). So, they don’t harbor antibiotic-resistant bacteria that end up on your plate.

READ/DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE ON THE IATP SITE HERE.

Antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria widely present in retail pork, new study says

By Andrew Ranallo
Published January 20, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS – New peer-reviewed research published January 19 found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pork samples collected from retail stores at a higher rate than previously identified. The study by researchers from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, titled “MRSA in conventional and alternative retail pork products,” represents the largest sampling of raw meat products for MRSA contamination to date in the United States. It appears in the online science journal PLoS ONE from the Public Library of Science.

In total, 395 pork samples were collected from a total of 36 stores in Iowa, Minnesota, and New Jersey. Among these samples, S. aureus—a bacteria that can cause serious human infections of the bloodstream, skin, lungs (pneumonia) and other organs—was isolated from 256 samples (64.8 percent) and of those, 26 pork samples (6.6 percent of the total) were found to contain MRSA.

MRSA is one of the most serious bacteria, causing infections resistant to multiple antibiotics, which are therefore costly and very difficult to treat. According to 2005 estimates, MRSA accounts for about 280,000 infections and nearly 19,000 deaths a year in hospitals. However, MRSA infections acquired outside of hospitals, in communities and on farms, have been rapidly rising.

“The latest results are more than double the prevalence found in previous studies of this kind. At 6.6 percent, pork is four times more likely to be carrying deadly MRSA than the average American, pointing to our food system and industrial farming as an avenue for MRSA to continue to spread,” said IATP’s David Wallinga, MD.

Read the study on the Public Library of Science’s PLoS ONE website athttp://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0030092.

IATP has been working for over a decade to eliminate the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed and prevent the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA on farms and in our food supply. IATP’s David Wallinga, MD will also be presenting “Raising Pigs, Raising Problems: Saying No to Antibiotics in Animal Feed” at TEDx in Manhattan January 20.

Used under creative commons license from essgee51.

In total, 395 pork samples were collected and of those, 6.6 percent were found to contain MRSA.

Andrew Ranallo

Andrew Ranallo is responsible for the consistency of IATP’s print and online publications, online outreach via social media and press relations.

IATP NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

FOURTH ANNUAL COCHON 555 COMES TO NAPA

Culinary Competition and Tasting Event Celebrates Heritage Breed Pigs
[CHECK OUT OTHER TOUR DATES HERE] January 29, 2012 at 5 pmCochon 555 – five chefs, five pigs, five winemakers – is a one-of-a-kind traveling culinary competition and tasting event to promote sustainable farming of heritage breed pigs. The Napa event challenges five local chefs to prepare a menu created from heritage breed pigs, nose-to-tail, for an audience of pork-loving epicureans.

2012 Napa competing chefs include Chris L’Hommedieu of Michael Mina San Francisco, Lars Kronmark of Culinary Institute of America, Michael Tuohy of Dean & Deluca, Mark Dommen of One Market Restaurant and the 2011 King and Queen of Porc – Duskie Estes + John Stewart of zazu restaurant + farm.

Guests will be treated to an epic pork feast with wines from five different small wineries, including Elk Cove Vineyards, Scholium Project, Behrens Family Winery, Wind Gap Wines and Matthiasson plus a special tasting of SALDO, Sokol Blosser and Franciscan. The evening will include seven whole heritage pigs and a VIP butcher demonstrations from Ryan Farr (4505 Meats) and GA butchering with Jorge Velazquez (Sunshine Meat’s). Guests can join the “Guess Five” interactive tasting contest with Le Creuset, stop by the Blackberry Farm table, enter a Beat the Winemaker Contest with Eater and Hipstamatic while sipping ice-cold Anchor Brew, and savor a welcome cocktail from The King’s Ginger or Chinaco Tequila courtesy of Anchor Distilling.

Experience the new C555 Perfect Manhattan Bar featuring Hirsch, Templeton Rye, Hudson Whiskey’s Baby Bourbon and Luxardo. Don’t miss Jonathan Bodnar (Smoakville) and John Fink (The Whole Beast) serving one whole BBQ pig family-style in anticipation of our new event, Heritage BBQ, next Labor Day. Grab a glass as we kick off the award ceremony with a special 25th anniversary champagne toast to the James Beard Foundation, sponsored by Laurent-Perrier Champagne, now celebrating its 200th year. Following the awards, we invite you to experience swine & sweets with [3] Cochon Exclusive chocolate bars from Xocolatl de David and cold brewed coffee from Safari Cup Coffee Roasters.

At the end of the night, attendees and local judges will select the Prince or Princess of Porc. The winning chef will compete against other regional winners at the finale Grand Cochon event at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 17, 2012.

Sunday, January 29, 2012
4 pm VIP opening; 5 pm general admission

Culinary Institute of America
Main Street, just North of St Helena

$125 per person for general admission; $200 for VIP (includes sustainable oysters, Black River Caviar, Murray’s Cheese, cocktails and a special tasting of wines, spirits and brews). VIP guests arrive an hour earlier, at 4 pm, and enjoy a limited tasting from three competing chefs. It’s VIP like never before and only $75 more. General admission is only better this year too–more food, more spirits, cheese and oysters…more flavor for every dollar. Only 225 tickets are available per city. Events typically sell out 10 days before each event. Buy tickets now!

MEDIA CONTACT Lori Lefevre
914.630.0961, lori@cochon555.com

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ABOUT COCHON 555
Created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in 2009 in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds, COCHON is a national event series that takes place in 14 major markets. Every January, COCHON 555 embarks on a 10-city culinary competition and tasting tour where 50 chefs are selected to prepare a ‘snout -to-tail’ menu created from heritage breed pigs. The 10 winners of each regional event are flown to Aspen for the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen for the final competition, Grand Cochon. Cochon All-Star, Cochon Heritage Fire and a BBQ competition will be hosted as well in 2012. For more details about the events, visit www.cochon555.com or follow @cochon555 on twitter.

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