New Mexico Chile Gets Certified-Product Safeguards

New Mexico is looking to a new certification program to protect the reputation of one of its signature crops: chile.

Gov. Susana Martinez and other officials unveiled the program before a packed room of chile aficionados gathered Tuesday at The Range in Bernalillo. The Range is the first restaurant to sign up.

New Mexico Certified Chile joins other well-known trademarked products such as Vidalia Onions and Idaho Potatoes.

Martinez says chile is a way of life in New Mexico and contributes more than $400 million every year to the state’s economy. She says people shouldn’t have to ask whether it’s really New Mexico-grown chile.

The program builds upon on existing law that makes it illegal to advertise any product as New Mexico chile unless it’s actually grown in the state. (AP)

USDA Overhauls Decades-Old Poultry Inspections

The Obama administration is overhauling poultry plant inspections for the first time in more than 50 years, a move it says could result in 5,000 fewer foodborne illnesses each year.

The final rules announced Thursday would reduce the number of government poultry inspectors by around a fourth. But those that remain will focus more on food safety than quality, requiring them to pull more birds off the line for closer inspections and encouraging more testing for pathogens. There would also be more inspectors ensuring plants are clean.

The changes would be voluntary, but many of the country’s largest poultry companies are expected to opt in.

USDA originally proposed the rule in January 2012. Consumer groups criticized that proposal, saying it would shift too much of the inspection burden to industry. (AP)

Lay’s Newest Flavor: Cappuccino?

American palates have changed considerably over the years, but is the country ready for cappuccino-flavored Lay’s?

Frito-Lay, the snack division of PepsiCo Inc., will announce on Wednesday the coffee-flavored chips as one of the four finalists for its second annual “Do Us a Flavor” contest in the U.S., which gives people a chance to create a new potato chip that is sold nationally and win $1 million. The other three finalists are Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa and Wasabi Ginger.

Frito-Lay says the four flavors are expected to start hitting shelves in late July. People will then be able to vote online for their favorite through Oct. 18.

The promotional stunt is intended to boost customer engagement online and send fans to stores in search of the flavors.

But it also reflects how Frito-Lay is trying to keep up with changing tastes, with its ever-evolving lineup of potato chips now including several Hispanic flavors. Later this month, it also plans to roll out Lay’s Stax chips in a Korean barbecue flavor and Lay’s Stax in Thai Sweet Chili flavor.

That would make them the first Asian flavors of Lay’s chips sold nationally in the U.S., not counting the flavors it has introduced as part of the “Do Us a Flavor” contest. Last year, Cheesy Garlic Bread beat out Chicken & Waffles and Sriracha, a sauce commonly used in Thai cuisine.

“I can’t imagine us 10 years ago doing a wasabi ginger flavor,” said Ram Krishnan, Frito-Lay’s senior vice president of brand marketing.

Despite the growing popularity of ethnic flavors, the top four Lay’s flavors remain the same: Original, Barbecue, Cheddar & Sour Cream and Sour Cream & Onion.

Frito-Lay notes that its cappuccino flavor doesn’t contain any actual coffee or caffeine. The company last year discontinued a variety of Cracker Jack that contained caffeine after the Food and Drug Administration said it was concerned about the proliferation of caffeinated food and drinks. Frito-Lay says it halted production because of weak demand, rather than regulatory concerns. (AP)

Fight Rages Over Definition of Tennessee Whiskey

A battle between two worldwide liquor companies — owners of rival brands Jack Daniel’s and smaller rival George Dickel — is being waged over who has the right to label their whiskey as following authentic Tennessee style.

It’s among the epicurean battles being waged around the world over what food and drink should carry special status as local and unique.

British-based liquor conglomerate Diageo PLC on Tuesday prevailed in getting state regulators to drop an investigation into allegations that Dickel violated state law by aging its whiskey in neighboring Kentucky.

The calm is likely to be short-lived. State lawmakers this summer are expected to once again consider changes to the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey, which is as entwined in the state’s identity as Maine lobsters and Maryland crab cakes. (AP)

For 25th Anniversary, Beard Awards Move to Chicago

Chicago is adding another jewel to its culinary crown. After 24 years in New York City, the James Beard Foundation awards ceremony is moving to Chicago next year.

It’s more proof that Chicago is home to one of the country’s hottest restaurant scenes.

The James Beard Foundation is based in New York and honors the nation’s best chefs and restaurants.

Several cities had sought to host the awards, but the foundation said Chicago’s offer of marketing and sponsorship support was too good to turn down.

The James Beard awards have always been held in New York since the event began in 1990. Beard, considered the dean of American cooking, died in 1985.

The next awards ceremony will be held at the Lyric Opera of Chicago on May 4, 2015. (AP)

Burger King Offers Burgers for Breakfast

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Burger King has some new additions to its breakfast menu — its flame-broiled burgers.

The Miami-based chain says its “Burgers at Breakfast” includes its Whoppers, Cheeseburgers and Big King sandwiches, as well as its Original Chicken Sandwich, french fries and apple pie, in addition to the normal breakfast menu.

A representative for Burger King Worldwide Inc. said in an email that more than 5,000 locations will participate in the program. The company said the program began rolling out earlier this month.

The rollout comes as more fast-food chains look to tap into the breakfast business.

Taco Bell recently launched its national breakfast menu by poking fun at category leader McDonald’s in TV ads. (AP)

Jim Beam Fills 13th Million Barrel of Bourbon

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Jim Beam has filled its 13th million barrel of bourbon since the repeal of Prohibition.

he company released a statement saying the barrel was personally filled and sealed by Beam’s great-grandson, Fred Noe, at a distillery in Clermont, Kentucky.

The milestone comes less than three years after Beam filled its 12 millionth barrel.

The company says the 13th million barrel is a bourbon industry first. (CNN)