NCA reports that Americans spend about $700 million on chocolate for Valentine's Day, and Consumer Reports sampled 30 boxes of gift chocolates. Favorites include the $49 Norman Love Confections 25-piece Signature Gift Box, the $40 Godiva Gold Ballotin box, the $11 Ferrero Collection Fine Assorted Confections and $17 boxes of See's Assorted Chocolates.
Lionel Clement, the head chocolatier at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel-casino, will be up against 18 other chefs who specialize in chocolate at the World Chocolate Masters competition, held later this month in Paris. Barry Callebaut is organizing the competition.
Kraft Foods added two production lines to its chocolate-making facility in Svoge, Bulgaria. The factory will be able to produce 1 million bars of both local and international brands of chocolate a day.
Oatfield Confectionery, the oldest candy maker in Ireland, is thriving by selling orange chocolates, licorice bonbons and Emerald toffees. The company recently redesigned its brand and is preparing for the Christmas rush.
Federal health officials say tens of thousands of people are still infected with the E. coli strain O157:H7 each year. Ground beef has been at the center of 16 outbreaks in the past three years, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has added more procedures and has improved training for investigators. "We are not standing still when it comes to E. coli," says Dr. Kenneth Petersen, a USDA official.