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Subway investigates China media reports of doctored expiration dates o U.S. fast-food chain Subway is investigating media reports in China that workers at an outlet in Beijing doctored food labels and used produce beyond its expiration date, a Sh...

Subway investigates China media reports of doctored expiration dates

• U.S. fast-food chain Subway is investigating media reports in China that workers at an outlet in Beijing doctored food labels and used produce beyond its expiration date, a Shanghai-based spokeswoman for the firm. Chinese media reports started circulating on Dec. 26, saying workers at a Beijing outlet for Subway, which operates globally as a franchise business, changed expiration and production dates on meat, drink and vegetable produce to extend their use. "Our headquarters here is now investigating the matter," a Subway spokeswoman says. She says the firm had not reached any conclusions. "We want to investigate what caused the labeling issue and whether or not it was the action of a single franchised outlet." The issue highlights the difficulty firms have to control food quality and safety in supply chains and outlets in China, which can cause serious headaches with regulators and hit sales. Earlier this year, a China-based food supplier for McDonald's Corp. and Yum Brands Inc. was caught up in a scandal over workers allegedly tampering with expiration dates, which pummeled China sales at the fast-food chains. The Subway spokeswoman says the firm sent teams to inspect its franchises around the country each month and that it gave staff training on food safety and handling produce. The Beijing food regulator also launched an investigation. Food safety scandals in China are all too common, including recycled "gutter oil" for cooking, donkey meat products tainted with fox and one in 2008 involving tainted dairy products that led to the deaths of at least six infants.

horses killed, others saved in barn fire

• BUFFALO, Minn. -- Nine horses were killed in a barn fire early Dec. 28 in Wright County, Minn., while a passing teenager and another man rescued some horses. The Wright County Sheriff's Office says some horses were saved after Wyatt Stueven, 17, of Howard Lake, drove by the ranch and spotted the fire. Stueven stopped to help ranch manager Ronald Winget, 42, move some of the horses away from the burning barn in Chatham Township, west of Buffalo. Both Winget and Stueven suffered smoke inhalation. Winget was transported by Allina Ambulance to the Buffalo Hospital. Stueven was transported by a private vehicle to an area hospital. The sheriff's office says it appears an electrical fire started in the barn, knocking out electricity to the ranch. Fire departments from Buffalo, Maple Lake and Monticello, all in Minnesota, responded and were able to extinguish the fire before it spread to surrounding buildings.

CP rail stock was up in '14, oil shipments expected higher in '15

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• Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. stock prices were up 14 percent in 2014 and investors are watching the landscape ahead, analysts say. The stock trades at about 35 times earnings, which is a significant premium to Canadian National Railway, says Andrew Walker, Motley Fool Stock adviser. CP is a significant Class I railroad, influential for grain shipments in the Dakotas and Minnesota. CP expects 200,000 carloads of oil in 2015, up 70 percent from 2014, Walker says. Crude oil represented about 8 percent of CP revenues in the first three quarters of 2014. He says the Canadian government required the railroads to ship minimum amounts of grain per week from August through the end of November, and future intermodal shipments might be impacted by a drop in oil prices and competition from trucking companies in the coming year.

Soy Board aims for improved quality

• North Dakota farmer Jared Hagert of Emerado, N.D., recently elected vice chairman of the United Soybean Board executive committee, says improving meal quality is a major goal for the industry. "There has always been some concern about soybeans coming out of the northern and western regions in the United States, that the crude protein is lower," Hagert says. "We've always been able to compete with South America, but one of the things that makes the U.S. soybean industry great is we're able to answer our customers' needs. Now and in the future, if we get these new traits, I hope we get a leg up on our southern competition." Chairman Bob Haselwood of Berrryton, Kan., says high-oleic soybeans are a success, but meal improvements must be made. USB has a budget of $100 million for research and marketing -- an estimated $86.5 million from checkoff receipts and carryover from the previous year's budget.

Minn. wolf management program overturned by federal judge

• The Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association says it will do what it can to restore the state's former wolf management program. The state's Department of Natural Resources announced on Dec. 19 that, effective immediately, Minnesotans no longer can legally kill a wolf except in the defense of human life. The announcement was in response to a federal judge's decision to reinstate federal endangered species protection for gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The wolves now have the same protection status they had before they were removed from the endangered species list in January 2012. Minnesota ranchers welcomed the 2012 action, saying it was a good and necessary step to protect their animals from depredation. The state DNR subsequently began a wolf management plan that included giving ranchers in the northwest more latitude in dealing with wolves that pose "an immediate threat" to their livestock. "The DNR and other agencies we have worked with agreed that the wolf matter was in a good spot," says Tim Nolte, president of the Minnesota cattlemen's group. "Our members also agree, the Minnesota DNR has done a great job of working toward controlling the wolf population and allowing protection of valuable livestock." Minnesota cattle producers will continue to work with elected officials and state and federal agencies on what should be done next to control the state's wolf population. For now, all depredation of pets and livestock should be documented with the local conservation office, the Minnesota cattlemen's group says. For more information, visit www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/disas ter/wolf.aspx.

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