Friday, 31 August 2012

Bagged Lettuce or Bulk? Food Safety Experts offer advice - NBC News Article Points to BioLargo and Isan System Opportunity

Bagged lettuce or bulk? Experts offer food safety advice
Benjamin Sklar / AP Prewashed, packaged salad may be more convenient for consumers, but some worry that bagged lettuce is more likely to be contaminated.

A recall this week of 8,000 cases of Fresh Express Hearts of Romaine salad marks the sixth time since April that the nation’s top producers of bagged lettuce have pulled products because of worries about food safety.

Listeria was the problem that forced Fresh Express officials to recall certain 10-ounce bags of the greens, the same potentially dangerous bug that led Dole Fresh Vegetables to withdraw bagged salads four times since spring, most recently on Aug. 22.

No illnesses have been tied to the voluntary withdrawals and company press releases describe each one as an “isolated incident” unlikely to harm human health.

But for consumers roaming the produce aisles at the grocery store, each new recall raises the question: How safe is my salad?

Food safety experts say they hear all the time from shoppers wondering which is better, bagged lettuce or the loose variety.

“We call it faith-based food safety,” says Doug Powell, a professor of food safety of Kansas State University. “And most of it is faith-based.”

Powell and Christina Bruhn, a researcher in food science and technology at UC Davis, say that while figuring out what fraction of the lettuce may make you sick is a gamble, they still place their bets on the bagged stuff.

“I do know some professionals who do not buy bagged lettuce,” says Bruhn. “I buy it. I like the convenience. I think they do the best job of anyone of cleaning the product, better than I do. They use chlorinated water. They wash it really thoroughly.”

She figures the big manufacturers, including Dole and Fresh Express, have a huge stake in safety and an incentive to get it right.

“They have the size of staff and the resources to use the most up-to-date processes,” she said.

Powell, too, says he usually opts for bagged lettuce.

“I go to the biggest grocery store I can find,” he said. “They have requirements for what they put on the shelf.”

Some consumers, haunted by the 2006 outbreak of E. coli O157 in spinach that sickened 205 people and killed three, have sworn off bagged greens.

Others, worried about contamination from fields and shipping, cringe at the thought of gritty bulk lettuce and take comfort in the “triple-washed” claims on the shiny bags. Still others swear by farmer’s market produce -- or eat only the greens they grow themselves.

About 9 billion pounds of lettuce is produced in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and, to be sure, the vast proportion of it is safe.

Story: Garden Fresh recalling 7 tons of packaged salads

Indeed, Marty Ordman, a spokesman for Dole, said the company has hired two third-party listeria experts in the wake of the recent recalls, which were prompted in part by Food and Drug Administration inspections. The experts hope to help identify any potential improvements to the processes and procedures used in Dole's bagged salad plants.

Additionally, Dole scientists have been working "very closely" with the FDA to find alternative methods of sanitizing products to control contamination while still providing fresh, high quality products, Ordman added.

But Seattle food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who regularly represents clients hurt or killed by tainted produce, isn't convinced. Asked what kind of lettuce he prefers, he said: "Not bagged."

Even the crisp heads of lettuce in a farmer's market stall can be suspect, said Powell. They may be fresh and local, but that’s no guarantee of safety.

“The lettuce was sitting swamped in water for days,” he said. “If I go to a farmer’s market, I don’t want to know that it’s lovingly grown. I want to know you’ve taken steps for microbiological safety. If you can't answer those questions, I don't want to buy your lettuce."

Both Bruhn and Powell acknowledge that the big growers can have problems, as evidenced by the recent recalls. And both are big proponents of companies posting their food testing results publicly and marketing the safety of their products as a selling point.

Bruhn is also a staunch advocate of irradiation, which she says can ensure food safety.

She encourages consumers to take steps to avoid compromising bagged lettuce. Buy only bags kept very cold in the grocery store and pay attention to sell-by dates. Once you’ve got it home, open the bag and dump it directly into a clean bowl.

“Don’t stick your own hands in there,” she said.

She also urges home cooks not to re-wash bagged greens because of the possibility of cross-contamination with other bacteria already in the kitchen.

If you want to use bulk lettuce, make sure to clean it correctly, Bruhn said. First, wash your hands and also the sink with hot soapy water.

Then, break off each lettuce leaf individually, rinse it under cold running water while rubbing gently. Dry in a salad spinner or with paper towels, not with cloth towels, which may transmit bacteria.

“Keep in mind, you only get about 90 percent (of the pathogens) off,” she said. “Ninety percent sounds like a lot to a lay person, but to a microbiologist, it’s hardly anything. You can’t get it all off.”

Similar Article Shows How China Struggles with Food Safety Issue

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

BioLargo (BLGO) is a Bargain at Current Levels - Green Technology Article

Green Technology Article:

BioLargo (BLGO) is a Bargain at Current Levels


BioLargo Inc. (OTCQB: BLGO), developer of Nature’s Best Solution® – a proprietary version of iodine – formed to help solve a variety of common problems around the world, appears to be a bargain at current levels. From pet supplies like those sold at PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) to household brands like those sold by Clorox Company (NYSE: CLX), the company is targeting a number of different industries with products moving closer to commercialization.

Heading in the Right Direction

During the second quarter, BioLargo reported revenues that jumped 13.2% due to increases across all three of its Odor-No-More branded product lines. While the company’s overhead costs appeared to increase on the income statement, this was primarily due to non-cash expenses related to the fair value of employee stock options issued.

On its balance sheet, the company reported a cash position that more than tripled to $515,304 and total assets that grew 160% to $638,006, as of June 30, 2012. The firm’s total liabilities also fell 10.6%, as it eliminated its long-term liabilities, reduced its shareholders’ deficit, and ultimately improved long-term shareholder value.

While these financials represent a very small fraction of the company’s long-term potential, they do demonstrate management’s commitment to lean operations and movement in the right direction. Moreover, the results suggest that the firm is at a tipping point where early investors may stand to make the biggest gains by purchasing ahead of the news.

A Small Fraction of Its Potential

BioLargo’s improving financial condition may be good news for investors, but the revenues represent just a small fraction of its potential. The company’s CupriDyne® technology is applicable in numerous end markets, including animal health, environmental remediation, oil and gas, consumer products, food processing, medical and water treatment.

CurpiDyne® technology is unique because it enables molecular iodine to be delivered in a calibrated dose that’s safe at high levels and efficacious at low levels. Since it’s created by combining a mineral and salt, it can be developed in numerous forms, including tablets, drops, powders and even as a water-soluble ink, depending on its targeted industry.

These target industries represent billions in potential revenue opportunity. Capturing just a small fraction of one end market would make the company’s $18 million market capitalization seem extremely cheap, much less bringing products to market in multiple industries. And recently, that’s exactly what the company has been aiming to do.

BioLargo’s Low-Hanging Fruit

BioLargo’s low hanging fruit is the animal health market, where its technology can help eliminate odor. In March of 2011, the company signed an exclusive license and supply agreement with Central Garden & Pet Company (NASDAQ: CENT) – a nearly $2 billion company that’s a leader in the pet and lawn care industries.

From the outside looking in; the pet industry has 2 major pet shows where products are typically launched, Global Pet (which is hosted in the late spring) and the upcoming Super Zoo 2012, which will be held in September. If Central wants to hang on to its exclusive rights then one might assume that they would likely want to get started with product introductions this fall. The agreement calls for the purchase of at least 1.25 million pounds of product by March 2013, and in the two years after that, the agreement calls for the purchase of at least 2 million and 2.75 million pounds of product, respectively for Central to maintain its exclusive rights.

Using sales figures from competing products and standard industry margins, the minimum run rate from this agreement could take the company to $3.5 million to $5 million per year. These figures should help the firm expand its revenues and generate positive cash flow over time, while building in value with a guaranteed 3% increase in the agreement each year its extended.

BioLargo Moves into Wound Care

BioLargo may already be undervalued given its pet products, but there’s even more value in the other industries it’s targeting. In May of 2012, the company announced that it formed a subsidiary – BioLargo Medical Group Inc. – to advance proof of claims and pursue regulatory approvals in the $19 billion advanced wound care industry.

The wound care industry faces many problems, including the threat of microbial resistance. With many wound care products employing antibiotics, the increasing exposure to humans has produced resistance bacteria like c.diff and staph. BioLargo’s product does not use antibiotics and therefore may find itself in high demand within the industry.

In August, the company added former Smith & Nephew Wound Management Vice President Tanya Rhodes to its management team as a senior strategy advisor. With more than 20 years of experience in the industry, bringing staple wound care technologies to market, Ms. Rhodes is the perfect person to help the company expedite this new lucrative line of business.

Starting to Look into Oil & Gas

BioLargo is also actively pursuing development in the oil and gas industry. In particular, the company’s antibacterial products provide oil and gas companies with a way to solve many of their environmental problems. The company’s technology can be used to do everything from treating flowback water in fracking to cleaning up the water used in oil sands projects in Canada.

Last December, the company was selected as a Founding Member of a Canadian Government backed research chair to develop sustainable solutions for the oil sands industry. Water released from the oil sands is expected to reach one billion cubic meters in the Athabasca oil sands region alone by 2025, creating significant demand for a solution.

Consumer, Dairy & Much More

BioLargo’s opportunities extend even beyond these industries. In a March 2012 press release, the company elaborated on several other projects it’s working on:

  • BioLargo developed a free iodine liquid wash and hydrogel product for both consumers and companies. The company has already made initial sales to consumers and has begun to deliver the products to industrial customers for trials.
  • BioLargo contracted a dairy industry distributor called Green Alpha Solutions LLC that will utilize its products to prevent infections and enhance the quality and quantity of dairy products produced in the $35 billion industry.
  • BioLargo developed a family of consumer products called DeodorAll™ that remove household stains and odors. The Home Shopping Group will produce, manage and broadcast a series of direct response campaigns over the coming months.

Enormous Opportunity at a Small Cost

BioLargo represents an enormous opportunity for shareholders given its ongoing progress in these many end markets. With a market capitalization of under $18 million, investors can purchase the stock for a fraction of its potential valuation. Meanwhile, the company’s improving financials and recent sales suggest that it will become cash flow positive over the near term.

The company’s platform technology and broad potential across many markets provides investors with greater diversification and lower risk. Meanwhile, the firm’s licensing business model provides investors with greater leverage, which could mean less capital outlay and higher free cash flow over time, as the company builds its pipeline of products.


Monday, 20 August 2012

E.coli fears prompt another lettuce recall- Points to BioLargo's Opportunity for Isan System

August 20, 2012 3:53 AM

E.coli fears prompt romaine lettuce recall(CBS/AP) SALINAS, Calif. — A Northern California produce supplier said Sunday it is voluntarily recalling romaine lettuce that was shipped to 19 states, Puerto Rico and Canada over fears about possible E. coli contamination.

Salinas-based Tanimura & Antle said the recall is limited to a single lot of its Field Fresh Wrapped Single Head Romaine that was available at retail stores starting Aug. 2. The lettuce is packed in a plastic bag with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9, and it may have a "best by" date of Aug. 19.

The lettuce is sold in nine-ounce, 9.25-, 10-, 10.25- and 16-ounce bags under the labels Ready Pac, Trader Joe's, Safeway and Dining in Classic, says CBS station KPIX in San Francisco.

The company said some 2,095 cases were potentially affected. Of those, 1,969 cases were shipped to Puerto Rico and the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The product was packed with either 12 or 18 heads per case.

The recall was being conducted in consultation with Food and Drug Administration, and was based on the testing of a random sample by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. There have been no reported illnesses associated with consumption of this product.

© 2012 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Capitalize on the Recession-Resistant Pet Industry

BioLargo (BLGO): Capitalize on the Recession-Resistant Pet Industry

Biolargo OdorNoMore Litterbox

BioLargo Inc. (OTCBB: BLGO), developer of Nature’s Best Solution® – a proprietary version of iodine – formed to help solve a variety of common problems around the world, has been largely focused on the pet industry through its agreement with Central Garden & Pet Co. (NASDAQ: CENT) to develop its product that could eventually hit retailers like PetSmart Inc. (NASDAQ: PETM) and Petco, (a privately held company).

Large & Growing Industry

The pet industry is a large and growing industry in the United States. Currently, more than 62% of U.S. households own a pet, while spending on pets has increased from $17 billion in 1994 to nearly $53 billion in 2012. Moreover, growth in spending has been consistent during economic downturns throughout that period, making it a relatively recession-resistant industry.

When you start to add up the annual average associated costs from owing a cat for instance; such as vet visits ($655), food & treats ($324), boarding ($274), vitamins ($95), grooming ($73), and toys ($43) the annual amount of money spent can become staggering. It is obvious from watching the trend of animal ownership (92 million cats & 78.2 million dogs in 2011), as well as annual U.S. pet industry expenditures, that Americans love their pets, and are more than willing to spend money on them.

The pampering of pets has shown a phenomenal growth curve in the last two decades. From the creation of doggy day care to the purchase of all kinds of high-end accessories, products for our companion animals now extend well beyond the traditional ‘necessities’ of the past. Big name companies such as Paul Mitchell, Omaha Steaks, Harley Davidson (NYSE: HOG), and Old Navy have all reacted to this uptick in spending by introducing lines of pet products ranging from dog shampoo to pet attire.

Of the $53 billion pet market; some $11.77 billion of that is spent on pet supplies and over the counter medicine, including cat litter boxes and bedding for horses. BioLargo hopes to capitalize on these markets with its unique Odor-No-More products; designed to create a cleaner and drier litter box without the odor for cats, and for use as an effective bedding alternative for horses. The inventor of “kitty litter” (Ed Lowe) once stated, “This is a recession- proof business, people will go without a lot of things before they’ll go without their cats. And they’re not going to have cats without litter.”

Cats and other true carnivores metabolize a higher percentage of protein than omnivores, which leads to particularly nasty smelling feces. As a result, the industry has developed what it terms second and third-generation litters. Second generation litters originally involved adding highly proprietary perfuming agents to the litter, which simply tried to mask the scent. But as the market grew, and research and development teams scrambled to find agents that would prevent the odor from forming, a third generation of litters came into existence that aimed to slow microbial growth by treating the litter with a mild disinfectant. Stronger disinfectants would seem a simple answer to the odor problem for the entire industry, but all companies walk the fine line between what’s bad for bugs but okay for cats and people, and that is where BioLargo’s proprietary version of iodine comes into play.

Industry-Leading Partnership

Last year, BioLargo announced an agreement with Central Garden & Pet Supply Co., a leading marketer and producer of premium pet supplies in the United States. Under the agreement, the two companies will develop, produce and sell products that they believe will be most successful in the pet supplies industry, including BioLargo’s Odor-No-More product lineup.

“Most of [Central’s] brands are the number one or two brand in their respective U.S. market categories,” stated Dennis Calvert, CEO of BioLargo Inc. “They operate the largest sales and logistics network in the industry, which strategically supports its [and our] brands. With sales of more than $840 million annually, we believe they are the perfect partner for BioLargo.”

Fragmented with Need for Innovation

Despite the pet industry’s large size, the market remains very fragmented with over 500 manufacturers in the U.S. alone. Many of these smaller companies have limited production capabilities, and as a result a small number of industry players such as Mars Corporation, Hartz Mountain Corporation and Central Garden & Pet Co., end up controlling most of the industry’s volume.

Meanwhile, the lack of major competitors has starved the industry of innovation. Many pet products are based on concepts that were invented decades ago, with the exception of food choices, leaving many of man’s best friends to wonder why the neglect? BioLargo hopes that its products will help drive innovation in the industry, particularly when it comes to pet odor elimination and sanitization.

Great Investment Opportunity

BioLargo represents a great investment opportunity with a market capitalization of just over $18 million. Capturing just a fraction of the $11.77 billion U.S. pet supplies market could equate to hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues. And with its agreement with Central Garden & Pet, the company is uniquely positioned to do so over the near-term.

Green Technology Investments (

Monday, 6 August 2012

BioLargo Adds Wound Management Expert and Former VP at Smith & Nephew, Tanya Rhodes, to Its Team

LA MIRADA, CA, Aug 06, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- BioLargo, Inc. announced today that former Smith & Nephew Vice President of Innovation (and Vice President at Smith & Nephew Wound Management) Tanya Rhodes has joined the BioLargo management team as a senior strategy advisor. Rhodes will work closely with BioLargo and its recently formed medical subsidiary to commercialize its technology in the wound management and medical device markets.

"I believe that the BioLargo technology presents a unique and cost-effective solution for a number of big problems facing the industry," stated Rhodes. "I look forward to working closely with the BioLargo team to help serve this important industry."

Having spent 15 years at Smith & Nephew U.S. and more than 20 years in the wound management and skin care industry globally, Rhodes has established a broad base of expertise that includes a concept-to-commercialization philosophy utilizing product design, strategic marketing and evidence-based trials as well as reimbursement and regulatory compliance strategies. Over her career, she played an instrumental role in bringing a number of staple wound care technologies to market around the globe. She holds a Masters Degree in Technology Management from the University of Miami and graduated with honors in Chemistry from Hull University, England. She also completed the full research for PhD in Molecular Orbital Computational Stereochemistry before relocating to the US.

"Tanya has more than 20 years of experience within the highly specialized wound management industry. She is a patent holder and has been intimate in the creation and design of patented and commercially successful wound care technologies across the globe. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to BioLargo," stated Dennis P. Calvert, President & CEO. "Our recent technical advancements for wound management applications are opening up major commercial market opportunities for BioLargo. With Tanya's leadership, we can move swiftly and wisely to capitalize on and manage the significant opportunities ahead."