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FDA issues statement on E. coli outbreak in Europe

BY Allison Cerra

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday addressed the current outbreak of E. coli O104 in Europe.

The U.S. regulatory agency said that it has been in "routine contact" with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the European Union to monitor the current outbreak of E. coli O104 and to track any illnesses in the United States that may be related to the outbreak.

The FDA added that it believed that the outbreak has not affected the U.S. food supply but has established certain additional import controls and currently is conducting increased surveillance of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and raw salads from areas of concern; however, the agency noted that the EU is not a significant source of produce for the United States.

"When these products are presented for import, we will sample them, and we will analyze them," said Dara Corrigan, FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. "The FDA will not allow any products found to be contaminated to enter the United States, and if contamination is found, [the FDA] will flag future shipments for appropriate action. As more information about the source of the outbreak emerges, we will adjust our public health protection efforts, especially those at the border, accordingly."

Added FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition deputy director Donald Kraemer, "Food growers, manufacturers and distributors are responsible for marketing safe food and taking any steps necessary to ensure that their products are indeed safe. The FDA has provided scientific guidance to the produce industry on ways to minimize the risk of E. coli, and these methods will reduce the risk of the strain of E. coli causing the European outbreak, as well as the more common strains."

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Blog: Facebook inexpensive yet powerful marketing tool

BY Michael Johnsen

ALBANY, N.Y. — The cost of acquiring a Facebook “liker?" Less than 13 cents per fan, according to a Media Logic blog entry posted last week. At least that’s what retailer Kirkland’s spent in its pursuit of more than 200,000 Facebook surfers who opted-in on the Kirkland’s page. And because the act of a Facebook user “liking” a page is posted on that person’s newsfeed, it fast becomes a case of “if you tell two friends and they each in turn tell two friends …”

According to the blog, penned by Media Logic’s EVP and executive creative director Ronald Ladouceur, there are a number of retail brands that recently have eclipsed the 1 million “likes” bar. “New members of this no-longer-exclusive club include Tommy Hilfiger, Foot Locker, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Walgreens and Bass Pro Shops — with Party City and Cabela’s crossing the line after this survey’s close,” Ladouceur wrote. Walmart recently added 1.6 million Facebook fans on its way to 5 million “likes.”

The fact is Facebook is heating up retail aisles. “Twelve retailers saw better than 40% growth from mid-March to mid-May, led by Kirkland’s and its ‘Cha-Ching’ sweepstakes, which drove an incredible 280% liker spike,” Ladouceur reported.

According to a recent Drug Store News report on Walmart’s annual shareholder meeting, Walmart is aggressively seeking to win over what they define as the “next-generation” consumer. "They’re connected to the world through smartphones and social media,” Walmart CEO Mike Duke told attendees. “They’re in charge of when they shop and how they shop. And believe me, they know who has the lowest prices.”

Walgreens similarly is pursuing a multichannel strategy, as outlined in a Drug Store News story in the May 30 issue.

To check out the complete Media Logic blog (and a chart on the latest Facebook “liking” trends), click here.

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Original singing bird clock returns to retail

BY Allison Cerra

TOLEDO, Ohio — Almost 15 years after its debut, the original singing bird clock is being relaunched by Mark Feldstein & Associates, the company announced.

The clock, which features images and 12 songs — one at the top of each hour — from 12 songbirds in North America, is available for a limited time to celebrate its upcoming 15th anniversary in 2012. MFA discontinued the original singing bird clock in 2006 after coming out with another version licensed by the National Audubon Society a few years earlier, the company said.

The original singing bird clock will be available in both 8-in. and 13-in. models with a suggested retail price of $14.95 and $24.95, respectively.

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