June 28, 2011

Gillibrand, Tonko Urge Feds To Approve New Food Safety Inspector At Beech-Nut To Help Grow Business

Additional Inspector Needed To Meet Growing Demand for Products - Meet Goal of Growing By 20%This Year

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Paul Tonko are urging the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to grant approval for a second food safety inspector for Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation– a move that could help the thriving Capital Region business that makes nutritious infant and toddler food grow by as much as 20 percent this year.

To meet the growing demand for Beech-Nut’s products, the business needs to hire a second, part-time inspector at their plant in the Capital Region.

In their letter to Dr. Elisabeth A. Hagen, Undersecretary for Food Safety at the USDA, Senator Gillibrand and Representative Tonko wrote, “In this time of high unemployment, especially in the Capital Region of New York, the federal government must do everything we can to support job growth and therefore, we ask you to please provide the part-time inspector needed to allow Beech-Nut to continue to prosper.”

Without the second inspector, Beech-Nut, which currently employs 435 workers in the Capital Region, is at a disadvantage to competitors in other states, including Gerber, which runs inspections 24 hours a day, seven days a week at their plants in Michigan and Arkansas.

Senator Gillibrand and Representative Tonko’s full letter to Dr. Hagen:

June 28, 2011

Dear Undersecretary Hagen,

We are writing to you today asking for immediate assistance for the Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation, a baby food company which is one of Upstate New York’s most promising, growing businesses.  In order for Beech-Nut to continue to respond to consumer demand for their products, they are in need of a second Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspector for their plant. This request, until now, has been denied by FSIS because only a part-time and not a full-time inspector would be needed.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation is looking to grow its business by 20% this year, but in order to add a minimum of 2 shifts per week to their production schedule, they will need a second, part-time, inspector present.  In order to meet this sales demand, they will schedule a double shift when needed. The economic activity of this extra production is invaluable to the state and those who gain additional work.

Without the second shift inspection, the Beech-Nut Nutrition Corporation is at a distinct disadvantage to other similar companies, in other states.  For example, Gerber runs their plants in Michigan and Arkansas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They will not be able to keep up with the consumer demand with one shift inspection.

In the two surrounding counties the unemployment rate is 9.6% and 9.3%. These are among the highest rates in the state and any additional economic activity is critical to the economy in this region. This plant employs roughly 435 jobs.   In this time of high unemployment, especially in the Capital Region of New York, the federal government must do everything we can to support job growth and therefore, we ask you to please provide the part-time inspector needed to allow Beech-Nut to continue to prosper. 

We look forward to working on this important issue for New York State with you.